Translated by: Constance Garnett
I say: I have just re-read this for my Existentialism course, and even though I wasn’t in the mood for being inside of Raskolnikov’s head, I was genuinely surprised at how easily I was drawn into the story. Obviously it was nothing new to me, but I still found myself noticing a few things and thinking harder about others this time around – probably because I now have to write an analysis of it, but even so.
I can’t say that it was better this time around, it was just different.
One of the reasons I love Dostoevsky is because of the psychological elements of his novels; they’re all so much more than just a story; they make you think about life and morality and how you relate to it. Understandably I had existentialist ideology in my head while reading it, and it’s fascinating how often and extremely Raskolnikov changes during the course of the novel. He goes from anger to pride to indignation to sorrow to remorse to glee to pretty much every human emotion possible, and I found myself both loathing and loving him in equal measures. I loathed him for his conceit and I loved him because I understood him and his inner struggle.
Essentially he loses everything he thought himself to be.
Reluctantly, mind you, but who among us would give it all up so easily?
It’s a weird concession to make but I love the depiction of the poor in old Russia – and not in a romantic way, but in a sordid form of fascination. The way Dostoevsky describes the old, dirty and torn clothes, the meagre diet, and the inability to really pull yourself out of a slump once you’ve fallen deep enough. It’s like a sad love song to me and I simply cannot get enough of it.
Another thing I can’t get enough of is all the discussions they have about life, politics, the law, and crime and punishment (zing). Dostoevsky creates characters that represent different philosophies and pegs them against each other forcing the (attentive) reader to, not so much take sides, but acknowledge and (hopefully) address their own beliefs in the discussions.
Well, I could go on and on about this but shall refrain from doing so as I have a paper to write. I knew the first time I read Crime and Punishment that it would be one of the books that I will continue to return to my entire life as so much of your interpretation depends on where you currently are in life. You take different things with you every time you read it, or you deepen your convictions and begin to look at the world in a different way. And yes, this did significantly rock my world the first time I read it, and now it’s once again made me think hard about my life philosophy (and it doesn’t help that I’m analysing Kierkegaard and Sartre as well).
This is a masterpiece of epic proportions.