Crime and Punishment is the first 2010 installment on my commitment to read a couple of classics a year. I’ve been doing a minor exploration of Russians during this 21st century, so I figured I might as well tackle a Dostoeyvsky. Let me tell you, it’s not for sissies.

This is a book you could spend a lifetime studying. The turns of plot and character are intricate, often baffling. Social, political, and artistic history are layered like Appalachian limestone, and the point-counterpoint of religion, philosophy and intellectual concepts would do credit to a Beethoven symphony.

Most of the characters in Crime and Punishment are in agony most of the time, so if you’re looking for laughs, don’t look here. However, if you’re wondering if it’s possible to write a six-hundred page novel with an ax murderer as a protagonist, a character you can both despise and sympathize with, pick it up. I’m not kidding. It’s a literary feat like no other, and my mind returns to it over and over, puzzled, fascinated, enriched.


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