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Crime and Punishment pdf, eBook Summary by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Crime Punishment pdf Overview 

Crime and Punishment pdf is a novel by the Russian author Fyodor Dostoevsky. Crime and Punishment is often cited as one of the supreme achievements in world literature.

Crime and Punishment follows the mental anguish and moral dilemmas of Rodion Raskolnikov, an impoverished ex-student in Saint Petersburg who plans to kill an unscrupulous pawnbroker, an old woman who stores money and valuable objects in her flat. According to Rodion Raskolnikov’s  theory, with the money he could liberate himself from poverty and go on to perform great deeds, and seeks to convince himself that certain crimes are justifiable if they are committed in order to remove obstacles to the higher goals of ‘extraordinary’ men. 

After accomplishing his mision, he finds himself racked with confusion, paranoia, and disgust. His theoretical justifications lose all their power as he struggles with guilt and horror and confronts both the internal and external consequences of his deed. Crime and Punishment is a must read for all book lovers.

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Crime and Punishment Summary

Crime and Punishment pdf Part One Summary

Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov, a former law student, lives in extreme poverty in a tiny, rented room in Saint Petersburg. Isolated and antisocial, he has abandoned all attempts to support himself, and is brooding obsessively on a scheme he has devised to murder and rob an elderly pawn-broker. On the pretext of pawning a watch, he visits her apartment, but remains unable to commit himself. Later in a tavern he makes the acquaintance of Semyon Zakharovich Marmeladov, a drunkard who recently squandered his family’s little wealth. Marmeladov tells him about his teenage daughter, Sonya, who has become a prostitute in order to support the family. The next day Raskolnikov receives a letter from his mother in which she describes the problems of his sister Dunya, who has been working as a governess, with her ill-intentioned employer, Svidrigailov. To escape her vulnerable position, and with hopes of helping her brother, Dunya has chosen to marry a wealthy suitor, Luzhin, whom they are coming to meet in Petersburg. Details in the letter suggest that Luzhin is a conceited opportunist who is seeking to take advantage of Dunya’s situation. Raskolnikov is enraged at his sister’s sacrifice, feeling it is the same as what Sonya felt compelled to do. Painfully aware of his own poverty and impotence, his thoughts return to his idea. A further series of internal and external events seem to conspire to compel him toward the resolution to enact it.

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In a state of extreme nervous tension, Raskolnikov steals an ax and makes his way once more to the old woman’s apartment. He gains access by pretending he has something to pawn, and then attacks her with the ax, killing her. He also kills her half-sister, Lizaveta, who happens to stumble upon the scene of the crime. Shaken by his actions, he steals only a handful of items and a small purse, leaving much of the pawn-broker’s wealth untouched. Due to sheer good fortune, he manages to escape the building and return to his room undetected.

Crime and Punishment pdf Part Two Summary

In a feverish, semi-delirious state Raskolnikov conceals the stolen items and falls asleep exhausted. He is greatly alarmed the next morning when he gets a summons to the police station, but it turns out to be in relation to a debt notice from his landlady. When the officers at the bureau begin talking about the murder, Raskolnikov faints. He quickly recovers, but he can see from their faces that he has aroused suspicion. Fearing a search, he hides the stolen items under a large rock in an empty yard, noticing in humiliation that he hasn’t even checked how much money is in the purse. Without knowing why, he visits his old university friend Razumikhin, who observes that Raskolnikov seems to be seriously ill. Finally he returns to his room where he succumbs to his illness and falls into a prolonged delirium.

When he emerges several days later he finds that Razumikhin has tracked him down and has been nursing him. Still feverish, Raskolnikov listens nervously to a conversation between Razumikhin and the doctor about the status of the police investigation into the murders: a muzhik called Mikolka, who was working in a neighbouring flat at the time, has been detained, and the old woman’s clients are being interviewed. They are interrupted by the arrival of Luzhin, Dunya’s fiancé, who wishes to introduce himself, but Raskolnikov deliberately insults him and kicks him out. He angrily tells the others to leave as well, and then sneaks out himself. He looks for news about the murder, and seems almost to want to draw attention to his own part in it. He encounters the police official Zamyotov, who was present when he fainted in the bureau, and openly mocks the young man’s unspoken suspicions. He returns to the scene of the crime and re-lives the sensations he experienced at the time. He angers the workmen and caretakers by asking casual questions about the murder, even suggesting that they accompany him to the police station to discuss it. As he contemplates whether or not to confess, he sees Marmeladov, who has been struck mortally by a carriage. He rushes to help and succeeds in conveying the stricken man back to his family’s apartment. Calling out for Sonya to forgive him, Marmeladov dies in his daughter’s arms. Raskolnikov gives his last twenty five roubles (from money sent to him by his mother) to Marmeladov’s consumptive widow, Katerina Ivanovna, saying it is the repayment of a debt to his friend.

Feeling renewed, Raskolnikov calls on Razumikhin, and they go back together to Raskolnikov’s building. Upon entering his room Raskolnikov is deeply shocked to see his mother and sister sitting on the sofa. They have just arrived in Petersburg and are ecstatic to see him, but Raskolnikov is unable to speak, and collapses in a faint.

Crime and Punishment pdf Part Three Summary

Razumikhin tends to Raskolnikov, and manages to convince the distressed mother and sister to return to their apartment. He goes with them, despite being drunk and rather overwhelmed by Dunya’s beauty. When they return the next morning Raskolnikov has improved physically, but it becomes apparent that he is still mentally distracted and merely forcing himself to endure the meeting. He demands that Dunya break with Luzhin, but Dunya fiercely defends her motives for the marriage. Mrs Raskolnikova has received a note from Luzhin demanding that her son not be present at any future meetings between them. He also informs her that he witnessed her son give the 25 rubles to “an unmarried woman of immoral behavior” (Sonya). Dunya has decided that a meeting, at which both Luzhin and her brother are present, must take place, and Raskolnikov agrees to attend that evening along with Razumikhin. To Raskolnikov’s surprise, Sonya suddenly appears at his door. Timidly, she explains that he left his address with them last night, and that she has come to invite him to attend her father’s funeral. As she leaves, Raskolnikov asks for her address and tells her that he will visit her soon.

At Raskolnikov’s behest, Razumikhin takes him to see the detective Porfiry Petrovich, who is investigating the murders. Raskolnikov immediately senses that Porfiry knows that he is the murderer. Porfiry, who has just been discussing the case with Zamyotov, adopts an ironic tone during the conversation. He expresses extreme curiosity about an article that Raskolnikov wrote some months ago called ‘On Crime’, in which he suggests that certain rare individuals—the benefactors and geniuses of mankind—have a right to ‘step across’ legal or moral boundaries if those boundaries are an obstruction to the success of their idea. Raskolnikov defends himself skillfully, but he is alarmed and angered by Porfiry’s insinuating tone. An appointment is made for an interview the following morning at the police bureau.

Leaving Razumikhin with his mother and sister, Raskolnikov returns to his own building. He is surprised to find an old artisan, whom he doesn’t know, making inquiries about him. Raskolnikov tries to find out what he wants, but the artisan says only one word – “murderer”, and walks off. Petrified, Raskolnikov returns to his room and falls into thought and then sleeps. He wakes to find another complete stranger present, this time a man of aristocratic appearance. The man politely introduces himself as Arkady Ivanovich Svidrigailov.

Crime and Punishment pdf Part Four Summary

Svidrigailov indulges in an amiable but disjointed monologue, punctuated by Raskolnikov’s terse interjections. He claims to no longer have any romantic interest in Dunya, but wants to stop her from marrying Luzhin, and offer her ten thousand roubles. Raskolnikov refuses the money on her behalf and refuses to facilitate a meeting. Svidrigailov also mentions that his wife, who defended Dunya at the time of the unpleasantness but died shortly afterwards, has left her 3000 rubles in her will.

The meeting with Luzhin that evening begins with talk of Svidrigailov—his depraved character, his presence in Petersburg, the unexpected death of his wife and the 3000 rubles left to Dunya. Luzhin takes offense when Dunya insists on resolving the issue with her brother, and when Raskolnikov draws attention to the slander in his letter, Luzhin becomes reckless, exposing his true character. Dunya tells him to leave and never come back. Now free and with significant capital, they excitedly begin to discuss plans for the future, but Raskolnikov suddenly gets up and leaves, telling them, to their great consternation, that it might be the last time he sees them. He instructs the baffled Razumikhin to remain and always care for them.

Raskolnikov proceeds to Sonya’s place. She is gratified that he is visiting her, but also frightened of his strange manner. He asks a series of merciless questions about her terrible situation and that of Katerina Ivanovna and the children. Raskolnikov begins to realize that Sonya is sustained only by her faith in God. She reveals that she was a friend of the murdered Lizaveta. In fact, Lizaveta gave her a cross and a copy of the Gospels. She passionately reads to him the story of the raising of Lazarus from the Gospel of John. His fascination with her, which had begun at the time when her father spoke of her, increases and he decides that they must face the future together. As he leaves he tells her that he will come back tomorrow and tell her who killed her friend Lizaveta.

When Raskolnikov presents himself for his interview, Porfiry resumes and intensifies his insinuating, provocative, ironic chatter, without ever making a direct accusation. With Raskolnikov’s anger reaching fever pitch, Porfiry hints that he has a “little surprise” for him behind the partition in his office, but at that moment there is a commotion outside the door and a young man (Mikolka the painter) bursts in, followed by some policemen. To both Porfiry and Raskolnikov’s astonishment, Mikolka proceeds to loudly confess to the murders. Porfiry doesn’t believe the confession, but he is forced to let Raskolnikov go. Back at his room Raskolnikov is horrified when the old artisan suddenly appears at his door. But the man bows and asks for forgiveness: he had been Porfiry’s “little surprise”, and had heard Mikolka confess. He had been one of those present when Raskolnikov returned to the scene of the murders, and had reported his behavior to Porfiry.

Crime and Punishment pdf Part Five Summary

Raskolnikov attends the Marmeladovs’ post-funeral banquet at Katerina Ivanovna’s apartment. The atmosphere deteriorates as guests become drunk and the half-mad Katerina Ivanovna engages in a verbal attack on her German landlady. With chaos descending, everyone is surprised by the sudden and portentous appearance of Luzhin. He sternly announces that a 100-ruble banknote disappeared from his apartment at the precise time that he was being visited by Sonya, whom he had invited in order to make a small donation. Sonya fearfully denies stealing the money, but Luzhin persists in his accusation and demands that someone search her. Outraged, Katerina Ivanovna abuses Luzhin and sets about emptying Sonya’s pockets to prove her innocence, but a folded 100-ruble note does indeed fly out of one of the pockets. The mood in the room turns against Sonya, Luzhin chastises her, and the landlady orders the family out. But Luzhin’s roommate Lebezyatnikov angrily asserts that he saw Luzhin surreptitiously slip the money into Sonya’s pocket as she left, although he had thought at the time that it was a noble act of anonymous charity. Raskolnikov backs Lebezyatnikov by confidently identifying Luzhin’s motive: a desire to avenge himself on Raskolnikov by defaming Sonya, in hopes of causing a rift with his family. Luzhin is discredited, but Sonya is traumatized, and she runs out of the apartment. Raskolnikov follows her.

Back at her room, Raskolnikov draws Sonya’s attention to the ease with which Luzhin could have ruined her, and consequently the children as well. But it is only a prelude to his confession that he is the murderer of the old woman and Lizaveta. Painfully, he tries to explain his abstract motives for the crime to the uncomprehending Sonya. She is horrified, not just at the crime, but at his own self-torture, and tells him that he must hand himself in to the police. Lebezyatnikov appears and tells them that the landlady has kicked Katerina Ivanovna out of the apartment and that she has gone mad. They find Katerina Ivanovna surrounded by people in the street, completely insane, trying to force the terrified children to perform for money, and near death from her illness. They manage to get her back to Sonya’s room, where, distraught and raving, she dies. To Raskolnikov’s surprise, Svidrigailov suddenly appears and informs him that he will be using the ten thousand rubles intended for Dunya to make the funeral arrangements and to place the children in good orphanages. When Raskolnikov asks him what his motives are, he laughingly replies with direct quotations of Raskolnikov’s own words, spoken when he was trying to explain his justifications for the murder to Sonya. Svidrigailov has been residing next door to Sonya, and overheard every word of the murder confession.

Crime and Punishment pdf Part Six Summary

Razumikhin tells Raskolnikov that Dunya has become troubled and distant after receiving a letter from someone. He also mentions, to Raskolnikov’s astonishment, that Porfiry no longer suspects him of the murders. As Raskolnikov is about to set off in search of Svidrigailov, Porfiry himself appears and politely requests a brief chat. He sincerely apologizes for his previous behavior and seeks to explain the reasons behind it. Strangely, Raskolnikov begins to feel alarmed at the thought that Porfiry might think he is innocent. But Porfiry’s changed attitude is motivated by genuine respect for Raskolnikov, not by any thought of his innocence, and he concludes by expressing his absolute certainty that Raskolnikov is indeed the murderer. He claims that he will be arresting him soon, but urges him to confess to make it easier on himself. Raskolnikov chooses to continue the struggle.

Raskolnikov finds Svidrigailov at an inn and warns him against approaching Dunya. Svidrigailov, who has in fact arranged to meet Dunya, threatens to go to the police, but Raskolnikov is unconcerned and follows when he leaves. When Raskolnikov finally turns home, Dunya, who has been watching them, approaches Svidrigailov and demands to know what he meant in his letter about her brother’s “secret”. She reluctantly accompanies him to his rooms, where he reveals what he overheard and attempts to use it to make her yield to his desire. Dunya, however, has a gun and she fires at him, narrowly missing: Svidrigailov gently encourages her to reload and try again. Eventually she throws the gun aside, but Svidrigailov, crushed by her hatred for him, tells her to leave. Later that evening he goes to Sonya to discuss the arrangements for Katerina Ivanovna’s children. He gives her 3000 rubles, telling her she will need it if she wishes to follow Raskolnikov to Siberia. He spends the night in a miserable hotel and the following morning commits suicide in a public place.

Raskolnikov says a painful goodbye to his mother, without telling her the truth. Dunya is waiting for him at his room, and he tells her that he will be going to the police to confess to the murders. He stops at Sonya’s place on the way and she gives him a crucifix. At the bureau, he learns of Svidrigailov’s suicide, and almost changes his mind, even leaving the building. However, he sees Sonya (who has followed him) looking at him in despair, and he returns to make a full and frank confession to the murders.

Crime and Punishment Main Characters

Raskolnikov (Rodion Romanovitch) is the protagonist, and the novel focuses primarily on his perspective. A 23-year-old man and former student, now destitute, Raskolnikov is described in the novel as “exceptionally handsome, below the average in height, slim, well built, with beautiful dark eyes and dark brown hair.” On the one hand, he is cold, apathetic, and antisocial; on the other, he can be surprisingly warm and compassionate. He commits murder as well as acts of impulsive charity. His chaotic interaction with the external world and his nihilistic worldview might be seen as causes of his social alienation or consequences of it.

Despite its title, the novel does not so much deal with the crime and its formal punishment as with Raskolnikov’s internal struggle – the torments of his own conscience, rather than the legal consequences of committing the crime. Believing society would be better for it, Raskolnikov commits murder with the idea that he possesses enough intellectual and emotional fortitude to deal with the ramifications, but his sense of guilt soon overwhelms him to the point of psychological and somatic illness. It is only in the epilogue that he realizes his formal punishment, having decided to confess and end his alienation from society.

Sonya (Sofya Semyonovna Marmeladova), is the daughter of a drunkard named Semyon Zakharovich Marmeladov, whom Raskolnikov meets in a tavern at the beginning of the novel. She is often characterized as self-sacrificial, shy, and innocent, despite being forced into prostitution to help her family. Raskolnikov discerns in her the same feelings of shame and alienation that he experiences, and she becomes the first person to whom he confesses his crime. Sensing his deep unhappiness, she supports him, even though she was friends with one of the victims (Lizaveta). Throughout the novel, Sonya is an important source of moral strength and rehabilitation for Raskolnikov.

Razumíkhin (Dmitry Prokofyich) is Raskolnikov’s loyal friend and also a former law student. The character is intended to represent something of a reconciliation between faith and reason (razum, “sense”, “intelligence”). He jokes that his name is actually ‘Vrazumíkhin’ – a name suggesting “to bring someone to their senses”. He is upright, strong, resourceful and intelligent, but also somewhat naïve – qualities that are of great importance to Raskolnikov in his desperate situation. He admires Raskolnikov’s intelligence and character, refuses to give any credence to others’ suspicions, and supports him at all times. He looks after Raskolnikov’s family when they come to Petersburg, falling in love with and later marrying Dunya.

Dunya (Avdotya Romanovna Raskolnikova) – Raskolnikov’s beautiful and strong-willed sister who works as a governess. She initially plans to marry the wealthy but unsavory lawyer Luzhin, thinking it will enable her to ease her family’s desperate financial situation and escape her former employer Svidrigailov. Her situation is a factor in Raskolnikov’s decision to commit the murder. In St. Petersburg, she is eventually able to escape the clutches of both Luzhin and Svidrigailov, and later marries Razumikhin.

Luzhin (Pyotr Petrovich) – A well-off lawyer who is engaged to Dunya in the beginning of the novel. His motives for the marriage are dubious, as he more or less states that he has sought a woman who will be completely beholden to him. He slanders and falsely accuses Sonya of theft in an attempt to harm Raskolnikov’s relations with his family. Luzhin represents immorality, in contrast to Svidrigaïlov’s amorality, and Raskolnikov’s misguided morality.

Svidrigaïlov (Arkady Ivanovich) – Sensual, depraved, and wealthy former employer and former pursuer of Dunya. He overhears Raskolnikov’s confessions to Sonya and uses this knowledge to torment both Dunya and Raskolnikov, but does not inform the police. Despite his apparent malevolence, Svidrigaïlov seems to be capable of generosity and compassion. When Dunya tells him she could never love him (after attempting to shoot him) he lets her go. He tells Sonya that he has made financial arrangements for the Marmeladov children to enter an orphanage, and gives her three thousand rubles, enabling her to follow Raskolnikov to Siberia. Having left the rest of his money to his juvenile fiancée, he commits suicide.

Porfiry Petrovich – The head of the Investigation Department in charge of solving the murders of Lizaveta and Alyona Ivanovna, who, along with Sonya, moves Raskolnikov towards confession. Unlike Sonya, however, Porfiry does this through psychological means, seeking to confuse and provoke the volatile Raskolnikov into a voluntary or involuntary confession. He later drops these methods and sincerely urges Raskolnikov to confess for his own good.

Crime and Punishment Author – Fyodor Dostoevsky

Fyodor Dostoevsky author of crime and punishment
Fyodor Dostoevsky author of crime and punishment

Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky (11 November 1821 – 9 February 1881), sometimes transliterated as Dostoyevsky, was a Russian novelist, short story writer, essayist, and journalist. Dostoevsky’s literary works explore the human condition in the troubled political, social, and spiritual atmospheres of 19th-century Russia, and engage with a variety of philosophical and religious themes. His most acclaimed novels include Crime and Punishment (1866), The Idiot (1869), Demons (1872), and The Brothers Karamazov (1880). His 1864 novella Notes from Underground is considered to be one of the first works of existentialist literature. Numerous literary critics rate him as one of the greatest novelists in all of world literature, as many of his works are considered highly influential masterpieces.

Born in Moscow in 1821, Dostoevsky was introduced to literature at an early age through fairy tales and legends, and through books by Russian and foreign authors. His mother died in 1837 when he was 15, and around the same time, he left school to enter the Nikolayev Military Engineering Institute. After graduating, he worked as an engineer and briefly enjoyed a lavish lifestyle, translating books to earn extra money. In the mid-1840s he wrote his first novel, Poor Folk, which gained him entry into Saint Petersburg’s literary circles. Arrested in 1849 for belonging to a literary group that discussed banned books critical of Tsarist Russia, he was sentenced to death but the sentence was commuted at the last moment. He spent four years in a Siberian prison camp, followed by six years of compulsory military service in exile. In the following years, Dostoevsky worked as a journalist, publishing and editing several magazines of his own and later A Writer’s Diary, a collection of his writings. He began to travel around western Europe and developed a gambling addiction, which led to financial hardship. For a time, he had to beg for money, but he eventually became one of the most widely read and highly regarded Russian writers.

Crime and Punishment Themes

The novel is centered on Nihilism, rationalism and utilitarianism themes.

Crime and Punishment Book Information

crime and punishment pdf
crime and punishment pdf
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Dover Publications; Reprint edition (August 22, 2001)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 430 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0486415872
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0486415871
  • Reading age ‏ : ‎ 18 years and up
  • Lexile measure ‏ : ‎ 900L
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 11.2 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 5.2 x 1.2 x 8.2 inches
  • Best Sellers Rank: #17,179 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • #14 in Russian Literary Criticism
  • #802 in Classic Literature & Fiction
  • #2,222 in Literary Fiction (Books)
  • Customer Reviews: 4.7 out of 5 stars    2,011 ratings

Crime and Punishment pdf Reviews

Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

One of the supreme masterpieces of world literature, Crime and Punishment catapulted Fyodor Dostoyevsky to the forefront of Russian writers and into the ranks of the world’s greatest novelists. Drawing upon experiences from his own prison days, the author recounts in feverish, compelling tones the story of Raskolnikov, an impoverished student tormented by his own nihilism, and the struggle between good and evil. Believing that he is above the law, and convinced that humanitarian ends justify vile means, he brutally murders an old woman–a pawnbroker whom he regards as “stupid, ailing, greedy…good for nothing.” Overwhelmed afterwards by feelings of guilt and terror, Raskolnikov confesses to the crime and goes to prison. There he realizes that happiness and redemption can only be achieved through suffering. Infused with forceful religious, social, and philosophical elements, the novel was an immediate success. This extraordinary, unforgettable work is reprinted here in the authoritative Constance Garnett translation.

Reviews from Amazon Buyers

VA Duck
5.0 out of 5 stars A Favorite
Reviewed in the United States on October 28, 2017

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This is Dostoyevski at his best – at least as far as this reader is concerned. This is a ‘complex’ story (in many respects) certainly with respect to the storyline: and, in the ‘typical’ Russian style, full of boiling emotion, honor, degradation and mystery. Rodion Romanovitch Raskolnikov, a young college drop-out, given to dark mood and brooding temperament sulks in his cramped, stuffy, oppressive little boarding house room and plans a murder. He has earlier published a pseudo-intellectual essay in which he postulates the ‘right’ of an ‘extraordinary’ person to even commit crime in the pursuit of a greater good. This ‘philosophy’ shared with the reader seems always in one way or another at the base of Rodion Romanovitch’s brooding conclusion:

“Yes, that’s what it was! I wanted to become a Napoleon, that is why I killed her. . . . Do you understand now?”

“I saw clear as daylight how strange it is that not a single person living in this mad world has had the daring to go straight for it all and send it flying to the devil! I . . . I wanted to have the daring . . . and I killed her. I only wanted to have the daring, Sonia! That was the whole cause of it!”

The storyline twists and turns and interleaves a series of characters that include the pathetic, the deceitful, the honorable, and the utterly hopeless. Dostoyevski makes the depth of the read much greater than the storyline itself, however. Raskolnikov is positively tortured within his own mind by the plan for murder, by the murder itself and by his pursuit by the predatory Investigating lawyer – Porfiry Petrovich. The writing amazes with its precision in describing the ebb and flood of emotion, scheming and shame that torment Raskolnikov. And, as usual in his novels, Dostoyevski explores the philosophical implications of good and bad, afterlife or darkness, and human consequence related to an interconnected universe. An old-fashioned Epilog ends the read giving the reader some ‘closure’ on Rodion and some moral ‘conclusion’ for Dostoyevski. Over 150 years old and still this book sets the high end for 5-stars.

RJ from Duluth

5.0 out of 5 stars A great book
Reviewed in the United States on April 9, 2021

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This book is in every top 100 novels list and for good reason. Maybe it’s just me but I love classical Russian literature. There are real insights into the human condition; the human mind; wealth and poverty; power and weakness. Good stuff.
As for the book seller, the book came as described and fairly quickly.

Alexander Gaya
5.0 out of 5 stars Misery and Redemption in Spades
Reviewed in the United States on November 27, 2014

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In my sophomore year of high school, I did a report on Fyodor Dostoyevsky because he seemed an intriguing subject. The next year, I was assigned Crime and Punishment pdf in English class, and was assigned it again by a different teacher the following year. Recently, I decided the time had come to read the novel a third time. The reading of a work three times is an honor I award to very few novels, especially now that I am aware of the sheer amount of worthwhile reads in the world that I could be beginning instead. Unlike most of the works I have read at least thrice (the Harry Potter series, The Picture of Dorian Gray, The Hobbit, The Jungle Book, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Wind in the Willows, The Phantom Tollbooth, The Secret Garden), Crime and Punishment contains a pervasively grim atmosphere that is nonetheless spiked with comedy and is, if less *entertaining* than these favorite reads of mine, certainly quite as rewarding if not more so.

My first taste of Dostoyevsky catapulted him from an unknown author to one of my favorites, which is not an easily accomplished feat by any means. His stories, while intensely wordy and much more driven by conversations and ideas than by quick sequences of action, cannot help but captivate. He has a gift for portraying the grime and pettiness of human existence while not allowing his tone to lapse into cynicism; rather, he presents the grotesque in order to argue for the true and beautiful. The plot is simple: Rodion Romanovitch Raskolnikov, an impoverished ex-student with dangerous theories about an exceptional class of persons to whom the law need not apply, commits the crime of murder and theft and then spends the rest of the book being punished for it psychologically and eventually physically (he is not caught until the very end of the novel). It is not the plot that drives the novel, but the oppressive atmosphere of guilt, concealment, and suffering, together with the remarkable characterization Dostoyevsky provides. One feels genuine repulsion and pity mingled for the clownish, drunken Marmeladov; the overbearing, deluded Luzhin; the hysterical, diseased Katerina Ivanovna; the loathsome, depraved Svidrigaïlov, and of course the mercurial and distracted protagonist Raskolnikov. The good characters, such as Raskolnikov’s mother Pulcheria Alexandrovna, his sister Dounia, and his friend Razumihin, are all marred by their own minor flaws as well; only the ‘pure prostitute’ Sonia emerges (paradoxically) unstained. Jews, Poles, and Germans, the underclasses of St. Petersburg, also populate the tale, and various clerks, constables, and other members of society round out the picture. Certain scenes, such as Katerina Ivanovna’s miserable dinner party and Svridrigaïlov’s assault on Dounia, have stuck with me throughout the years, and the hope-garnished ending provides desperately needed catharsis. Although I believe The Brothers Karamazov to be Dostoyevsky’s finest work, and one of the finest works ever written in the history of literature, I would hold that Crime and Punishment deserves nearly as high esteem. A very firm five stars.

While my first knowledge of Dover Publications came from their excellent historical and animal-themed coloring books, I have not been disappointed in their publishing for more advanced ages. Dover Publications always chooses the “standard text” when reprinting a literary classic, and they have wisely selected the Constance Garnett translation, which I find perfectly readable and artful. I do not have any knowledge of the Russian language and thus cannot evaluate translations for accuracy, but Garnett’s is the form in which the greatest Russian literature first came to be known in the English-speaking world, and while apparently other translations have since superseded the Garnett, its historical importance cannot be overlooked. In other respects, such as typesetting, front and back covers, biographical introductory note, and especially the phenomenally low price, I am quite pleased with Dover Publications. The one potential drawback is a lack of scholarly notes, but for this particular reading experience, I would opine that they are not strictly necessary.

In theory I would recommend this book to each and every reader, as it has a tremendous lot to offer and a number of universal themes and messages that are indispensable. However, since the diction can be ponderous at times and the length is considerable, in practice I would recommend the work to seasoned readers who are seeking instruction as well as pleasure in their literary consumption.

Rebecca Campanaro
5.0 out of 5 stars Relax and read! Worth it!
Reviewed in the United States on May 28, 2020

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A fantastic read and highly recommended. I’m still in the first half of the book but really enjoy the detail of each and every character. Well written. It is heavy so you may want to mix up a lighter book for fun.

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