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am 27. Juni 2007
The excerpt of text from this Wordsworth Classic found in the Search Inside! function at Amazon.com is not the same as the text in the paperback Wordsworth Classic. Do not judge this translation by the excerpt found at Amazon. The ISBN numbers are the same, but the years differ (Amazon: 1997, paperback: 1993) as do the page-counts (Amazon: 434, paperback: 402).

Plenty of comments about Crime and Punishment exist among over a hundred reviews here; plenty of comments about the value, story, characters, plot, and meaning of Crime and Punishment can be found here. This review is about this translation, the Complete and Unabridged Wordsworth Classics edition of Crime and Punishment, which at least one review praises. I do not know more than a few phrases in Russian, but through comparing with other translations I have deduced that this Wordsworth version is not good.

Here are some reasons why:

Who translated this work? The translator is not credited. Is there only one? When was this translated? The first signs of a poor edition. It's copyright has probably gone out.

Comparing with other translations I've found that the Russian names aren't given in their full in this version. For example, Rodion Romanovitch Raskolnikoff, as he's called here, is also known as Rodia by his mother and sister in other versions, such as the Swedish Hans Björkegren version from 1979. Eudoxia (Duonia) Romanonva as she is called here, is known as Eudoria Dunja Romanovna Raskolinkova in other versions. There are other discrepancies between names.

Which one is truest to Dostoevsky? Comparing the different translations, I have also found that the names are not as flexible in this version. For instance, in the other versions the names vary much more depending on who's addressing whom, and why they are doing so. Here the names vary little in different contexts.

Some sentences in this translation are beautiful, but many are clumsy. I don't know what Dostoevsky's writing is like in Russian, but I doubt he is known simply for his plots and characters. I assume he is also known for great prose, which, in my opinion, does not come out in this translation. E.g. "The woman laughed - yet with a silent laugh, striving hard no one should hear. Suddenly it struck Raskolnikoff that the room door was open; there also was laughter, whispering. Rage overcame him. Now, with a demon's power he struck, and struck and struck again. Yet laughter grew and whispher grew. As for the woman, she only writhed. He wished to run: -- the room was filling, the door stood open, and on the landing and on the stairs - here, there, and everywhere - people living people, they looked, looked on in silence. His heart stood still, his feet were leaden - he tried to cry out, and woke." Is this a bad translation, or is it transliteration of the Russian? I doubt the later--I doubt Dostoevsky wrote so sloppily.

Strange and archaic formulations also disturb my reading: "...many took him for a man in liquor", "what to do he decided at once", "Then he deposited his hat by his side", etc. Is this a story about Czarist Russians or Victorian Englishmen?

And importantly, the text is very small, the pages are large. Reading five hundred pages of this is not easy for the eyes.

I would give it no stars because the translation is peculiar, but I give it two stars because it is inexpensive and because in a good translation it's a great book.
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am 29. Januar 2005
Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment is the first classic detective story. But that is not even where it excels. With the Brothers Karamazov, it elevated Dostoyevsky to a mega writer when it comes to dissecting the mind and soul of characters for the readers. It is a great book of psychology. While it competes with Anna Karenina as the most widely read 19th century Russian novel in the English-speaking world, it is judged by many to be superior in its depth and lessons. The book's hero exemplifies all young ideologues who are wrestling with a new idea which they think can elevate them to the levels of great historic figures in their initial steps towards greatness. Often, a barrier has to be crossed which takes the potential legendary figure into an irreversible course. In Crime and Punishment, Raskolnikov who is the hero is a poor, intelligent and thoughtful student who is convinced that he has a mission for the advancement of mankind. He convinces himself that the mission has to start with him crossing over to greatness by robbing and killing an old woman, a pawnbroker, whose death, he had convinced himself would do the world more good than harm. This conviction is based on his judgment that she cheats her clients and holds money that could be used for humanity. He then commits the murder, but is forced to kill the pitiful Elizabetha, the landlady's sister. The novel begins its twists and turns after these murders, with the introduction of the cunning detective who gets to investigate the murder and makes Raskolnikov his principal suspect. Raskolnikov gets to meet the destitute Marmeladovs through the alcoholic father, and is distraught by the plight of his consumptive mother, her three young children, and Sonya-Marmeladov's eighteen-year old daughter who is forced into prostitution in order to support the family.
By doing a rich psychology development of his characters, Dostoyevsky made his characters more complexly human, yet reachable. Sonya emerges as a saintly figure who sins for the sakes of those she loves , and who is the mirror through which the so-called devilish characters are redeemed. The plot is rich, deep, enjoyable and action-packed; and the pace is fast and engaging. The overriding strength of the story is the conflict in Raskolnikov's soul, a conflict which began in his quest to be the "Extraordinary Man" like Napoleon, by stepping over the basic bounds of morality by committing murder. That conflict in his soul brought out the rich ideas, discussions and emotions from the characters that interacted with him.
Also recommended: THE BROTHER KARAMAZOV, DISCIPLES OF FORTUNE
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am 15. April 2000
I initially approached this book with a great deal of trepidation. I had never read Dostoyevsky, and was concerned that I would get bogged down in some lengthy, mind-numbingly boring, nineteenth-century treatise on the bestial nature of man or something. I am happy to report this is not the case. Instead, and to my delight, it is a smoothly flowing and fascinating story of a young man who succumbs to the most base desire, and the impact this has both psychologically and otherwise on himself and those around him.
To be sure, the book seems wordy in places, but I suspect this has to do with the translation. And what translator in his right mind would be bold enough to edit the great Dostoyevsky? But this is a very minor problem.
What we get with Dostoyevsky is dramatic tension, detailed and believable human characters, and brilliant insight into human nature. Early in the novel our hero meets and has a lengthy conversation with Marmeladov, a drunkard. This conversation is never uninteresting and ultimately becomes pathetic and heartbreaking, but I kept wondering why so much time was spent on it. As I got deeper into the book, I understood why this conversation was so important, and realized that I was in the hands of a master storyteller. This is also indicative of the way in which the story reveals itself. Nothing is hurried. These people speak the way we actually speak to one another in real life, and more importantly, Dostoyevsky is able to flesh out his characters into whole, three-dimensional human beings.
And what a diverse group of characters! Each is fleshed out, each is marvelously complex. Razujmikhin, the talkative, gregarious, good-hearted, insecure and destitute student; Sonia, the tragic child-prostitute, with a sense of rightness in the world; Petrovich, the self-important, self-made man, completely out of touch with his own humanity; Dunia, the honorable, wronged sister: we feel like we know these people because we've met people like them. They fit within our understanding of the way human beings are.
Dostoyevsky also displays great insight into human nature. Svidrigailov, for example, talks of his wife as liking to be offended. "We all like to be offended," he says, "but she in particular loved to be offended." It suddenly struck me how true this is. It gives us a chance to act indignantly, to lash out at our enemies, to gain favor with our allies. I don't believe I've ever seen this thought expressed in literature before. In fact, it never occurred to me in real life! Petrovich, Dunia's suitor, not only expects to be loved, but because of his money, and her destitution, he expects to be adored! To be worshipped! He intentionally sought out a woman from whome he expected to get this, and is comletely flummoxed when she rejects him. His is an unusual character, but completely realized.
There is so much more to talk about: the character of Raskolnikov, which is meticulously and carefully revealed; the sense of isolation which descends on him after committing his crime; the cat and mouse game played on him by the police detective. I could go on and on. I haven't even mentioned the historical and social context in which this takes place. Suffice to say this is a very rich book.
Do not expect it to be a rip-roaring page turner. Sit down, relax, take your time, and savor it. It will be a very rewarding experience. And thank you SL, for recommending it.
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am 25. Juli 2000
Crime and Punishment is one of my top 5 books. It is an amazing combination of politics, philosophy, and religion--an all encompassing grand show of humanity. The psychological depth of some of the scenes in this book will have you on the edge of your seat if you read them carefully. Dostoyevsky also has the brilliant ability to make hardcore philosophy emotionally RELEVANT, a feat many great philosophers fail at. Few books you will ever encounter will take your soul through such an emotionally disturbing dark tour of events. I sometimes am greatly moved just on reflecting on the novel, especially in regards to the dismal future of Russia Dostoyevsky warned the revolutionary ideas of his times would bring. His prescience was simply astounding.
Even though Crime and Punishment is a dreary Russian novel (the quintessential one, in fact) be assured of an uplifting and enlightening ending. Although critics often trash the epilogue, keep in mind it is the only thing that prevents the novel from being overbearing in sadness; it was not meant to be depressing, but rather, inspirational, as it certainly was to me. Also, I think everyone can identify a little with the Raskolnikovian split between compassion and brutal efficiency. You will understand when you pick this book up and begin reading the first chapter.
C&P changed my life, and I've never understood the meaning of Christianity as much as in my deep meditations on the masterpiece. This edition is a good one, as is the Norton Critical edition, which is unfortunately not available on Amazon. This is one of those books you must read once in your lifetime--do it now.
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am 27. März 2000
Review of Crime and Punishment By a Colorado reader
A pale - faced man stares at a door that marks his destiny. Beads of sweat run down his sunken face. His fate sealed, he nervously looks at the old woman before him, his eyes darting across the room, barley able to hold the cruel stare of the elderly pawnbroker. Heart pounding, he resists the urge to cry out in terror, and run from the shrewd old woman, but his mind is set. He cannot return, he has gone too far to stop now, and must carry out his desperation induced crime. Fyodor Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment revolves around a poor man struggling to survive in St. Petersburg, Russia. Raskolnikov, the main character, is stricken with both poverty and sickness. It's these determining factors that drive him into murdering a wealthy pawnbroker. Dostoevsky does a masterful job in describing the intense mental anguish that the protagonist goes through both before and after committing the act. He uses symbolism throughout the novel to help further this description of Raskolnikov's suffering, such as the intense fever he suffers that begins just prior the murder, peaks during the act, and continues for days afterwards. This fever also plays a major role in how those characters around him react to him after the crime. Nearly everyone around him is sympathetic towards him, and try to help, but Raskolnikov view himself as being superior to these others, and so rejects any form of charity offered to him. This is another one of Dostoevsky's commentaries on life. He believes that criminals who aren't used to committing crimes act in generally the same manner as Raskolnikov does. They slowly but surely isolate themselves socially, simply because of the fact that all they can think about is the crime itself. This is true of the main character, but in later chapters he tries to correct this after meeting a prostitute that he views to be a victim of situation, much as he seems to view himself. Now of course, this is not a terribly easy book to read, as most of the names are in Russian, and are at times hard to keep track of. Another aspect of the novel, is that at times, it can get rather dry and slow, but with patience it inevitably gets better, and is masterfully written to delve deep into the psychological aspects of punishment that are not as readily visible.
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am 19. März 2000
I'll start off with some criticism, however, though it doesn't pertain to the actual story itself. I don't like how in 19th century novels authors frequently like to have one character babble for pages upon pages. Dickens is infamous for it, and though there isn't that much of this in Dostoevsky's work (at least in this book) I find it boring when he does partake in this awful style of writing. If it wasn't for the great amount of respect I have for this novel, I would have given it 4 stars as a result. C&P is a deep and philosophical work of literature. Raskolnikov, the centre of the tale, is a striking figure by all accounts, and one of the most extraordinary and complex persons I have ever been introduced to in any novel. He's still debated to this day -- and people continue to write more and more essays centring on his personality and actions. Let's just say there's a lot to say about Rodion Raskolnikov, and the author allows the reader to largely discover him for themselves, rather than to merely tell us what he's like. The whole book can be discussed at great length. As I said, it is very philosophical, and it seems to centre around the concept of nihilism. Raskolnikov has his own ideas, no doubt influenced by the nihilistic tendencies of the 19th century Russian intelligentsia, and these beliefs that he formulated were what compelled him towards a bloody murder near the beginning of the book. From there we are catapulted into a dark and serious psychological thriller (as it is commonly called), where we are forced to explore the psyche of this man against the backdrop of a dreary, dark and depressing St. Petersburg. This is a book to think about. I have my own ideas, of course, just like everybody has. Everyone is free to interpret what Dostoevsky is trying to get across, and to agree or disagree wit him. Read it with care. (I still don't know what Svidraigalov's dreams symbolize.)
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am 13. Dezember 1999
This is the first Dostoevsky book I have read, and I liked it immensely. I decided to read it because of the intriguing plot, as well as Dostoevsky's reputation. Something interesting about this novel is that Dostoevsky used a very "backwards" sort of character development. He had Raskolnikov commit a murder- with no apparent motive- and then spent the rest of the book exploring the character, rather than the other way around. So first we watch this character commit a horrible, terrible crime, one that we should denounce him for, and then we begin to get to know him, and he is revealed to have an astoundingly good character after all. I found myself liking Raskolnikov greatly, and I was able to identify with him as well. However, this book does not seem to fall under the guidelines of a "crime novel" nor a "psychological thriller". Yes, there is a crime, as well as a study of the protoganist's psyche, but it is not exactly thrilling. This is not the sort of story where you have to keep reading and reading to find out who committed the crime. You already know. Therefore, there is no mystery to keep you interested. Despite all these obstacles, Dostoevsky does what might be impossible for most writers. He makes you care about what happens to Raskolnikov. I was not thrilled, but engrossed. What kept me reading here was the desire to see if Raskolnikov would defeat his inner demons and turn himself in, or be arrested. I'd rather not reveal the ending but I would like to say that I found it extremely satisfying. The subplot, that of Luzhin trying to gain control over Dounia, might have only gotten in the way of another writer, but Dostoevsky was able to inspire such hate in me for Luzhin that I wanted to keep reading just to see him get what he deserved in the end. After reading this, I have decided to read Dostoevky's other works as well, and hopefully they will all be of the same high quality.
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am 11. Dezember 1999
This is the first Dostoevsky book I have read, and I liked it immensely. I decided to read it because of the intriguing plot, as well as Dostoevsky's reputation. Something interesting about this novel is that Dostoevsky used a very "backwards" sort of character development. He had Raskolnikov commit a murder- with no apparent motive- and then spent the rest of the book exploring the character, rather than the other way around. So first we watch this character commit a horrible, terrible crime, one that we should denounce him for, and then we begin to get to know him, and he is revealed to have an astoundingly good character after all. I found myself liking Raskolnikov greatly, and I was able to identify with him as well. However, this book does not seem to fall under the guidelines of a "crime novel" nor a "psychological thriller". Yes, there is a crime, as well as a study of the protoganist's psyche, but it is not exactly thrilling. This is not the sort of story where you have to keep reading and reading to find out who committed the crime. You already know. Therefore, there is no mystery to keep you interested. Despite all these obstacles, Dostoevsky does what might be impossible for most writers. He makes you care about what happens to Raskolnikov. I was not thrilled, but engrossed. What kept me reading here was the desire to see if Raskolnikov would defeat his inner demons and turn himself in, or be arrested. I'd rather not reveal the ending but I would like to say that I found it extremely satisfying. The subplot, that of Luzhin trying to gain control over Dounia, might have only gotten in the way of another writer, but Dostoevsky was able to inspire such hate in me for Luzhin that I wanted to keep reading just to see him get what he deserved in the end. After reading this, I have decided to read Dostoevky's other works as well, and hopefully they will all be of the same high quality.
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am 25. Februar 1999
One should probably read this great novel TWICE to catch all the nuances. Like his other major works, this masterpiece by Dostoevsky drives home two central, inter-related themes: (a) that ideas (and ideology) have consequences; and (b) that these can be deadlier than any other force on earth.
For sheer depth and profundity, probably nothing can match the parable of The Grand Inquisitor, in THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV, but there's one line in C&P that immediately struck me as one of the greatest single sentences in all the world's literature, quintessentially pregnant with meaning. The detective, Porfiry Petrovich, who knows that Raskolnikov is the murderer, doesn't arrest him, playing a sort of cat-and-mouse game. Porfiry rightly suspects that this was a political (ideological) crime, not a typical one, and knows that his triumph would be much greater if he forces Raskolnikov to ADMIT not just the error of his act, but the error of his thinking. This sentence varies considerably from translation to translation, but basically it is (Porfiry to Raskolnikov): "You know, it's just as well you only killed the old woman. Because if you'd invented another THEORY, that would have been a thousand times MORE hideous." The events of our century have well borne out this prophecy.
The other superb part of this novel is when Raskolnikov's friend Razmuihin is shocked to hear that Raskolnikov's journal article had suggested that "superior" men, like Napoleon, create their own moral codes and are not bound by traditional ones. (Woody Allen's film BULLETS OVER BROADWAY also provided a good satire of this ominous idea: an artist "creates his own moral universe." And, as in C&P, this led to a killing.) What shocks Razmuihin the most is that wanton killing and terror could be justified PRECISELY IN THE NAME OF MORALITY.
Have we not seen enough of this already, in its most terrible aspects? The point is: such theories are still boiling in the pot, and we may not have heard the last of them.
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am 10. November 1998
Crime and Punishment, as a work of interpretive fiction, contains excellent writing, attention to detail, character development, and theme. That said, my review remains only mildly approbational, for the reasons which I shall enumerate forthwith. Hopelessly flaccid, the work reads more like an enervated documentary or stereo instructions than a fictional examination of mental disturbance. Furthermore, the works lacks the virtue of subtlety; i.e., does the reader have to be informed in the conclusion in the most direct and blatant manner possible of one of the author's principle ideas, revealed thoroughly in the rest of the novel.
One of the most disappointing features of the novel is its lack of visual artisty or profundity. As an alleged epitome of 19th-century literature, it lacks every endearing facet of the period. The poetic majesty of Romanticism, not here. The profound significance and introspection of anti-transcendentalism, no vacancy in the pages of this novel. How about sweeping social commentary of novels of the incipient century (A Tale of Two Cities or Howards End), sorry, but that must be on back order.
Much richer prose can be read in the writings of Hawthorne, Melville, and Wilde. Hawthorne's symbolism and imagery (a word Dostoyevsky must not know) detail his works with something akin to aesthetic decadence. Melville relishes in the epic and profound mysteries of existence, imparting his philosophy to the reader in a superlatively engaging fashion. Wilde's sardonic tone in The Picture of Dorian Gray and his intimated wry amusement with his protagonist works far better than Dostoyevsky's harassment of the reader with his psychotic protagonist.
In short, the work is a dismal representative of classical literature. Independently, however, it has merit, but not in the context of a classic. It demeans the classical genre almost as badly as the superficial novel To Kill A Mockingbird does. To conclude, it succeeds in conveying its message to the reader, but little else.
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