Abandoning “Crime and Punishment”

Fiction — print. Translated from the Russian by Sidney Monas. Signet Classic, 2006. Originally published 1866. 560 pgs. Received from PaperBackSwap.

At first I started out reading Dostoyevsky’s novel in print form, but I had a hard time so I switched to reading the book along with the audiobook. Two different translations, which made it incredibly difficult to read and listen at the same time.

I switched to just listening to the audiobook, but I just wasn’t absorbing the story the way I felt I needed to. Just before I gave up on the book all together, I decided to try reading the novel by itself one last time.

But it’s just not working for me; it’s not doing anything for me. I don’t know if I’m not getting it, but I’m not enjoying it and I’m not going to force myself to read it any longer.

I’ve wanted to read Crime and Punishment for the longest time, but this is not the time. Maybe later in the future; maybe not. As a friend of mine reminded me when I told her of my frustrations, “You can cross ‘read a piece of Russian literature off your list, Christina. You read We (by Yevgeny Zamyatin) last fall, and you hated it”. So I’m not in any hurry to pick Dostoyevsky’s novel up in the near future.

The Classics Circuit

I read Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky for The Classics Circuit’s Imperial Russian Literature Tour entitled “White Nights on the Neva”, which continues through July 16, 2010. The Classics Circuit is planning a tour of Meiji-era Japanese Literature entitled “Land of the Rising Sun”, which focuses on classic Eastern literature — particularly that of 1868-1920 Japan — for the fall so make sure you check in for more information later.


  1. At least you tried to tackle it! I don’t think I’d have the courage to even try — for a long time, anyway. Your post is an example of how important a good translation is (one that is right for the reader) but even then it might still not be the right time.


  2. Sorry it didn’t work for you Christina! I love this novel — and I’ve read it a few times. I think I mostly love the language and the depth to the characters. It’s definitely not a plot or story driven novel!


  3. I think you are the first person I’ve found who also didn’t like it! I wanted to like it, but I found Raskolnikov to be so incredibly self-indulgent, whiny and melodramatic, that I couldn’t stand him. I was in such contempt of him! He’s very “oh woe is me!” and nothing else in the book helped catch my interest either. My review is here.


  4. Pingback: Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (Part One) | Ardent Reader

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