Jim Fonseca's Reviews > Crime and Punishment

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
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it was amazing
bookshelves: russian-authors, favorite-books

What can I add to 7000+ reviews (at the time I write)? I think this book is fascinating because of all the topic it covers. Like the OJ trial, it is about many important interconnected things and those things remain important today, even though this book was originally published in 1865.

Sure, it has a lot about crime and punishment. But also insanity and temporary insanity, the latter a legal plea that could be entered in Russia of the mid-1800's. It's about guilt and conscience, long before Freud. In fact, this book was written at a time when psychological theories were coming into vogue. It's about false confessions. It's about poverty and social class and people who rise above their class and people who fall from the class they were born into. It's about the wild dreams and the follies of youth.

There is also mention of many social theories that were in vogue at that time, so, for example, if you want to, you can click on Wikipedia to find out about "Fourier's system" and his phalansteres. There is attempted rape, blackmail, child labor, child prostitution, child marriage and child molestation. There is discussion of marrying for money. There are ethnic tensions between Russians and the Germans of St. Petersburg. Should you give to charity or should you give to change the conditions that caused the poverty? Like me, you may have thought that was a modern idea, but here it is, laid out in 1865. There's a lot about alcoholism. Stir in a cat-and-mouse detective and a bit of Christian redemption. No wonder this is a classic.
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Reading Progress

November 11, 2011 – Shelved
Started Reading
December 2, 2011 – Finished Reading
September 6, 2015 – Shelved as: russian-authors
September 6, 2015 – Shelved as: favorite-books

Comments Showing 1-50 of 61 (61 new)


message 1: by Kelly (new) - added it

Kelly McCoy Great review! I read this back in high school and I was too young to appreciate it. I've been wanting to read it again.


message 2: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim Fonseca Kelly wrote: "Great review! I read this back in high school and I was too young to appreciate it. I've been wanting to read it again."
Same with me Kelly. I read it in college and then again a few years ago and I was amazed at all the psychological insight I missed the first time around. And it's just a good read.


message 3: by Kelly (new) - added it

Kelly McCoy Yes, I need to put this at the top of my never ending to read pile!


message 4: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim Fonseca Kelly wrote: "Yes, I need to put this at the top of my never ending to read pile!"
Just remember TBR piles are dangerous once they get taller than 7 feet! LOL


message 5: by Sue (new) - added it

Sue I agree with Kelly. I think I tried to read this when I was too young. I should add it to my list. Your review has really opened my eyes to what I undoubtedly missed with my first attempt many years ago. Thanks for this inspiring review, Jim.


message 6: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim Fonseca Sue wrote: "I agree with Kelly. I think I tried to read this when I was too young. I should add it to my list. Your review has really opened my eyes to what I undoubtedly missed with my first attempt many year..."
Glad you liked the review, Sue


message 7: by Jeanne (new) - added it

Jeanne Wow! Very nice review!


message 8: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim Fonseca Jeanne wrote: "Wow! Very nice review!"

Thanks Jeanne


Jon(athan) Nakapalau Raskolnikov in so many ways defines the empty soul that becomes filled with the worst of the age...nihilistic avatars possessed by our worse angles.


message 10: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim Fonseca Jon(athan) wrote: "Raskolnikov in so many ways defines the empty soul that becomes filled with the worst of the age...nihilistic avatars possessed by our worse angles."

It's popular to say that someone who kills is insane. So is Raskolnikov insane?


Jon(athan) Nakapalau I would say no...because he is able to contextualize the murder in the time and place he finds himself in. But I could be wrong...


message 12: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim Fonseca Jon(athan) wrote: "I would say no...because he is able to contextualize the murder in the time and place he finds himself in. But I could be wrong..."

I agree. If someone can plan it and try to hide his tracks etc. I don't think he's crazy


JonRaven absolutely amazing novel!!!! love it to death. i own an original Russian text copy in nice cloth binding with beautiful illustrations. i also own a Franklin Library faux leather copy and and Easton Press black leather ribbed spine copy. i got the original Russian copy from a Russian who I boight some vinyl record from on Discogs.com, he said if I ever wanted him to find me anything else in Russia he'd happily help. so I laid him $26 and 6 weeks later when I feared I'd never receive it it finally arrived!!!


JonRaven pardon my spelling errors, i cant seem to type on my phone today. lol


message 15: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim Fonseca JonSnow wrote: "absolutely amazing novel!!!! love it to death. i own an original Russian text copy in nice cloth binding with beautiful illustrations. i also own a Franklin Library faux leather copy and and Easton..."
Truly a Classic with a capital "C." No problem with typos!


Jon(athan) Nakapalau I must confess...at my 'dinner with fictional characters' I would LOVE to hear what Hamlet and Raskolnikov would have to say about society and crime! But before dessert was served...


message 17: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim Fonseca Jon(athan) wrote: "I must confess...at my 'dinner with fictional characters' I would LOVE to hear what Hamlet and Raskolnikov would have to say about society and crime! But before dessert was served..."

LOL


Jenn "JR" I haven't read this for a few years but what has always stuck with me is the way the author gets into the head of the protagonist - and how absolutely nutty it is in there! It's fantastic. Like a full length version of "Tell Tale Heart" by Poe. :)


message 19: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim Fonseca Jenn wrote: "I haven't read this for a few years but what has always stuck with me is the way the author gets into the head of the protagonist - and how absolutely nutty it is in there! It's fantastic. Like a f..."
It really must be one of the first "psychological thrillers" since the field of psych was so new at that time


message 20: by Jon(athan) (last edited Sep 20, 2017 01:37PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jon(athan) Nakapalau For me it kind of presages The Stranger by Camus; but is there a 'reason' for murder - would Raskolnikov and Meursault agree on the reason why?


message 21: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim Fonseca Jon(athan) wrote: "For me it kind of presages The Stranger by Camus; but is there a 'reason' for murder - would Raskolnikov and Meursault agree on the reason why?"

Good question. It's funny that you mention The Stranger, I just finished reading it (re-reading after 30 years) two days ago. In Meursault's case he shot, paused, and then shot 4 more times. It was shots 2-5 that got him at the trial.


Hilary No, I don't believe that he's insane. He may well have some sort of personality disorder though. The mental connections he makes don't appear to me to be very rational. He forgets about the blood on the frayed ends of his trousers. He throws his bloodied socks off in his bedroom without a thought. The details aren't properly thought out. It seems moreover that he continues to be unrepentant. A strange man certainly ...


message 23: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim Fonseca Hilary wrote: "No, I don't believe that he's insane. He may well have some sort of personality disorder though. The mental connections he makes don't appear to me to be very rational. He forgets about the blood o..."
Of course some folks think anyone who commits a murder like that is insane, by definition. Not sure if I agree.


Jenn "JR" IIRC, this was a premeditated murder - there's definitely an amount of anti-social, even psychotic, mindset required to do such a thing. That's "insanity" by any definition. His tortured conscience after the fact reveals he's not "healthy."


Hilary My reply to you Jim has disappeared. No I don't believe that every murder is of necessity committed by someone insane. Insanity may be part of the mix but there is such a thing as badness, dare I say evil, that comes into the mix ...


Jenn "JR" Hilary wrote: "My reply to you Jim has disappeared. No I don't believe that every murder is of necessity committed by someone insane. Insanity may be part of the mix but there is such a thing as badness, dare I say evil..."

Ah - I see where you are going with that. I don't believe in evil, except as an excuse for atypical and extremely anti-social behavior.

For example - there are people who would consider abortion to be evil in this country - whether you are the person obtaining an abortion or performing the procedure. They really see it as evil beyond measure where others see it as a personal health decision.

The TV show "Norsemen" sort of reminds me of this - it's OK to just kill people in the culture depicted in this mini series, and a person who was enslaved from another culture is constantly being shocked at the behavior.

The protagonists response to his own deed in "Crime & Punishment" indicates that he does have a moral conflict about what he's done, so maybe not "evil" or inherently bad - but definitely asocial.


message 27: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim Fonseca Jenn wrote: "Hilary wrote: "My reply to you Jim has disappeared. No I don't believe that every murder is of necessity committed by someone insane. Insanity may be part of the mix but there is such a thing as ba..."

Yes definitely asocial. I suppose if we go down the path of "you have to be insane to murder someone," every murder trial would become "not guilty by reason of insanity."


message 28: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim Fonseca Hilary wrote: "My reply to you Jim has disappeared. No I don't believe that every murder is of necessity committed by someone insane. Insanity may be part of the mix but there is such a thing as badness, dare I s..."

Hilary, as I said to Jenn, I suppose if we go down the path of "you have to be insane to murder someone," every murder trial would become "not guilty by reason of insanity."


Jenn "JR" Hence... so many murder trials are so complicated!


message 30: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim Fonseca Jenn wrote: "Hence... so many murder trials are so complicated!"

"Ambien made me do it!"


message 31: by Kevin (new)

Kevin Ansbro Fine review of a verifiable classic, Jim.


message 32: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim Fonseca Kevin wrote: "Fine review of a verifiable classic, Jim."

Thanks Kevin


message 33: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim Fonseca ANN wrote: "Thanks for your review! "Crime and Punishment" is one of my favorite classics of all time."

You're welcome Ann. Yes, certainly one of the all-time greats - maybe the best


Michael Perkins I love the Russians, but didn't get to this one until almost a year ago.

"Existence alone had never been enough for him; he'd always wanted more. And perhaps the only reason he'd considered himself a man to whom more was permitted, than to others, was the very strength of his desires."

Raskolnikov invokes Napoleon as his example.

Although Dostoevsky had never heard of Nietzsche and died before he could have read Thus Spake Zarathustra any way, one could say that Raskolnikov saw himself as an aspiring Ubermensch, beyond good and evil.

https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...


message 35: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim Fonseca ANN wrote: "Agreed, Jim. I've read "Crime and Punishment" and "Les Miserables" at least several times in college. Both have staying power. I love one more than the other due to sentimental reasons--I love the ..."

Both great classics -- but I can't see a Broadway musical about Crime and Punishment! lol


message 36: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim Fonseca Michael wrote: "I love the Russians, but didn't get to this one until almost a year ago.

"Existence alone had never been enough for him; he'd always wanted more. And perhaps the only reason he'd considered himse..."

Raskolnikov has become such a classic character - I read a book recently by an Afghani author, A Curse on Dostoevsky by Atiq Rahimi, and Raskolnikov is a central figure in the protagonist's imagination.


message 37: by Brian (new)

Brian Great review!


message 38: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim Fonseca Brian wrote: "Great review!"

Thanks Brian!


Kathy Love your review, Jim. I read this for freshman English in college (we won't talk about how many years ago that was) and it is a book that certainly had an impact on my thinking.


Michael Perkins ANN: I took several Russian history and lit courses in college but still have more of the lit to read!

We went to St. Petersburg in 2013 and our guides were two women in their late 40's and they spoke of the frightening domestic chaos that followed the fall of the Soviet Union. They have no democratic history. All they have known for centuries is authoritarian rule, which makes them feel safe, as long as there's enough to eat and a roof over their heads.

If you happen to know the awesome Ilse on GR, she wrote a great review of a book about what women like this went through during that period....

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


message 41: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim Fonseca Kathy wrote: "Love your review, Jim. I read this for freshman English in college (we won't talk about how many years ago that was) and it is a book that certainly had an impact on my thinking."

Thanks Kathy. I think I've read it three times now - of course starting long ago before I was doing GR reviews!


message 42: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim Fonseca Michael wrote: "ANN: I took several Russian history and lit courses in college but still have more of the lit to read!

We went to St. Petersburg in 2013 and our guides were two women in their late 40's and they s..."

Thanks for the reference -- great review by Ilse!


Michael Perkins Jim: I just reread Ilse's review. Completely agree with you, what an excellent job!

Along with the older lit, I have read all of Solzehnitstyn, so was at first astonished by the comments of our guides. But understand better now.

I have a friend who is a German scholar out of Cal Berkeley. His family is in Stuttgart and he visits twice a year. He happened to be in Berlin when the wall came down. In the West, we celebrate this. But my friend outlined the same kind of chaos in East Germany that the Russians later experienced.


message 44: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim Fonseca Michael wrote: "Jim: I just reread Ilse's review. Completely agree with you, what an excellent job!

Along with the older lit, I have read all of Solzehnitstyn, so was at first astonished by the comments of our gu..."


From what I know Michael, almost all the East European countries experienced social as well as political chaos after the decline of communism. They still suffer from a lot of that today -- high rates of alcoholism, drug use, crime, emigration, very low birthrates. On the other hand things have improved a bit recently so hopefully that may have "bottomed out."


Dilara Çakır So true, i can only say preach to this review!


message 46: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim Fonseca Dilara wrote: "So true, i can only say preach to this review!"

Thanks Dilara


Nancy Mills Great review Jim...you always write the best reviews! Its been years since I've read it too. We read it in a 400 level college class called Psychological Approaches to Literary Criticism. Time to read it again! No, I don't think R was crazy, just very frustrated... After the murder he got kind of crazy as I recall, but I guess what I really mean is tortured, not crazy in the clinical sense. I remember REALLY liking the police inspector character, name started with a P...


message 48: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim Fonseca Nancy wrote: "Great review Jim...you always write the best reviews! Its been years since I've read it too. We read it in a 400 level college class called Psychological Approaches to Literary Criticism. Time to r..."
Thank you Nancy! Yes, it's a great book with a lot of depth; a lot of ideas beyond a good story.


Michael Perkins I think Raskolnikov saw himself as an aspiring Ubermensch...

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


message 50: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim Fonseca Michael wrote: "I think Raskolnikov saw himself as an aspiring Ubermensch...

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show..."

Good point, yes. I liked your review also.


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