So, everyone remembers how these Classics Corner posts were to be published to Baffled Books and Words That Fly alternatively. Well, our fun idea was that instead of making you guys switch every week, you can find all the Classics Corner posts in one place. So you’ll find all my posts on Baffled Books and all their Classics Corner posts over here. I’ve been tardy in uploading them though so this will be the first of Baffled Books’. This particular post is compliments of K from Baffled Books. Enjoy!
‘Who is the murderer?’ he repeated as though unable to believe his ears ‘Why, you, Rodion Romanovitch! You are the murderer,’ he added almost in a whisper…
Rodion Romanovitch Raskolnikov, a 23 year old ex-student, murders and robs a pawnbroker and her sister. Prior to this act of violence, Raskolnikov had quit his job and had been lying all cloistered up in his little ‘garret’ in St. Petersburg. He was taken with an idea that ultimately leads him into the world of theft and murder. The story itself really begins to develop after the deed is done, so the main focus of the story seems to be dealing with our protagonist’s gradual psychological degeneration caused by his overburdened conscience.
There is also his fear of discovery which is heightened by those who seem concerned about his health , and wish to know what could have brought on this mysterious ‘illness’. Amongst them is my favourite character, the magistrate charged in solving the murders, Porfiry Petrovitch. Porfiry reminds me of the ‘Jew Hunter’ from the Tarantino film, ‘Inglorious Basterds’, always smiling and laughing, but this is just a method of disarming whoever he may be questioning…it is all just a façade to conceal a cold and calculating interior. It seems that, from a few facts, he has deduced that our protagonist is the murderer, or at least knows more that he claims; Raskolnikov being the last to come forward about his ‘pledges’, an article written by our protagonist excluding certain ‘extraordinary’ individuals from the confines of the law and our protagonist’s ‘illness’ that seems to coincide with the murders.
When I think of Raskolnikov’s character, I sometimes have trouble separating him from Patricia Highsmith’s Tom Ripley, from her book ‘The Talented Mr. Ripley’. I know their motivations were different, but what is similar is that one has a chance to see the plot unfold from the perspective of the criminal. The other similarity, is that on some level one can’t help but view the protagonist in a sympathetic light. Despite the heinous acts that he has committed he is the character in the story that you know best.
I liked that Raskolnikov is never apologetic, at least outwardly, about killing the pawnbroker. As far he was concerned she was profiting off the misery of others. In a conversation he is having with Sonia, a religious young woman who has been forced into prostitution because her circumstances, he states,
“I’ve only killed a louse, a useless, loathsome, harmful creature.”
In terms of character development in general , I found that it was through dialogue that many of the characters began to come alive in my mind. The only exception to this rule would be Raskolnikov, because from the very beginning of the novel you have access to all his thoughts. The perspective is in the 3rd person so one does get glimpses in to the heads of some of the other more significant characters.
I really enjoyed this story. In truth I only read it because I have promising myself that should read more classics, but reading this novel has been quite an experience.
Publisher: Collectors Library Translator: Constance Garnett Length: 721 pages