I have come to find that the mention of Crime and Punishment tends to conjure up many negative ideas in the minds of those who have not read it. Although the majority of people revere it as is a classic piece of literature and respect Dostoevsky, they still tend to see it as a book that is long, dull and incredibly difficult to read.
However, I assure you that these ideas are unfounded misconceptions. Firstly, Crime and Punishment is quite a light weight novel at around 300 pages. Secondly, the modern translations are very good and the language, style and dialect are all easy to follow. And finally, although the novel was written in 1865, it is incredibly enthralling.
Ok, the story may not be an orgy of fast paced chases, thrilling gun fights or huge explosions, but from the very first page it is filled with murder, theft and deceit. From the moment it begins the reader is plunged head first into the disturbed mind of Raskolnikov, a former student who has convinced himself that he is capable of, and even worthy of, murder.
Although poor, unemployed and without great heritage, Raskolnikov believes himself to be a great man and even Napoleon like in intelligence and stature. He has therefore convinced himself that he can kill without remorse or even punishment.
Suddenly, the murder is committed and Raskolnikov is away with the old woman’s money and no feeling of guilt. However, before long there is a police officer sniffing around and a growing voice in Raskolnikov that is tearing at his soul with feelings of remorse and regret.
The novel is not just a great story of cat and mouse between a failed genius and a brilliant officer, but also a chilling insight into a disturbed mind, capable of so much yet lost in sea of paranoia, anguish and ultimately, guilt.
Gritty, real and incredibly dark, Crime and Punishment is one of Dostoevsky’s greatest novels and true literary masterpiece.