Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
Crime and Punishment can be considered as Fyodor’s first great novel of his “mature” period of writing. Since its publication, it has been acclaimed as one of the supreme achievements in the world of literature.
The book focuses on the mental dilemmas of Rodion Raskolnikov, an impoverished ex-student of Saint Petersburg who formulates a plan to kill an old pawn broker for her money. What’s worse is that after the killing, he thinks of himself as Napolean and believes that he can liberate himself from poverty and go on to perform great deeds.
However,once it is done he finds himself racked with confusion, paranoia, and disgust. Subsequently, he descents into guilt ridden anguish and his spiritual turmoil leaves him gasping for air as he succumbs to guilt and horror.
The story of how this book came into being is also quite interesting.
In the summer of 1865, Dostoevsky owed large sums of money to creditors and was trying to help the family of his brother, who had died in early 1864. After he was turned away from every possible door there was to be knocked, he turned as his last resort to the publisher Mikhai Katkov and sought an advance on a proposed contribution. He offered his story (he was not thinking of a novel at that time) for publication in Katkov’s monthly journal – The Russian Messenger , a prestigious publication of its kind, and the outlet for both IVAN TURGENEV and LEO TOLSTOY. He wrote letters to Katkov explaining to him that the work was to be about a young man who yields to "certain strange, 'unfinished' ideas and intended it to be first person narrative and confessional . However, in the letters written in November 1865, he ultimately switched it to third person omniscient voice that plunges the reader right into the protagonist’s tormented psyche. From then on, Crime and Punishment is referred to as a novel. The first part of Crime and Punishment appeared in the January 1866 issue of The Russian Messenger, and the last one was published in December 1866.
This book is fascinating because of all the topics it covers from insanity to guilt and conscience.
Sure, it has a lot about the crime and punishment but it also deals from the fight within, dealing with our own demons. It has many important interconnected things and those things remain important even today, even though this book was originally published in 1865.