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Crime and Punishment
by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Synopsis:
Mired in poverty, the student Raskolnikov nevertheless thinks well of himself. Of his pawnbroker he takes a different view, and in deciding to do away with her he sets in motion his own tragic downfall. Dostoyevsky's penetrating novel of an intellectual whose moral compass goes haywire, and the detective who hunts him down for his terrible crime, is a stunning psychological portrait, a thriller and a profound meditation on guilt and retribution.
 
 Topic: 
       February 2000 Book -- Crime and Punishment (1 of 47), Read 101
       times 
  Conf: 
       CLASSICS CORNER 
 From: 
       Ann Davey (davey@tconl.com) 
  Date: 
       Saturday, January 15, 2000 05:50 PM 


In February, Classics Corner will discuss Dostoevsky's Crime and
Punishment.The discussion will officially begin on February 1. This
book was one of the most popular choices in the the voting for the
2000 Classics Corner list. I can guarantee that there will be lots to
discuss.

New participants are always welcome!

Ann

 Topic: 
       February 2000 Book -- Crime and Punishment (2 of 47), Read 82
       times 
  Conf: 
       CLASSICS CORNER 
 From: 
       Daniel LeBoeuf (dan1066@yahoo.com) 
  Date: 
       Sunday, January 16, 2000 05:25 PM 


Last night, I finally finished Howard's End. I closed the book,
reached over to the nightstand and picked up Dostoyevsky's Crime
and Punishment and continued reading. "You're incorrigible," my wife says.

Looking forward to the discussion.

Dan


 Topic: 
       February 2000 Book -- Crime and Punishment (3 of 47), Read 85
       times 
  Conf: 
       CLASSICS CORNER 
 From: 
       Ann Davey (davey@tconl.com) 
  Date: 
       Sunday, January 16, 2000 09:48 PM 


Dan,
You are obviously a true "constant" reader.

Ann


Topic: February 2000 Book -- Crime and Punishment (4 of 47), Read 87 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Tonya Presley (tpresley@swbell.net) Date: Monday, January 17, 2000 02:24 AM "You're incorrigible," your wife says, and she's probably right (again).
Topic: February 2000 Book -- Crime and Punishment (5 of 47), Read 92 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Dottie Randall (randallj@ix.netcom.com) Date: Monday, January 17, 2000 03:17 AM Dan -- I agree -- your wife is probably right. Dottie -- thinking that if Tonya and I are correct in this then CR could become IA (Incorrigibles Anonymous) though we aren't very anonymous ID is an oxymoron!
Topic: February 2000 Book -- Crime and Punishment (6 of 47), Read 81 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ian Marks (comfortably_numb@ecosse.net) Date: Monday, January 17, 2000 05:29 PM "You're incorrigible," my wife says. Dan - A compliment if ever there was one! Ian
Topic: February 2000 Book -- Crime and Punishment (7 of 47), Read 75 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Brian Bourque (bbourque@dttus.com) Date: Friday, January 21, 2000 08:17 PM Now if I were to translate Dan's wife's comment upon his effortless transition between material, I suspect things could get interesting... Dan, so what did you say in response?
Topic: February 2000 Book -- Crime and Punishment (8 of 47), Read 77 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Daniel LeBoeuf (dan1066@yahoo.com) Date: Saturday, January 22, 2000 10:42 AM Brian: I don't follow your meaning, not at all. And, Brian: Since you are here--what translation do you recommend for this novel? I recall you saying you read this work from two translations simultaneously. Which one was better? I'm reading the translation by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky and it is truly bringing Dostoevsky's work to life. Highly recommended. Oh where are my manners? Brian, this is everybody. Everybody, this is Brian--a huge Dostoevsky and Melville man. I'm not sure how our lives became entangled, but they are. Dan
Topic: February 2000 Book -- Crime and Punishment (9 of 47), Read 78 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Saturday, January 22, 2000 11:34 AM Hi Brian, glad to meet you. I'm looking forward to your participation in Crime and Punishment. The book, that is. Ruth
Topic: February 2000 Book -- Crime and Punishment (10 of 47), Read 79 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Sherry Keller (shkell@earthlink.net) Date: Saturday, January 22, 2000 11:49 AM Welcome, Brian, Any friend of Dan's, and all that. Sherry
Topic: February 2000 Book -- Crime and Punishment (11 of 47), Read 87 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Tonya Presley (tpresley@swbell.net) Date: Saturday, January 22, 2000 12:10 PM Ditto, Brian! Here I am, right next door in Arlington. You must be one of the reasons for Dan's familiarity with this area! Dan, I think we should mini-convene the next time you get over this way. Tonya
Topic: February 2000 Book -- Crime and Punishment (12 of 47), Read 82 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ann Davey (davey@tconl.com) Date: Saturday, January 22, 2000 01:20 PM Hi Brian, nice to see you here. I sure hope you're planning to participate in the February discussion of CRIME AND PUNISHMENT. I am always curious about translations. Sidney Monas translated the Signet Classic version that I'm reading. To be quite honest, I bought it because of the price. A local bookstore had 25% off all books and this was the only version of C&P it had. It is in colloquial English and reads smoothly. I have no idea how close it is to the original Russian. Is this one of the translations you've read, Brian? Dan, I have read that Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky are highly regarded translators of the Russian classics. Ann
Topic: February 2000 Book -- Crime and Punishment (13 of 47), Read 63 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ernest Belden (drernest@juno.com) Date: Tuesday, February 01, 2000 02:11 PM Ian, Daniel, Looks like your wives got your number and so has mine. Incorrigible turns out to be a great compliment when it comes to reading classics. It would be different if incorrigible were related to other vices. Well, I don't want to stand back behind these other incorrigible guys. I am afraid that my wife Pat looks at me the same way or even worse. A wise man once said that women love us for our vices. Hey, aren't we lucky? Ernie (Who just returned from a cruising vacation gone wrong. No, the ship did not sink, it was the flu that got us down).
Topic: February 2000 Book -- Crime and Punishment (14 of 47), Read 64 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ernest Belden (drernest@juno.com) Date: Tuesday, February 01, 2000 02:20 PM This may well be the 4th book by Dostoevsky that I have done battle with. My recurrent thoughts are all pervasive chaos, indecision, change, self destructiveness etc. Could all this reflect some aspects of the author's personality? We do know he had a seizure disorder and often was on the verge of poverty and debt. He did not have a happy life by any means. So I will go on reading and see what happens at the end. I did enjoy the Gambler which we read not to long ago. Well something needs to be said about Dostoevsky's view of human nature and society. I hope someone will come up with an interesting discussion on that subject. Ernie
Topic: February 2000 Book -- Crime and Punishment (15 of 47), Read 64 times, 1 File Attachment Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Dick Haggart (law@haggart.com) Date: Tuesday, February 01, 2000 02:51 PM Ernie: Just to get the discussion off on the right foot, here's a picture of Fyodor himself. If you saw him coming down the street, you'd probably cross over to avoid him.... The Chilblained Lawyer Is...
Topic: February 2000 Book -- Crime and Punishment (18 of 47), Read 68 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Dale Short (dshort5005@aol.com) Date: Tuesday, February 01, 2000 04:52 PM Ernie: I love your description of the newest Dostoyevsky title as the fourth you have "done battle with." That's exactly the way I feel about the work of his I have read. Battle: win, lose, draw, with much learned in the process. And, yes...I don't think F.D.'s portrait would be found on the cover of PEOPLE nowadays. Likewise for the Russians a century ago who fought/aided the Nicholas & Alexandra regime. (Jo Lynn & I saw the final U.S. showing of the "Nicholas and Alexandra" exhibit in Mobile, Ala., a couple of weeks ago.) The portraits of Rasputin and his many confidantes and ultimate assassins show pure-and-simple madness, when not filtered through the diagnoses of today. But didn't F.D., Tolstoy, and others turn out some timeless literature? Dale in Ala.
Topic: February 2000 Book -- Crime and Punishment (19 of 47), Read 68 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Tuesday, February 01, 2000 04:58 PM I haven't reread C&P for this discussion, as I've read it at least twice before. I think you'll find, fellas, that Raskalnikov out Dostoevskys Dostoevsky---he's really over the top. Reminds me somewhat of Poe's The Telltale Heart. Someone more inclined to research than I am should look up their respective dates. Ruth, who doesn't find D's picture that intimidating at all, in fact he looks something like a friend of mine
Topic: February 2000 Book -- Crime and Punishment (20 of 47), Read 73 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ann Davey (davey@tconl.com) Date: Tuesday, February 01, 2000 06:40 PM I'm not quite finished with my reread of C&P, but I can't resist making a few preliminary comments. First of all, I agree with Ruth about the picture. Shave the 19th century beard and give him a twentieth century haircut and he could fit right in. In fact, he doesn't look nearly as scarry as the pictures of Tolstoy in his old age. Dostoevski suffered from severe epileptic attacks, but he was not crazy. His second marriage was quite successful. He had a very strong sense of duty and helped support his ungrateful stepson and dead brother's family for years. He was sincerely religious. His epilepsy, financial problems, and addiction to gambling added much stress to his life and probably contributed to his understanding of the darker aspects of the human mind. That said, when I am reading his books I feel like I am in some kind of emotional hothouse, where all the feelings are intensified and the characters seem totally unrestrained. They can and do say anything they feel like, and damn the consequences. I like Dostoevski for his great psychological insight. Maybe you have to be slightly off kilter yourself to appreciate it. Raskolnikov is an excellent example of an obsessive compulsive personality. The term hadn't been invented in Dostoevski's day, so he calls him a "monomaniac." Once an idea takes hold of his mind, he can't seem to escape it. After awhile the pressure gets so bad that he is willing to do almost anything to escape it . In fact, he may have committed the murder just so he could stop obsessing about it. Obviously, this didn't work out the way he had planned. Later he is repeatedly tempted to confess because he wants to bring the mental torture to an end. Dostoevski also has a masterful understanding of the psychology of interrogation. The scenes between Raskolnikov and the investigator Porfiry Petrovich seemed so up-to- date to me that I felt like I was watching an episode of the old TV show Homicide. I wonder what you all think about Raskolnikov's thesis: for special people, acts which we would ordinarily consider wrong, like robbery and murder, are not immoral if they are done for a higher good. Those involved in revolutionary movements must justify their use of terror and killing to themselves in terms very similar to those arguments Raskolnikov used. Ann
Topic: February 2000 Book -- Crime and Punishment (21 of 47), Read 74 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Dottie Randall (randallj@ix.netcom.com) Date: Tuesday, February 01, 2000 06:49 PM Am toying with this even though I had decided not to do it right now -- but must add that I didn't find the photo very strange or frightening either. Dottie -- who will be in the bookstore tomorrow so -- maybe ID is an oxymoron!
Topic: February 2000 Book -- Crime and Punishment (22 of 47), Read 69 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Beatrice Soila (bpsoila@aol.com) Date: Tuesday, February 01, 2000 07:32 PM I really don't think Dostoevsky and Tolstoy have much in common except their nationality. Dostoevsky is interested in the "abnormal" personality while Tolstoy explores the "normal." C&P is only my second Dostoevsky and I'm only about half-way through. My first was Brothers Karamazov, which took me two tries to finish. There's something so frantic and hysterical about these novels that I can only handle them in small doses. That said, I'm looking forward to an interesting discussion. Bea
Topic: February 2000 Book -- Crime and Punishment (23 of 47), Read 66 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Barbara Moors (bar647@aol.com) Date: Tuesday, February 01, 2000 09:20 PM I'm running late on Crime and Punishment too because I snuck in Tolstoy's The Cossacks when John Brownlee (my friend who posted on Lolita) said he'd read it along with me. And, with that comparison particularly fresh for me, I want to chime in with Bea that Dostoevsky is very unlike Tolstoy. In fact, it's hard for me to absorb the fact that they were writing at about the same time. Tolstoy's writing is so wonderfully clear and clean. Dostoevsky, on the other hand, seems very much a forerunner of modern psychological fiction in which we travel around inside someone's nightmare. I don't "enjoy" D's writing as much, but the two I've read (The Idiot and The Gambler, both with CC) are still traveling around with me in my head which I find significant. Barb
Topic: February 2000 Book -- Crime and Punishment (24 of 47), Read 74 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Theresa Simpson (theresa.a.simpson@gte.net) Date: Wednesday, February 02, 2000 12:19 AM The eyes are what you might call piercing, but D doesn't scare me either. I'm only on page 200 of a 600 page edition, but I love this book. I read it many years ago in high school, and am surprised at some of the main themes I'd forgotten, and some of the telling details that stuck in my mind. Barb, the story seems convoluted and dark, but the writing itself, at least in my translation, seems very clean. I was struck by D's ability to describe complex events and activities clearly, without excessive verbiage and yet showing a great amount of the detail of the occurrence (I know, I know, I'm guilty of excessive verbiage here myself.) For example, the scene at the beginning where Raskolnikov recalls seeing the peasants beat a horse to death as a child. Contrasted with, for example, the description of similar events in Cormac McCarthy's border trilogy, which I recently completed. I think Cormac was intentionally trying to use words to paint a detailed picture in his description of boys wrestling with the wilderness, and animals, and each other, but it was too much and detracted from the story. D accomplishes the same with much greater artistry. Theresa
Topic: February 2000 Book -- Crime and Punishment (25 of 47), Read 58 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: George Healy (malword@aol.com) Date: Wednesday, February 02, 2000 07:16 AM I was astounded this time 'round when I read C+P how much of the book turns on the concept of interpretation-- first we as readers see the letter to Ras from his mother, then he desconstructs it for us nearly line by line. Then we get interpretations of dreams, scripture, motivations for crimes and failures, and even a step by step look at investigative procedure. The book seems to move in huge set-pieces that show that interpreting events leads back full circle to an initial ignorance... what can really be known?
Topic: February 2000 Book -- Crime and Punishment (26 of 47), Read 58 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Daniel LeBoeuf (dan1066@yahoo.com) Date: Wednesday, February 02, 2000 09:14 AM Very interesting comment, George. In a similar vein, I once did a paper on the use of allegory in D's The Devils. I noticed that many times D's characters will exclaim: "This isn't an allegory--this is the truth," or "reality," or something along those lines. It seemed D wanted to break down the barrier between reader and text, wanted the reader to understand that interpretation--especially mis-interpretation--often leads one away from the matter at hand. Everything is Dostoyevsky is in the details. It's like Razumikhin's treatise to the ladies on "lying as a means to arrive at the truth." It's paradoxical--one lies and lies and yet achieves the truth. In a sense, this is the role of the novelist: He lies and lies--none of the story is entirely "true," never "really happened," yet in the end--if he is as good as D--the truth is there shining. Dan
Topic: February 2000 Book -- Crime and Punishment (27 of 47), Read 57 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ernest Belden (drernest@juno.com) Date: Wednesday, February 02, 2000 02:03 PM Beatrice, You are not alone when it comes to taking D. in small doses only. The course of action that offers itself to me is to read two or three other books at the same time. After a couple of days on this harmless diet I am ready to face D. once more. Ann, you described some of the actions in C&P as being in a hot house. What an excellent description of various parts of the book. Someone called Tolstoy saner and more concerned with the broader issues of life. This is very much to the point. T. does not dwell on crazyness, obsessions,etc., that I remember. An interesting family memory came back to me the other day. My father was not a formally educated person, but read a good deal and in my teens we recommended books to each other. He had read some of the Russian writers and told me how much they knew about what's going on inside a person, how wise they were in discussing human nature, etc. So began my interest in Russian Literature. I may mention in passing that my father had travelled extensively in Russia in the year 1914 just prior to the beginning of WW I. He was lucky to return to his native Austria in time only to be drafted into the army. But he survived and died at a relatively early age shortly after I arranged for him to come to the US with my mother. Incidentally he was a much more practical person than I am and probably knew a great deal more about the world. Sorry I got carried away by a personal memory. Ernie
Topic: February 2000 Book -- Crime and Punishment (28 of 47), Read 59 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Dick Haggart (law@haggart.com) Date: Wednesday, February 02, 2000 03:04 PM Ernie: Your story about your father brought to mind listening to the grandmother of an old friend (some years ago now) who was a young girl in Herzogovena (then the Austro-Hungarian Empire) at the outbreak of World War I. She described how the bells rang and rang that day, and how upset everyone was that war was breaking out -- in contrast to the apparent public enthusiasm in the big cities of Vienna and Berlin. Fascinating to hear live history from that far back (at least in terms of human lifetimes). This woman ultimately was betrothed long-distance to a young man who fled AH to avoid the draft and ended up at the gold fields outside Fairbanks, Alaska. In 1919 she took ship to join him, traveling across the Atlantic and up the west coast to the mouth of the Yukon River, where she then took a paddle-wheeled steamer to the vicinity of Fairbanks. She arrived about freeze-up and ended up being taken to her new home (a one room log cabin) by dogsled. The husband's name was Stepovich and one of their sons became the last Republican-apponted Governor of the Alaska Territory. Her granddaughter remains a close friend today. Sorry; just rambling there. Anyway, just to tie the discussion back to Russo-Slavic literature, none of these people showed any signs of the mental problems evidenced by Raskolnikov, et al. Perhaps only those who remained behind had those kinds of problems. The Chilblained Lawyer Is...
Topic: February 2000 Book -- Crime and Punishment (38 of 47), Read 40 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Beatrice Soila (bpsoila@aol.com) Date: Sunday, February 06, 2000 10:32 AM WARNING: THIS SHOULD PROBABLY NOT BE READ BEFORE AN INDEPENDENT READING OF PART 4, CHAPTER 4 OF THE NOVEL My typing fingers have recovered and I cannot resist citing another couple of thought-provoking paragraphs on Crime and Punishment. Need I note that I do not necessarily agree? The flaw, the crack in it, which in my opinion causes the whole edifice to crumble ethically and esthetically may be found in part ten, chapter 4 (sic). It is in the beginning of the redemption scene when Raskolnikov, the killer, discovers through the girl Sonya the New Testament. She has been reading to him about Jesus and the raising of Lazarus. So far so good. But then comes this singular sentence that for sheer stupidity has hardly the equal in world-famous literature: "The candle was flickering out, dimly lighting up in the poverty of the room the murderer and the harlot who had been reading together the eternal book." "The murderer and the harlot" and "the eternal book" -- what a triangle. This is a crucial phrase, of a typical Doestoevskian rhetorical twist. Why is it so crude and so inartistic? I suggest that neither a true artist nor a true moralist -- neither a good Christian nor a good philosopher -- neither a poet nor a sociologist -- should have placed side by side, in one breath, in one gust of false eloquence a killer together with whom? -- a poor streetwalker, bending their completely different heads over that holy book. The Christian God, as understood by those who believe in the Christian God, has pardoned the harlot nineteen centuries ago. The killer, on the other hand, must first be examined medically. The inhuman and idiotic crime of Raskolnikov cannot be even remotely compared to the plight of a girl who impairs human dignity by selling her body. The murderer and the harlot reading the eternal book -- what nonsense. There is no rhetorical link between a filthy murderer and this unfortunate girl. There is only the conventional link of the Gothic novel and the sentimental novel. It is a shoddy literary trick, not a masterpiece of pathos and piety. Moreover, look at the absence of artistic balance. We have been shown Raskolnikov's crime in all sordid detail and we also have been given half a dozen different explanations for his exploit. We have never been shown Sonya in the exercise of her trade. The situation is a glorified cliche. The harlot's sin is taken for granted. Now I submit that the true artist is the person who never takes anything for granted. Vladimir Nabokov, Lectures on Russian Literature. Bea
Topic: February 2000 Book -- Crime and Punishment (39 of 47), Read 39 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Dick Haggart (law@haggart.com) Date: Sunday, February 06, 2000 10:40 AM Right on, Vladimir! C&P could have used a few good sex scenes. But then what book couldn't? The Chilblained Lawyer Is... Topic: February 2000 Book -- Crime and Punishment (64 of 75), Read 44 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ann Davey (davey@tconl.com) Date: Friday, February 11, 2000 11:11 AM George and Dan, I have enjoyed your discussion regarding the role of "thinking" in this book. Dostoevski's interest in ideas is one of the things I like best about his writing. I agree with Dan that, much as ideas interested Dostoevski, he was well aware of the limitations of rational thought. Emotion and human relationships are equally important in our lives. In addition, Dostoevski seemed to be always be searching for a deeper meaning to life, a meaning that rational thought cannot provide. This led him to explore religious faith as a possible answer. His characters express so much doubt that I don't think he every arrived at an unqualified acceptance of faith, but it is his journey, rather than the destination, that most interests me. George mentioned that Raskolnikov was caught in a kind of "mental loop", which is a very apt description of his thinking patterns. His theory regarding the rights of exceptional people (supermen?) to commit crimes may have been based on cold logic to start with, but his illness made it almost impossible for him to think productively once he had become obsessed with this idea. Obsessive thinking confused him and made it difficult for him to make decisions, especially once the crime had been committed. He was constantly weighing competing alternatives in his mind. Should he try to outwit the police investigators? Or was it really better to confess and put an end to the mental torment? His inability to think of almost anything else, along with the uncertainty of his situation, drove him to a frenzy. Raskolnikov was not a good subject to test his theory. He was not a rational man. Or maybe it is fairer to say that his rational side was overwhelmed by his emotional side. What about truly exceptional people? Napoleon, for example. Do you think he ever lost any sleep over the crimes he committed to rise to the top? Do you have to be amoral to start with in order to feel that the greater good justifies the evil you commit on your way to obtaining it. ****PLOT SPOILER*** So why did Raskolnikov confess? Was he too fundamentally decent to commit a murder and live with the guilt? Did he think that he was going to be charged by the police and confession would mitigate his sentence? Was Sonia some kind of emissary from God whose "insatiable compassion" convinced him to do the right thing? *** Question for the lawyers in our midst**** Is it common for murderers of strangers to feel guilt and the need to confess?
Topic: February 2000 Book -- Crime and Punishment (65 of 75), Read 46 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Dottie Randall (randallj@ix.netcom.com) Date: Friday, February 11, 2000 11:25 AM Ann -- Not reading this one but enjoying the discussion just the same -- your question regarding Napoleon and his losing sleep over crimes committed in his rise and the question of needing to be amoral to feel justified in evil as a means to the greater good -- led me to think of The Prince -- how would these questions fit into the means to power outlined in The Prince and how would those ideas fit into the story in Crime and Punishment? This also has me calculating how this all fits with my own recent reading The Poisonwood Bible and some ideas utilized in that tale. Underlying themes of literature through the ages -- good versus evil -- thinking versus feeling. Dottie ID is an oxymoron!
Topic: February 2000 Book -- Crime and Punishment (66 of 75), Read 50 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Dick Haggart (law@haggart.com) Date: Friday, February 11, 2000 12:24 PM occasionally, a murderer's guilt will prompt a confession; more often, they implicate themselves bragging about the murder to their buddies. In more modern parlance Raskolnikov might confess along these lines, delivered in a dull monotone, with occasional shrugs: "You know, I was just hanging, and, you know needin' stuff, you know? So I go to the old lady's place and she come in on me, I had to cap her, 'cause she was gonna yell or something', you know? Jus' happened. Then the other one. Had to do her, 'cause she was *there*, you know, lookin' at me. And so then I took the stuff and split." Modern criminals tend to cut out the psychological middle-man. The Chilblained Lawyer Is...
Topic: February 2000 Book -- Crime and Punishment (67 of 75), Read 51 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Beatrice Soila (bpsoila@aol.com) Date: Friday, February 11, 2000 03:58 PM POSSIBLE PLOT SPOILERS???!!! ****************************************** Ann and All - I think the confession was prompted by a combination of things. Ras confesses right after he is told of Svid's suicide. Svid told Sonia that Ras had two choices, suicide or Siberia. Ras chose life, aided, I think, by Sonia's love and faith. Anyway, Ras could not go on as he had been -- it became time for him to lay his burden down, one way or the other. We read in the paper everyday about people who pick Svid's alternative after a murder or mass murder. These are generally people who commit the crime based on the same sort of distorted theories that took hold of Ras. I agree with Dick that your common criminal that commits murder in the course of another felony is a sociopath whose victim gets in the way. Such a person, I believe, would be unlikely to feel much guilt or to confess. Bea
Topic: February 2000 Book -- Crime and Punishment (68 of 75), Read 38 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ernest Belden (drernest@juno.com) Date: Friday, February 11, 2000 05:23 PM Dick, It always amazes me what strange things happen once we get to know people and situations. I also had experiences like you, namely running into the offspring of interesting or famous people. I could give sufficient example to bore the heck out of most of our CC people but I won't do this. I have too much admiration and respect for Ann. But it is fascinating to get a glimpse of the inside of history or eminent people on a personal basis rather than from books. Just the same I recently read The Education of Henry Adams and he does on occasion describes historical figures and how they really act and what they think and say. The trouble with history and historical works is what is left out and what is distorted. Did anyone read the recent stories about Elenore Roosevelt and her supposed radical GI lover. I read a story that FDR disposed of him forcefully but who knows... Ernie
Topic: February 2000 Book -- Crime and Punishment (69 of 75), Read 38 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Sherry Keller (shkell@earthlink.net) Date: Saturday, February 12, 2000 08:21 AM I finished C&P last night. Itís amazing how the book has changed so much since I was 19. I know I didnít have the urge to tell everyone to grow up and quit talking so much. When you are 19 "theories" about life and whatís important are whirling around in your head and you donít care so much about trivialities like "how am I going to pay for supper." I wonder if Dostoevsky was showing us what people are really like in those times, or if he used a considerable amount of artistís license. I think some sections were absolutely brilliant. One I especially enjoyed was Dunya and her motherís interview with Luzhin where she gives him the heave. I was glued to the book and cheering her on. There was another small section that I thought captured an essential aspect of human nature. Ras is in his room -- itís early on right after the murder and some people are talking about the horrible event. He focuses on a flower on the wallpaper and studies it to distraction. Dostoevsky is deft at some of these little nuances of human behavior. But Iím still not sure I really understand Ras, or even what Dostoevsky thought of him. At one point after his confession he acted as if he thought he hadnít committed a crime and he seemed disgusted with himself that he had confessed. If he really thought that, then I donít see what all the agonizing was about. He kept flip-flopping on the big issues. As if he could see the whole picture, all the pros and cons, all the possibilities, but just couldnít decide which way to choose. Do you think Dostoevsky had a clear view of what Ras was all about? Sherry
Topic: February 2000 Book -- Crime and Punishment (70 of 75), Read 34 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Beatrice Soila (bpsoila@aol.com) Date: Saturday, February 12, 2000 12:18 PM Sherry - I am torn on your question. Either FD didn't have a clear vision of Ras or he had a clear vision of an incoherent character. Bea
Topic: February 2000 Book -- Crime and Punishment (71 of 75), Read 35 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Sherry Keller (shkell@earthlink.net) Date: Saturday, February 12, 2000 01:39 PM I read a really old Norton Critical Edition and there are some letters and notes about C&P from D at the end. I need to read some of those. Maybe he'll tell us. Sherry
Topic: February 2000 Book -- Crime and Punishment (72 of 75), Read 31 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ann Davey (davey@tconl.com) Date: Saturday, February 12, 2000 03:44 PM Sherry, Like you, I first read C&P when I was young, when it made a much stronger impression on me. At that point in my life I had just begun to think about abstract issues such as free will, the parameters of morality, and the meaning of life. I found this book quite intoxicating. This time around I had less patience with the rambling style although I still think it is a great book. Was Dostoevski painting a realistic picture of Russian society? He himself referred to his style as "fantastic realism", and I think he was well aware that he was not showing everyday reality. Feelings and speech are very exaggerated in his books because his characters are living life at such a feverish pitch. Still, I think that there is an emotional and psychological truth to his work that is quite remarkable. You asked a wonderful question: "Do you think Dostoevski had a clear view of what Ras was all about?" Personally, I think he did. The root of Raskolnikov's name means "divided." He was apparently raised by loving parents who gave him a clear sense of right and wrong. His dream about the horse supports this. At the same time, he longed fervently to be one of those special people who had the right to make his own rules, rather than the desperately poor ex-student he in fact was. He couldn't be both moral and above all ethical rules at the same time, so he constantly wavered back and forth. Still, Raskolnikov had so much intellectual pride that I don't think he would ever have confessed if he had not been physically and mentally exhausted. Admitting his guilt was tantamount to saying that he was a "louse" just like the rest of us. I think he confessed because he was ill and he couldn't stand the uncertainty of his position any more. He needed things settled so he could stop obsessing about them. He did not feel true remorse until he had been in Siberia for some time. Writers use their lives as raw material, and in the late 1840's, Dostoevski went through a period of mental and physical illness which sounds somewhat like that experienced by Raskolnikov. My son has a CD containing the Monarch notes for scores of novels. I know these are not entirely reliable, but I found these remarks about Dostoevski's life quite interesting: About this time Dostoyevsky became seriously ill, both mentally and physically. Poor, quarrelsome, the victim of unpredictable fevers and convulsions, he soon alienated his admirers as well as his editors. Furthermore, since his erratic behavior was put down to personality rather than to the illness that it was, he was frequently laughed at, jeered, and mocked. Turgenev, for instance, so despised him that he would engage him in conversation merely for the pleasure of torturing him. Like Raskolnikov, Dostoevski was also sent to Siberia for committing a crime, and like his character he also eventually found consolation there in the Bible. Raskolnikov must be very difficult to understand for those who have never experienced mental confusion. Dostoevski had. I don't think his portrait of Raskolnikov makes any sense unless you keep in mind the character's physical and mental illness. At least, that's my interpretation.:) Sherry, I would be very interested in hearing what Dostoevski himself had to say about this novel in the notes and letters printed in the Norton edition. Ann
Topic: February 2000 Book -- Crime and Punishment (73 of 75), Read 46 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Barbara Moors (bar647@aol.com) Date: Sunday, February 13, 2000 08:24 AM I'm still reading a few pages of C&P every chance I get, but am poking behind the rest of you. One of my favorite things about reading the classics is realizing how much they reflect in contemporary events, writing, etc. Porfiry, in his initial interrogations of Ras at least, looks a lot like Colombo in the old TV series. In my translation, in the middle of questions, they have him saying in parenthesis "I'm bothering you so much; I'm quite ashamed" And, in other spots, he alternates between being obsequious and then zoning in with a knife-like question or observation. Do you suppose that something as light as a TV series could have been influenced by Fyodor Dostoevsky? Also, I'm currently listening to Frank McCourt read his new book 'Tis on tape and what book do you suppose he read on the ship on the way to the U.S.? Crime and Punishment, of course. It was one of the few books in the ship's library and he thought it might be a detective story. He gets hooked on it, but it makes him feel guilty because he took the money that he needed to get to the U.S. from an old lady who died while he was taking care of her. An intellectual ship's steward tells him, when he sees him reading it, that if he reads Dostoevsky, he'll never be lonely because D will always give him something to think about. Also, Ann, I think you make excellent points about D's life and its correlations with Raskolnikov's. It fits with what I've read about him. Also, in my reading about Tolstoy, I remember that he detested D. Barb
Topic: February 2000 Book -- Crime and Punishment (74 of 75), Read 47 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ann Davey (davey@tconl.com) Date: Sunday, February 13, 2000 09:29 AM Barb, These great Russian writers were really competitive, weren't they? I was disappointed to read about Turgenev's treatment of Dostoevski. I had a different image of the author of First Love and Fathers and Sons, which we read here on CC. I remember reading that Dostoevski detested Turgenev, but then I don't know Turgenev's side of the story. I like your Colombo analogy. It really fits. I too found parts of this book quite contemporary. Luzhin's economic philosophy, for example, reminded me a lot of the "trickle down" theory popular during Reagan's presidency: (Part II, 3) In the past I was told, for example, 'Love thy neighbor," and I used to love him and what came of it?...What came of it was that I tore my coat in half and shared it with my neighbor. And we both remained half naked. As the Russian proverb says: Go after lots of rabbits at once, you won't catch one. Now science says: Love yourself above all, for everything in the world is based on self-interest. If you love yourself above all, you will manage your business properly, and your coat will remain whole. Economic science adds that the more successfully private business is run in society and the more (so to speak) whole coats there are, the firmer are its foundations and the more the commonweal flourishes. Thus, while busy acquiring only and exclusively for myself, I actually, at the same time as it were, acquire for all and help bring about a condition in which my neighbor receives something more than a torn coat. And he receives it not from the private charity of a few but as a result of overall improvement. Ann
Topic: February 2000 Book -- Crime and Punishment (75 of 75), Read 48 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Daniel LeBoeuf (dan1066@yahoo.com) Date: Sunday, February 13, 2000 10:44 AM Barb: You're absolutely right about Porfiry resembling a 1800s Russian Columbo. I find Porfiry a very interesting character--he knows who did--how could anyone with half a brain not know what was truly bothering Ras--but with the painter's confession, he really can't do anything but try to get Ras to confess. I think he did a good job. I don't believe we should fault him as "torturing" Ras--Ras needed to sweat under the lamps, sort of speak. Did him some good. I also agree with Mccourt's anecdote about "you'll never be lonely once you read Dostoyevksy." That's true, very true. His scenes keep playing through your mind, his situations and experiences become a part of you. You begin to notice just how much human nature is actually rooted not in time or place but within humanity. Dan
Topic: February 2000 Book -- Crime and Punishment (71 of 73), Read 27 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Daniel LeBoeuf (dan1066@yahoo.com) Date: Tuesday, February 15, 2000 04:49 PM As a dreamer myself, I want to note the vivid, wonderful dreams which pervade this work. My brother in law is an epileptic, and he says he has been plagued by the most beautiful yet haunting dreams all his life. And I find here Dostoyevsky making use of these dreams and I would almost dare say (knowing full well this is an "authorial fallacy") that many of these dreams described were dreams Dostoyevsky actually experienced. They seem too real, too vivid, to be totally fictionalized. There's the dream about the poor horse trying to pull everyone and the little boy crying and crying for the dying and dead beast. There's Svid's dreams of waking up only to find himself waking up again. The image of the trembling girl transforming into a grinning harlot made the hairs on my neck stand up. Even though I was just a reader, I was so relieved when he found himself once again waking up in the cold bed in the darkness. Finally, there is Ras' dream in Siberia, a dream that I feel reinforces the theme of the novel: The inherent dangers of "rational thought and the kinds of society such thought may create:" In his illness he had dreamed that the whole world was doomed to fall victim to some terrible, as yet unknown and unseen pestilence spreading to Europe from the depths of Asia. Everyone was to perish, except for certain, very few, chosen ones. Some new trichinae had appeared, microscopic creatures that lodged themselves in men's bodies. But these creatures were spirits, endowed with reason and will. Those who received them into themselves immediately became possessed and mad. But never, never had people considered themselves so intelligent and unshakeable in the truth as did these infected ones. Never had they thought their judgements, their scientific conclusions, their moral convictions and beliefs more unshakeable. Entire settlements, entire cities and nations would be infected and go mad. Everyone became anxious, and no one understood anyone else; each thought the truth was contained in himself alone, and suffered looking at others, beat his breast, wept, and wrung his hands. They did not know whom or how to judge, could not agree on what to regard as evil, what as good. They did not know whom to accuse, whom to vindicate. People killed each other in some sort of meaningless spite... I'll stop here, but this is an amazing passage. Writing in 1866, Dostoyevsky's nightmare becomes the 20th Century's reality: the fragmentation of "truth" and "justice," the horrors of amorality, of violence bred from a lack of fixed moral guideposts and even plain boredom. At least Ras can wake up and find himself in a Siberian prison--what about us? Pinch yourself when you watch the news--it's no dream. Dan
Topic: February 2000 Book -- Crime and Punishment (72 of 73), Read 27 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ann Davey (davey@tconl.com) Date: Tuesday, February 15, 2000 05:04 PM Excellent note, Dan. I agree with you about the message of the novel. Svidrigailov's dream was absolutely chilling to me too. Ann
Topic: February 2000 Book -- Crime and Punishment (73 of 73), Read 12 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Dottie Randall (randallj@ix.netcom.com) Date: Wednesday, February 16, 2000 06:00 AM Well -- Dan -- I have to say that this is one powerful note -- I need to read this but will do so later -- think I will keep this discussion handy when I finally tackle the book. But -- to tie together C and P and An Instance of the Fingerpost -- I just posted there that perhaps we are reading the old story -- good/evil and which is which and so on! Interesting that there seems to be a relationship to be drawn between the two books here. Dottie ID is an oxymoron! Post | Reply | Reply/Quote | Email Reply | Delete | Edit Previous | Next | Previous Topic | Next Topic Topic: February 2000 Book -- Crime and Punishment (62 of 79), Read 11 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ian Marks (comfortably_numb@ecosse.net) Date: Wednesday, February 16, 2000 05:00 PM > So why did Raskolnikov confess? Ann -- Simplistic suggestion coming up. His superman mentality leads him to commit the crime. Paradoxically, no-one will know how 'super' he is unless he fesses up. Many murderers confess (I believe) out of some sort of macho-ego thing; I don't see any of that in Ras. His confession seems to flow - ultimately - from the genesis of the crime. The chance to skedaddle presents itself on a number of occasions, and he doesn't take it. It's almost as though he knew that confession was inevitable and it was just a matter of when (with a little prodding from others!). Just my tuppence worth. Ian Post New Topic | Reply to: "February 2000 Book -- Crime and Punishment"
Topic: February 2000 Book -- Crime and Punishment (74 of 79), Read 19 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Sherry Keller (shkell@earthlink.net) Date: Wednesday, February 16, 2000 02:35 PM I thought you all might be interested in seeing a draft of a letter Dostoevsky wrote to M.N. Katkov during the first part of September, 1865, asking to have C&P published in his magazine. This is one of the pieces at the end of my Norton Critical Edition. "May I hope to place a story in your magazine R.V. I have been writing it here in Wiesbaden, for two months already, and I am now finishing it. It will be five to six signatures long. There remains two weekís work or maybe more to be done. In any case, I can say that probably in a month and no later, it ought to reach the office of R.V. The idea of the story cannot run counter to your magazineís; on the contrary. It is a psychological account of a crime. A young man expelled from the university, a bourgeois by origin and living in extreme poverty, lighthearted, unstable in his ideas, has surrendered to several strange, Ďunfinishedí ideas which are in the air. He decided to get out of his bad position at one stroke. He decided to kill an old woman, a Titular Councillorís wife, who lent money on interest. The old woman is stupid, deaf, sick, greedy, takes usurious interest rates, is mean, and oppresses the life of another person Ė she torments her younger sister who is working for her. ĎShe is good for nothing, what is she living for? Is she useful to anybody?í Those questions drive the young man out of his mind. He decides to kill her, rob her, in order to make happy his mother, who lives in a provincial district, to rescue a sister, who lives at a landlordís estate as a companion, from the lecherous molestations of the head of that landlordís family, molestations which threaten to ruin her Ė to finish his studies, go abroad, and then be honest the rest of his life, firm and unyielding in the fulfillment of his human duty to mankind. Which of course will redeem the crime, if one can call crime that act towards the old, deaf, stupid, mean, and sick woman who does not know herself what she is living for and who a month later might have died anyway. Although such crimes are terribly difficult to perform Ė i.e., almost always they leave behind crude, visible clues, and so forth, and they leave terribly much to chance, which almost always betrays . . . . he, in an entirely accidental manner, succeeds in performing his plan both quickly and successfully. He spends almost a month after that until the final catastrophe; almost no suspicions existed or could exist against him. There, too, the psychological process of the crime develops. Insoluble problems arise for the murderer; unsuspected and unexpected feelings torment his heart. The truth of God and the law of the earth take their toll, and he ends by being forced to denounce himself, forced, even if he should perish in jail, to rejoin people. The feeling of isolation and separation from mankind which he felt as soon as he committed the crime wore him down. The law of truth and human nature took its toll, . . . . the criminal himself decides to accept torments in order to redeem his act. But it is difficult for me to clarify fully my idea. Beside this, my story makes allusion to the idea that the punishment meted out by the law to the criminal deters the criminal far less than the lawgivers think, because he himself requires it morally. I saw this in even the most undeveloped people, in the coarsest cases. I wanted to express this in an educated man of the new generation, in order to make the idea more clearly and palpably visible. Some events of the most recent time convinced me that my subject is not at all eccentric, particularly the murderer being an educated and even good man. Last year in Moscow they told me about a student expelled from the university after the Moscow student affair when he decided to rob a postcoach and kill the postman. There is much evidence in our newspapers about the unusual instability of ideas which impel people to terrible acts. (The seminarist who killed a girl after an agreement with her in a barn and whom they took an hour later at lunch.) In a word, I am convinced that my subject is partly justified by our contemporary days. Naturally in this presentation of the idea of my story, I have left out the whole plot. I guarantee the interest of it, I do not take it on myself to judge the artistic quality of it. I have written many, too many very, very bad things, in a hurry, to beat a deadline, etc. This time I have written without hurrying and passionately; I shall try, if only for my own sake, to finish it as well as possible." Sherry
Topic: February 2000 Book -- Crime and Punishment (75 of 79), Read 12 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ann Davey (davey@tconl.com) Date: Wednesday, February 16, 2000 05:07 PM That's very interesting, Sherry, especially the part about being cut off from mankind by the crime and being motivated to confess in order to end his isolation. I wonder how much of the book he actually had finished when he wrote this. I know the letter says it's almost done. In the finished book, I think Raskolnikov's pride and desire to prove he's one of the elite are his prime motivators, rather than any desire to help his mother or sister. Of course, this letter is designed to sell the book rather than explain all the fine points. Ann
Topic: February 2000 Book -- Crime and Punishment (76 of 79), Read 9 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Daniel LeBoeuf (dan1066@yahoo.com) Date: Wednesday, February 16, 2000 09:03 PM Of late, I've been thinking of Camus' The Stranger, where we enter the strange mind of the man who's not sure when his mother died and who kills an Arab on the beach probably because the sun was in his eyes. In the end, he never repents. Notice: Though Ras confesses, he never repents of his crime. His final scene crying at Sonya's knees seems more for himself, a kind of "I'm not worthy" kind of mood. To the end, he does not believe he was really committed a "crime." Just like the narrator of Camus's odd little book. Dan
Topic: February 2000 Book -- Crime and Punishment (77 of 79), Read 9 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Wednesday, February 16, 2000 10:28 PM Dan, we read Camus' The Stranger here some years back. Nomination of the esteemed Councilor Warbasse, if I recall correctly. Ruth, who remembers that when her brother lived in Alexandria, VA on temporary assignment, he lived on Camus Street, called Kaymuss St. by those who lived there.
Topic: February 2000 Book -- Crime and Punishment (78 of 79), Read 7 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Barbara Moors (bar647@aol.com) Date: Thursday, February 17, 2000 06:39 AM Sherry, thanks so much for posting that letter here. Those kinds of things from authors fascinate me and are the reason I love to read Norton Critical Editions. I find their footnotes pretty distracting (there was a wonderful satire on them in a recent NYer cartoon). It seems to me that I've read before that Dostoevsky, especially after his own youthful experiences and subsequent sentence to Siberia, found many of the avant garde ideas being discussed in Russia at the time fairly dangerous. I know this discussion of ideas came up here earlier and there were comments that anyone who writes like D could not be critical of thinking. Obviously, this is a mind that never stops but I believe that he felt that many of the ideas being considered at that time were contributing to the disintegration of the society. I know that sounds dangerously like the U.S. religious right, but D's thinking seems to me to be about an infinity above that. Barb
Topic: February 2000 Book -- Crime and Punishment (79 of 79), Read 5 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Sherry Keller (shkell@earthlink.net) Date: Thursday, February 17, 2000 07:46 AM Barb, This Norton's didn't have very many footnotes. And the ones it did have were very helpful. Here's part of a letter Dos wrote to someone named M.N. Katkov in April 1866: "All nihilists are socialists. Socialism (particularly in its Russian form) demands especially the severing of all connections. They are completely certain that on the tabula rasa they will immediately build a paradise. Fourier was convinced that all it will take is to build on phalanstery (footnote: communal dormitory) and the whole world will immediately be covered by phalansteries; those are his own words. And our Chernyshevsky said that he only needed to talk to the people for a quarter hour and immediately he would convince them to convert to socialism. Moreover, in our poor little defenseless Russian boys and girls, there is one more, eternally persisting, fundamental point upon which socialism will base itself for a long time to come: enthusiasm for the good, and the purity of their hearts. Frauds and foul people there are many among them. But all those high school students, schoolboys of whom I have seen so many, converted to nihilism so purely, so selflessly in the name of honor, truth, and true welfare. They are defenseless against these absurdities and accept them as if they were perfection itself. Sound science of course will eradicate it all. But when will it come? How many victims is socialism going to swallow until then? Last of all: sound science, even when it takes root, will not wipe out the weeds so quickly, because sound science is still only science, and not the direct form of civic and social reality. The poor little people are convinced that nihilism gives them that full manifestation of the civic and social reality and freedom." What kind of sound science do you think he was talking about? He sure had human nature down pat, didn't he? Sherry Post | Reply | Reply/Quote | Email Reply | Delete | Edit Previous | Next | Previous Topic | Next Topic Topic: February 2000 Book -- Crime and Punishment (80 of 80), Read 14 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ann Davey (davey@tconl.com) Date: Friday, February 18, 2000 08:52 AM It is not difficult to understand how radical political and social ideas developed in a society where the autocratic tsars resisted even moderate changes for so long. Russia didn't abolish serfdom until 1861, centuries behind the rest of Europe. It didn't have a Parliament until 1905. The secret police were a significant force long before the Communists established the KGB. Some of the ideas advocated by Russia's young people during Dostoevski's time were dangerous, especially those of the nihilists and anarchists, who wanted to tear everything down and start all over. He makes some strong arguments against them. I do find it interesting that Dostoevski's political imprisonment made him more conservative, rather than more radical, as often happens in such a case. Although he became more conservative politically, he seems to have retained a strong sympathy for the poor. It is certainly apparent in his description of the plight of Sonia and the Marmeladov family in Crime and Punishment. Ann Post New Topic | Reply to: "February 2000 Book -- Crime and Punishment"
Topic: February 2000 Book -- Crime and Punishment (81 of 82), Read 16 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Beatrice Soila (bpsoila@aol.com) Date: Friday, February 18, 2000 01:18 PM I think Lebezyanikov is the character in C&P that comes closest to epitomizing Dostoevski's view of the effects of radical and socialist theories on "the little people." He's also the most comic character in the book. And yet, and yet, he also turns out to be a hero of sorts by standing up for Sonya. Bea
Topic: February 2000 Book -- Crime and Punishment (82 of 82), Read 5 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Barbara Moors (bar647@aol.com) Date: Saturday, February 19, 2000 08:09 AM Interesting that Dostoevsky seems to equate nihilism and socialism. They seem very different by today's definitions, but perhaps they were all wound together in reaction to the tsars. Barb
Topic: February 2000 Book -- Crime and Punishment (82 of 85), Read 18 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Dick Haggart (law@haggart.com) Date: Saturday, February 19, 2000 11:20 AM Socialism was the hot item, intellectually, in those days, beating the pants off the marginally democratic market-based capitalism of the U.S. and England. You can see the fear (still extant in Russia today) of anarchy inherent in Dostoyevsky's story: the intellectual, without faith, comes to grief and the very foundation of the relationship among the little society of characters is rocked. Only in the end, when the state has reasserted its control, and Raskolnikov begins to toy with something resembling the faith of his fathers does there appear to be hope for any sort of peace or redemption. Or, as I would short-hand Russian attitudes toward their people: "Stop thinking, shut up, and pray!" The Chilblained Lawyer Is...
Topic: February 2000 Book -- Crime and Punishment (83 of 85), Read 17 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ann Davey (davey@tconl.com) Date: Saturday, February 19, 2000 01:14 PM Barb, I think that Dostoevsky was satirizing an extreme form of socialism, which advocated living in common, free sex and so forth. This is not to say that approved of the milder forms of socialism. From what I have read, he was a firm supporter of the tsarist government after he returned from Siberia. I agree with you that nihilism and socialism are not the same thing. The nihilists seem closer to anarchists, and the anarchists were a definite group in 19th century Russia. If memory serves me correctly it was an anarchist who assassinated Tsar Alexander II in 1881. Russia never experienced democratic government nor capitalism. A strong autocratic state, first led by the tsars and then by the Communists, has been typical of their history for centuries. It would be nice to think that their more recent experiments with democracy and free markets will be successful, but I'm not holding my breath. Ann
Topic: February 2000 Book -- Crime and Punishment (84 of 85), Read 19 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Saturday, February 19, 2000 02:55 PM Seems to me that Siberia could have a sobering effect on anyone's thinking. Ruth
Topic: February 2000 Book -- Crime and Punishment (85 of 85), Read 21 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ann Davey (davey@tconl.com) Date: Saturday, February 19, 2000 06:12 PM Ruth, You got that right. Lately, I've been feeling like I live in Siberia. Ah well, the snow should be gone by next week and we didn't get hit near as hard as much of the country. Ann
Topic: February 2000 Book -- Crime and Punishment (81 of 89), Read 17 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: David Moody (davidmoody@prodigy.net) Date: Friday, February 25, 2000 02:49 PM Frankly, when I finished C&P, I was a bit disappointed. The intenseness of the writing got in the way of my appreciation of the story and the ideas. I kept thinking, "Get to the point, already!" But the ideas expressed in the book are staying with me, and I find myself traveling in the paths that Dostoyevsky points out to you in all sorts of situations. Just as a for instance: yesterday, while reading Victory at Sea (an account of the U.S. role in overcoming the submarine warfare of Germany in WWI), I came across a passage where American ship commanders, when they came across survivors of a submarine attack, were told to go after and try to sink the submarine instead of first rescuing the survivors. The "Greater Good" was deemed to be stopping the submarine from further action than saving a few lives now. And I thought of Crime and Punishment. How did those sailors feel about following that order? Did they feel like murderers? Did the emotions that tore Raskolnikov apart affect them at all? Perhaps that's one definition of a great piece of literature, one that can change your perceptions and ways of thinking. More than just a life-interrupter, a life-changer. David
Topic: February 2000 Book -- Crime and Punishment (82 of 89), Read 18 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ann Davey (davey@tconl.com) Date: Friday, February 25, 2000 03:28 PM Very interesting observations, David. In wartime, in particular, I think people rationalize their actions again and again with the concept that the higher good justifies the smaller evils that one commits to obtain it. Sometimes it is difficult to live with that later. I understand what you mean by wishing that Dostoevsky would just get to the point. He spent an awful lot of time inside Raskolnikov's head, going over and over the same ideas. After while I sometimes thought, okay I get the picture that this guy is ill and a prisoner of repetitive obssesive thoughts, but let's move on. How would you compare this book to Dostoevsky's THE IDIOT, which we read last year? It also has some very interesting ideas in it that stick with me. However, in spite of my complaint above, I do think that the construction of CRIME AND PUNISHMENT is tighter than that of THE IDIOT. Maybe Dostoevsky wasn't quite so much under the gun when he was writing it. Most of the time he lived on the edge of financial disaster. Being quite frugal (cheap?) myself, I found it difficult to understand how Raskolnikov, who was desperately poor, could keep giving away all his money. Apparently this is a trait he shared with his creator. I found the following in my son's copy of the Monarch notes. After Fyodor completed his secondary education, his father sent him in 1838 to St. Petersburg where he entered the College of Engineers, a military school run by the Czar. Although he studied hard and in general made a good impression on his teachers, the young cadet was in constant financial straits. Always writing home for more money, he describes his "terrible plight" in the most urgent terms. When money came, though, he celebrated its arrival with a huge banquet and drinking party for his friends, or gambled it away shooting pool. He was generous to the point of self-destruction. When his brother Mikhail was married, Fyodor sent him one hundred fifty rubles. Two weeks later he was broke again, begging him for five. This inability to manage his finances persisted throughout his life. In fact, he was nearly always on the brink of bankruptcy. So what do you think motivates such people? Why did Raskolnikov give such a large sum to Katherine Ivanovna when his own mother and sister, not to mention himself, needed the money so badly? Ann
Topic: February 2000 Book -- Crime and Punishment (83 of 89), Read 19 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Beatrice Soila (bpsoila@aol.com) Date: Friday, February 25, 2000 03:35 PM Profligacy with money was a trait also shared by James Joyce. Interesting, no? I wonder if being in financial straits is, in a way, the kind of push some artists need to create. Bea
Topic: February 2000 Book -- Crime and Punishment (84 of 89), Read 20 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ann Davey (davey@tconl.com) Date: Friday, February 25, 2000 03:43 PM Now that is an interesting thought, Bea. How about it, you creative types, do you perform best under pressure? Ann
Topic: February 2000 Book -- Crime and Punishment (85 of 89), Read 26 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Friday, February 25, 2000 05:08 PM Since I am the World's Worst Procrastinator, most of my good performances have come when I was under pressure. As far as C&P, I had a lot more patience with Raskolnikov's unceasing mental circles the first time I read it, than I did the second. Ruth
Topic: February 2000 Book -- Crime and Punishment (86 of 89), Read 27 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: David Moody (davidmoody@prodigy.net) Date: Friday, February 25, 2000 10:04 PM Contraiwise, Ruth, I'm one of the World's Best Procrastinators. Practice makes perfect. David
Topic: February 2000 Book -- Crime and Punishment (87 of 89), Read 24 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Friday, February 25, 2000 11:42 PM Heh. I guess I worded that wrong. Ruth
Topic: February 2000 Book -- Crime and Punishment (88 of 89), Read 14 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Daniel LeBoeuf (dan1066@yahoo.com) Date: Saturday, February 26, 2000 12:49 PM David et al: I tend to enjoy the Dostoyevsky treatment--the constant circling and circling. Faulkner picked up the same technique. Dostoyevsky generally has no real "point" to "get to--" he's there on page one, the same point he's covering on page 987. It's just he keeps twirling it around, watching the "point" glisten and reflect various forms of light and shadow. It's because of this that it becomes embedded--we have not only "read" a work, we have "experienced" a thought-process so trained and studied that it becomes a part of our mental code. Or something like that. Dan
Topic: February 2000 Book -- Crime and Punishment (89 of 89), Read 12 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Barbara Moors (bar647@aol.com) Date: Sunday, February 27, 2000 09:02 AM I finally finished Crime and Punishment last night and was delighted to find CC people still talking about it this morning. By the way, in Dan's "incorrigible" way, I picked up Great Expectations immediately after finishing C&P. What a change that is! Throughout this book, and especially as I came to the end, I thought of how much Dostoevsky has influenced modern writers. Dan's mention of Faulkner's circling techniques is a perfect example. Does anyone know of a writer prior to D who used this same style? As I said before, I often felt myself to be living in someone's nightmare. And, I'm sure that D's epilepsy played a big part in his writing perspective. That sense of being half-in and half-out of a dream state is so integral to his story. This may seem very far-fetched but about half-way through C&P, I told my husband that the movie "Blue Velvet" must've taken some of its feel from this book. Even though the subject is very different and D probably would have been shocked beyond words, it has this exact same nightmare quality to it. I was kind of surprised at the rate at which the action occurred in Part Six. We're circling and circling in parts one through five and then, all of a sudden, as Svidrigailov becomes more part of the action, it felt like race-pace. S's attempted seduction of Dunya reads almost like a melodrama. I was disappointed by the final paragraph, not much of an inspired ending...more of a baiting for the next book, it seemed. David's note expresses some of my own feelings about reading Crime and Punishment. I didn't "enjoy" the experience but think it will probably be noodling around in my consciousness for years to come. And, my copy of it looks like it's been through a war zone. I'm not sure why...I always cart the books I'm reading everywhere with me but this one really got the worst of the deal. Barb
Topic: February 2000 Book -- Crime and Punishment (43 of 45), Read 14 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Robert Armstrong (rla@nac.net) Date: Thursday, March 09, 2000 02:39 PM Once again I'm right in step. Just finished C & P today. Loved it. Twice I had to put the book down for weeks at a time because I was so bothered by the suffering. I'm not as emotionally protected as I used to be. I haven't read the thread yet so that I can give some fresh thoughts and then will come back for more comments after I read your discussion. Boy, D is quite the expert on extremity. In lesser hands it's melodrama city, but I was struck by his insight into the rarified territory of anguish, terror, delirium, loathing, madness, murder, and mental mayhem. A lot of the inner experience of Raskolnikov was real to me. Not every note rang true, but enough that I entered into new ground with a greater sense of understanding and compassion regarding these dark experiences. And at his best D's a great storyteller. Some of those passages really flew. Oh, that dinner that Katerina Ivanovna held for her dead husband! I'll never think of a dinner party as a disaster again in comparison with that! D just wouldn't let up on poor Katerina Ivanovna. Love is the regenerative power of the universe. I agree with that. Whatever one has done, there's the possibility of redemption and renewal. Not that everyone finds it, but I'm glad Roskolnikov did. Robt
Topic: February 2000 Book -- Crime and Punishment (44 of 45), Read 15 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Daniel LeBoeuf (dan1066@yahoo.com) Date: Thursday, March 09, 2000 03:13 PM Robert: Once again, you articulate with elegance and finesse what I can only describe as a "damn good book." Dan
Topic: February 2000 Book -- Crime and Punishment (45 of 45), Read 15 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Ann Davey (davey@tconl.com) Date: Thursday, March 09, 2000 04:52 PM Thanks for the post, Robt. I'm glad you liked the book. I don't think everyone did. Loved your comment about never thinking of a dinner party as a disaster again. Ann Post | Reply | Reply/Quote | Email Reply | Delete | Edit Previous | Next | Previous Topic | Next Topic Topic: February 2000 Book -- Crime and Punishment (44 of 44), Read 3 times Conf: CLASSICS CORNER From: Robert Armstrong (rla@nac.net) Date: Friday, March 10, 2000 09:24 AM Another great thread. Many excellent comments and quotes. I love it when someone else has the same reaction that I do, no matter how small. For example, like Sherry, I was struck when Raskolnikov focused intently on the faded floral pattern of the wall paper while lying on his bed. It was the perfect thing at that moment. The discussion also gave me the idea of becoming profligate with money so as to be as good a writer as Dostoevsky and Joyce. But maybe that's not such a good gamble. And don't get me started about procrastination. I bought a book on how to overcome procrastination and never got around to reading it. Regarding why Raskolnikov confessed: he just couldn't stand it anymore. The whole business, including the philosophical underpinnings of his murder, was ripping him apart. A great deal of the power of the novel came from D's choice to accentuate Raskolnikov's resistance to repentance or remorse. I thought it was right on that Raskolnikov confessed before he repented. He experienced the incongruity of his ideas long before he understood it. And it also made sense that he didn't just one day realize: oh, my ideas are f$*!ed up, but rather grew out of it, in this case through love with Sonia, another besmirched child of god. The choice to make the protagonist a brutal murderer that you can't just dismiss as evil, was powerful. Here was an unrepentant, furious man who was somehow sympathetic. This made a compelling but painful journey for me. There was truth stamped all over this book. It more than lived up to its reputation. Robt

 

 

Fyodor Dostoevsky

 
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