Jr Bacdayan's Reviews > Crime and Punishment

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
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it was amazing

I do not know how to begin, I am utterly troubled. What to do? What to say? In my opinion, to write a review of Dostoyevsky's great masterpiece is a very hard undertaking. To write a decent one, even harder. A week ago, if you asked me what my favorite novel was, I'd greatly struggle with it. I might consider Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Nabokov's Lolita, or probably even Heller's Catch 22. I might give varying answers. It would probably depend on my mood, or the current focus of my stream of thoughts. But, alas! Now, now I have found it! A book, unquestionable enough to be the greatest novel and work of fiction that I have read. As I say this, please bear in mind that I have humbly read very few of the novels I intend to read. Let us say that I'm still a novice of the classical greats. Call me a classical dunce, if you must. I have scarcely pierced through the surface of the greatest literary works. Scarcely. So forgive me, if you think that I overpraise this. Bear with me. Deal with me as a wise and knowing adult would deal with an inquisitive child. What I ask for, is your indulgence, if you can give it to me.

Crime & Punishment. Two words. Cause & effect. Low & High. Evil & Justice. Two words that are intertwined, knitted cheek by jowl, and always associated with the other. Two words that are close yet far as possible. The title's two words is reflective of Dostoyevsky's great masterpiece itself. Of course, it certainly is about the psychology of a crime and the punishment it measures. But more than that, the novel features exceedingly contrasting views. These views, contrasting and even paradoxical, can sincerely confuse a man. But, these seemingly contrasting views when scrutinized is really just the product of a struggle inside a man's very being. A man's final struggle of whether to finally detach himself from society, from life, from his humanity, or to finally succumb to it. These struggles, or contradictory ideas can be noted several times in the book. We have Raskolnikov's Napoleonic belief that he is of the elite, and should step over obstacles without being affected even if blood is involved, as was hinted in his article. Then, later on he would admit to Sonya that he was not of the elite since he was terribly affected. But again, when he was in prison he would declare that he was not there because he was guilty of anything but rather because he was weak and confessed. Also, we have his being generous and charitable. He would give Marmaladov's widow, Katarina Ivanovna, all the remaining 25 rubles his mother sent him. Then there was his helping of his schoolmate and the crippled father, and the saving of two children in the fire. Here was a man acting as a savior to strangers yet could not even bear to look and much less talk with his mother and sister. Here was a man who believed that anything could be sacrificed for the success of his career, who killed two women yet refused that her sister be wed to a rich man for his sake. Here was a man who regarded religion as nonsense yet read the gospel and asked people to pray for him. Here was a man who didn't care if he died, didn't eat, didn't care about his illness, yet refused to commit suicide. Here was a man suffering. A man, who because of his crime, suffered his punishment of madness, of guilt, of never ending anxiety and anxiousness. I fancy that Dostoyevsky reiterates that this punishment that goes on through a criminal's mind is far more potent than the punishment of being contained in four walls. As he pointed out in the epilogue, that in prison, the convicts valued life much more. While in this state of madness, of insane ecstasy. A man would undergo extreme suffering and lose his mind and matter. In the words of Sonya, "Oh, what suffering! What suffering!"

“The man who has a conscience suffers whilst acknowledging his sin. That is his punishment.”

This struggle inside Raskolnikov, is enhanced by his intellect. He cannot help but disdain what is going on inside him. His reason rejects his will. If anything, the more intellectual you are, the more you are prone to detach from your surroundings. You reason that feelings and relations are merely nonsensical. You think of dialectics instead of breathing fresh air. “Pain and suffering are always inevitable for a large intelligence and a deep heart. The really great men must, I think, have great sadness on earth.”

As I give my conclusion, let me also give some remarks about my feelings towards the end of the book. It is hard not to root for a happy ending. I was glad that Rasumikhin and Dunya had gotten theirs. And after such pain and suffering, I have forgiven Raskolnikov and want for him peace of mind too. His final realization that he indeed had love for Sonya brought me intense joy. I do not know why. Maybe it was empathy, if anyone deserved happiness it was Sonya. Sonya whose happiness was only through Raskolnikov. Here was a Murderer and a Harlot. Two shameful transgressors who believed that their transgressions were justified. One out of vanity, the other out of charity. One who is vile and contemptuous, the other loving and loyal. Bound together by some irreversible force of nature. Intertwined. Like the words Crime and Punishment, Raskolnikov and Sonya are two people who are far different but are bound together. They are allegories of the words themselves. Raskolnikov stands for Crime. He is a murderer who is unrepentant, he is contemptuous, menacing, vain, and indifferent. A man who believes he is above the law. All for self-gain. Sonya stands for Punishment. She is true, loving, loyal, charitable, a woman who deserved richly but lived poorly. A call for justice. Raskolinkov and Sonya, two utterly different people that are connected by suffering. Raskolnikov is crime, he cannot atone himself no matter what he does. Sonya is the atoning punishment. Only through Punishment, can Crime be atoned. Only through Sonya, can Raskolnikov atone himself.

This enduring masterpiece is a beauty to behold. A complex, broad, and psychological mastery of not only crime and punishment but also of life, death, sacrifice, society, intellect, love, and ultimately renewal and hope. As I end this review, let me leave you with these excerpts.

"Go now, this minute, stand in the crossroads, bow down, first kiss the earth you've defiled, then bow down to the whole world, on all four sides, then say aloud to everyone: 'I have killed!' "

"Accept suffering and redeem yourself by it, that's what you must do."

"He went on down the stairs and came out in the courtyard. There in the courtyard, not far from the entrance, stood Sonya, pale, numb all over, and she gave him a wild, wild look. He stopped before her. Something painted and tormented, something desperate, showed in her face. She clasped her hands. A hideous, lost smile forced itself in his lips. He stood a while, grinned, and turned back upstairs to the office."

"But all at once, in the same moment, she understood everything. Infinite happiness lit up in her eyes; she understood, and for her there was no longer any doubt that he loved her, lover her infinitely, and at last the moment had come... "
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Reading Progress

April 19, 2013 – Started Reading
April 19, 2013 – Shelved
April 21, 2013 –
page 141
25.0%
April 22, 2013 –
page 214
37.94%
April 24, 2013 –
page 283
50.18%
April 28, 2013 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-18 of 18 (18 new)

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Dolors Wow, nice trip Jr!


Rakhi Dalal I loved this one!!....


Rakhi Dalal A great review,Jr.! Quite thoughtful interpretation of words "Crime" and "Punishment"( Specially where it relates to Raskolnikov and Sonya )....


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

Jr Bacdayan Rakhi wrote: "A great review,Jr.! Quite thoughtful interpretation of words "Crime" and "Punishment"( Specially where it relates to Raskolnikov and Sonya )...."

Thanks, Rakhi! I guess it really struck me. Although I loved the idea, I couldn't quite figure out at first Dostoyevsky's purpose as to making Sonya the savior of Raskolnikov. Then it struck me. She was the very thing, only she could give atonement. She was Punishment, and he Crime.


Dolors Raskolnikov is crime, he cannot atone himself no matter what he does. Sonya is the atoning punishment. Only through Punishment, can Crime be atoned. Only through Sonya, can Raskolnikov atone himself.

Wow JR, you have excelled yourself with this review! I find your interpretation regarding the characters and their deeds touching and original. Also the way you describe the recurring paradoxical approach and how you link it with the process the characters undergo along the novel.
Fantastic review, congratulations!


Aubrey Alright. You've convinced me. I need to reread this, pronto.

Bravo.


message 7: by Jr (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jr Bacdayan Dolors wrote: "Raskolnikov is crime, he cannot atone himself no matter what he does. Sonya is the atoning punishment. Only through Punishment, can Crime be atoned. Only through Sonya, can Raskolnikov atone himsel..."

Thanks, Dolors! I was thoroughly affected by this book and therefore I really took to understanding it. Worth all my thoughts.


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

Jr Bacdayan Aubrey wrote: "Alright. You've convinced me. I need to reread this, pronto.

Bravo."


Have fun reading, Aubrey!


message 9: by Renee (new)

Renee Rasak keogh I have never wanted to read this book. After reading your review, I am with Aubery, Must Read.

Great Review!


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

Jr Bacdayan Renee wrote: "I have never wanted to read this book. After reading your review, I am with Aubery, Must Read.

Great Review!"


Glad you liked it, Renee! Thanks! I do think that this book is often misconstrued as dry and boring. But it's really far from that. This book really deserves a read, worth every page. Hope you enjoy it!


Steve Powerful stuff, Jr! We got to witness the crowning of a new King*. Your review was a terrific coronation.

*A new favorite book is a special event.


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

Jr Bacdayan Steve wrote: "Powerful stuff, Jr! We got to witness the crowning of a new King*. Your review was a terrific coronation.

*A new favorite book is a special event."


Indeed, my friend. Indeed. Nicely put. The coronation of a new King... Well, I couldn't help it. I guess when a book truly affects and holds you, you can't help but produce a great review. Thanks, Steve! Now you got me curious. I want to witness the coronation of yours. Who rules over your domain, Steve?


Steve Thanks for asking, Jr. It seems the older I get, the harder it is to answer that question. In the last few years the ones I've proselytized most about have been Cloud Atlas, Infinite Jest, Citizen Vince by Jess Walter, and Paul Murray's Skippy Dies. But then classics like C&P are tremendous, too. It's not easy to compare across eras, I find.


Cecily This is an excellent and detailed review, and yet you are also able to sum up so much in so few words:
"Crime & Punishment. Two words. Cause & effect. Low & High. Evil & Justice."
Brilliant. Thanks.


message 15: by Kalliope (new)

Kalliope Read & Liked.


Erwin Wow! A great review. A masterpiece in itself.


Yomna Ayman "Only through Punishment, can Crime be atoned. Only through Sonya, can Raskolnikov atone himself. "
This is an amazing outstanding review !


message 18: by Mark (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mark André Five-star reviews are always the best, for their excitement and enthusiasm. I hope you've had a chance to indulge in more Dostoyevsky. He's a Titan!


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