Top critical review
Psychology of a Killer
on August 4, 2002
Someone told me once that if you love Tolstoy, you'll hate Dostoevsky and vice versa. I don't know if that statement is universally true, but it held for me.
"Crime and Punishment" uncovers the mind of Rodion Raskolnikov, a man who kills a pair of innocents under the guise of needing their money. This ends up not to be true; he doesn't use the money at all, and instead justifies his killing by noting that there are "exceptional" people in the world who can simply get away with killing the "non-exceptional" people. If one exceptional person must kill someone else so that his "exceptional-ness" can be spread, the world is a better place. The entire novel develops Raskolnikov's twisted theory, and traces his internal turmoil after the murder.
I found the book to be tedious, and I thought that some of the passages were lengthy without adding content. I never felt as though I knew any of the characters particularly well, and perhaps that is why it took me so long to get through this novel. There was nothing pulling me along -- after pages and pages of Raskolnikov's inner debates as to whether or not he should confess, I simply found I didn't care what he did. I just wanted the novel to end. It is rare that I yell out a celebratory "DONE!" to my husband upon finishing a novel -- after this one, however, I could not contain my jubilation!
I am a devoted Tolstoy fan, and I guess I expected Dostoevsky to be a little more like him. I expected to feel a connection to the action and the characters, and I was disappointed at every page. I expected more of a sweeping tale, and instead got a few months in the life of an eternally-ill and tormented young ex-university student.
I wanted desperately to like this book, but in the end have decided to pick up "Anna Karenina" (for the third time) and forego "The Brothers Karamozov."