Jan 12

 

Crime and Punishment, by Fyodor Dostoevsky ★★★★★

It’s been quite a few years since I’ve actually sat down to read a novel, and I’m not exactly sure why I chose Dostoevsky or this book, but I’m grateful that I did. This book was read on the Kindle. It is the story of a student-intellectual self-driven to poverty, and then committing a double murder. Most of the book engages in his thoughts and actions in the weeks after the incident until he finally breaks down to turn himself in. The book moves quite slowly most the time, with the necessity of reading through quite lengthy dialogues and monologues. Yet, there is a sublime virtue in this book that truly makes it a great novel. Dostoevsky is a complete master of the art of describing pathos. One reads in a cold sweat. One feels guilty even though not the criminal. The reader experiences the anger, depression, the dilutions, the decisional uncertainty of the characters. In most novels, you are a fly on the wall, watching the scene. In Dostoevsky, you are the character, you are in the brain of the character speaking.

Dostoevsky had an interesting upbringing, being born in Moscow in 1821, and dying in 1881. His parents died (perhaps his father was murdered) when he was young, and he scraped for himself. He almost was executed as a political criminal, spent 4 years in a prison camp in Siberia where he became a devout Christian, and spent the rest of his life writing novels in the realist mode, describing the true Russia of the time. Dostoevsky artfully brings up topics of the basis for morality, the existence of God, and the Christian faith. The point of sanity in the sea of insanity through this novel is the few characters with a Christian faith, such as Sonya. Raskolnikov’s sanity exists only in the last paragraphs of the book as he inquires of the Christian faith. The book ends as though there would be sequel.

I’ll be reading much more Dostoevsky in the months ahead. I’m now working on The Brothers Karazamov and will then attack others, so sit tight.

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