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Crime and Punishment

Crime and Punishment

Author: Fyodor Dostoevsky

Year: 1867

Famous for: Very little crime but a whole lotta punishment.

Main character: The tormented, egomaniacal Rodya Raskolnikov, who fancies himself a Russian superman.

The scoop:

In some ways, Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment reads like an episode of “Law and Order.” There’s a carefully-plotted crime, a criminal who’s pretty certain he won’t be caught, and a chief investigator who’s got his quarry figured out … but not enough evidence to get a conviction.

The difference, of course, is that Crime and Punishment isn’t really a police procedural, or a courtroom drama for that matter. It’s a story about the psychology of the criminal mind. Which means that after about 100 pages of crime, you get 400-plus pages of punishment, including main character Raskolnikov’s fierce inner battle with guilt, paranoia, more guilt, more paranoia, and quite a bit of self-justification.

So with all the mental anguish in Crime and Punishment, not to mention the focus on psychology rather than action, why should you read all the way to the last page? Because you’ll want to find out if Raskolnikov gets away with his crime, of course! Or, whether his self-inflicted punishment turns into something the chief investigator would call justice.


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