Crime and Punishment: Introduction by W J Leatherbarrow (Everyman's Library Classics Series) (Hardcover)
Set in St. Petersburg, Russia sometime in the 1800s, Crime and Punishment explores the darkest depths of the human psyche and the extremes it will turn to in order to achieve absolution and validation. The protagonist, Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov, is an impoverished ex-law student who had essentially estranged himself from his family and friends out of bitter conceit and some backward form of self-hatred. Throughout the story, Raskolnikov viciously and constantly vacillates between poisonous narcissism and abject nihilism, adding to the atmosphere of his turbulent and lurid surroundings. When Raskolnikov commits an unforgivable crime, internal war with his conscience begins and is sustained throughout the entirety of the book, all the way until the climactic conclusion. As he tries to evade suspicion from law enforcement and the cunning Porfiry Petrovich, every dialogue feels as tense as a knife fight, wherein a single error means death. Throughout all of Raskolnikov’s manic revelations, fevered allocutions, and tortured imprecations, the questions every independent mind has asked themselves are infused. “Why should one obey society’s laws?” “What defines a ‘crime?’” and “Do I have it in my nature to stand out from the rest?”
If you are a fan of Russian Literature, archaic language, and profound philosophical insight, I would highly recommend this ineffable work of literary excellence.
-Bryce— From Jumpin' July Staff Picks
Raskolnikov, an impoverished student living in the St. Petersburg of the tsars, is determined to overreach his humanity and assert his untrammeled individual will. When he commits an act of murder and theft, he sets into motion a story that, for its excruciating suspense, its atmospheric vividness, and its depth of characterization and vision is almost unequaled in the literatures of the world. The best known of Dostoevsky’s masterpieces, Crime and Punishment can bear any amount of rereading without losing a drop of its power over our imaginations.
Dostoevsky’s drama of sin, guilt, and redemption transforms the sordid story of an old woman’s murder into the nineteenth century’s profoundest and most compelling philosophical novel.
Award-winning translators Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky render this elusive and wildly innovative novel with an energy, suppleness, and range of voice that do full justice to the genius of its creator.
About the Author
Fyodor Mikailovich Dostoevsky’s life was as dark and dramatic as the great novels he wrote. He was born in Moscow in 1821. A short first novel, Poor Folk (1846) brought him instant success, but his writing career was cut short by his arrest for alleged subversion against Tsar Nicholas I in 1849. In prison he was given the “silent treatment” for eight months (guards even wore velvet soled boots) before he was led in front a firing squad. Dressed in a death shroud, he faced an open grave and awaited execution, when suddenly, an order arrived commuting his sentence. He then spent four years at hard labor in a Siberian prison, where he began to suffer from epilepsy, and he returned to St. Petersburg only a full ten years after he had left in chains.
His prison experiences coupled with his conversion to a profoundly religious philosophy formed the basis for his great novels. But it was his fortuitous marriage to Anna Snitkina, following a period of utter destitution brought about by his compulsive gambling, that gave Dostoevsky the emotional stability to complete Crime and Punishment (1866), The Idiot (1868-69), The Possessed (1871-72),and The Brothers Karamazov (1879-80). When Dostoevsky died in 1881, he left a legacy of masterworks that influenced the great thinkers and writers of the Western world and immortalized him as a giant among writers of world literature.
“The best [translation of Crime and Punishment] currently available…An especially faithful re-creation…with a coiled-spring kinetic energy…Don’t miss it.” –Washington Post Book World
“This fresh, new translation…provides a more exact, idiomatic, and contemporary rendition of the novel that brings Fyodor Dostoevsky’s tale achingly alive…It succeeds beautifully.” –San Francisco Chronicle
“Reaches as close to Dostoevsky’s Russian as is possible in English…The original’s force and frightening immediacy is captured…The Pevear and Volokhonsky translation will become the standard English version.”–Chicago Tribune