This months book was another Jordan Peterson inspired read, following on from ‘12 Rules…’, ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’ and ‘Panzram’.
The first time I ever heard of Dostoevsky was in episode 3 of The Office, where David Brent has a battle of the wits with the temporary worker Ricky, with regards to their knowledge of Dostoevsky’s writings. David Brent’s side kick Chris Finch famously and erroneously boasting that he read one of Dostoevsky’s book a week. Well it took me a bit longer that a week to read Crime & Punishment, roughly 5 weeks as it happens. Although some smarter minds than mine maybe be able to read, absorb and interpret these works quicker, I still found myself lost in what I was interpreting as unnecessary dialogue.
I started reading the book in the hope of digesting it from a psychological perspective and learning things from that point of view, however I soon got caught up in the pace and story line of the book, only realising I’d gotten carried away without examining the characters and their situations in as much depth as I would have liked to.
The basis of the story is that of a student living in St Petersberg, Russia, during the mid 19th Century, who is beyond broke. The main character, Raskolnikov is a critical thinker and living as he does in poverty and having to postpone his studies, severely grates on him, so much that he sees the only way out is to commit murder and wipe, what Raskolnikov sees as a drain on society, off the face of the earth. However typically, things don’t go to plan, and although it seems as though our protagonist has committed the almost perfect crime, his own actions and mental fortitude become is own downfall.
From a layman’s perspective, the book is a tough read through it’s initial stages, often feeling like it veers off down blind alleys for no specific reason. It isn’t until the final third that things really start to get moving and we start to see how things unravel. The emotion of guilt weighs heavier and heavier upon Raskolnikov who protests his innocence to his antagonists but his physical well being belies his protests.
Without giving the whole plot away, the story allows us to assess the main characters in some depth, and how they interact with each other in their different circumstances. However I think that you may need an interest in the psychological affects of inner belief, inner belief when it is tested and the psychological make up of differnt personality types in order to get through the whole book.
Worth reading if you’re a fan of JBP and if you want to bragg that you have read a Dostoevsky novel.
Raskolnikov is confessing his guilt to his innocent girlfriend Sonia. He implies on multiple occassions throughout the book, that he is inspired by the great figures of history like Napolean and Muhammed, who did horrendous things for their own ideologies. Raskolnikov hints at the fact that he is following in the ideological steps when he says: “I divined then Sonia, that power is only vouchsafed to the man who dares to stoop and pick it up. There is only one thing, one thing needful; one only has to dare!”