Customer Review

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Required reading for the 'Big Society', 23 Mar 2011
This review is from: Crime and Punishment (Oxford World's Classics) (Paperback)
I have read 'Crime and Punishment' twice: in my teens and now twenty years later. It is the story of an impoverished ex-student who shuts himself away in his dingy bedsit and cooks up a theory that the great men of history are above the law, then sets out to prove himself one of them by committing murder. In my teens I probably romanticised Raskolnikov: now I find him grandiose, sullen, callous and self-deluded, and yet I still felt anxious for him as he went to pieces within his self-justifications. It is Dostoevsky's acute psychological understanding that makes this book such a gripping read. Raskolnikov does not engage with life itself, but with his ideas about it. Essentially, his crime is that he has set himself apart from humankind; he is to all intents and purposes dead to the world. (In this sense his crime brings its own punishment.) He only returns to life when he finally acknowledges Sonya and at last shows himself capable of true fellow-feeling.
This novel may be a classic but that does not mean it is not contemporary. Undoubtedly the world has its share of Raskolnikovs, but there are many more 'ordinary' people out there feeling increasingly disconnected from life. Anyone with big ideas about the' Big Society' (or just having to live with the consequences of them) ignores this book at their peril!
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