Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Crime and Punishment Book 1

Hello intrepid blogosphere explorers and welcome to a new installment of the program!

Over the next few weeks (hopefully not longer than that) I will be blogging with M Lo on Panem et Circenses on the novel Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky. The novel follows the path of Rodya Raskolnikov as he academically works through the act and consequences of murder. (There will be spoilers for those who care.) I read the book back in my senior of high school of my AP English class, but with little interest or understanding. Since then I've read Notes from the Underground which lays the psychological foundation for Dostoevsky's anti-heros and featured the Grand Inquisitor chapter from Brothers Karamazov in my Religion and Spirituality in Literature class. So when M Lo decided to read the books she should have already read, I decided to join her for this specific one.

So without further ado, book 1 of Crime and Punishment:

I don't read this book with a blank slate. With the opening lines of the first chapter, I'm waiting for him to murder the old woman and be done with it. But he doesn't and other things catch my eye. For instance, in this passage on the first page: "He had become so completely absorbed in himself and isolated from his fellows that he dreaded meeting, not only his landlady but any one at all." We watched Spiderman 2 and they so parallel. Yes, Spiderman is good hero, but he avoids his landlord and the people he loves. He's completely isolated and is worse off for it. It also reminds me of my fantasy of living in a cabin by a lake all by myself for a year like Thoreau did. Oh my goodness, the thought of it sets my introverted heart to flight! But evidently too much alone-time is not good for the soul.

Chapter 2 would totally be a sidenote if I didn't know Sonia Semyononva was going to be important later on. Why do all the good killers develop consciences when in love?

Chapter 3 is the letter from Mom which totally throws a wrench into the whole alone and isolated story Raskolnikov's got going on. Moms have a tendency of doing that. :-) It really adds in the humanity Raskolnikov needs to stay grounded-food might help too.

Chapter 4 is where I decide Raskolnikov is psycho because he totally overreacts to his sister's engagement even when his mother warns him not to jump to conclusions in the letter. Now he just had the meeting with Marmeladov which paints a very poor outcome for marriage, but it looks really good and he finds all sorts of things wrong with it. Mostly I think he's just upset at the intrusion into his privacy. Of course his plans look ridiculous in the light of a loving mother and a sister who is moving to his city. You can't commit the perfect crime if you have too many loving people looking into your business. Note also the quote: "He took no part in the students' gatherings, amusements or conversations. He worked with great intensity without sparing himself, and he was respected for them, but no one liked him." Isn't that all UC's program is trying to prevent with their repeated encouragement to attends all social gatherings and to work in the library? We don't want another Raskolnikov on our hands. :-) Oh all things in moderation (including murder???).

Chapter 5: It. So up to this point if I had a blank slate with this book I'd have no clue what was going on except for suspicions of weirdness and suddenly he refers to "It". It is always sinister. It was in A Wrinkle in Time--again the idea that logic without heart ultimately turns evil... I found it interesting that he prays to be free of the obsession and he is for a little while until he gets the last piece of information he needs and he's sucked back in again.

Chapter 6 and the game's afoot. We get the background of how this plan came into being. R. is intrigued by the fact that "almost every criminal is subject to a failure of will and reasoning power" (57). Alas so true, even our beloved Raskolnikov isn't exempt as we see in the next chapter.

Chapter 7: he does it. And does it again. And almost gets caught. But doesn't. So the book should end right? Raskolnikov gets away and lives happily ever after as the secretary to his brother-in-law the nice politician, yeah? Oh there's several hundred more pages. Darn.

I don't know. I'm not engrossed like with Gossip Girl, but my heightened sense of moral duty and general feel goodness (yeah I was an English major) compel me to continue. It's kind of like listening to NPR except reading C&P is how one becomes intelligent.

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