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!
- You love them Russians.
- You'll read anything translated by Pevear and Volokhonsky. (I know I would.)
- See more reasons here.