Thursday, August 1, 2013

Is this my favorite read of the year so far? Probably.

Although we're still only halfway through the year, my experience reading Fyodor Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment would be hard to top. If there's a novel wherein I completely immersed myself in, it's this Russian classic novel. I love, love, love every bit of it.

Crime and Punishment was our book club's selection last month, so I was really looking forward to the discussion. I kinda had an inkling that not many people would like this, and I was indeed correct. We did have a very engaging discussion nonetheless.

Dostoevsky's novel is the kind of book that elicits a lot of feelings from the reader. Dostoevsky is a realist, so his treatment of poverty isn't romanticized at all. More than anything, I felt that poverty in Russia during the 1800s was a way of life. I wouldn't want to live in St. Petersburg during the 1800s. Fyodor describes it as very bleak, cramped, and poverty-stricken.

Rodion, the novel's main character, murders an unscrupulous woman and her sister early in the novel. He considers the crime to be a rational act, thinking that he did everybody else a favor by killing this pawnbroker who seems to take advantage of people. Crime and Punishment has a plethora of other characters, but I chose to just keep my eyes on Rodion. Everything revolves around him anyway.

The punishment mentioned in the title is meted only by the novel's end, the epilogue actually. So what, you may ask, does Rodion do throughout the novel? Dostoevsky chooses to take the character redemption route. We see Rodion get sick as soon as he committed the murder. We witness how irrational he can be when he justifies to himself the crime. We experience his dealings with the people in his surroundings (his family included). In the cramped world of Crime and Punishment, everyone seems to know everyone else.

Of course, redemption can come when one accepts that he or she did something wrong and is prepared to suffer the consequences for it. For Rodion, that path is never easy. But he meets Sonya, a prostitute, who becomes instrumental to Rodion's confessing to the crime. Reading this entire journey, from the murder to the confession, is one very satisfying experience.

I know that one shouldn't compare apples and oranges, but I can't help doing so with Dostoevsky and Tolstoy. I love Anna Karenina, which I also read recently. However, finishing Crime and Punishment is something I consider more rewarding. Now I want to read The Idiot or even reread The Brothers Karamazov!

I even took a few notes before coming to the discussion.
Yes, that's how much I love Crime and Punishment!
Read this book if:
  1. You love them Russians.
  2. You'll read anything translated by Pevear and Volokhonsky. (I know I would.)
  3. See more reasons here.


Kaz said...

You're a braver man than I, Gungadin (you can go hunt THAT reference up in your spare time...). I've not got to Dostoevsky. This book is on my TBR pile - it's a little dusty... You'll see from MY most recent post just how far distant my current reading is - but there is a solid reason for that. However, methinks it'll still be a while before I get to the Russians again.

Olivr said...

notable cursive-writing. ang-ayos :) must check this book soon, add it to that pile I'm about to read for the next few weeks.

Peter S. said...

Hello, Kaz! I can't get enough of these Russians!

Hi, Olivr! Salamat! I write real slow though.

caite said...

Never, maybe a should!

Peter S. said...

Yes, yes, yes!

Tin said...

This was actually my first Russian Lit. I got to about 10 chapters I think, and I dropped it. Since then, I have been more afraid of Russian Lit. More in part really because of the sort of formal way that they're written, (like most Classics really)which makes it a bit difficult for me to get through, and they are chunksters as well.

I am not closing my doors on them though. Perhaps when I'm in the mood for some despair or when I'm feeling brave. :) Do you think Dostoevsky is a great choice for beginners? :)

Peter S. said...

Hello, Tin! I'm not too keen on recommending Dostoevsky for beginners. Maybe you can try Chekov's short stories? A friend tells me that they're good.

James Chester said...

This was one of my years top ten reads a few years ago. Loved it. Been reading Russians ever since.

Peter S. said...

Very satisfying, those Russians are.

Tin said...

Taking note of Checkov. Thanks Peter! :)

Peter S. said...

You're very much welcome, Tin!

kyemeruth said...

Hello KyusiReader! Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment was my first immersion to Russian lit and to Dostoevsky as well. After finishing the book last May, I'd say this is one of those stories you'll never forget. Raskolnikov's suffering and inner monologues were just too haunting not to remember. I even have to stop once in a while and read another story because I was so affected by story. Anyway, I'm glad I read your post. It feels nice to see other people love the same book you loved.

I also write reviews for several books I've read. You may want to visit my blog sometime ( Thanks and I look forward to more book suggestions from your blog. :) God bless! :)

Peter S. said...

Thanks for your comment!, kyemeruth!