All right. So, I know I said that the second post would come after I finished Crime and Punishment, but it’s a long book, and I wanted to do a mid-reading post…
No? You’re not buying it, right? Yeah ok. Well, I had so much fun writing my first post that I couldn’t wait to write a new one (although I was so ready to press publish yesterday that I didn’t polish it as much as I should have – my apologies!) Like I said, I’ll chat a little bit about the first half of the book, mostly on the characters. It’s not going to be analytical or research-based because I already finished my undergrad Humanities class. ;) I’ll just list what I think, like, or don’t like about what I’m reading. I’m going to try avoiding spoilers as much as possible, but you’ll have to keep the second half to yourselves too!
Oh Dostoevsky, where to start.
My mother has been suggesting this book to me since I was probably in middle school. She’s a big fan of Russian literature as I am also turning out to be. I was always afraid to dive into this one because it’s a big book and well, it’s Dostoevsky! But I’m actually glad that I waited until now to read it. I think that after having taken writing, literature, and psychology classes (not to mention being kind of an adult now), I can appreciate the piece from many different perspectives.
Obviously, one of the biggest aspects of the book is psychological analysis. What I really adore is Dostoevsky’s remarkable talent in showing Raskolnikov’s (our protagonist) rapidly changing conscience. He goes on monologues for pages and pages where he criticizes himself, social structures and expectations, human nature itself… And it is clear that Dostoevsky KNOWS humans. He narrates a guilty conscience so brilliantly that it makes one wonder. ;) In accordance with Dostoevsky’s brilliance, Raskolnikov acts along beautifully. Although he’s stubborn in nature, he portrays an inner struggle so powerful and agonizing that I find myself sympathizing with him quite often.
Next up is Razumihin, Raskolnikov’s “best friend”. I may not be far along the text to feel otherwise, but Razumihin is one of the sweetest and cutest characters in the book. For some reason (the uncertainty of his intentions is why I’m hesitant to make bold statements about him), he forces himself into Raskolnikov’s life to assist his old college buddy. Razumihin is quickly frustrated, throws temper tantrums, and is quickly embarrassed. He also has trouble picking up social cues, which makes him all the more clueless. But (so far) he seems to have a good heart, and I trust him. One of my favorite scenes is his drunk philosophical rambling as he walks with Raskolnikov’s mom and sister. Despite the intoxication (or perhaps because of it) he makes strong statements like, “Through error you come to the truth! I am a man because I err!” Just. So. Good.
One of the troubles I’m having while reading is the three-name convention. Dostoevsky assigns three names for all of his actors as is customary and uses their names interchangeably which can get confusing. I’ve also noticed that characters pop up in Part 3 with only one name when they were only mentioned once or twice in Part 1, so I find myself flipping back and forth trying to find out who it is. But it does get clearer as the story unfolds.
I should also mention that my favorite place to read this book is on the train in NYC. I don’t know if it is the tunnels or the interesting people on the train that make it the perfect setting for a Russian classic. Regardless, this piece is a real page-turner, and although I’m not even done with it myself, I already feel really confident in recommending it. It proves why classics are classics …and that my mother was right.
скоро увидимся! (If google has not failed me, “see you soon!”)