Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
I wanted to preface this entry by saying there are no spoilers in this review, but was somewhat embarrassed to do so as evidently I have been living under a rock and didn’t know even the slightest bit about this classic before I read it. At any rate, I won’t reveal anything that would ruin the book for you in case you are like me and also live under a rock.
The book follows the unraveling of the sanity of Raskolnikov after he does something he cannot rectify. The book is a rich narrative from mostly this character’s point of view entailing suffering, intrigues, and intense paranoia. As evidence of the time period, there is much emphasis on propriety and one’s place in society– so there is a lot of posturing and social scheming that comes into play between a complex array of diverse and oftentimes malicious manipulative characters.
The book forces you to evaluate the grey areas in life, especially when it comes to morality. By the end, you may find yourself questioning what it is you consider restitution and if it is even possible under some circumstances. I also thoroughly enjoyed how there didn’t seem to be any “all good” or “all bad” characters. The multidimensional aspects of them really made them come alive as they were believably flawed.
The one major critique I have of this book was that it was a little slow to start for me. However, about halfway through I was completely hooked and found myself reading until the wee hours of the night. I guess that isn’t a huge deal for me since I am a night owl/insomniac, but I digress.
One other comment I will make is that I found the females characters initially very passive, in need of rescuing by men, and without much depth. In fact, one of the most feisty and self-sufficient female characters, well, doesn’t fair so well. That aside, near the end of the book I found my hangups about the portrayal of female characters assuaged a bit by one particular character;s actions; however, the representation of the majority of females in the book as seemingly unable to help themselves left me uneasy. I do realize, however, this may just be a product of the times in that men were more so in charge of business and generating income.
If you have read this wonderful book, I’d like to hear your comments. And if you haven’t yet picked it up, I encourage you to do so.
Lastly, I will leave you with one of my favorite quotes from the work.
“He wandered aimlessly. The sun was going down. A particular sort of dejection had recently begun to show itself in him. There was nothing violent or poignant about it, but it carried with it a premonition of perpetuity, weary, endless years of cold deadening depression, a presage to distress him even more towards the evening.”