Sunday, November 25, 2007

Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment

The main character of the novel Crime and Punishment by Feodor Dostoevsky, Raskolnikov, is in reality two totally contradicting personalities. One part of him is the intellectual: cold, unfeeling, inhumane, but with tremendous self-will. It is this side that enables him to commit the most terrible crime imaginable─taking another human life. The other part of his personality is warm and compassionate. This is the side of him that does charitable acts and fights out against the evil in his society. Here are the musings of a tormented soul:

'But this is unheard of! I have never had anything to do with the police! And why should it happen just to-day?' he thought, tormented with indecision. 'Oh, Lord, at least let it be over soon!' He could almost have knelt down and prayed, but he laughed at his own impulse; he must put his trust in himself, not in prayer. He began to dress hurriedly. 'If I'm done for, I'm done for! It's all one . . .I'll put the sock on!' he thought suddenly, 'it will get more dirt rubbed into it and all the stains will disappear.' But no sooner had he put it on than he dragged it off with horror and loathing.


The confusion in Raskolnikov's soul is best seen when he tries to help a girl in the street who has been raped and left to the whims of anyone who finds her. Raskolnikov tries to protect her from the evil of the street, but stops himself overwhelmed by the wickedness of his society. “Why did I take it upon myself to interfere? Was it for me to try to help? Let them eat one another alive - what is it to me?” At one time Raskolnikov is both caring and concerned and yet he is able to push aside the whole affair by being totally indifferent. The goal of the novel is to make him into one character. Sonia─a pathetic soul whose only means of survival for her and her family is prostitution─helps bring Raskolnikov back into his emotional, humane side.

The author is involved every moment with all the characters. The book is complex because the minds of the characters and their thoughts are complex.


Raskolnikov is a college student who doesn't have enough money to support his family or his education that constantly suffers bouts of depression and is stung by his conscience. This book offers a good insight about the human conscience and psychology. Raskolnikov tries to get some courage by persuading himself that human atrocities are real and swarming in a concrete jungle. But most of the time he tries to kill the thought of remorse by reading and using some of Napoleon war actions. One of those that stay in his memory is when Napoleon wiped out unarmed people.

The delirious Raskolnikov's believes that man should be divided into two groups the superior men and the basic men; the basic men should just work and just live their lives while the superior ones should be above the law and do whatever they feel is good for humanity. Unfortunately despite a perfect plan, nothing goes clockwork. Not only does he assassinates the old woman─Ivanovna─but he also kills her sister (a very kind woman). The frustrating part for him is when he discovers that her possessions are worthless.

Sonia, the young prostitute, is his angel of redemption. He is totally upset by this poor girl who has to sell her body for the sake of her relatives. He gets extremely close to her and confesses to her his horrible crime. She makes him understand he has to go the Police and tell the whole thing. He is convicted and deported to Siberia. It is very hard for Raskolnikov to accept his faith and the punishment. He knows he cut himself off from society because of his total alienation. Sonia succeeds in delivering him from his obsession and his guilt and he finally has a feeling of human solidarity, something he was looking for all his life.

Yet he knows the world doesn't change, that it is a lousy place, and the bitter and ironic twist is that he becomes a louse himself.

Here is an excellent book, with a timeless story; a book you'll either love or hate─I loved it! A book is always a welcome gift. This Christmas give a nice edition of Crime and Punishment to your friends and relatives; something they will value and treasure for life.
Augustine, City of God
Austen J, Pride and Prejudice
Austen J, "Marriage Proposals and Me"
Austen J, Emma
Borges, The Aleph
C. Bronte, Jane Eyre
Burroughs E,Tarzan
Cervantes, Don Quijote
Chaucer, Wife of Bath
Coelho P,The Alchemist
Coyle H, They Are Soldiers
Dante, New Life
Dickens C, David Copperfield
Dostoevsky, Crime&Punishment
ConanDoyle,Hound of Baskervilles
Dubner S, Superfreakonomics

DuMaurier D, Rebecca
Ellis B. E. American Psycho
Fitzgerald S, Great Gatsby
Flaubert G, Madame Bovary
Fleming I,Doctor No
Freud S, Leonardo Da Vinci
Friedan B, Feminine Mystique
GarciaMarquez, Of Love & OtherDemons
GarciaMarquez,OneHundredYrs
Guerrero M,ThePoison Pill

Grass G, The Tin Drum
Harris T, Hannibal Rising
Heidegger M,House of Being
Ishiguro K, Remains of The Day
Johnson S,Rasselas
Kafka,Metamorphosis
Kosinski J, The Painted Bird
Lee H,To Kill a Mockingbird
McBain Ed,Gutter and Grave
Murakami H,Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
Nabokov V, Lolita
Meyer, S, Twilight
Ortega,Dehumanization of Art
Poe E A, Gordon Pym
Prose F, Reading Like a Writer
Rushdie S,Midnight Children
Sabatini R, Scaramouche
Spark M, Prime of Miss Brodie

Stendhal, Red and Black
Sterne L,Tristram Shandy
Stevenson R, Dr.Jekyll & Mr.Hyde
Stoker B, Dracula
Thackeray W,History of Pendennis
Tolstoy L, Anna Karenina
Trollope A, Autobiography
Unamuno M, Tragic Sense of Life
Voltaire, Candide
Webb J, Fields of Fire
Wharton E, The House of Mirth
Woolf V, To The Lighhouse


The secrets of 'no-doze' prose:
Mary Duffy's Sentence Openers



Lindsey Vonn after winning the Downhill World ...
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Lindsey Vonn


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