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Crime and Punishment / by Fyodor Dostoyevsky ; translated by Constance Garnett

Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Constance Garnett

I have no profound insights into Crime and Punishment, and besides, even if I did, others have already said it, and said it more thoughtfully and eloquently than I could.

 

Apparently I have read Crime and Punishment before, but I didn't remember much about it, other than that Raskolinkov spent an awful lot of time laying around on his bed moping. I was too young then to understand Crime and Punishment, and besides, I could not then relate to this book at all.

 

Since then, though, a bad thing has happened.  A few years ago, my cousin killed a man.  Shot him in the belly with a rifle.  It's a long and sordid story, and I am not going to air it on Booklikes.  Suffice it to say, that like Raskolnikov, my cousin suffered from too much drink, too much "brain trouble," and too much depression.  Also like Raskolnikov he committed his crime believing it to be not a crime, and even believing he was protecting his home, his woman, and himself.  Like Raskolnikov, he is a generous man, apt to give someone the shirt off his back, apt to help someone in a bad situation, which, incidentally, is exactly the thing that put him on the path to murder.  Like Raskolnikov he had never been in trouble with the law before in his life.  Like Raskolnikov, he tried to throw away, cover, distort the evidence of his crime, and like Raskolnikov, he only found himself in prison.

 

So, reading Crime and Punishment meant more to me this time.  Did my cousin feel the things Raskolnikov felt?  Does he simultaneously disdain and crave love and forgiveness?  Does he simultaneously loathe himself and yet feel empowered by what he did?  And his family.  How do we still love a murderer?  How do we look on his crime with horror, look at him with disbelief, fear, and anger, but still love him, believe in the good in his soul, and wait for the day when he puts his feet onto the path of redemption?  How do we love him and simultaneously loathe ourselves for doing so?  Will I ever be able to sit down beside him in comfort at a dinner table again?  I don't know.

 

Dostoyevsky pretty much hit the nail on the head with Crime and Punishment.  The psychological torment, the profound, soul crushing emotions, the shock ...  But in the end, if God wills it, the redemption.  Russian Lit is so beautiful in its juxtaposition of dark and light, misery and rapture, life and death.  It touches the deep places in your human soul like no other literature can.  It speaks.