Book Review – Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky

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Crime and Punishment is the Russian classic by Dostoevsky that focuses on Raskolnikov as he’s drawn to commit a brutal double murder. The novel then follows his paranoia as his thoughts descend into madness and his guilt threatens to crush him.

First of all I want to talk about something that bothers me about these editions of classic books. I may have mentioned it in the past and I’ll probably mention it again in the future, but it’s my blog so I’m allowed to indulge myself. These books all come with an introduction by a scholar.

Why?

I don’t mind introductions, but please keep them to a few pages. I don’t need to read an essay about the book because I haven’t read the book yet! If you’re determined to include it at least put it at the end of the book. I don’t want to read an essay that tells me what happens in the book. I don’t want to read ABOUT the book. I want to just READ THE BOOK. Don’t make me flick through a wad of pages to get to the actual story. I actually like reading the background to books and what inspired the author to write it, I just don’t need it before I read the story.

As for the novel itself, well, it’s a classic and on the back it’s described as one of the greatest and most readable novels ever. I respectfully disagree on that point. I don’t mind Dostoevsky’s writing style but the dialogue was…quite stuttering with a lot of…yes…a lot of pauses and breaks…which may give it a more natural sound when reading aloud…but it can get…tiresome. I also found it difficult to keep track of the characters because there are lots of different names used. For example, one is called Sofya but she’s also called Sonia, and sometimes within the same paragraph! So to read this book does take an element of focus and concentration.

I did like the portrayal of Raskolnikov and the strength of the book is when we get a window into his conflicted mind. I liked it when the author let loose and really delved into the madness that was whirling around inside the man’s consciousness. So everything around the murder was good but the rest of the stuff, like all the marriage arrangements, didn’t interest me. I found my attention slipping and I can’t say it was an enthralling read.

It wasn’t bad enough  for me to give up on it but it wasn’t good enough for me to eagerly turn the pages in anticipation of what was happening next. It may be a classic but Crime and Punishment didn’t work for me.

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