le 22 février 2005
Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment is the first classic detective story. But that is not even where it excels. With the Brothers Karamazov, it elevated Dostoyevsky to a mega writer when it comes to dissecting the mind and soul of characters for the readers. It is a great book of psychology. While it competes with Anna Karenina as the most widely read 19th century Russian novel in the English-speaking world, it is judged by many to be superior in its depth and lessons. The book's hero exemplifies all young ideologues who are wrestling with a new idea which they think can elevate them to the levels of great historic figures in their initial steps towards greatness. Often, a barrier has to be crossed which takes the potential legendary figure into an irreversible course. In Crime and Punishment, Raskolnikov who is the hero is a poor, intelligent and thoughtful student who is convinced that he has a mission for the advancement of mankind. He convinces himself that the mission has to start with him crossing over to greatness by robbing and killing an old woman, a pawnbroker, whose death, he had convinced himself would do the world more good than harm. This conviction is based on his judgment that she cheats her clients and holds money that could be used for humanity. He then commits the murder, but is forced to kill the pitiful Elizabetha, the landlady's sister. The novel begins its twists and turns after these murders, with the introduction of the cunning detective who gets to investigate the murder and makes Raskolnikov his principal suspect. Raskolnikov gets to meet the destitute Marmeladovs through the alcoholic father, and is distraught by the plight of his consumptive mother, her three young children, and Sonya-Marmeladov's eighteen-year old daughter who is forced into prostitution in order to support the family.
By doing a rich psychology development of his characters, Dostoyevsky made his characters more complexly human, yet reachable. Sonya emerges as a saintly figure who sins for the sakes of those she loves , and who is the mirror through which the so-called devilish characters are redeemed. The plot is rich, deep, enjoyable and action-packed; and the pace is fast and engaging. The overriding strength of the story is the conflict in Raskolnikov's soul, a conflict which began in his quest to be the "Extraordinary Man" like Napoleon, by stepping over the basic bounds of morality by committing murder. That conflict in his soul brought out the rich ideas, discussions and emotions from the characters that interacted with him.
Also recommended: THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV, DISCIPLES OF FORTUNE