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on 21 February 2014
Crime and Punishment is set in Russia in the 1800's. It is written from the perspective of the protagonist Raskolnikov; a young student. Despite its reputation as being hard going, I found it easy to read and impossible to put down.

Due to financial hardship and circumstance Raskolnikov commits murder. Russia was economically and politically unstable at the time of writing and one of the greatest arguments in favor of socialism is that, if people were equal would crime be eliminated? Would the reason for acting criminally no longer exist? The novel spreads this message, without focusing politics as a major theme. Drawing upon the writings of Marx and Engels, Russia became Communist in 1917 under Lenin, succeeded by Stalin after Lenin's death in 1925.

As the title suggests the crime - one man murdering another and; punishment - the guilt, paranoia, mental deterioration and then incarceration are the major themes, the content of the entire novel. Other plot-lines such as romance take a significant back seat. Love does indeed suffer as a consequence of the crime, part of the punishment I guess.

A tale of love, justice, psychology and suffering; this is a wonderful read, and despite what Willy Mason says, you should read Dostoevsky at your age.
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on 9 March 2013
Reading the classics is often quite hard work. Commonly there will be a turn of phrase of wording, or dialects which are non-too familiar to the modern reader. This is surprisingly easy to read, the main challenge by modern standards is therefore simply one of length.
Whereas I can often finish a Kindle novel in a couple of sessions this was much longer, but never boring. I found it demanded longer sessions of attention though, so at times I had this for when I had half an hour or more, and other shorter/lighter books for those snatched moments on the bus, train or before meetings!
I didn't really know what to expect. What I got was a great story, with romance, mystery, and of course both crime and punishment! Genuinely glad to have finally read this, and this Penguin edition is excellent. The annotated text is easy to follow, and the notes are regular enough to be useful, but not so often as to be annoying.
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on 19 July 2010
I rarely read the long and wordy Introduction to these classics because they ruin the story for me, however I do recommend that you read it this time both before and AFTER the actual story.
The scholar, Keith Carabine, knows his onions, and his Dostoevsky. He addresses the fact that the ending is shocking because it is so poor and entirely at odds with the entire theme and mood of the novel.
It's as if the author had a sudden religious conversion or was told to make the book acceptable to the Russian Orthodox church: as the anti-hero, for no apparent reason, converts to Christianity having been a staunch atheist and cynic throughout.
Carabine also brings out Raskolnikov's dream of a plague of intelligent microbes turning man against man in a godless Universe which for me is prophetic as it predicts the chaos and turmoil of the post Tzar communist state; although this happened much later in 1917.
Crime and Punishment was written in 1866 and it reads as if it was written yesterday. It is very contemporary. The hero/anti-hero is an incredibly dark brooding character who is so detached from humanity that he is willing to execute an old woman (and her young niece) on a whim. This whim is his Nietzschean theory that some men are superior because they have truly novel, ground breaking, theories and influence: Darwin, Copernicus, and especially Napoleon; and these great men have the right to kill for a higher purpose because normal laws do not apply to them. He tests his theory and kills in cold-blood to provide him with a sum of money to enable his career to progress more easily. This is his crime. His punishment is the reaction of his own conscience (and his Soul) which he has effectively killed along with his victims. His life after his crime is hell on Earth, moral purgatory.
Dostoevsky writes beautifully and creates a masterful character who could be seen as the forerunner of all modern 'psycho's' such as Hannibal Lector et al; except Raskolnikov is no madman. Everything is logical and rational with him, and he does not kill with impunity; he pays for his crime through his deep self-hatred.
There is much of the author in the story. Dostoevsky's mother died of TB and the author served a prison term in Siberia for his philosophical views. Illness, the law and prison feature throughout the gripping narrative.
One negative is a tendency towards 'flowery' language and pages of pointless social interaction particularly when Raskolnikov is absent: he is the star that makes this a great book!
The only flaw is the epilogue. It's a bolt-on ending that turns a gritty, realistic human tragedy into a fairy tale.
It is however a classic written by a master of the psychological thriller.
Not a single swear word, curse or reference to carnal activities in the entire work!
Quite something!
JP ;)
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on 8 June 2017
Prior to this book, I'd never really read any kind of post-GCSE Literature. Unsure of where to start, I decided to purchase a work of fiction set in a time period I had read works of non-fiction about. This novel has been an absolute treat, it has moments of immense tension and heat, as well deep moments of introspection, where the reader is invited to indulge in an exploration of the human condition. Whilst the Russian way of naming is likely to leave most readers (me included) feeling confused and at times frustrated, please do persevere. Likewise, there are segments and sentences of this book which appear to be somewhat lost in translation, and whilst a more expensive copy will probably make for a smoother reading experience, this copy is absolutely value for money. For all its detractions, I've thoroughly enjoyed this novel - it can be hard work, but it is well worth the reward.
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on 21 January 2016
My joint favourite book of all time. Already had a battered copy but wanted a kindle edition. It's a masterpiece in the subject of introspection, guilt, psychological turmoil and a double murder.

This is quite simply (along with 'In Cold Blood' / Truman Capote) a class piece of literature which can be read time & time again yet continue to reveal new facets we missed 1st, 2nd, 3rd time round amidst so many other complex issues.

Can't praise Dostoevsky highly enough.
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on 3 November 2016
Buoyed on by an interview I read with Una Stubbs, of all things, who said that Dostoyevsky is actually very readable, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is indeed very readable and doesn't suffer from the typical issue with Russian literature in that you don't get lost in a million different names for each character. Great story, with some weighty issues discussed, and that unique intenseness that you get in Russian literature.
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on 24 January 2016
Gripping, sad and occasionally funny. I love most of Dostoevsky's work, this is probably the best entry point for those unfamiliar with his writing.

I picked up this edition as I wanted the Constance Garnett translation in hardback. Not the most aesthetic edition but it's a high quality hardback which looks like it will last a lifetime of revisits.
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on 13 August 2016
I had been looking forward to reading this book. I found it very hard to read, I am hoping it was to do with the translation. This is added to a very small list of books that I have been unable to finish.
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VINE VOICEon 17 April 2011
Because this is translated from the Russian, and is very old, there's a double whammy here - you have to get used to an older way of speaking plus get to grips with the finer points of the translation! Written in a very fast moving, almost frenetic style, I also found I had to force myself to slow right down reading it or else I was missing things. Usually I read a book over the course of a day or so - reading on the way to work, lunch, the way home, and in bed. This book took me 3 weeks! But it was worth it, I must say. So different to everything I have ever read, and a world away from the more modern Russian authors I love. But this was an experience, and one I do intend to repeat soon! I think the heavyweights are a must for all avid readers.
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on 19 September 2009
I had heard of Dostoevsky but never read any of his books. Every time I went into a book store, I always shied away from Russian authors on the premise that their books were far too long and far too intense. If you were like me, I would advise you too think again.

When a member of our book club choose this book all you could hear were deep signs and raised eyebrows (myself included). Nevertheless, this all changed once I started reading it.

This book tells the story of a man called Rodion Raskolnikov who committs a crime of murder and nearly gets away with it. However, this book is more than just a who done it (take note Dan Brown), it takes you on a journey into the consciouness, mind and psycological make up of Rodion Raskolnikov.

Although the book centres on Raskolnikov, you will enjoy the other characters such as his sister Dounia, best friend Razumihin, Sonia and Zametov all of whom have a pivitol role in this story of murder, hate, guilt, anger, fear, love, loyalty and ultimately repetence. Set against the back drop of Russian poverty before the revolution, you will not put this book down.

So glad it was choosen and so glad I read it.
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