Sunday, March 13, 2011

Crime and Punishment: A Novel in Six Parts with Epilogue (Vintage Classics) by Dostoevsky (Translated by Pevear & Volokhonsky)

Dostoyevsky expands on his own Notes from Underground and Poe’s “Tell Tale Heart” to bring this epic of decaying psyches, suicides, fever dreams, visions of fires, floods, and diseases, ghosts, scripture quoting drunks, saintly prostitutes, and demented messiahs; all wrapped up with his idiosyncratic Christian existentialism and gallows humor. Yes, philosophers, filmmakers, and other writers (especially Camus’ The Stranger and Hamsun’s Hunger) have taken the themes of this book and repeated them ad nauseam, but the book is real page turner (I’m serious) and there is a lot to enjoy beyond the central conceit; whether it is the perverted Christ allegory or the vision of Russian life as a mad carnival. My only complaint is how confusingly similar half the character’s names were, which I think the translators could have easily cleared up (it did add to the disorienting dream like nature of the story)

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