Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Raskolnikov felt sick
But he couldn’t say why
When he saw his face reflected
In his victim’s twinkling eye
Some things you do for money
And some you’ll do for fun
But the things you do for love
Are gonna come back to you one by one -The Mountain Goats, “Love, Love, Love”

Fact: Everything I knew about Crime and Punishment before reading it was from the song above (full lyrics to the song available here). I do mean everything. And I only knew that because I had no idea what he was talking about in the song, so I looked it up and realized Raskolnikov was a character from Crime and Punishment. The song is a scathing look at how loving yourself leads to the most selfish, hurtful sorts of acts. And Raskolnikov is unarguably someone who was in love with his own ideas. The result is, of course, murder.

I always feel reasonably well-acquainted with the Russian novels, but after I finished this one, I realized that the only other one I’d actually read was Anna Karenina. I want to read The Brothers Karamazov; I feel that I should read War and Peace. But enough about those other Russian novels . . . what about Crime and Punishment?

It’s ridiculous to think that I could have anything to add to the discussion of such a classic novel, so I will simply say that I am glad that I read it and that my book club had a good discussion of it. Because of the song above, I viewed it primarily through the lens of selfish self-love and that gave me a different angle for the discussion than my fellow book club members had. This is not a book that deeply resonated with me, and I was distressed to think that the character who really got on my nerves was supposed to represent Christ, but I am glad I read it. Reading is easy for me, most of the time, and it’s good to have to read a book that requires some discipline. And when it comes to discipline, well, what’s better than Russian novels?

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