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Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
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Crime and Punishment (original 1866; edition 2011)

by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Constance Garnett (Translator)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
27,30630036 (4.25)2 / 676
Member:mnorris3
Title:Crime and Punishment
Authors:Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Other authors:Constance Garnett (Translator)
Info:Simon & Brown (2011), Paperback, 446 pages
Collections:Read in 2012
Rating:****
Tags:None

Work details

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky (1866)

  1. 180
    Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (Booksloth)
  2. 170
    The Idiot by Fedor Mikhaïlovitch Dostoïevski (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
  3. 163
    The Trial by Franz Kafka (SanctiSpiritus, Kantar)
  4. 142
    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. 113
    Notes from Underground by Fedor Mikhaïlovitch Dostoïevski (SanctiSpiritus, Kantar)
  6. 40
    The Man Without Qualities, Volume 1: A Sort of Introduction, and Pseudo Reality Prevails by Robert Musil (ateolf)
  7. 51
    The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga (infiniteletters)
  8. 31
    Hunger by Knut Hamsun (ateolf)
  9. 75
    The Tell-Tale Heart and Other Writings by Edgar Allan Poe (GCPLreader)
  10. 21
    Herzog by Saul Bellow (SanctiSpiritus)
  11. 21
    An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser (StevenTX)
  12. 68
    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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English (256)  Spanish (13)  Italian (6)  Finnish (4)  Dutch (4)  German (4)  French (3)  Danish (2)  Portuguese (2)  Swedish (1)  Tagalog (1)  Catalan (1)  Czech (1)  All languages (298)
Showing 1-5 of 256 (next | show all)
Loved it!
(That's it. I don't review obviously great books) ( )
1 vote Scarchin | Jan 24, 2015 |
Tests Test test ( )
  MrTMetcalfe | Jan 20, 2015 |
Needs more axe.

Nice reflection about guilt, but not exactly my cup of tea.
  Hack | Jan 18, 2015 |
READ IN ENGLISH

Read all my reviews on http://urlphantomhive.booklikes.com

A very famous classic in Russian Literature. I read Anna Karenina last year (and I know it's Tolstoy, so completely different, but I don't have a lot to compare it with as I'm not really experienced in Russian Literature).



Rodion Romanovitch Raskolnikov, or Rodya, is a former student in St. Petersburg who's been planning to commit a 'perfect' murder. Only, it turns out to be not so perfect after all. Things only get worse thanks to his constant conviction that everyone is trying to expose this secret.



Rodya isn't a very sympathetic character (although less annoying than Anna in Anna Karenina). Luckily, there are nicer characters in this book, my favourite being Dmitri Prokofitch Razumihin, his friend who takes care of Rodya when he's (half) mad. I do wonder why all the older female characters seem to be hysteric, seems a bit sexist to me...



It's not a fast or easy read, but the story is very interesting and at some points it even gets exciting. Some times the story drags a little, as Dostojevski can write a lot about something small, or isn't always completely understandable, as Rodya's thinking in delirium isn't always clear. Still, I never felt it a burden to pick up this book. (I definitely liked it better than Anna Karenina) ( )
  Floratina | Jan 4, 2015 |
Penguin edition, translated by Oliver Ready

I discovered this new version via a best books of 2014 article. (They work for some of us...) Seeing a comment by a translator from Russian, it sounded like this was what I’d been looking for: At last we have a translation that brings out the wild humour and vitality of the original. A.N. Wilson, who also chose this as a ‘Book of the Year’, is right to call it a ‘truly great translation’. I'd heard already that Russians often describe Dostoevsky as humorous, but this never came through in any of the five or so translations of which I’d read early pages. Just over a year ago, I ended up with a second hand copy of Jessie Coulson’s OUP C&P because it flowed better than the Pevear & Volokhonsky, and cost £1.49, but I still wasn’t convinced that it was the right one. And for years earlier, I’d had a copy of the McDuff, which I’d eventually got rid of without reading.

Oliver Ready’s Note on [this] Translation says The most widely read translations of Crime and Punishment have tended, in my view, towards a polish, and therefore tameness, absent from Dostoevsky’s text (effects gained in large part by judicious trimming or padding); or else they have clung so closely to the Russian that the spell cast by the original is periodically broken by jarring literalism, and the author’s peculiarities of style, smoothed over in other translations, are made odder still.

Well, exactly.

When I started War & Peace, I read dozens of articles for and against the literalism of Pevear & Volkhonsky. I like the arguments against absolute literalism. I fell into reading their translation: it seemed livelier than Edmonds, and the Briggs, which I preferred, isn’t available as an ebook, plus I just wanted to know what people were talking about. The double entendres (including liberal use of the word ‘entering’) which P&V actually fought against British editors to retain, were always distracting. In most of the relevant scenes, they set a porn version running in my head in parallel with Tolstoy’s story. (Some bits of which are more memorable than the real scene…) Unconscious innuendo might have a place alongside old-fashioned, out-of-touch grandeur, a fair representation of someone who doesn’t know a vulgar meaning of what they’re saying - which fits perfectly well with the idea of Tolstoy. But a grubby story like Crime and Punishment should surely mean what it says.

This month, reading, and reading reviews of, recent Russian-language comic novel The Good Life Elsewhere has given me a stronger sense of how a clumsy, cluttered wordiness in English is a result of near-literal translation from Russian, and how it can detract from humour. The concept is funny, but something seems off-centre and it means no actual-lol. When I looked again at the preview of P&V’s Crime & Punishment, I saw exactly that kind of word-clutter. Ready communicates the same things as they do, in the pages I read in parallel, but his sentences have a more elegant construction, a hint of dry wit; subtly rather British, perhaps, though the text doesn’t feel entirely anglicised. The narrative fairly gallops along with an almost manic energy (not so much that it isn’t also thoughtful) – it was compulsive reading and I didn’t really want to stop once I’d read the sample, delighted also to have been seized with enthusiasm for a book that had been hanging around my collection in various forms for the best part of fifteen years. When I finished it, I segued straight to In Siberia by Colin Thubron, whose flowery prose was much slower to read and showed just what immediacy and simple clarity Dostoevsky-via-Ready had. If you value a translation that’s well written and enjoyable in and of itself, I’d certainly recommend this one over P&V.

The notes are excellent. Ready explains many word choices, underlying Russian meanings, and their significance to the story: very satisfying and never boring. There is lots on the historical and philosophical context and background academic scholarship. Anonymised place names are explained – though as usual I’ll lament the lack of maps in a novel: if you haven’t been to St Petersburg, these can’t be placed without putting down the book. Only a handful of notes seem superfluous for a fairly well-educated reader who is nonetheless unfamiliar with recent scholarship on Dostoevsky; all of those translate elementary phrases of French and German.

Some time last year, I noticed what appeared to be the books that the most Goodreads friends had read which I hadn’t. Don’t think I made a note of them all, but at the top were Lolita (read last autumn) and Crime and Punishment. (Karamazov isn’t far behind. You lot prefer Dostoyevsky over Tolstoy, more than average for the site, and now I can see why.) The people in my feed really don’t need another review of the book in general. But I write these things at least as much for the sake of remembering as telling.

At first the book was incredibly familiar. I knew I hadn’t read more than a chapter before – presumably it was instead because this is an ur-text. Raskolnikov may have had his literary antecedents, but surely he’s the granddad of all those usually criminal, sometimes merely a bit dodgy, unreliable narrators that are arguably a subgenre to themselves in twentieth century-and-later English language fiction: John Self, Patrick Bateman, Humbert himself, and Alfie being the first well-known ones who spring to mind. (Not to mention the starving artists and existentialists teetering on the brink in Hamsun, Camus, Sartre etc etc.) Raskolnikov's opinions (and the scene of cruelty to horses as he falls into madness) prefigure Nietzsche. Having read GR posts by people who generally come across as calm, who yet felt that Raskolnikov had got under their skin, I was apprehensive about where this might take me. I didn’t want to feel again like I had when reading Money (which needed a lot of breaks) or Lolita (which I read much of whilst sunbathing outside – when it wasn’t quite warm enough – because visual and physical awareness of self would help displace my consciousness into non-narrating characters. At my age, that’s obviously Charlotte.) But third-person narrative, with scenes entirely between other characters, saves me from feeling half possessed. We come up for air with long breaks from Raskolnikov’s mind, and the book is far more interesting for the number of other characters it contains. But we’re still stuck inside the close, humid world of white nights in the slums of St Petersburg. It invited immersive reading, stewing in bed or sofa as crockery, cartons and cups piled up around.

The third person made it easier to disentangle what makes such narrators feel contagious: Raskolnikov’s nerves are universal, the pressure of some impending but unfixed deadline; most readers can presumably remember times when they’ve felt nervous as that – but it wasn’t because they killed anyone. Sometimes, when he's concerned with family problems, it's as if he's forgotten what happened, what he did - from less serious bad things at least, this kind of denial seems so accurate, something that novels don't often get into - it's not that he isn't troubled, it just isn't there for a while. Though what I often got most caught up in was the outlook of several other characters who just assume he needs to get better and sort himself out, have a decent meal and pay off his debts... then like the bombshell of a drunk remembering what they did the night before, back into Raskolnikov's mind and the enormity and horror of the murder.

Classics are generally classics because they’re universal, but it’s a long time since I found any nineteenth century novel this pertinent. (And if I ever did I can’t remember which one.)
Some of it’s in the smaller things: the to-ing and fro-ing between what are essentially bedsits, half living in other people’s houses, visitors forever turning up, feels terribly similar to [post]university life over a hundred years later. A chord that won’t strike the hardier among you, but how often characters are ill (with fevers, mostly)*. I felt at home in a world where other people also say “Now of all times I’d have preferred to be well,” where it’s evidently a regular consideration. And maybe novels set amongst poorer people more easily seem ‘relevant’ and ‘universal’ than stories of aristocrats. Mostly the significance, though, is in the big philosophical questions. These days aspiring political leaders would not be respected for having killed people – that’s a difference from Raskolnikov’s idealisation of Napoleon. But his ‘stepping over’ idea, to what extent some form of greatness negates damage done, does still seem to matter in debates about the relevance of artists’ lives to their work. And I know I accept things from a few people I consider hugely creatively talented that I wouldn’t from those who aren’t, and that others don’t make exceptions. The biggest question is about the causes of crime. Notes indicate that Dostoevsky was philosophically opposed to those who considered all crime to be prompted by the environment; at that point in history it sounds as if this meant external factors such as poverty. The environment is now understood to be more entangled with the individual, via upbringing and [epi]genetics, and points like the very high incidence of mental illness in prisoners, which makes this story all the more complex – as a case study it still works because Raskolnikov’s character and the question of his responsibility is not straightforward and can be seen through the lens of whatever current society. As regards the very end whilst I don’t know about this point WRT serious violent criminals, I think it’s excellent that Raskolnikov’s sense of feeling and empathy starts to kick in as he gets a little older. Plenty of people are rigidly elitist and unfeeling to those unlike them in their late teens and early twenties, and become much more “human/e” as they grow up. Much popular comment seems to think that it’s set for life, but I’ve seen people change to one degree or another like this, (not to mention examples in textbooks) and it’s evident it’s a spectrum not a binary. Dostoevsky shows Raskolnikov as someone with the potential to grow out of it to some unknown extent, but he also acknowledges that some people don’t really, in the character of Luzhin. Svidrigailov seems to have placed the orphans in a vulnerable position, but he has tried to make some amends and has been haunted by his victims. Dunce point: did he really kill himself? And not shoot ‘Achilles’, dress him up in his clothes and run away to America?

Crime and Punishment is remarkably free from that perennial irritant in nineteenth century novels, the generalisation: old men do this, young women think that etc. I only noticed four in the entire book, and only one of those was dodgy to our eyes (a long-winded clause essentially saying ‘all Jews look miserable’). Russians "have an exceptional propensity for the fantastical and the disorderly"? His characters do, anyway. I like to think that Dostoevsky’s unusually broad and harrowing life experience made him see there was too much variety among human beings to warrant the usual Victorian upper/middle-class generalisations pronounced from on high. (Of the remaining two, one seems impossible to argue with: like children who, after a good long cry, are finally beginning to cheer up, but could easily start sobbing again at a moment’s notice. And the other seems so obviously, amusingly, a local observation not marked as such: Katya drained the glass in one go – without a break, in twenty gulps, as women do. Having downed plenty of drinks – when younger to show off, later merely through thirst – I feel no objection, only wonder whether it would take a starving singer, who must have good breath control, as many as twenty to drain a pint or similar).

Everyone mentions Raskolnikov, but I’d never heard anyone allude to his sister Dunya, and how much she rocks. In War & Peace female characters appeared to have a bit more licence than those in its British contemporaries. Still, I was amazed that the women of Part 4 chapter II were written by a genuine nineteenth century novelist. Later, near the end where it has moments of turning into an adventure novel in the scene with Svidrigailov, I saw her as a prototype of the Russian Bond Girl. There were so many little things familiar about their mother, Pulkheria, that I could easily imagine her as an extra aunt. Generally, I had not been led to believe that there were many likeable characters in Crime & Punishment, but there are – Razhumikin, too. Raskolnikov on his own could get exasperating at times (not as exasperated as he himself felt); yet whenever he was in conversation with anyone else the story became fascinating again, and I always wanted to know what was going to happen to everyone else.

Not that there aren’t a few possible faults to pick. Some seem a result of writing for serialisation. Luzhin and Svidrigailov could have had more disparate roles in the second half. I wondered if in the original serialisation, Dostoevsky was trying to reprise and amplify popular plotlines with Luzhin as antagonist, as there were a few too many similarities in what Svidrigailov did later on. Even though his denouement was enormous fun. Right now it also seems particularly contemporary to have as villains rich men who exploited impoverished children and teenagers. Investigator Petrovich was perhaps too mad and rambling in conversation, too strange and fantastical in his actions, but that’s when compared with modern fictional detectives. There are bits which are existential gritty realist and philosophical, and others pulpier. Sonya has, of all the characters, aged least well: a cross between Little Nell and the hooker with a heart of gold, she doesn’t ring true to the modern reader.

I read a lot of the big English nineteenth century classics in my teens, and for all that I might see them differently now, there has always been that feeling of having got something basically done. All the references in this volume make me aware of a huge gap in not having read the Russians which I didn’t think that significant before – if only they were all as compelling as this translation, they would be nothing but a joy to discover.

*There was a bit in some novel I read as a teenager in which a heroine asks “why does Juliet never have a cold?” and similar re . other well known characters. ( )
  antonomasia | Dec 28, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (119 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
Eggink, ClaraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Eichenberg, FritzIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Garnett, ConstanceTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Geier, SwetlanaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Guidall, GeorgeNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hoffmann, RichardÜbersetzersecondary 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
Pevear, RichardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Prina, SerenaEditor and Translatorsecondary 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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The original Russian title is “Преступление и наказание”.
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Wikipedia in English (2)

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.

(Michael.Rimmer)

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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:22:02 -0400)

(see all 11 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)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 32 descriptions

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