Sunday, September 14, 2008

Преступление и наказание: Crime and Punishment

Crime and Punishment, by Fyodor Dostoevsky, is an excellent novel that presents a view of the 1860's socioeconomic difficulties in Russia. Set in St. Petersburg, the story follows Raskolnikov, an impoverished, former student, and his murder of a pawnbroker whom he describes as a "parasite." There is an in-depth look into the mind of Raskolnikov and his motivation for committing his crime. Raskolnikov theorizes that there are two kinds of people in the world: normal people and those who are allowed to transgress the law for the improvement of mankind, referred to as "Napoleons." He kills the pawnbroker to determine whether he is such a "Napoleon," with the ability to change the world. However, in the process he is confronted with the flaw in his theory and inescapable guilt. At times the main character is overly terse and his personality verges on the edge of insanity. He often subverts his feelings and falls ill under emotional duress. Dealing with the extreme introversion of Raskolnikov, one can less effectively sympathize and connect with him; however by the end, he overcomes this and there is an overwhelming catharsis.

The character development of Raskolnikov is a key feature as well as the process of guilt and justification he goes through. The novel also comments on the poverty of lower-class Russians in the 1860's through the drunken character of Marmeladov. Overall, it is a commentary on the state of Russian society and in Nikolay Strakhov's words (to which Dostoevsky agreed), "This is not mockery of the younger generation, neither a reproach nor an accusation—it is a lament over it."

On a completely unrelated note, I found this video i thought some of you might enjoy. I think we can all imagine Dr. Denner in a pirate hat singing along.


Dr. Michael A. Denner said...

that is an absolutely HILARIOUS video... ведь мы пираты! ё хо хо!

Dr. Michael A. Denner said...

oh, and -- i teach a class on dostoevsky from time to time...