After having reviewed a book written by a contemporary writer (The Circle by Dave Eggers), now it’s time for a classic one – Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky. This book was recommended to me by my brother as an “easy one” compared to other Dostoevskian masterpieces, and it is the first book by Dostoevsky I’ve ever read.
Crime and Punishment is a psychological drama, telling the story of a young man, Rodion Raskolnikov. He commits a crime and is punished for his deeds… sounds quite obvious, right? However, the punishment described to a great extent throughout the book is not what you might expect – it is not a legal punishment, but a psychological one. Fear, doubt, guilt, and psychological games are the main elements of the story, while also touching on topics such as poverty, family, and addiction.
As a fun fact, the content of the book is represented by the pie chart below (no spoilers, don’t worry):
For me, the book was not an easy read, I might say it was quite a challenging one … and I identified three main reasons for it. Firstly, the sad psychological components were influencing my mood as I was reading, which made it difficult to read more than 3-4 chapters at a time. The feelings and thoughts of the main character were really having an impact on me. Secondly, I had mixed feelings about the main character, as Rodion was portrayed both as villain and victim. While being a villain because of the crime he committed, Rodion was also a victim of the societal context, coincidences, and his own beliefs. Thirdly, I had to constantly check the list of characters’ names and brief descriptions, as I had problems with remembering Russians names … and on top of that, the writer was also using different variants of the names.
Despite being a not-so-easy read, Crime and Punishment is for sure a book worth reading. Dostoevsky dives deep into criminals’ psychology, presenting the journey from the initial thoughts prior to committing the crime to the miserable feelings and repercussions that happen after committing the crime.
What about you – have you read any books by Dostoevsky or by other Russian writers? If yes, which ones and would you recommend them?
‘Till next time … happy reading!