Maybe I’m at that age where I start to think about all the classic books that I’ve never read and then go through a miserable 5 year period doing my pennance on them. It certainly felt like that in many moments during Dostoevsky’s “finest masterpiece”, which I chose over “The Brother’s Karamazov” that a workmate of Kim’s is reading at the moment, and is apparently “wonderful”. Grrr.
Where do I begin. First there’s the maddening habit of referring to the same person using 3 different names. You would think that after 500 pages I would be pretty clear who was who, but I’ll confess to thinking of some folks as “the guy beginning with M who ends in Zov” as opposed to “the M guy who ends in Min”. And so on it went with the “P guys” and the two “S guys”. And occasionally mixing them up and backtracking after the revelation. Crickey.
The action sequences were very compelling and nihilistic, but the chunks of pages devoted to the isolation, torment and erratic behaviour of our crime-committer were tough going in parts. Characters seemed to drift in and out without great purpose, as if only to cloud the story, and all the time the utter despair of a grey and unyielding poor neighbourhood in St. Petersburg kept me wondering why he didn’t just kill himself. The character of Sonya was apparently changed many times in the writing of this book, and yet she seemed a little unbelievable – playing a mute martyr with few opinions of her own. The Epilogue was wonderful, and Raskolnikov was redeemed, but it wasn’t enough to save the book in my eyes. I can only give it 2.5 stars.