crime & punishment

I finally finished reading Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment. It feels like I’ve been reading it for a long time, but I think that’s because I’ve only been reading it in short bouts, and not very frequently. It’s a bit mentally “heavy”, for want of a better word. Reading it for a long stretch without a break just seemed to weigh down on my brain.

But now that it’s done, it feels weird to not be reading it anymore. I guess it’s like the weight was lifted, and I’m still pushing but not finding the familiar resistance there.

That’s not to say I didn’t like Crime and Punishment. At least, I like it better than The Idiot, which I don’t think I really understood. This one had me thinking a lot, but I feel like I understood it better. But I did read The Idiot quite a long time ago, so maybe I’m just more mature and wise or something. Having said that, though, I still feel like I need to reread it one day in order to get a better grasp of everything. 

Did I truly understand it, or did I actually miss the point?

And there is something else that compels me to reread it, even though it’s not as beautifully written as certain other classics I’ve read. Well, that could also be the translation/version I read. I got it second-hand, so it’s quite an old copy. There were several parts that sounded very dramatic and exaggerated, like literary convulsions. But sometimes I feel like that was all intentional, because the whole thing is full of feeling and torment and anguish.

Anyway, with classics like this, I always feel like there’s no real need to go into much detail about the story and meaning and implications, etc, etc. So much has already been written about these classics, and there are so many interpretations and analyses in existence.

I only wish to add that I didn’t particularly like the epilogue. Most of it was fine, until the last few pages, which felt like too much of a backflip, and left a strange aftertaste. If/when I ever reread Crime and Punishment, I’ll have to try to remember to avoid the epilogue, or at least stop before I get to the very end.

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The Idiot

Last week I finished reading Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Idiot. I think it took me about four months to finish it — not just because it’s a difficult book, but because I haven’t had a lot of time and energy for reading, which, in itself, is a shame.

This is not the first Dostoevsky I’ve read, but it’s the first I’ve read in over ten years. I read both Notes from Underground and The Grand Inquisitor while I was still in high school, and found it fascinating (or so my notes at the time say), but my reading tastes went in other directions, and didn’t return to classic Russian literature until I picked up Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina a couple of years ago.

Although I tried to allow a bit of space between these two tomes, my mind is naturally going to compare the two. This, of course, might be quite unfair, especially since I rank Anna Karenina as one of the best novels I’ve ever read. Continue reading