Crime and Punishment, War and Peace and …. (insert your favourite here) are the books that define what it is to write and I mean really write. It is a classic and with that title comes the difficulty of reading it. It is not difficult to get into the story line but with every step deeper in the story you are deterred by the long, complicated russian names and statements about the social situations of the day. In Crime and Punishment this social commentary generally lead to pages of intellectual arguments and giganitic wordy essays. That being said don’t let to put you off reading the book.
The story follows the destitute student Raskolnikov. He considers himself to be of great thinker and with that he is ordained with certain privileges albeit to choose who lives or dies in his mind. So with these thoughts Raskolnikov commits the number one sin, murder. With this rash decision comes the guilt of his conscious and cat and mouse games with the police. Only until he meets are meek and mild prostitute does he consider there is more to life than is own confused points of view.
Raskolnikov is a very difficult character to like and feel for, however I found myself slowly warming to his ways only to be irritated by stupid comments or rash actions he made throughout the book. I felt that this what Dostoyevsky wanted. Raskolnikov is a character that is not easy to catergorize and I think our “hot and cold” feelings for him as the reader are meant to reflect the “hot and cold” of his temperament.
The main overriding feeling I had when reading this book was amazement. These people lived on nothing, in filthy conditions and still managed to scrounge enough money to buy 1 litre of vodka. Every time I read the passages about the living conditions I felt like I needed a bath. How did people manage to survive and can anyone explain to me what an oil cloth is that covers the lounge chairs?
This is one of those books everyone should read. I have finally read and I feel like I have gained something, what that is exactly I don’t know yet. I guess to find out I need further reflection and intellectual discussion, so please discuss with me.