Customer Reviews: Crime and Punishment (Bantam Classics)
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on July 8, 2010
Crime and Punishment is one great novel. However, we have a bit of misleading marketing going on here. Make sure you're buying the version you think you're buying before you order. "Crime and Punishment" published by General Books LLC is a poor quality scanned in version. If you do the "Look Inside" thing on this book, you'll see the inside of another version of the book, NOT the one you will receive.

To give you a few quotes from the publishers website: "We created your book using OCR software ..... with up to 3,500 characters per page, even one percent can be an annoying number of typos.... After we re-typeset ... your book, the page numbers change so the old index and table of contents no longer work .... we usually remove them. .... Our OCR software can't distinguish between an illustration and a smudge or library stamp so it ignores everything except type. ..... We created your book using a robot who turned and photographed each page. Our robot is 99 percent accurate. But sometimes two pages stick together. And sometimes a page may even be missing from our copy of the book. .....". There's no manual editing whatsover.

You get the general idea. Unfortunately, books published by General Books LLC are named, seemingly intentionally, so that they have reviews associated with much better quality imprints. General Books LLC is an imprint of VDM Published (google them on Wikipedia), which is flooding Amazon with poor quality reprints and, unfortunately, many of them have the reviews associated with the original or with beter quality imprints associated with them.

Seems like it's Caveat Emptor on Amazon these days as Amazon certainly doesn't seem to be doing anything to protect it's customers from this Publisher.
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on March 20, 2011
This is not the version of the book I clicked on! When you look at the (paperback) edition of Crime and Punishment translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, it says right below it, "Start reading Crime and Punishment on your Kindle..." and also lists the different versions available - paperback, hardcover, etc. - and includes a Kindle Edition. But when you click on either, you get this, which is a completely different translation. Pevear and Volokhonsky have been widely praised, their translations now considered far and away the best English versions available of various classic works of Russian Literature. But Amazon lumps everything with the same title as if it were the same product. Some of the customer-uploaded images of the book's cover even say that it is the Pevear and Volokhonsky version, but it is not. It's a 1914 translation by Constance Garnett.

This is the reason people started to hate big box and online bookstores when they first started putting neighborhood bookstores out of business -- because they don't seem to care about books, just making money. But what's funny here is that they could actually charge money for the better translation, since it's new, but instead they choose to give away an inferior version and pretend it's the same thing. (They do offer the Pevear and Volokhonsky version of Demons for a price - a version easier to distinguish because the newer translation even changes the title from the less-accurate The Possessed - versions with that title are available for free.) Also, because they don't distinguish between different translations, there is no button available under the Pevear and Volokhonsky version to request that the publisher make it available for Kindle.

It's also difficult to know what version of a book is being reviewed sometimes. I'll be reading reviews on the Kindle Edition page, and the reviewer will describe the fine leather binding. This is especially frustrating now that I realize the actual content - the language - of the book I'm buying could be different from the one I read about online.

Since getting my Kindle, I've been impressed by the machine itself, but thoroughly unimpressed by Amazon's handling of content. They should focus less exclusively on getting people to buy the device, and work harder at improving the way they sell books and other content for it.
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on April 14, 2000
I initially approached this book with a great deal of trepidation. I had never read Dostoyevsky, and was concerned that I would get bogged down in some lengthy, mind-numbingly boring, nineteenth-century treatise on the bestial nature of man or something. I am happy to report this is not the case. Instead, and to my delight, it is a smoothly flowing and fascinating story of a young man who succumbs to the most base desire, and the impact this has both psychologically and otherwise on himself and those around him.

To be sure, the book seems wordy in places, but I suspect this has to do with the translation. And what translator in his right mind would be bold enough to edit the great Dostoyevsky? But this is a very minor problem.

What we get with Dostoyevsky is dramatic tension, detailed and believable human characters, and brilliant insight into human nature. Early in the novel our hero meets and has a lengthy conversation with Marmeladov, a drunkard. This conversation is never uninteresting and ultimately becomes pathetic and heartbreaking, but I kept wondering why so much time was spent on it. As I got deeper into the book, I understood why this conversation was so important, and realized that I was in the hands of a master storyteller. This is also indicative of the way in which the story reveals itself. Nothing is hurried. These people speak the way we actually speak to one another in real life, and more importantly, Dostoyevsky is able to flesh out his characters into whole, three-dimensional human beings.

And what a diverse group of characters! Each is fleshed out, each is marvelously complex. Razujmikhin, the talkative, gregarious, good-hearted, insecure and destitute student; Sonia, the tragic child-prostitute, with a sense of rightness in the world; Petrovich, the self-important, self-made man, completely out of touch with his own humanity; Dunia, the honorable, wronged sister: we feel like we know these people because we've met people like them. They fit within our understanding of the way human beings are.

Dostoyevsky also displays great insight into human nature. Svidrigailov, for example, talks of his wife as liking to be offended. "We all like to be offended," he says, "but she in particular loved to be offended." It suddenly struck me how true this is. It gives us a chance to act indignantly, to lash out at our enemies, to gain favor with our allies. I don't believe I've ever seen this thought expressed in literature before. In fact, it never occurred to me in real life!

Petrovich, Dunia's suitor, not only expects to be loved, but because of his money, and her destitution, he expects to be adored! To be worshipped! He intentionally sought out a woman from whome he expected to get this, and is comletely flummoxed when she rejects him. His is an unusual character, but completely realized.

There is so much more to talk about: the character of Raskolnikov, which is meticulously and carefully revealed; the sense of isolation which descends on him after committing his crime; the cat and mouse game played on him by the police detective. I could go on and on. I haven't even mentioned the historical and social context in which this takes place. Suffice to say this is a very rich book.
Do not expect it to be a rip-roaring page turner. Sit down, relax, take your time, and savor it. It will be a very rewarding experience. And thank you SL, for recommending it.
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on April 24, 2001
Crime and Punishment centers upon the story of a young Russian student, Raskolnikov, who plots and carries out a brutal murder. However, this is less than a quarter of the story. The rest centers upon his attempts to come to terms with the philosophical and psycological consequences of his act. Aiding, or hindering, him in this endevor are a series of characters from the kind-hearted prostitute Sonia and her drunken father, the unrepentant scoundrel Svidrigailov, Raskolnikov's best friend Razumihin, and the police detective come amateur psychologist Porfiry Petrovich. Though the story develops slowly, with many detours, Raskolnikov's journey through crime and punishment remains gripping until the very last page.
I first encountered Crime and Punishment in the classic translation by Constance Garnett and loved it for Dostoyevsky's careful balance of character and philosophy. Dostoyevsky's genius lies in his ability to create simultaneously a psychological novel and a novel of ideas. Though each character represents a certain philosophy of life, they never become lifeless or stereotyped. Instead, each is a memorably developed and psychologically deep person, who could easily carry a story in their own right. Dostoyevsky's genius is in the perfect counterpoint between conflict of personality and conflict of philosophy between each of these fascinating people. Dostoyevsky also specializes in garnering the reader's interest and sympathy for the most unlikely characters. This is a novel, after all, with an ax murderer as the protagonist.
However, until I read this new translation of Dostoyevsky, I never realized that besides psychologist and philosopher, Dostoyevsky was also a masterful stylist. Pevear and Volokhonsky succeed in faithfully translating the literal meaning of the original Russian, while still capturing the vivid liveliness of Dostoyevsky's prose. The heat of a St. Petersburg summer night fairly radiates off the page in the first part, while his descriptions of Raskolnikov's cramped bedroom gave me claustrophobia.
Admittedly, this is no beach-read thriller. The Russian names can be confusing, and Dostoyevsky's manages to be both dense and long-winded. Nontheless, this is one of the greatest works of fiction ever written that should be read both as a "classic book" and as a gripping psychological exploration of crime.
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on May 10, 2005
Just a quick note to point out that if you're gonna read "Crime and Punishment" in English, the Jesse Coulson translation is indisputably the best one published to date.

Avoid at all costs the Garnett translation (as ubiquitous as it is stuffy), and try to keep away from the recently done one, the Pevear and Volokhonsky job (said to be breezy and inaccurate). The Sidney Monas translation (published in the Signet edition) is unimaginative, limp, and lifeless, lacking the oft-remarked vigor of Dostoevsky's prose. No, no: Coulson has never been outdone. Too bad he never did the Brothers K.

The only drawback with the Coulson translation, I must say, is that this guy does inject a lot of British slang, much of which can't be precisely deciphered even with the aid of a good desk dictionary. This is irritating.

However, the clarity and force of his work more than makes up for that shortcoming. He really knows how to make his characters speak differently, his descriptions are vivid and forceful, and the rhythm and dynamism of his prose can really knock you for a loop.

Admittedly, I'm not qualified to state whether all these characteristics were Dostoevsky's own and have merely been faithfully rendered into English by Coulson, or whether Coulson improved upon a stuffy and awkward original, as is perhaps suggested by the plethora of disagreeable translations. All I know is that using this translation will make your descent into Raskolinkov's world much more rewarding and memorable.

I should also note that the Coulson version is the translation employed in the Oxford World's Classics edition, which is also in print and available from Amazon. Naturally, that edition doesn't have all the critical essays the Norton edition has, but its footnotes are far more numerous and superior.
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on July 23, 2006
If you read one murder novel in the rest of your life, read "Crime and Punishment" by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. It's only 500 pages but it speaks volumes.

I discovered Dostoyevsky a few months ago while I was deployed to Iraq and my literary world will never been the same.

I found a copy of "The Brothers Karamazov" in a pile of miscellenious books that had been dedicated to troops to boost morale and took it to a literary savvy Lt. Col. I knew. When I showed him my find, he insisted I read Crime and Punishment first. I'm certainly glad I decided to take his advice.

Crime and Punishment tells the story of a brutal murder in pre- revolutionary Russa and the emotional torment of the eccentric murderer, Raskolnikov. The book is as dark and suspenseful as anything I've ever read, but it also manages to convey things on the opposite end of the emotional spectrum like redemption and love. My favorite passage of the book (a hard pick, for sure) is when Porfiry, a jovial but formitable detective, interrogates Raskolnikov.

The deployment is over, but my infatuation with Dostoyevsky's books has just begun. I'm now reading "The Idiot" and enjoying it, though it's too early to see if it matches "Crime and Punishment."

Whether you are deployed to the farthest reaches of the world or sitting comfortably at home, "Crime and Punishment" promises to be an exhilerating read.
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on February 12, 2001
Many of the 'classic novels' I have read were originally written in English, and therefore forego translation in modern bindings. Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment, although written in the latter half of the 19th century, holds up well to the conversion from the original Russian to English.
Rodion Raskolikov is a student, an author, an intellectual. Like countless others in Russia at the time, he is also very poor. His empassioned mind imagines that a local woman, a pawnbroker is evil, a parasite, for taking the valued trinkets of her neighbors and paying them a pittance in return, and for holding promisary notes over their heads. His rage turns to murder, justifying his actions later on as doing a greater good for many by taking the life of this one person. However, his crime is two-fold, as he is discovered by the woman's sister, still with the murder weapon in his hands, and in a moment of terrified frenzy, murders her as well.
The bulk of this novel, exquisitly written, is the slow realization of Raskolnikov that his crime was just that, a crime, no matter how good his intent. Raskolnikov struggles with the guilt of his actions, even as he time and again proves his worthiness as a person in his actions regarding others, giving up his last bit of money to help another less fortunate than himself, attending to a dying man in the streets, trying to secure a good future for his sister, with a worthy man. Raskolnikov, as the reader discovers, is a good and decent man.
The underlying message of this book seems to be that even a man of conscience cannot commit an unconscienable act without repurcussion, without 'punishment', and that no matter how justified you think you may be in your actions, no matter how many good deeds you may do, with conscience there is always a higher authority to answer to, that of your own mind, and what you can or cannot live with.
Dostoevsky had been described to me as dry, turgid reading. I found it to be nothing of the sort. The story never drags on or belabours a point without logic and qualification. The characters, although the focus of the story is Raskolnikov, are all well realized, and developed.
The story itself remains interesting and engaging throughout every page, with a well crafted conundrum once you reach the epilogue, and leaves the reader, at least this one, with a desire to read more about this man, beyond the final words of the book.
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on June 8, 2010
I chose to read this book in my quest to read all those books I was supposed to read in school and never did. I was expecting a long boring book, but I was so wrong!

There were only a couple parts (at the beginning) that were kinda slow, the rest was pure genius. The book had a lot more action than I expected, an amazing story line, great characters, and some of the best writing I've read. I started this book expecting to dislike it, and now it's my second favorite book I've ever read.

If you have a kindle and are looking for a new book to read, there is absolutely NO reason you shouldn't get this book. I would never have imagined myself saying "I couldn't put Crime and Punishment down!" but sure enough, it really was a page turner.

Again, get this book. You won't be disappointed, and it won't cost you a cent.
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on February 3, 2010
As a novel, I have no complaints about Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment. Personally, while it is not my favorite novel by Dostoevsky, it is the novel of his that I would recommend reading first; that is, I recommend it to people who are new to Dostoevsky and want to introduce themselves to the work of the great Russian novelist. In this review, I will comment briefly about the novel itself, and I will also give my opinion about this particular edition (i.e. the Oxford World's Classics edition).

As a novel, Crime and Punishment has long been adored by literary critics and well as by the general reading public. It is usually recognized as the first great novel by Fyodor Dostoevsky. The book was a popular and critical success in 1866 when it was first published in Russian. Fast forward to present day America. Dostoevsky's psychological tale of a crime and the psychological and real-world consequences of that crime on its transgressor has now been translated numerous times into English and remains a novel that, even today, is widely-read, critically respected and generally well-enjoyed by its modern audience.

The novel consists of six parts. The first part chronicles Raskalnikov (the main character) as he prepares to commit a crime. At the end of part one he actually goes through with his plan and commits the crime. The rest of the novel follows Raskalnikov as he: (1)struggles on a psychological and physical level with his own self; (2)interacts with his impoverished family, friends, and several newly-acquired acquaintances, including a (potential) love-interest named Sonya and her family; (3)becomes involved in a cat-and-mouse game with prosecuting officials; and (4), engages in fascinating and occasionally profound conversations with the villainous and enigmatic Svidrigailov.

Crime and Punishment is a showcase for what I consider to be the three great strengths of the novelist Dostoevsky. First, great -- all-too-human -- characters. Second, the novel is thought provoking: it examines important philosophical, social and moral issues. Third, the novel is entertaining. It offers suspense and heartfelt human interactions.

Now, a brief word on this (the Oxford World's Classics) edition of Crime and Punishment. Let me say: there is nothing inherently wrong with the Oxford Classics edition, and in general I find that they are well-made books of the highest quality and are full of helpful supplemental material. That said, I do not recommend said edition for this particular novel--not when there are other superior editions available through Amazon. I will briefly explain why I do not recommend it, and will then suggest several editions that I recommend instead.

The Oxford edition uses the Coulson translation. I admit, I do not speak or read Russian. But I have read lots of Dostoevsky in English; also, I have read many articles and books written about his work. I have read a number of different translations of Dostoevsky's work, and while I have no particular criticisms to make about the Coulson translation, I can merely say that it is not my favorite.

From what I've read, I believe that the translation by Richard Pevear and his wife Linda Volokhonsky to be the very best available. I hold their translation in high regard simply because I believe it best conveys the complete meaning of each line, and likewise, it best illuminates the core ideas and themes in Dostoevsky's writing. Additionally, the P/V translation was done recently, resulting in a usage of English that can be properly "digested" by contemporary readers. Pevear is one of the few American-born translators of Dostoevsky. Personally, as an American myself, I find some satisfaction in the idea that Pevear's way of thinking and looking at the world is more on par with my own.

The Pevear/Volokhonsky translation is available in paperback ($11.53 new,Crime and Punishment) and hardcover ($15.64 new,Crime and Punishment (Everyman's Library)). In these editions you will find: endnote annotations; a comparative chronology of world history, world literature, and Dostoevsky's own life; a select bibliography; and an insightful introduction by Dostoevsky scholar W.J. Leatherbarrow.

The other criticism I have of the Oxford World's Classics edition of C&P, is that it is not even the best available edition of Coulson translation. If you are deadset on reading the Coulson translation, then I strongly recommend Crime and Punishment (Norton Critical Editions) ($12.35 new). The Norton Critical Edition offers over 200 pages of supplemental material, including content from Dostoevsky's own notebooks, letters, early drafts of the novel; and around thirty critical essays by generations of renowned Dostoevsky scholars and contemporaries of the author.
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on October 21, 2009
If you have Kindle and have not read Dostoyevsky before - get it, read it - get to the end. The story can be perhaps a little slow at times - but when you get to end - it is well worth it (like mentioned by a previous reviewer) - it's an accomplishment.

Yes - the free kindle edition has no bells and whistles, and the translator comments are pretty dumbfound funny - like when the book makes a joke about showing up police station at before closing is "early" - commentator mentions that Dostoyevsky forgot what time it was (obviously someone don't get sarcasm in literature).

At least kindle edition keeps track of what page where you on & progress % - so 5 stars for the literature & 5 stars for it being free
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