‘Crime And Punishment’ – By Fyodor Dostoevsky.


Literary Movement   – Realism.

Literary Genre  – Psychological fiction, philosophical fiction.

Setting    –    Russian Empire, St. Petersburg.

 My review

My third try beating the brain out, mustering all idle neurons on the qui vive for delving into the allegories and nuances of Raskolnikov’s thought process that is something akin to a weathercock. The first two readathons seemed like Chinese arithmetic, more like the transcript of Graeco- Roman theatre played in St. Petersburg, that my muddle-pated neurons couldn’t make the head or tail of it nor read between the lines. One of the best ten classic fictions of all times couldn’t be a no-brainer either- Cela va sans dire. So this time, the lecture notes, analysis and summary at the ready and at a click of the mouse helped to see the lost thread in a new light. And the translation by LarissaVolokhonsky and Richard Pevear is on par with the work itself.

                 Intellectually exacting and viscerally overpowering, the metaphysical elements are still beyond me. Simply put, it’s a psychological thriller, a rigmarole of a crime, no less than murder, justified by the logic of the protagonist, a new esoteric theory put forward by him, that had been put to test. The rationales of the murder are multifarious- poverty, inequality, tug of war between his moral compass and necessitude to name a few. As Sonia( the protagonist’s future lover) mentions in the story, no matter what, the hideousness of the crime merits confession and so punishment as no one could take a life for whatever reason. 

                Dostoyevsky’s novels are the culture media of new ideas and propositions, by and large, those that had been making rounds in 19-th century Russia in particular, insanity theories, for instance. They depict the societal milieu and vices like drunkenness, debauchery, adultery prevalent during the century. The Marxist theory of dialectical materialism( conflict as caused by material needs) is alluded to in a conversation between the protagonist and others in the novel.

             Nineteenth century Russia was a breeding ground of intellectuals and the burgeoning readership buttressed the literati in propounding various theories, out of the box at times, and to make them seep into the minds of masses. Strikingly, many parts of the novel betray the thought processes and religious convictions of the author. Critics inveigh against his support for the Tsars and antisemitism ( ‘The Brothers Karamazov’ has repulsive instances of this), his anti-Jewish stance much more toxic than Charles Dickens, notoriously known for his execrable antisemitism.


64 thoughts on “‘Crime And Punishment’ – By Fyodor Dostoevsky.

  1. It’s on my reading list if I’ll be able to finish The Brothers Karamazov! I started it then I just stopped…Thank you for sharing this, it’s really a tough read but I’m sure it’s worth it 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

      1. This is one book that is really intense. It’s long too, and how the story unfolds, is quite unnerving, even shocking. I think, the adapted scripts for theatre and movies takes away that fierce intensity (my personal felling) and make it presentable for the audience. Even the classics adapted for the screen miss out the finer details from the narrative; it happens during the scripting. The point here in this book is ‘Are punishments a deterrent for crimes that may occur?’ Indeed, it’s the underlying narrative in this one.

        Liked by 4 people

      2. Yes, I agree, you can never show the audience in theatre and especially in the movies all this complicating things that are parts of the books, especially in those “hard books to read”, like Greek Classics or European Realism. I had the same feeling when I first read the book “The Roots”, and then later watched the TV Series.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. I had tried to make him out, without result, many times and left him in the midst. He kept on following and so this was my third try with the help of notes on the net. This man is still an enigma! Worth revisiting him as many times as you like. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  3. It has been ages since I’ve read anything by Dostoevsky but I adore his writing. I actually like his lesser works more, I think. Have you read Poor Folk, by chance? It’s one of my favorites! I love your review, it’s beautifully written.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Hi Alice, thank you for reading and appreciating the review. To be honest, the only two books of Dostoevsky that I have read are Crime and punishment and The Brothers Karamazov. Both were so demanding of attention, alertness, and mental workout.
      Thank you for the suggestion. I shall definitely read Poor Folk. 🙂


  4. I gave up reading such challenging books long back, the last one I read was probably Lady Chatterley’s Lover. Your review seems to match the book so well Deepa, written with the same alacrity! As a student of Literature, I was expected to read so many difficult books…not to forget Milton’s Paradise Lost and Shakespeare’s Plays… that I yearned for some breezy stories and when I come across some, I feel those classics do have something special, if we pay attention but you can’t relax with such books.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Thank you, Balroop for reading the review and for your response.
      Works of D.H Lawrence, Flaubert, Dostoevsky and a whole lot of classics are challenging, beyond doubt. It’s difficult to go through many of them.
      But some of them draws the reader deep inside(like the idiosyncrasies of Raskolnikov) that, no matter what, one tries to get to the gist of the content.
      Thank you again for the interesting viewpoint. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Ilona, thanks for stopping by and commenting.
      It’s a surprise that this book is included in a school curriculum. I wonder how difficult that might be for the children. Here, some universities do include it, as I know of, but not schools. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes in France it is included in schools well i don’t know about today, but it was 9 years ago, i don’t think they have changed the list🤗

        Liked by 1 person

      2. oh…. I love Flaubert’s works. Especially, his ‘Sentimental Education’ and ‘Madam Bovary’. Anyway, nice talking to you, Ilona. Shall catch up with you later 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  5. …One of the most difficult writers to read, his psychological thrillers and deep critical observations of the Russian culture and society of the early-to-mid 19th century are nevertheless genius works of Russian realism and realism in general. Along with his biggest masterpiece, “The Crime and the Punishment”, it has to be mentioned his “Brothers Karamazov”, “The Gambler”, “The Idiot”, “The Grand Inquisitor”, “Demons” and all of his short stories and letters.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Yes, writers like him (Proust, Kafka, Flaubert, Tolstoy, Hugo; to name the few), has to be read more times, and as the start, sometimes its better first to watch a movie or go to the theatre, and then read a book. That worked for me very well in this type of situations….

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Crime and Punishment made a deep impression on me. I felt like I was in Raskolnikov’s head, reading his thoughts and feeling his emotional outbursts. I also found myself hoping that he would get away with his crime, even though what he did was completely wrong and deserved punishment. Like all great novels, Crime and Punishment engages the mind and the heart.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely true, Robert. One has to read and re-read it to anatomize and dissect the psychology behind the murder, factors leading to it, justifiability from the reader’s perspective, etc. etc…
      We get the feel of our lives getting wasted away in the attic along with Raskolnikov, thence the strange feeling of complicity in the crime.
      The serendipities too favour him at many instances.
      No doubt that it is an arresting read. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Arresting is a good way of putting it, and the ending really caught me by surprise.
        The popular American TV crime drama Columbo was inspired by Crime and Punishment. Each episode started with a murder, and we follow the criminal as Columbo, like Porfiroy, investigates the murder.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Raskolnikov succeeded in dodging the forces of law, yet his conscience caught up with him and turned out to be his ultimate judgement call.
        The genius of Dostoevsky lays in depicting the nuances of Raskolnikov’s mind, so intricate that at times, readers are forced to think if the author himself had done such a crime before.
        Crime and Punishment itself took the form of dramas, films, and series’ in so many languages. Nothing could relay the thrill to the viewers as reading the book, since we navigate Raskolnikov’s thought process more than his actions throughout.
        Another masterpiece that swept me off my feet was Flaubert’s Madam Bovary. When the author proclaimed,’I am Madam Bovary’, it had never been an overstatement. It’s a conundrum as to how a man could depict a lady’s mind like this, while even the sturdiest of feminists sometimes fail to.
        Thank you for your perspectives, Robert. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      3. You’re welcome, Deepa, and I enjoy reading your thorough analysis. 🙂 Madam Bovary is also a masterpiece of literature, another novel in which you are in the mind of the main character and feel all their experiences.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I admit to a very slow read through Crime and Punishment. By the time the murders are revealed you (reader and writer) come to understand the angst and anger of your protagonist. Dostoevsky mastered the character to the minutia. This relates to readers, how many people can relate? A lot! For writers, it is an exercise in character building. Granted, now we don’t write that much into our works, but we do have to build believable, almost living/breathing characters.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. My take on this is that there are only very few contemporary writers who could make the reader think and dream at the same time. We turn back to classics time and again for the same reason.
    It’s true that works of romanticism are difficult or impossible to be resonated upon. There was a drastic change when realism took over the genre of romanticism. Nowadays we get to read the run-of-the-mill being churned out and being awarded prestigious literary prizes on a daily basis. Not that all of them are undeserving.
    Wherever it is, a gem will shine through and attract everyone. My personal view, Claire. 🙂


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