Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Crime and Punishment

I started writing this post a while ago, but have had it saved because I wanted to include some quotes I liked from the book. Anyway, finally finished Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky. Overall, I liked it, even if it was slow going in the beginning. Perhaps because I knew the basic gist of the novel before I read it, I knew that the murder was coming, so it felt like a long time before we got there. I feel like his rationale to kill her was a mix between heroism and a strange desire to do something so wrong it was inconceivable for him to do in the first place. The whole first part of the book, he kept questioning himself, "but will I actually do it?" as if he really just wanted to be able to answer "yes" to that question. Of course I think it started with him feeling guilty that his sister and mother were sacrificing for him so greatly, but in an attempt to even the score, he seemed to go a bit crazy. I also really enjoyed the end, where Sonia carries the cross through the town for him as he goes to admit his sins to the police. Oh, symbolism. Anyway, this review isn't as eloquent as the one on The Awakening, but it's late, and I'm really tired. I'll just copy some tasty bits below.

Pyotr Petrovitch ground his teeth and at the same time once more he had a gleam of desperate hop. "Can all that be really so irrevocably over? Is it no use to make another effort?" The thought of Dounia sent a voluptuous pang through his heart. He endured anguish at that moment, and if it had been possible to slay Raskolnikov instantly by wishing it, Pyotr Petrovitch would promptly have uttered the wish.

"[Your article] was conceived on sleepless nights, with a throbbing heart, in ectasy and suppressed enthusiasm. And that proud soppressed enthusiasm in young people is dangerous! I jeered at you then, but let me tell you that, as a literary amateur, I am awfully fond of such essays, full of the heat of youth. There is a mistiness and a chord vibrating in the mist. Your article is absurd and fantastic, but there's a transparent sincerity, a youthful incorruptible pride and the daring of despair in it. It's a gloomy article, but that's what's fine in it. I read your article and put it aside, thinking as I did so that 'that man won't go the common way.'"

"You can never be sure of what has passed between husband and wife[...] There's always a little corner which remains a secret to the world and is only known to those two."

The ending:
"He thought of her. He remembered how continually he had tormented her and wounded her heart. He remembered her pale and thin little face. But these recollections scarcely troubled him now; he knew with what infinite love he would now repay all her sufferings. And what were all, all the agonies of the past! Everything, even his crime, his sentence and imprisonment, seemed to him now in the first rush of feeling an external strange fact with which he had no concern. But he could not think for long together of anything that evening, and he could not have analysed anything consciously; he was simply feeling. Life had stepped into the place of theory and something quite different would work itself out in his mind.

Under his pillow lay the New Testament. He took it up mechanically. The book belonged to Sonia; it was the one from which she had read the raising of Lazarus to him. At first he was afraid that she would worry him about religion, would talk about the gospel and pester him with books. But to his great surprise she had not once approached the subject and had not even offered him the Testament. He had asked her for it himself not long before his illness and she brought him the book without a word. Till now he had not opened it.

He did not open it now, but one thought passed through his mind: 'Can her convictions not be mine now? Her feelings, her aspirations at least...'

She too had been greatly agitated that day, and at night she was taken ill again. But she was so happy--and so unexpectedly happy--that she was almost frightened by her happiness. Seven years, only seven years [until he was released from prison]! At the beginning of their happiness at some moments they were both ready to look on those seven years as though they were seven days. He did not know that the new life would not be given him for nothing, that he would have to pay dearly for it, that it would cost him great striving, great suffering."

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