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Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Crime and Punishment (1866)

by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
30,45534327 (4.25)2 / 796
  1. 190
    The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky (PrincessPaulina, zasmine)
    PrincessPaulina: "The Idiot" is overlooked compared to Dostoevsky's other work, but in my opinion it's the most engaging. Deals with upper crust society in pre-revolutionary Russia
    zasmine: For more of his social dissection
  2. 180
    Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (Booksloth)
  3. 173
    The Trial by Franz Kafka (SanctiSpiritus, Kantar)
  4. 162
    The Stranger by Albert Camus (chrisharpe, DLSmithies)
    DLSmithies: A compare-and-contrast exercise - Raskolnikov is all nervous energy and hypertension, whereas Meursault is detatched, calm, and won't pretend to feel remorse. Two masterpieces.
  5. 93
    Notes from Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky (SanctiSpiritus, Kantar)
  6. 51
    The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga (infiniteletters)
  7. 40
    The Man Without Qualities, Volume 1: A Sort of Introduction, and Pseudo Reality Prevails by Robert Musil (ateolf)
  8. 31
    Hunger by Knut Hamsun (ateolf)
  9. 21
    Herzog by Saul Bellow (SanctiSpiritus)
  10. 76
    The Tell-Tale Heart and Other Writings by Edgar Allan Poe (GCPLreader)
  11. 11
    The Lost Highway by David Adams Richards (figsfromthistle)
    figsfromthistle: Both novels show the unravelling of the human conscience and the lengths the main protagonists go to convince themselves that their crime was necessary.
  12. 610
    Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Süskind (klerulo)
    klerulo: Both these works attempt to get inside the head of singularly amoral sociopathic murderers.

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Two women are hacked to death with an axe and some valuables stolen from their apartment. The killer, Rodion Raskolnikov, is at first trapped in the apartment when two men knock at the door and refuse to go away. After a suspenseful few minutes Raskolnikov manages to escape unseen. The mystery then becomes not who did it, because most of the book is written from the killer’s point of view, but which of two forces will ultimately be his undoing, the police or his dark, deranged mind that leads him to alternately wander the streets at night or hold up in his claustrophobic apartment while suffering fever, fainting and fantastic dreams.
After the murder, which takes place in mid-nineteenth century St. Petersburg, Russia, Raskolnikov’s mother and beautiful sister Dunya arrive from the country followed by the sister’s manipulative fiancée who Raskolnikov insults at their first meeting. Raskolnikov’s sister is also pursued by a lecherous former employer bent on having Dunya one way or the other. Soon a casual alcoholic acquaintance of Raskolnikov dies and sends his family into hysterics while the drunk’s self-effacing daughter, who has become a prostitute to support the family, catches Raskolnikov’s eye.
In this edition’s foreword, translator Richard Pevear compares the book to the Hindu parable of the blind men describing an elephant each by touching a different part, and indeed the subplots mentioned above head in different directions all held together by Raskolnikov. So rather than explore all of Dostoevsky’s complex characters, his overlapping themes, historical and literary allusions, let’s look at the book simply as a murder story.
Even though we know whodunit, the murder investigation and the exploration of Raskolnikov’s psyche is anything but straightforward. A handsome young man in his early 20s, Raskolnikov is an impoverished, sickly former law student dressed in rags. He lives in a garret or tiny flat and is afraid to run into his landlady because he’s behind on the rent. He develops a scheme to kill and rob an elderly pawnbroker which he does early in the novel. He also kills the pawnbroker’s sister who drops in unexpectedly. The crime accomplished, the majority of the book focuses on the punishment which takes place largely in Raskolnikov’s head.
While he may regret the crime for what it may cost him, he doesn’t regret taking the life of someone he considers worthless. Getting rid of the miserable crone was a favor to society. The sister simply became, in modern vernacular, collateral damage. Taking a view that separates mankind into the “ordinary and the extraordinary” Raskolnikov feels he is above most men and that the extraordinary ones may transcend conventional morality if the betterment of society is at stake. As it quickly becomes obvious, Raskolnikov is far from a level-headed polemic. Either his wacky moral beliefs are not enough to assuage his seeping guilt, or he’s on the verge of madness and all bets based on logic--even a twisted one--are off. As mentioned, he wanders the streets having extended conversations with himself about his crime, his pursuers and a strange notion that since he’s committed a crime he is now free to do good deeds for others, for society. But even when he donates some of his limited money, he seems to reinforce his appearance of derangement.
Hot on Raskolnikov’s trail is Porfiry Petrovich, a police detective who seems to understand the complex psychological aspects of the young man’s motivations. A pudgy official of 35, his method of dealing with Raskolnikov is essentially to give him enough rope as the crime cliché says, but perhaps this method was not as commonplace when the book was published in 1866. In a masterful scene slightly beyond the halfway point of the book, Raskolnikov is summoned to Petrovich’s office where the detective lays out, in theoretical terms, what a perfectly solved murder case might involve, while he professes to be an awkward investigator.
“…suppose there is evidence sir,” [he tells Raskolnikov] but evidence, my dear, is mostly double-ended, and I am an investigator and therefore, I confess, a weak man: I would like to present my investigation with, so to speak, mathematical clarity; I would like to get a hold of a piece of evidence that’s something like two times two is four! Something like direct and indisputable proof! But if I were to lock him [a suspect] up at the wrong time--even though I’m sure it was him--I might well deprive myself of the means of his further incrimination.”
Petrovich even admits his interrogation techniques are clumsy, but he uses a telling metaphor.
“Tell me, really, who among all the accused, even the most cloddish peasant doesn’t know, for instance, that they [investigators] will first lull him with unrelated questions (to use your happy expression) and then suddenly stun him right on the head, with an axe…”
Again talking theoretically, Petrovich tells Raskolnikov that in some cases letting a suspect think that he knows his inner secrets and that he, the suspect, is being followed day and night will push the suspected person into making fatal mistakes.
Although Petrovich seems to be talking abstractedly, his message unnerves Raskolnikov to the point where he tells himself he’d like to “hurl himself at Porfiry and strangle him on the spot.” Near the climax of the scene, Raskolnikov pounds his fist on the table and shouts, “Don’t taunt me! I won’t have it!”
The case against Raskolnikov is not assured, however, compounded by another person’s confessing to the crime and the possibility that Raskolnikov may be completely loony so that the “cat and mouse game” (Petrovich’s words) proceeds with unexpected turns throughout the novel.
If anything in this book sounds familiar, it’s because mystery and suspense writers have had nearly 150 years to read Dostoevsky and benefit from his insights, copy his style or simply lift ideas. The book is filled with what has become standard detective story fare: the killer returning to the scene of the crime, a protracted search for the best place to hide the loot, paranoia over being followed, frantic attempts to remove all blood stains, confiding the crime in secret to a girlfriend (a hooker with a heart of gold), the criminal’s belief that he’s somehow entitled to his plunder and a detective seeking a confession. Petrovich’s roundabout interrogation of Raskolnikov sounds remarkably like the bumbling yet savvy Lieutenant Columbo (Peter Falk) from the TV series of the 1970s and 80s.
It would be a mistake to call this the original hardboiled detective book, but the mood and the settings are decidedly grim. The characters populate cramped, oppressive rooms decorated with faded, pealing wallpaper and frayed furniture. Many are dressed in ragged clothes, have little or no money and, with a few exceptions, bleak prospects. Suspicion, shame and fear are common and the dirty city streets are filled with falling-down drunks. One particularly dark scene describes a horse being beaten to death in the street in front of cheering onlookers when it fails to pull an intentionally overloaded wagon.
Raskolnikov’s extended, abstract inner dialogs can become a little mind-numbing, and complicating the read is the custom of Russians to be called by their last names sometimes, or their first two names, or sometimes a nickname. Within the same paragraph a character can be referred to by several different names--a challenge to English-speaking readers. These issues aside, it’s easy to see why this novel is a towering classic. It’s a powerful story, with complex characters, a strong emotional--and intellectual base--and an engrossing blueprint for the crime novels that followed it.
E-book notes This print version of the novel has many useful footnotes explaining aspects of Russian culture and language, historical and geographical references, plus relevant elements of the author’s background. It also contains a foreword by one of the two renown translators and a useful character list with a guide to pronunciation of the names.
This novel also appears in an e-book collection of all of the author’s work, translated by Constance Garnett, that was available for the Kindle. All of the novels were combined in the file, making the percentage read gage and word search all but useless. According to the Amazon Web site, Dostoevsky’s books, also translated by Garnett, are now available separately--and free.
Cinema notes According to imdb.com, there are no fewer than 30 Crime and Punishment films, many produced in other countries. The most recent US production was a 2002 film starring Vanessa Redgrave, John Hurt and Crispin Glover. A 1935 version starred Edward Arnold as Porfiry Petrovich and Peter Lorre as Raskolnikov.
( )
  Mark_Bacon | Jul 24, 2017 |
I have strayed far to long from my love of classic literature. It has been over a year since I have picked a classic literature novel from my bookshelf. After reading Crime and Punishment, I have found that of all the books written in today's age, none compare with the great authors of the past. Dostoyevsky delivers a physiological thriller that dives into the inner workings of a man. We as readers, are forced to open our eyes and look at the world from a different point of view. Dostoyevsky's attention to detail, and description of the characters and setting allows us to be pulled into his novel, and into the mind of Rodion Raskolnikov. Dostoyevsky lets us have a front row seat as Rodion Raskolnikov battles, his morals, his pride, and his belief in God. Dostoyevsky takes his readers back to mid 19th century St. Petersburg Russia with his detailed description of the city, the filth of their lodgings, and the poverty in which they lived. It took me almost 8 weeks to read this brilliant novel, and I enjoyed every minute of it. I am almost saddened that I have to return it to my bookshelf. I am looking forward to reading "The Brothers Karamazov", which I immediately ordered after reading Crime and Punishment. Thank you Fyodor Dostoyevsky, for brining me home to my true love..... the great reads of classic literature.
( )
  jaconstancio | Jun 26, 2017 |
Surprisingly easy read. Long though. ( )
  kakadoo202 | Jun 7, 2017 |
Desde mi punto de vista, la mejor obra de Dostoievsky, mejor incluso que Los hermanos Karamazov.

Entre todo lo bueno que ya leí, sólo hubo uno que me emocionó hasta las lágrimas y es Crimen y Castigo. Con ese libro me vi transportado al sórdido mercado de San Petersburgo, palpité todas las sensaciones del momento del asesinato de la vieja usurera, experimenté la tensión de la investigación y me emocioné e incluso lloré (no me da vergüenza admitirlo) con la redención de Raskolnikov junto a Sonia, sobre todo en la escena en que ambos (una prostituta y un asesino) leen en la biblia el pasaje de la resurrección de Lázaro, lo cual sirve de metáfora a que la redención es posible para todos.

La profundidad con que Dostoievsky trata a sus personajes y su realidad circundante no tiene punto de comparación. El autor tiene una forma tan particular de relatar la historia que nos permite sumergirnos en la misma cual si fuéramos parte de ella.

Por estas razones, siempre consideré a este como el mejor libro que haya leído y no dudo en recomendarlo a todos.

Una historia de caída y redención. Excelente. ( )
  CarlosBazzano | Feb 21, 2017 |
I thought I would go crazy. ( )
1 vote PBugriyev | Dec 24, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 297 (next | show all)
In an interview with The Reading Lists, Andrew Klavan says... "It rescued me from relativism and thus from the age."

» Add other authors (53 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Dostoevsky, Fyodorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Björkegren, HansTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Borja, CorinneIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Borja, RobertIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brockway, HarryIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brodal, JanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Canon, Raymond R.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Coulson, JessieTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Eggink, ClaraEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Eichenberg, FritzIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Garnett, ConstanceTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Geier, SwetlanaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Guidall, GeorgeNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hoffmann, RichardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hollo, J. A.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jullian, PhilippeIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Katzer, JuliusTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kropotkin, AlexandraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kuukasjärvi, OlliTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Manger, HermienTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Meijer, JanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pampaloni, Genosecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pevear, RichardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Prina, SerenaEditor and Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ready, OliverTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Reedijk, LourensTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rydelius, EllenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Volokhonsky, LarissaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vuori, M.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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First words
On an exceptionally hot evening early in July a young man came out of the garret in which he lodged in S. Place and walked slowly, as though in hesitation, towards K. bridge. (Garnett translation)
Toward the end of a sultry afternoon early in July a young man came out of his little room in Stolyarny Lane and turned slowly and somewhat irresolutely in the direction of Kamenny Bridge. (Coulson translation)
On a very hot evening at the beginning of July a young man left his little room at the top of a house in Carpenter Lane, went out into the street, and, as though unable to make up his mind, walked slowly in the direction of Kokushkin Bridge.
At the beginning of July, during an extremely hot spell, towards evening, a young man left the closet he rented from tenants in S____y Lane, walked out to the street, and slowly, as if indecisively, headed for the K______n Bridge. (Pevear and Volokhonsky translation)
In het begin van juli, het was tegen de avond en bijzonder warm, verliet een jongeman het kamertje dat hij aan de S-steeg in onderhuur bewoonde, en begaf zich traag, besluiteloos bijna, in de richting van de K-brug.
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Disambiguation notice
The original Russian title is “Преступление и наказание”.
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
How Raskolnikov, a former student, deluded, kind, handsome, mercilessly intellectual, comes half-dreaming with a borrowed hatchet to murder an old woman money-lender, is the central action of Crime and Punishment.

From its opening pages Dostoyevsky attaches us unreservedly to his hero, creating an intimacy that is claustrophobic, full of tension, and as haunting and relentless as a love affair. Begun as a novel concerned with the psychology of a crime and the processes of guilt, it surpasses itself to take on the tragic force of myth.

It is the king of murder stories. And of detective stories. And of thrillers... writes John Jones in his classic study of Dostoyevsky, calling Crime and Punishment the most accessible and exciting novel in the world.

The cover shows a painting by an anonymous artist in the Russian Museum, Leningrad.
Haiku summary
Student with an axe:
Napoleon or madman?
Siberian gaol.

Good boy gone bad in

this novel: comic version

removes most drama.


Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0553211757, Mass Market Paperback)

A desperate young man plans the perfect crime -- the murder of a despicable pawnbroker, an old women no one loves and no one will mourn. Is it not just, he reasons, for a man of genius to commit such a crime, to transgress moral law -- if it will ultimately benefit humanity? So begins one of the greatest novels ever written: a powerful psychological study, a terrifying murder mystery, a fascinating detective thriller infused with philosophical, religious and social commentary. Raskolnikov, an impoverished student living in a garret in the gloomy slums of St. Petersburg, carries out his grotesque scheme and plunges into a hell of persecution, madness and terror. Crime And Punishment takes the reader on a journey into the darkest recesses of the criminal and depraved mind, and exposes the soul of a man possessed by both good and evil ... a man who cannot escape his own conscience.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:03:28 -0400)

(see all 12 descriptions)

Determined to overreach his humanity and assert his untrammeled individual will, Raskolnikov, and impoverished student living in the St. Petersburg of the Tsars, commits an act of murder and theft and sets into motion a story which, for its excruciating suspense, its atmospheric vividness, and its profundity of characterization and vision, is almost unequaled in the literatures of the world.… (more)

» see all 30 descriptions

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0451530063, 0140449132

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