"In spite of his recent momentary wish for contact, of whatever kind, with other people, no sooner was a word actually spoken to him than he experienced the old unpleasant feeling of exasperated dislike for any person who violated, or even seemed desirous of disturbing, his privacy."
So all of that was kind of a bit pointless, then. Ahem.
I think I had all these ideas about Crime and Punishment before I read Crime and Punishment, as one is wont to do with Works of Great Literature, and I believe that about 90% of them were wrong. I didn't exactly expect that the vast majority of the book was going to happen solely in Raskolnikov's mind, in a narrative style that seemed way way way ahead of its time, and I didn't know how... Uncomfortable it would be being in there for long stretches of time. Seriously- the dude has a lot of issues, most of which could probably be solved with regular meals and a purpose to his life, and I feel like he sees himself both as nothing AND everything, which seems like a very perplexing state to be in.
And if this sounds bad, then I think I'm explaining it wrong, because it's sort of... different to anything I've read before, and it feels like a lot of authors have tried to imitate it but haven't really come close to anything like the sensation of being inside Raskolnikov's head. And it's not just that- there are moments where things are getting so intense and you're sort of freaking out inside your head and then something funny happens and it's so unexpected and jarring that you laugh out loud and it is genuinely funny. And then there were just moments where I completely and utterly agreed with this Russian dude who's been dead for 30 years, and I realised that I was reading one of those novels that really do relate to the human condition, not just at one specific point in time, but for all times.
"I know you don't believe this- but don't philosophise too subtly; plunge straight into life, without deliberation; don't be uneasy- it will carry you straight to shore and land you on your feet."The thing is, even though I say I prefer Anna Karenina (although, really, they're not at all comparable and it's really unfair to do so just because they're both Russian) I feel like Crime and Punishment is a book that I might like more and more as the years go by. As I said, there's quite a lot of anticipation upon reading a classic that it seems like you've always known existed, and so that's in the back of your mind the first time you read it, and this post has definitely made me think that yeah- when I go back to it, I really think I am going to get a lot more from it. Even more than I have already, which isn't nothing. And I think about Anna Karenina and wonder if I can really say the same about it, and I'm not so sure.
So basically what I'm saying is, ask me in about 20 years which out of the two I prefer, and maybe things will have changed.
I know you're all dying to read Crime and Punishment now, so here's a teeny little tip- since this is Russian literature we're talking about, each character has about 5 different names, so even though you think there are about 50 characters in this, really there are about 10. If that. Alarmingly, whilst there were SO many characters in Anna Karenina, I managed to keep them straight a lot more than the characters in Crime and Punishment, probably because Tolstoy wasn't a prick and didn't call basically his two main characters Raskolnikov and Razumikhin, which may not seem that similar but it totally is when you're reading at a certain pace and have to stop to figure out which one he's talking about. That prick.
But don't let that put you off, because really? I totally understand why this is a classic, I kind of firmly believe that everyone should read it, and it's done nothing to dampen my love of Russian literature. Nice work Dostoevsky. You prick.