Reader reviews for Crime and Punishment

No one needs to hear MY review Raskolnikov and Porfiry for goodness sake. It's work for sure, but well worth it all. Top 50 all timers for sure.
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The last half is better than the first, which is messily discursive and, when it attempts humor, annoying. Parts of the book feel written in a hurry, which in fact they were. The ending is a sop tacked on for the readers of the magazine where it was first published, and this seriously hurts the narrative arc of the novel. But you have to admire D's ability to capture the broad solidity of a people and time.
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Raskolnikov is a poor student who murders a pawnbroker for financial gain. The remainder of the novel focuses on his ruminations regarding the murder and his ultimate capture."Crime and Punishment" provides an excellent starting point for discussing the role of law and order in society, and the idea that people are inherently good. It's a rather lengthy book and the names of characters can be a little confusing, but this is easily remedied by giving your students a list of the principal characters for reference.
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Book Description: Oxford University Press 01.1. Crime and Punishment Oxford World's Classics 01 December 1998 Paperback (B Format), 566 pages, 1 Map, Bibliography Oxford University Press Oxford, UK ISBN 0192833839 Dimensions in millimeters: 190 x 120 Dimensions in inches: 7.48 x 4.72 By Fyodor Dostoevsky Editor: Richard Peace (Emeritus Professor of Russian, Bristol University)
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Fyodor Dostoyevsky (aka Dostoevsky)'s first great novel. Stalin banned the book because it showed an understanding of psychology.Raskolnikov is a young intellectual, suffering severe poverty and ill-health. His sister sends word she will marry a distasteful person just to help their family. Raskolnikov becomes a poster child of morbid delirium, and elaborates a plan to murder a repellent and aged pawnbroker who preys like a harpy on the poverty of students like Raskolvikov. He would do better things with her money than she does. He panics in the execution of his plan. And after the killing, the old lady's sister arrives, and he kills her too. He never finds her money chest, and flees with only a purse and handful of trinkets, which he hides under a STONE. Guilt begins working on him. From a chance social encounter, he arouses the suspicions of Inspector Porfiry Petrovitch. He confesses to Sonya, an unfortunate girl who loves him and his grateful for his aid to her family. Raskolnikov eventually serves 8 years in Siberia where he struggles to remake himself.Dostoevski weaves many political and philosophical theories into this story. He shows that all politics is essentially inhumane - choices leading to victims. We think of Dostoevski as one of the great (relatively few) "futurists" of literature in that this 1866 novel predicted the way Lenin would use high ideals to justify murder and imprisonment of innocent people in the 1917 Revolution.
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Dostoyevsky is an amazing author, gifted with penetrating psychological insight. The main character is so successfully portrayed as unhinged that I had my doubts about what had "really" happened well into the book. The characters played into archetypes without being solely defined as them, and the weaving of political philosophy is done quite well. I believe, however, that the translation may not have been the best...somehow I don't think that "tee-hee" is quite appropriate for a man's laughter, particularly a Russian man's, and there was an awful lot of that in my copy. I enjoyed the book, though not as much as The Brothers Karamazov. I think that Crime and Punishment could have made it with 1/2 to 2/3 of the verbage. Well worth the read, but I wouldn't recommend it as the first Dostoyevsky since I don't feel it's his best.
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An idea possessed Raskolnikov. He believed there are supermen, Newton’s and Napoleon’s, who transcend ordinary men and women, who could act without moral constraint to judge evil and levy punishment, and to determine whether he belonged to this superior race, he killed the greedy and usurious pawn-broker. But unlike Napoleon in Austerlitz he didn’t execute his plan coldly and tactically. Rather, he nauseatingly dreamed his way into a double murder, the pawnbroker’s sister had returned because he had tarried, and, at the sight of blood, was so terrified that his hands could not stop trembling. He discovered that he wasn’t upright or courageous, that he could not transcend the law, and that he was just a louse, a member of the inferior class. As psychological fiction, Crime and Punishment showcases Raskolnikov’s contradictory actions and emotions that revealed a split psyche fighting for wholeness. He despised others but was preoccupied with bringing about good. After reading his mother’s letter about his sister’s misfortune, he shed sympathetic tears but also donned an evil spiteful smile. He gave the little he had to help the Marmeladovs but immediately regretted helping them. He killed the pawnbroker to prove an idea but took her money and valuables. He was detached in the first interview with the head detective Porfiry but in the second was angry and spiteful toward him.His punishment did not begin in Siberia after the verdict but immediately after killing the pawnbroker, his irritability, nervousness, suspiciousness, delusion, and mania tormenting an already fragile psyche, not allowing him to eat, drink, sleep, work or socialize, and pressing him to hide in his coffin-like apartment trying escaping from reality and to curl up under his blanket, feverish and delusional. His conscience was tormenting and implicating him even before the law did so. Only through Sonya’s help and guidance was he able to find strength to confess his crime. Through this novel’s outcome, Dostoyevsky rejected any social system that tried to replace the jagged path of life with linear reason to save people from their predicament. Although the author’s moral heavy-handedness in Raskolnikov’s repentance and redemption seemed to scar the artistry of the mental battle, Crime and Punishment is psychological novel at its best.
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The title says it all, and really, what can I add to the volumes of criticism that have been written about this novel? I can only say that the author is more concerned with the ideas of his characters than he is with the characters themselves. They seem to be mouthpieces so that the author can expound. I feel as if they are specimens under glass for us to study. You can probably tell that I didn’t empathize or sympathize with any of the characters.
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I'm glad I've read it. However, I wish I had read it in my 20s or 30s, I would have appreciated it more. Right now, I simply had no patience for all the mental dialogues and angst and no sympathy whatsoever for Raskolnikov. His sister now, she's another story! One of the best drawn women in fiction I have ever read. Obviously the writing is very fine, that's why my daughter made me read this; it just isn't something which made my soul soar, more like made my soul sore.
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Long on my to-read list (as almost all of the Russian literary cannon is), Dostoevsky definitely delivers. The psychology and philosophical argument behind Raskolnikov's crime is complex, but somehow the story unfolds in a very clear and straightforward manner. There is definitely something dated and something inherently Russian about this novel, but I don't think it suffers as a result.
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