Boxall's 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die discussion

Crime and Punishment
This topic is about Crime and Punishment
1001 Monthly Group Read > July {2016} Discussion -- CRIME AND PUNISHMENT by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Comments Showing 1-9 of 9 (9 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Charity (new) - added it

Charity (charityross) Time to discuss!

Wendy (wendyneedsbooks) | 153 comments This was is one of my favorite books ever! I've already read it twice, but I hope you all enjoy it, especially if you like a good redemption story.

message 3: by Emma (new) - rated it 1 star

Emma Bell | 10 comments Yikes, this book is taking forever to read! I've been reading it for over a week and I'm only halfway through.
I'm interested to know what translations people are reading. Has anyone read more than one translation? I have the 1914 Garnett translation cause I got mine from a thrift store, but now I kind of wish I'd gotten the McDuff or the Pevear/Volokhonsky translations. The awkward sentence structure of the Garnett makes it so that I sometimes have to reread a passage a couple of times to fully grasp it. Frustrating.

Nicola | 765 comments I always go for the Pevear translations now if they are available.

I've read this twice, once many years ago and more recently via an audible read by Anthony Heald. He was amazing; won an award for it actually.

Amanda Dawn | 177 comments Before I read (well, listened to) this book, my brother told me it was "a well written piece of crap", I would say instead this book is a masterpiece of literature that I happen to strongly disagree with. The only place this book lost a star for me is that I feel the premise itself makes a lot of logical leaps and slippery slope logic about rationalistic and secular societies and philosophies.

In particular, I can't get on board with Dostoevsky's assertion that morality falls apart in the absence of Christianity as a moral anchor since anything crime can be rationalized without an intrinsic sense of religious compassion. This is particularly evident in the speech in the book about how under rationalism and secularism "love thy neighbour" beliefs that would compel one to share their coat with a needy neighbour would instead turn into everyone keeping their coats for themselves because their own survival would come first. I agree that rationalism without compassion and ethics makes for a poor society, but, knowing what I know about evolutionary theory and how herd mutualism, altruism, and kin selection (helping family members) are incredibly important evolutionary adaptations in most species, I have a hard time endorsing the book's idea that religion and morality are mutually inclusive. Especially since in our age, many countries with mixed economies and very little official religious influence have very high qualities of life (I'm Canadian so that's pretty much been my personal experience), it's easy for me to discredit this book as accurately portraying what will necessarily happen without society adhering to Dostoevsky's nihilistic primitivist-christian beliefs.

None the less, I found the plot riveting, and some of my favorite speeches and tangents in literature were in this book, even though I didn't agree with the overarching message of it. In particular, were this book earned the most points for me, is in Raskolnikov's theory about whether extraordinary people should be above the law in order to attain their goals. This speaks to the idea of "enlightened despots" in history (think anyone who ended up with "the Great" on their name for example), which are one of my absolute FAVORITE subjects to talk about because of the interesting moral ambiguities these people represent, and Raskolnikov's paper discussed all the substantial points about them: When do we say something is for the greater good? (Does having a vision of uniting the world racially and culturally justify conquering the world if it engenders future peace and cultural fusion?) How do we identify these people compared to unenlightened despots or delusional criminals? Where do we draw the line for progress? Does anyone have the right or should they have the right to make these calls? I loved that discussion, and like Raskolnikov, I sometimes consider that some people should be able transcend common morality for the greater good. I loved his line about how revolutionaries and prophets are the heroes of the future but criminals of their own time because their defying the law changes it. This actually applies to people like Ghandi and Martin Luther King Jr. whose demonstrations of disobedience actually did make them criminals in their time.

However, I found Raskolnikov to be a highly delusional character, even at the end when he is supposed to be more "enlightened", because he considers himself one of these people when he is a failed student who thinks his botched burglary of an old lady (to only benefit himself) puts him in league with extraordinary leaders. I mean, Catherine the Great waged a lot of wars, but actually did manage to modernize and educate a lot of Russia, Raskolnikov didn't even succeed at getting something out of his acts. I feel Like if this book was written today, Raskolnikov would be an unemployed reddit neckbeard nihilist type who couldn't make something of himself after getting a B.A degree like everyone else, and would post mansplaining comments everywhere online XD.

Vicky | 35 comments I enjoyed this book even though I found Raskolnikov a very unlikable person. In fact, I found it hard to believe that the characters in the book wanted to hang around him.

Also, I did not really understand that he was redeemed. It seemed a last minute redemption that was also hard to believe. Maybe the translation I read did not properly depict the author's intent.

Alana (alanasbooks) | 124 comments Amanda, I agree about the debate of the greater good, it's truly the most compelling discussion of the novel. The character of Raskolnikov himself is so contradictory that he's hard to really "get" and frankly, I really didn't care to. The epilogue is terrible and completely disjointed from the rest of the story, but right up until then, the story is riveting and full of ideas worth contemplating, most of which you listed, Amanda.

Definitely a much stronger work than Brothers Karamozov!

Amanda Dawn | 177 comments Alana wrote: "Amanda, I agree about the debate of the greater good, it's truly the most compelling discussion of the novel. The character of Raskolnikov himself is so contradictory that he's hard to really "get"..."

I Agree, Alana! I'm listening to Brothers Karamozov right now and am not nearly as interested with it.

Christopher (skitch41) | 4 comments This is the second time I have read this book, the first time being as a senior in high school. I didn't fully appreciate it then, but now that I am a little wiser, I found it a little more fascinating then I did before.

For me, the most interesting aspect of this book is the Raskolnikov's internal suffering throughout. He tries to pass off the murders as being justified because of his superiority over others, but deep down his actions unsettled him and you can see it ultimately breaking him down. And when he comes into contact with the very embodiment of his idea of the great man unbounded by conventional morality, Svidrigailov, he is disgusted with him. I think his interactions with him, combined with his interactions with the sweet and innocent prostitute, Sofya, is what forces his confession at the end. (Side note: what is it with the archetypal innocent prostitute in 19th century literature? They crop up all over the place, including in Les Miserables.) His suffering and ultimate conversion(?) in the epilogue have a stamp of Christian theology to it that may not be unrecognizable to some. Personally, I think this is a marvelous book and well worth the read.

back to top