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Penguin Classics Crime and Punishment Paperback – International Edition, April 29, 2014
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About the Author
- Publisher : Penguin Classic; UK ed. edition (April 29, 2014)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 720 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0141192801
- ISBN-13 : 978-0141192802
- Item Weight : 14.2 ounces
- Dimensions : 4.42 x 1.35 x 7.13 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #103,632 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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I'd love to find an audio version of this translation but haven't had any luck so far. In answer to reviewer marcus1's question, the version narrated by Nigel Anthony looks to be severely abridged and I think is a reading of the Constance Garnett translation. It's really disappointing that that's the version Amazon links to this translation. There are so many versions of the book available on Audible that the company might not be willing to do another. But maybe if enough of us show interest in a reading of this translation, they will consider it.
Top reviews from other countries
Apart from being an in-depth “psychological record of a crime” which must have been ground-breaking when first published in instalments in 1868 , this novel is also an indictment of appalling social conditions, more hard-hitting even than Dickens. It continually slips into farcical parodies of the social attitudes and beliefs of the day, including the dissent to which Dostoevsky himself was drawn as a youth. Raskolnikov's very name means "dissenter" - from the "normal" way of seeing the world.
A recurring theme is the arbitrary, contradictory nature of morality itself. For instance, Raskolnikov is appalled by the debauched behaviour of Arkady Svidrigailov, who has designs on his sister, but this rogue uses the money obtained from the wife he himself may have murdered, to provide substantial help for a number of needy people, something which Raskolnikov has failed to achieve. Raskolnikov’s “dead soul” is ultimately brought to life by the love of the almost saintly Sonya, who nevertheless consented to work as a prostitute to support her penniless family.
I was initially disappointed by the novel’s style which seems quite stilted and artificial. Yet lengthy monologues to provide an “information dump” or develop an argument were a feature of C19 novels. I could understand that Raskolnikov’s “stream of consciousness rants” might be justified as conveying a sense of his mental confusion and agitation. Yet other characters indulge in them as well, perhaps because the male characters are often drunk and the women hysterical and overwrought.
Finding it hard to decide how much my dissatisfaction was due to the shortcomings of the translation, I tried four, ending with the widely praised Penguin translation by Oliver Ready, and thought that Constant Garnett’s early version also looks good , yet all of them jarred or seemed unnatural at times. This made me wonder whether the challenge of translating into another language, even the vastly flexible and nuanced English, from Russian without losing too much of its essence is just too great.
It’s a matter of taste, but despite grasping the ideas Dostoevsky was seeking to develop, I find the work over-emotional, and too filled with jumbled thoughts of the type one might have in reality, but seek a writer who can unravel them. Bleaker and edgier, less sentimental than Dickens, it is on a higher plane of complexity.
I agree with a reviewer who liked the beginning and end the best. The opening part leading to the dreadful crime is focused, the writing in the epilogue has been described as “delicate” and is marked by a clarity and lucidity like the calm after a storm. In-between is a morass of digressions and ramblings punctuated by a few strong scenes of high drama or tension such as when the cunning Chief Investigator Porfiry Petrovich is playing a cat-and-mouse psychological game with the overwrought Raskolnikov, which would not be amiss in a modern detective yarn, or the confrontation near the end between Raskolnikov’s sister Avdotya, who shows a lot more sense than he does, and the manipulative villain Svidrigailov whose one true emotion is his love for her.
What interests me most about the novel is the extent to which it reflects the life of the author himself and the history of the period. I am sure that the more one knows about this, the greater one’s appreciation of the book. Dostoevsky must have been influenced through being sentenced to death by firing squad as a young man for some, to our minds, relatively minor revolt against the censorship of the day, only to be reprieved literally at the last minute, subsequently serving five years hard labour in a Siberian prison.
This should probably be read at least twice: the first time on a wave of momentum to see what happens, the second time more slowly, checking on, say, the copious notes accompanying the Oliver Ready translation.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 12, 2019
I decided to read this edition by Oliver Ready for two reasons. First, my old edition is in a box somewhere in my storage unit and I’ve no idea where it is. Second, I heard Oliver Ready talking about his translation on the radio a few months ago, and I thought I would give him a chance.
I will get my pedantry out of the way early. A translator has no business using poor grammar, no matter what the original text might be doing, so, please, no more “sat” where we should have “sitting” and no more “there’s” where we should have “there are”. These horrors may have crept into the vernacular, but there is no need to spoil a literary text with sloppy grammar.
Having said that, the translation on the whole does justice to a fantastic novel in that it “feels” like Dostoyevsky. Oliver Ready provides a very good introduction setting out key aspects of the author’s life that helped produce the novel, and the all-important political and cultural environment of Russia in the 1860s that led to all these “new ideas” that Luzhin tries to acquaint himself with. The translator also provides many useful notes explaining the geography of Petersburg and illuminating various topical references. These alone make this translation worthwhile.
When I think about my favourite writers, I find that most of them suffered in some way. In Dostoyevsky’s case, he lost his mother at 15, then his father was murdered by one of his serfs a couple of years later. Dostoyevsky was arrested for being a member of a liberal discussion group and he knew what it’s like to stand in front of a firing squad believing that in a few moments you’re going to be shot. He was reprieved at the last moment but then endured years of forced labour in Siberia, loaded with chains and manacles.
I’m not saying anything about the plot because either you know it or you don’t; and if you don’t know it, you ought to find out. I’m not in the habit of pestering people to read works by dead white males, but this is one book I would urge anyone to read.
Don't be daunted by the size of this novel, just read it! You won't regret it.