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Crime and Punishment: Pevear & Volokhonsky Translation (Vintage Classics) Paperback – March 2, 1993
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
“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
- Lexile measure : 900L
- Item Weight : 1.2 pounds
- Paperback : 565 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0679734503
- ISBN-13 : 978-0679734505
- Dimensions : 5.17 x 1.17 x 7.98 inches
- Publisher : Vintage; Reprint edition (March 2, 1993)
- Reading level : 18 and up
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #6,269 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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That first reading of Crime & Punishment proved to be one of the most important literary experiences of my life. I read rapturously over the course of a few summer days, carrying the book about in a back pocket, and finished it around 6 am one morning. It seemed to me everything that a really great novel should be: entertaining, thought provoking, beautiful. A year of intro philosophy classes had convinced me I was some kind of original thinker, or at least a conscientious atheist. But Dostoevsky's take on spiritualism and religion gave me real pause; and despite a year's worth of railing against organized religion as the bane of all existence, the image of the murderer and prostitute reading the story of Lazarus together proved enormously powerful. In the end Crime & Punishment didn't convert me or bring me back to any kind of religious doctrine, but it did have a huge impact on the way I thought about fiction and viewed the world - a sensation I'm always looking for in books, but only a small handful have ever successfully accomplished.
So reading Crime & Punishment proved to be a pretty good idea, and much to my delight it seemed a fairly universal notion amongst my undergraduate peers. I can't think of many other books that have been read by so many people I've encountered and, maybe more astonishing, were deeply moved by it. Of course, there's always the stray dissenter. Vladimir Nabokov famously didn't think much of Dostoevsky, but then, he didn't like music either, so there's little accounting for taste.
For whatever reason, Dostoevsky started coming up in a lot of recent conversations, and it occurred to me that it had almost been a decade since my first and only read of Crime & Punishment. I've become well acquainted with a good deal of Dostoevsky's subsequent work, along with the writings of his fellow countrymen, so I knew it was vital to pick up the translation by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky and, having become addicted to my Kindle Paperwhite, downloaded the e-book so I could recreate the read-on-the-go experience should the book sweep me up a second time.
To be honest, I was a little worried how well Crime & Punishment would stand up ten years later. After all, tastes change, and in the past I have been dismayed by how radically my opinion of a fondly recollected novel can take a turn for the worse on rereading. But from the opening description of Raskolnikov descending from his crappy little apartment into the streets of St. Petersburg I was hooked all over again.
But while I found all the major plot points and characters had stuck in my brain through the years, I was surprised how much smaller the novel's scale seemed; sort of like visiting a house that seemed enormous as a kid but shrunk in scale on visiting as an adult. In his introduction, Richard Pevear explains that Dostoevsky built the novel with the structure of theater in mind. I doubt I would have made this astute observation on my own, and yet it became the unavoidable lens I reread the novel through.
Crime & Punishment takes place in a very hermetic universe of small dingy rooms, chance encounters, rapid action, and philosophically loaded dialogue; making it a heavy but never dense reading experience. This philosophical bent tends to be the most common point of complaint amongst critics. Novels with a metaphysical agenda are often populated by flat characters who act as little more than mouthpieces for the author. Rascolnikov, in particular, is much more an idea than a person, whose true crime is his modern intellectual arrogance rather than the murder which derives from his hubris. But Dostoevsky populates his novel with a supporting cast that creates an incredibly rich illustration of 19th century poverty, as well as the existential comedy and despair that would color the coming century. Again, the Pevear introduction relates how Crime & Punishment grew out of an earlier novel, The Drunks, which Dostoevsky had been struggling with. It's the vestiges of this previous novel that are, for my money, the most fascinating aspects of Crime & Punishment, and reminiscent of another 19th century master, Charles Dickens.
Like a Dickens novel, Crime & Punishment contains enormously entertaining murder plot and, with the added philosophical heft, it's easy to understand why the novel is so appealing to undergrads. The aforementioned Dostoesky hater, Vladimir Nabokov, believed that a serious reader is, in fact, a rereader. For a long time I've found myself almost panicked by the overabundance of books I want and feel the need to read, and disregarding a few exceptions which I've obsessed over, I have never defined myself as much of a rereader. But this second look at Crime & Punishment has definitely changed how I'll choose to read in the future. There's a magic that comes with reading Dostoevsky, and I cannot recommend the experience or reliving the experience enough.
Depravity is the real theme of "Crime and Punishment" but Dostoyevsky does not take a simplistic view of it. As Solzhenitzyn would a hundred years later, he observes similar things about the admixture of good and evil within all of us. His protagonist Raskolnikov (the name means "schismatic," not "rascal" in the English sense) has tried his entire life to be good until he becomes an axe murderer at the end of part 1. He takes money and valuables from his victim worth hundreds of rubles and instead of spending them, hides them, because it wasn't really about the money. It was about proving to himself that he is a great man.
Fortunately, Raskolnikov is surrounded by great-souled people. Even Svidrigailov gives away all his money and shoots himself rather than enter into another marriage of convenience or rape Raskolnikov's sister as he had intended at the beginning of part 6. These people, especially Sonya, whose heart is much bigger than the rest of her, eventually persuade him to do the right thing as he had done for most of his life. Reading books like "Crime and Punishment" will remind us too to do the right thing. Five stars.
I gave it five stars for the above reasons and because the plot was unpredictable. It kept me turning the pages and hoping for a better life for Raskolnikov and Sonya and the other characters. It is a very soulful story. Don't stop at the end, as dramatic as it is. Read the Epilogue! It's the best part. I plan to read that part again after reading another book. Read this book!
Top reviews from other countries
I got the paperback version of Pevear translation. Great quality and fast delivery within two days. I was surprised by the thickness and weight of the book. I find it a bit hard to hold up while reading but it’s probably because I’m not all that strong. The cover has a matte finish with a sandy texture which I like. The paper inside feels really smooth. The font is quite on the smaller side but not too small. I prefer a less bold font but this fine. It’s readable. The pages are easy to open flat with force, but I still have to hold it open since I don’t want to crease it.
Pevear’s translation seems a bit too literal for my liking when compared to the Garnette translation. Whereas Garnette’s translation can sometimes be A little difficult to understand. But that is just me being nit picky. I haven’t finished reading yet but it seems fine if you remember to read between the lines sometimes. After all, some thing is always lost in translation. They also provide a Foreword and a Translator’s note in the front and Notes pages and an introduction to other works by Dostoevsky in the back of the book.