Crime and Punishment

It's a strange thing to read these great works of literature for pleasure. Les Misérables, Moby Dick, and now Crime and Punishment… and each time after turning the final page I feel like I need to write an essay and take a final exam.

This will not be an essay.

Crime and Punishment is a finely-crafted tale of a man struggling with his guilt. All throughout my reading, I got the feeling that Dostoevsky was pulling a Dante Alighieri: the characters all seemed like they were based more on people he knew, specifically political or social enemies, rather than creatures of pure imagination. Which takes nothing away from the story itself; it's just something I noticed.

I have to wonder how much is lost in translation. People say that it's a whole 'nother experience to read books in their native languages. I'm not going to run out and learn Russian just to get the purest version of Crime and Punishment into my brain-box, but I do feel like I only got a portion of the tale in my reading. I think that to get the whole thing would require more than just learning the language: I think I'd actually have to be Russian. The footnotes helped a lot, but again... there's some ephemeral je ne sais quoi that's missing.

I'll say this, though: I've been thinking a lot about how the act of deep reading is somehow mentally therapeutic, and in that regard reading Crime and Punishment felt like good medicine. It forced me to face a lot of old fears that I'd sublimated. I won't go into detail here-that's what my own books are for-but the more that I build up this habit of consuming a few thousand words of "proven writing" every day, the more I feel like it's a solid investment of my ever-dwindling time.


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