Thursday, January 8, 2015

Rereading Crime and Punishment

A view of Nevsky Prospekt in St Petersburg (1876)
by Petr Petrovich Vereshchagin.
Does the weather ever put you in the mood for certain books? Winter always makes me think I should be reading some Russian novel or something by Kafka. I've been thinking for years I should reread Crime and Punishment. I first read it long ago when I was in high school. (Yes, it was assigned reading.) Was it the setting or the characters that so grabbed my attention? I don't know, but it was one of those books that fueled my lifelong love of reading. A sense of place is important to me in a book. I like to be transported somewhere alien and lose myself in the sights and sounds of a foreign place. Dostoyevsky's St. Petersburg feels very real to me, like I've lived in those cramped garrets. And somehow Dostoyevsky makes me feel compassion for characters that I would find reprehensible if I ever met them.

So, I started rereading it a few days ago. It was as good as I remembered and I let the story envelop me, like curling up under warm blankets on a winter night, which is an odd metaphor because the story opens during the hottest part of the summer. Many readers don't like the long (we're talking page-length) sections of dialogue. It's a far cry from modern novels. I'm amazed that Dostoyevsky can pull it off. I like to think of that style not as characters talking in monologues but of multiple narrators, each one telling a story in their particular voice.

I'm taking a leisurely stroll through the novel as I read other books and stories on the side. I already know what's going to happen. I saw The Castle on my bookshelf the other day. I plan to dive into Kafka's world after I finish with Dostoyevsky's.

Anyone else planning to reread a favorite book or two this year?


  1. There are books I love to reread, but I have such a huge TBR list, I rarely get a chance to reread something. Have a good weekend! :)

  2. I found that the reason I need to keep my "Goodreads Challenge" list numbers low is that I need to have space in my life for re-reading my favorites. Old favorite books are like old favorite friends. I also re-read some books to study the writing craft in them. For this year, I plan to re-read The Hobbit (an old friend), Ender's Game (another old friend), a bunch of fantasy short story collections (I reread these nearly every year), the Bible (old friend), and Wool by Hugh Howey (walking through how he got me hooked and kept me reading - taking notes). I'll also be re-reading a few Shakespeare plays with my daughters for homeschooling (old friends, again). Ah, books. Oh, and I hope I have time to re-read The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet (a contemporary book I really enjoyed a few years ago).
    I need to try Crime and Punishment and The Castle . . . but my kids are studying Greek and Latin literature (translated already, of course) so I'll probably be reading some of that with them for my "literary" reading.

  3. Keeping with the Russian theme, it's time for a reread of Anna Karenina. I could also reread East of Eden and An American Tragedy again.