Item description for Crime and Punishment (Penguin Classics) by Fyodor Dostoyevsky & David McDuff...
Overview Raskolnikov, a destitute and desperate former student, commits a random murder, imagining himself to be a great man far above moral law. But as he embarks on a cat-and-mouse game with police, his conscience begins to torment him and he seeks sympathy and redemption from Sonya, a downtrodden prostitute.
Publishers Description Raskolnikov, a destitute and desperate former student, wanders through the slums of St Petersburg and commits a random murder without remorse or regret. He imagines himself to be a great man, a Napoleon: acting for a higher purpose beyond conventional moral law. But as he embarks on a dangerous game of cat and mouse with a suspicious police investigator, Raskolnikov is pursued by the growing voice of his conscience and finds the noose of his own guilt tightening around his neck. Only Sonya, a downtrodden prostitute, can offer the chance of redemption.
This vivid translation by David McDuff has been acclaimed as the most accessible version of Dostoyevsky's great novel, rendering its dialogue with a unique force and naturalism. This edition also includes a new chronology of Dostoyevsky's life and work.
@RobPeterPayPaul It's hard being a poor student - lots of work, crappy room, and I have the ugliest hat this side of the Urals. It is a bit of a rut being so miserably impoverished. I need something to lighten up my life, something exciting... I've got it. Rather than accept financial aid from my friend, I'll murder an elderly money-lender in cold blood. Why? I'm not telling. However, if you'd like to guess at my psychological and ideological motivations for the next couple of hundred years, be my guest. From "Twitterature: The World's Greatest Books in Twenty Tweets or Less"
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Studio: Penguin Classics
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 7.98" Width: 6.02" Height: 1.24" Weight: 1.05 lbs.
Release Date Dec 31, 2002
Publisher Penguin Classics
Series Penguin Classics
ISBN 0140449132 ISBN13 9780140449136 UPC 051488013006
Availability 36 units. Availability accurate as of May 26, 2017 03:03.
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More About Fyodor Dostoyevsky & David McDuff
Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky (11 November 1821 – 9 February 1881), sometimes transliterated Dostoevsky, was a Russian novelist, short story writer, essayist and philosopher.
Dostoyevsky's literary works explore human psychology in the context of the troubled political, social, and spiritual atmosphere of 19th-century Russia. He began writing in his 20s, and his first novel, Poor Folk, was published in 1846 when he was 25.
His major works include Crime and Punishment (1866), The Idiot (1869), and The Brothers Karamazov (1880). His output consists of eleven novels, three novellas, seventeen short novels and numerous other works. Many literary critics rate him as one of the greatest and most prominent psychologists in world literature.
Born in Moscow in 1821, Dostoyevsky was introduced to literature at an early age through fairy tales and legends, and through books by Russian and foreign authors. His mother died in 1837, when he was 15, and around the same time he left school to enter the Nikolayev Military Engineering Institute. After graduating, he worked as an engineer and briefly enjoyed a lavish lifestyle, translating books to earn extra money. In the mid-1840s he wrote his first novel, Poor Folk, which gained him entry into St. Petersburg's literary circles.
In 1849 he was arrested for his involvement in the Petrashevsky Circle, a secret society of liberal utopians that also functioned as a literary discussion group. He and other members were condemned to death, but at the last moment, a note from Tsar Nicholas I was delivered to the scene of the firing squad, commuting the sentence to four years' hard labour in Siberia. His seizures, which may have started in 1839, increased in frequency there, and he was diagnosed with epilepsy. On his release, he was forced to serve as a soldier, before being discharged on grounds of ill health.
In the following years, Dostoyevsky worked as a journalist, publishing and editing several magazines of his own and, later, A Writer's Diary, a collection of his writings. He began to travel around western Europe and developed a gambling addiction, which led to financial hardship. For a time, he had to beg for money, but he eventually became one of the most widely read and highly regarded Russian writers. His books have been translated into more than 170 languages. Dostoyevsky influenced a multitude of writers and philosophers, from Anton Chekhov and Ernest Hemingway to Friedrich Nietzsche and Jean-Paul Sartre.
Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky was born in 1821 and died in 1881.
Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky has published or released items in the following series...
Reviews - What do customers think about Crime and Punishment (Penguin Classics)?
Gripping! May 12, 2008
Dostoyevsky has an amazing way of forcing the audience to ponder the philosophical notions of this situation and not those only of civil law.
Crime and Punishment May 2, 2008
I love stories about redemption and Crime and Punishment is one of the best. Very bleak but absolutely gripping, the tortured mind of the protagonist is superbly drawn. I've read this book several times. An absolute must read.
You may love the muzhik without becoming overwrought and sentimental May 1, 2008
This review is a spoiler, so don't read it if you don't know how the book ends! But I want to focus on the ending--Tolstoy famously remarked of it that "once you start it, you immediately know how it will end." And he was serious. And this sheds a great deal of light on this work and how it fits in with some of Dostoevsky's other masterpieces, such as the more restrained and better crafted Brothers Karamazov.
Understanding Dostoevsky without Tolstoy is like understanding Levi-Strauss without Sartre. They were the two poles between which Russian literature was arraigned. They are treated as a binary opposition: the abstract vs. the concrete, the philosophical vs. the historical, the intellect vs. the soul, the symbolic vs. the sentimental.
So how did Tolstoy know how it would end? Because the core of C&P, as Tolstoy understood, was a Slavophilic call for a "return"--perhaps not a return to the land, but a return to orthodox Christian concepts and basic moral orderings. Since there is a cross-roads, one might as well kneel there. There is nothing else.
So Tolstoy understood that once a crime has been committed, it ineluctably pushes the plot towards discovery, recognition and repentance. To have a plot break away from this would be either grasping for cheap effects or the grossest immorality, and no truly great Russian writer, no matter how philosophically inclined, could follow either of these paths.
And yes, that does necessarily imply something sentimental. Because we are--as Dostoevsky beautifully says in The Brothers Karamazov--simple. ("As a general rule, people, even the wicked, are much more naive and simple-hearted than we suppose. And we ourselves are, too.") Getting to the core of the matter will unveil simplicity--philosophy can get us to the point of throwing away false complications, but it cannot forever distract us from the fundamental simplicity of the opposition: right/sin.
And yet, that is what most of us do--we use abstraction and symbolism to hold these simple truths at bay. When, like Raskolnikov, we find ourselves alone with our thoughts too much, these thoughts can seem more important than the simple issues of human life. Dwelling in a room in which he could reach out and touch opposite walls with each hand, the only expanse in which his soul could dwell was that of abstraction. (I know this feeling well, from living in a tent [see my review!] that was just about the size of his room, and with a substantially lower ceiling.) But no matter how you let your fancy fly, the chickens of violence always come home to roost.
Perhaps because Dostoevsky was the one prone to symbolism, to craftiness as opposed to the rude directness that sometimes was the guiding impulse of Tolstoy's almost histrionic philosophizing, this admission of the fundamental Christian simplicity is truly moving. Dostoevsky is often considered a precursor of the existentialists but for very trivial reasons (e.g., serious mood swing issues). But one must see him as pursuing themes very similar to those of his rough contemporary Kierkegaard--can we free ourselves of excessive formal thinking and focus on the core issues of sin and repentance?
I think the answer in both cases is actually no. Kierkegaard himself certainly couldn't [see my review!], and Dostoevsky was in some ways more of a ethnocentrist than Tolstoy. But more importantly, his characters only become in harmony with the world when they have some sort of lobotomy, not an enlightenment. He lacks the true sense of the emotional nature of repentance--something that occurs in humans who are by nature limited in their capacity to feel and comprehend--that we see in Tolstoy.
I admit to being unusually interested in these themes. I've spent a long time repenting for a crime, even though it was, in the scheme of things, a minor one. No old ladies chopped, just some stretched--okay, false--testimony. But the reason for the crime was even more immoral than the crime itself. Too cowardly to just leave someone who loved me, I thought of an elaborate scheme to get her to reject me as too bothersome to put up with. Just the kind of thing Kierkegaard would do.
Instead I found her, like Sonya in C&P, clinging to me all the harder and shaming me with her decency, loyalty, and simplicity. And it is the character of Sonya that I find most perplexing. Her dogged insistence and her "sancta simplicitas" sometimes make her seem foolish (in contrast to the "wonderfulness" of Alyosha in the Brothers Karamazov, to whom she is often compared). She is friends with one of Raskolnikov's victims, Lizaveta, who is borderline retarded. (Here is also helps to compare to the Lizaveta in the Brothers Karamazov to get insight on what Dostoevsky is thinking.) It seems that there aren't too many viable options between stupid and bad. It's too Groucho Marx, but Raskolnikov on his way to Siberia must have wondered, "OK, I love you and you love me and that can be a form of redemption, or, maybe, it just means you are irredeemably stupid." 
A great novel Mar 22, 2008
This is, of course, one of the great novels of all time. Fyodor Dostoyevsky created a number of truly wonderful works over time, such as "The Brothers Karamazov," "The Gambler," and "The Devils" (or "The Possessed"). The "Translator's Introduction" to "Crime and Punishment" provides useful context. David Magarshack, the translator, observes that (page 11) ". . .the main theme. . .had occupied Dostoyevsky ever since he gave up his career in the army to devote himself to literature." Shortly thereafter, Magarshack quotes Dostoyevsky himself from an earlier work, "White Knights," with the author saying (page 11): "'It is said that the proximity of punishment gives rise to real repentance in the criminal and sometimes arouses remorse in the most hardened heart; it is said to be chiefly due to fear." Thus, there is a psychological element to this novel, whether is approximates reality or not (I have my doubts that a lot of criminals really repent and show remorse, but that is neither here nor there).
The novel itself was important for Dostoyevsky since, as was not uncommon, he was in dire financial straits. He signed a contract to provide a serialization of the work to a literary publication. This is apparent at some points, when different parts of the novel may not fit together so well or when certain strands of discourse aren't fully developed.
The protagonist, Raskolnikov, faces a series of problems. For one thing, he is a student who faces dire poverty and has a difficult time just making ends meet. At another level, he has a sense that special human beings can be above the law and so on to do great deeds. These two factors plus others are interlinked to lead him to murder a pawnbroker to help gain enough money to survive. On being "superman," Raskolnikov says at one point (page 276): "I simply hinted that the `extraordinary' man has a right--not an officially sanctioned right, of course--to permit his conscience to step over certain obstacles, but only if it is absolutely necessary for the fulfillment of his idea on which possibly the welfare of all mankind may depend." And, in a following commentary (page 277): ". . .I maintain that all men who are not only great but a little out of the common. . .must by their very nature be criminals. . . ."
After committing the murder, he begins to come apart, as he suspects that people know of his deed. In another plot twist, after meeting a civil servant, Marmalodov, he comes to be attracted to his daughter, Sonya. He comes to confess to her of his deed. Later, he falls in love with her, but his imprisonment means that they would need to delay a life together. She follows him to Siberia, and the novel ends with hope for the future.
This is one of the great novels, no doubt. There are problems, as noted above, with the development of the story and with its ending (almost deus ex machine). Nonetheless, an interesting psychological analysis of the human mind. Still worth reading long after he completed writing it in 1866. Raskolnikov remains one of the great characters in literature, and his slow unraveling after the murder creates gripping drama.
A Complex Tale of Mind, Soul & Spiritual Redemption Mar 12, 2008
The protagonist of this famous tale, Raskolnikov, has fallen to the depths of emotional and physical despair. Is there a way out of his abject poverty; a mind that will not shut off; his alcoholism; his fantasies of evil-acts, his utter Resentment of existence? In his mind, finally, there is hope, to bring his soul out from the gutter, an act of pure Will, that can lift him to a place where he is "meant" to be...and that is, pre-meditative Murder.
It can be dangerous reading Dostoevsky because, as a writer, he has that uncanny ability to put the reader's mind into the mind of his characters.
Reading Crime and Punishment, for me at least, had me agreeing with Raskolnikov, at times pushing him along to commit the act: commit murder because the writing had me truly believing that this most hidious act would bring him at least a glimmer of redemption. But, of course, after the 'act' (with an axe of all weapons), the guilt sets in and his life becomes even more a living hell. (Guilt is hell.)
The paranoia of getting caught reaches mammoth levels, and he cannot live in his own skin anymore; in his mind he now IS in living hell.
The protagonist finally admits to the crime and, comedically, (Dostoevsky's hate of any type of Russian bureaucracy) do not believe him!
The most horrific scenes in literature of all time, for me, is the beating, on a busy street in St. Petersburg, of a horse by its sadistic owner to its slow and painful death. A beating that would turn anyone into a rage...
This terrible image, so graphically written in detail, will remain with me forever.
Does Raskolnikov finally attain his sought after redemption?
There is something that changes within the man, but it is up to the individual reader to decide...one of the greatest books written in the twentieth century.