Crime and Punishment (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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Crime and Punishment, by Fyodor Dostoevsky, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics: ...
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Crime and Punishment (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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Overview

Crime and Punishment, by Fyodor Dostoevsky, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:
  • New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars
  • Biographies of the authors
  • Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events
  • Footnotes and endnotes
  • Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work
  • Comments by other famous authors
  • Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations
  • Bibliographies for further reading
  • Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate
All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.

Few authors have been as personally familiar with desperation as Fyodor Dostoevsky, and none have been so adept at describing it. Crime and Punishment—the novel that heralded the author’s period of masterworks—tells the story of the poor and talented student Raskolnikov, a character of unparalleled psychological depth and complexity. Raskolnikov reasons that men like himself, by virtue of their intellectual superiority, can and must transcend societal law. To test his theory, he devises the perfect crime—the murder of a spiteful pawnbroker living in St. Petersburg.

In one of the most gripping crime stories of all time, Raskolnikov soon realizes the folly of his abstractions. Haunted by vivid hallucinations and the torments of his conscience, he seeks relief from his terror and moral isolation—first from Sonia, the pious streetwalker who urges him to confess, then in a tense game of cat and mouse with Porfiry, the brilliant magistrate assigned to the murder investigation. A tour de force of suspense, Crime and Punishment delineates the theories and motivations that underlie a bankrupt morality.

Priscilla Meyer is Professor of Russian Language and Literature at Wesleyan University, in Middletown, Connecticut. She published Find What the Sailor Has Hidden, the first monograph on Vladimir Nabokov’s Pale Fire, and edited the first English translation of Andrei Bitov’s collection of short stories, Life in Windy Weather.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781593080815
  • Publisher: Barnes & Noble
  • Publication date: 2/1/2007
  • Series: Barnes & Noble Classics Series
  • Pages: 576
  • Sales rank: 38,719
  • Product dimensions: 5.19 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 1.44 (d)

Meet the Author

Priscilla Meyer is Professor of Russian Language and Literature at Wesleyan University, in Middletown, Connecticut. She published Find What the Sailor Has Hidden, the first monograph on Vladimir Nabokov’s Pale Fire, and edited the first English translation of Andrei Bitov’s collection of short stories, Life in Windy Weather.

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Read an Excerpt

From Priscilla Meyer’s Introduction to Crime and Punishment

In Russia prose fiction came into its own in the 1830s, centuries later than in Western Europe. The first Russian work that can be called a novel, Mikhail Lermontov’s A Hero of Our Time, was published in 1840; Fyodor Dostoevsky’s masterpiece of world literature, Crime and Punishment, appeared only twenty-six years later—a remarkably compressed development. Dostoevsky was aided by his intense reading of Victor Hugo, Honoré de Balzac, Johann Goethe, and other masters of European literature, while the extraordinarily dramatic events of his life—arrest, imprisonment, a death sentence, four years in a labor camp, exile from the capital—were part of the experiential basis for his thought about the philosophical, social, and religious issues of his time.

Russian censorship restricted discussion of social and political questions, which could be treated only indirectly in prose fiction. Russia was governed by an autocracy; there was no bourgeoisie, and the small educated class was cut off from the rest of the (largely illiterate) population. Serfdom was abolished only in 1861, as part of the reforms effected by Alexander II; his legal reforms introduced trial by jury in criminal cases in 1864. Dostoevsky implicitly comments on the reforms in the investigation, trial, and sentencing of Crime and Punishment’s protagonist, Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov.

Dostoevsky began writing Crime and Punishment as the confession of a young criminal. But in November 1865 he found the first-person narrative too constricting, and he burned the entire manuscript and began again in December, completing it a year later. The third-person narrative of the final version creates an interplay between Raskolnikov’s consciousness and the narrator’s viewpoint: At some points the two are in dialogue with each other; at others the narrator is within Raskolnikov’s mind, so much so that he conveys the hero’s internal dialogue. On the first page the narrator tells us, “[Raskolnikov] was hopelessly in debt to his landlady and was afraid of meeting her. This was not because he was cowardly and browbeaten, quite the contrary.” It is as if in the second sentence Raskolnikov is defending himself against the narrator’s charge of cowardice in the first.

Raskolnikov’s dual consciousness governs the structure of the entire book. In part one he oscillates between resolving to commit murder and renouncing his vile scheme; in the next five parts he alternates between asserting his right to murder and his anguish at having cut himself off from everyone by his act. These alternations reveal the conflict between Raskolnikov’s prideful intellect and his compassionate nature, which we see in his first dream, based on a childhood memory, in which he kisses the muzzle of a poor mare that is being beaten. In part one he twice acts on generous impulses, and each time subsequently disavows his acts with a rational argument: He leaves money on the Marmeladov family’s windowsill when he brings the drunken head of the household home, but then thinks, “What a stupid thing I’ve done . . . they have Sonia and I need it myself”; and he tries to help a seduced girl but then suddenly regrets it—“What is it to me?” In another alternation, he renounces his plan to murder the pawnbroker after he dreams of the mare, but then overhears the conversation in Haymarket Square that presents him with a perfect opportunity for his crime.

American readers have seen this duality as a kind of schizophrenia in the psychological sense, and Dostoevsky certainly explores that dimension of human ambivalence. But Russian readers see another aspect crucial to Dostoevsky’s concerns: the religious argument present in the smallest details of the novel. Raskolnikov’s name, not a common one, is Dostoevsky’s invention, based on the Russian word raskolnik (schismatic), one who has broken off from the church. The Russian Orthodox Church, which had undergone a schism in the seventeenth century, is a descendant of Greek Orthodoxy. Russians in the nineteenth century distinguished themselves from Western Europeans in part through their Eastern Christianity. They contrasted the more mystical tradition of the Orthodox church to the Western, Roman Catholic one, which they held to be legalistic in the tradition of Roman law and devoid of the spirit of Christian love they considered characteristic of the Russian peasantry, a spirit that united the Russian church and created a national religious community. Raskolnikov’s patronymic (the father’s name that Russians use in the place of a middle name), Romanovich, suggests that he has cut himself off from Orthodoxy and embraced a Western (Roman) worldview, characterized by faith in reason and a focus on the material world.
This opposition of Russian spiritual values to Western rationalism underlies the duality of Raskolnikov’s personality. This conflict was Dostoevsky’s deepest concern after his release from prison, at a time when Russian radicals began propagating Western ideas that Dostoevsky believed were based on a false vision of human nature. Raskolnikov is one of the bright young men from the provinces who has come to the capital to attend the university, where he is exposed to discussions of Western theories of economics and politics. These theories are based in a social-scientific approach that studies the material, knowable world using statistics and mathematical calculation—as in, for example, the enlightened self-interest and utilitarianism of Jeremy Bentham (1748–1832) and John Stuart Mill (1806–1873). The author of Utilitarianism (1863), Mill considered the goal of social legislation to be to provide “the greatest good for the greatest number,” calling it a “felicific calculus.” Dostoevsky takes up these ideas through the character of Peter Petrovich Luzhin, Raskolnikov’s prospective brother-in-law, who argues for enlightened self-interest: “Up until now, for instance, if I were told, ’love thy neighbor,’ what came of it? . . . It meant I had to tear my coat in half to share it with my neighbor and we both were left half naked.” Raskolnikov reduces this parody of economic theory to its essence: “If you carry out logically the theory you were advocating just now, it follows that people may be killed”—in other words, that human compassion can be replaced by economic utility and enlightened self-interest. Luzhin, whose name comes for the Russian word for puddle (luzha) embodies the economic principle, the primacy of monetary relations in social thought; he provides one of the ideas that influences Raskolnikov’s thinking. One of Raskolnikov’s initial reasons for his crime is (murkily) associated with the “good” of redistributing the pawnbroker’s wealth to the poor.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 406 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 407 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 2, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Incredible Book!!!

    This summer I wanted to read a book that was a "smart people book." So I thought I would read Crime and Punishment, since I love crime stories so much. I really did not expect myself to love this book so much. It was so intense and thrilling. I read the last 130 pages in one sitting it got so intense. During the last pages, all of the subplots finally climaxed and I realized they were more than just subplots. The ending was great, I nearly cried when the book was over. This is one of the few books that when I finished, I wanted to start reading it all over again. I would recommend this book to anyone, it is not such a hard read at all.

    12 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 22, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    A chilling, intellectually captivating novel

    Immediately upon reading the first few chapters of "Crime and Punishment" by Fyodor Dostoevsky, it should be blatantly obvious to any reader that this book is a brilliant classic. Upon first sight, this book would seem as though it would be a typical whodunit murder book, but on the contrary, the book revolves around not the details of the murder of a bitter pawnbroker in St. Petersburg, but the details of the conscience of a rather unscrupulous figure who is the protagonist, Raskolnikov. The psychological level upon which impoverished Raskolnikov functions on is beyond the scope of certainly what most people I know can even comprehend, delivering intricate insights into the mind of a genius who is capable of the most heinous crime a human can commit. The book is one I would recommend everyone read at least once in their lifetime, if they have the patience to press through somewhat difficult yet adaptable Russian names such as Zossimov, Koch, and Razumikhin, which can add to the confusion of the plot at times, and the energy to push through this fairly lengthy book. If you have the capacity to take on the self-inflicted wound that is a Dostoevsky book, by all means, conquer the mountain of a read, as although this book was the most difficult I have read, it is easily my favorite book. Because I have never read any of Dostoevsky's books other than "Crime and Punishment" and I quite honestly cannot even begin to recall books to compare to this paramount novel, I cannot recommend any books from my own experience. However, I can say that "Notes from the Underground" would be the next logical progression from this book, as it dives into existentialism, the psychological concept which Dostoevsky is most notorious for coining and developing. "Crime and Punishment" is a deep book that is worthy of any respectable reader's collection and time, due to its psychological complexity and captivating intellectual nature.

    9 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2009

    Deep

    This is a deep book. Deep in a typical Russian way. It is a comprehensive and accurate analyzation/documentation of a criminal's mind, which at the same time is the mind of a moral genius. There is no good or evil side, no black and white, as the Russians say: only grey.
    By the way, our protagonist is a stunning pretty boy, so as his best friend.

    7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 6, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Psychological Look At the Criminal Mind

    If you require a novel that is plot driven this novel is not for you. However, if you enjoy a novel with complex characters that delve into what motivates those characters this is the book for you.<br/><br/>Often our view of a murderer is one of absolutes. He/she is 1) purely evil, 2) pushed to commit the act, 3) temporarily insane, 4) driven to do it for survival, 5) or comes from a background that does not allow him/her to discern right from wrong. Dostoyevsky doesn't allow us off that easy. Raskolnikov does not fit tightly into any of those categories. He is well loved by family and friend, and although he commits a grusome, cold-blooded, and well thought out murder in the opening of the book, Raskolnikov makes sacrifices for those who are in need. The recipients of his good deeds are often those with whom he has little history.

    So why does Raskolnikov commit the murder? Dostoyevsky never provides concrete evidence to that end only suggestions.As stated above there is not a lot happening in the plot. Crime and Punishment is more about the mind of a complex individual. There are some wonderful subplots as well. The storyline of Sonya and Dounia add a lot to the reader's experience. Dostoyevsky has a talent for vividly enacting a scene. One of my favorite scenes is when Raskolnikov "confesses" to Zametov. I can just see it on the big screen.

    People are often intidmiated by Russian Lit. There is no need to be. This is an excellent read. I can see where the references to characters could throw some. Characters are often referred to by various names. My suggestion is to pay attention to the uniqueness of each character. You will begin to identify each by his or her characteristics.

    When you read reviews or commentaries on this book most attention is paid to Raskolnikov. However, I really loved Razumihin. Dostoyevsky also creates a delicious villain in Petrovitch.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 25, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Is he bitshat crazy? Is he superman? Is everyone bitshat crazy? Or is everyone and no one superman?

    A must-read. Even if you think that this will just be some boring, ridiculously long book that people only read because they have to, you will hate that you have to put it down to eat, sleep, and do real work. Be sure to read it before you have to, because it would be terrible to have to skim over parts because you are being made to finish it within a certain time frame.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 1, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Psychological thriller!

    Yes, the release of Crime and Punishment heralded the rise of the modern crime novel, but this book delves far beyond the shallow case-solving inanity of the typical "whodunit?" Dostoevsky, a master of the psychology of the human mind, portrays his characters perfectly, as real human beings, neither idealized nor vilified. Raskolnikov, the protagonist, murders an old woman and her sister, but in spite of his heinous crime, I really saw his humanity throughout the book as his psyche just tortures him to death. In fact, Dostoevsky is so good at crafting dynamic characters that he makes Svidrigailov seem more repulsive than Raskolnikov when, in reality, Svidrigailov has probably not committed any comparable crime. The story focuses mostly on the mental perturbations of Raskolnikov as he struggles with himself, practically becoming insane in the process. However, Dostoevsky fills his book with a delightfully varied cast of colorful characters to incorporate differing psychological aspects of, you guessed it, crime and punishment. I don't want to reveal too much in this review--suffice it to say that this is a superb literary achievement that you simply must own and read over and over again.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 19, 2008

    Crime and Punishment

    I have just finished reading Crime and Punishment by Fort Dostoevsky. It is my first Dostoevsky book, and I have really enjoyed it. He writes Very strong dialogue, characterization, and relating it to other social ideas and conflicts throughout history. <BR/> Crime and Punishment is pretty much about a man, Raskolnikov, who commits a crime at the beginning of the story. He begins to feel extremely depressed and you, as the reader, follow him through his mental delirium as he realizes how he has changed his like and the life of others around him. <BR/> Early in the book you learn that Raskolnikov models himself after Napoleon and his crimes against humanity. He believes that ¿the only thing that matters is to dare.¿<BR/> A lot of times when reading dialogue, some characters may sound unreal, as if the character would not actually say something as it was written. But Dostoevsky¿s characters sound real, which makes the characters and the overall book better and more enjoyable. <BR/> I would recommend Crime and Punishment to anyone who enjoys an emotional novel and has patience with a bit of a slower-moving plot. Overall, I believe this was a great book with many interesting meanings.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 1, 2008

    Quite Disappointing

    Of course I didn't want to read the book from the start, but as I am in an Advanced course at school I must. I did not enjoy reading Crime and Punishment. It has some improper grammar in it (ie: 'Raskolnikov waked up') Which can cause people to twitch, such as myself. If you're into long books that are hard to follow this is PERFECT for you!

    3 out of 28 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 27, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Crime and Punishment

    This was a very good book! Although it was long, I found myself unable to put it down; worth the buy.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 2, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Crime and punishment

    This book was a really good book, it was recommended to me by all my English teachers and i don't know a single person who hasn't read it. Its a great thriller which involves critical thinking. The details used are hard and gruesome which makes a dark tone and mood for a good detective novel!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 26, 2008

    Summer Homework a Pleasant Surprise!

    Wow! This book was so good! I had to read it over the summmer, and I loved it. Everyone complained 'oh, how horrible, he's Russian!' Well, even though I worry about how to pronounce his characters names, I loved this book! Everyone should read it.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 25, 2008

    Wonderful Story

    I recently decided to put myself through a classics program on my own. So many of the classics were not required in school. This is the second classic in my program and it was outstanding. For me, the first 50 or so pages were pretty dry, but after that it came alive. The story is great and the insight into St. Petersburg and Russian culture are interesting. It is a long read, but well worth it. Don't let the size of the book intimidate you!!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2000

    relating in a bad way

    The characters in this book remind you of the worst things in yourself. Raskolnikov, a romantic plagued by his mind, and Svidrigailov, the life swallowing debaucher. A mirror to those who think too much.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 23, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    This book made me think. It was philosophical and though at time

    This book made me think. It was philosophical and though at times I wanted to punch Rodya, I liked the book. And now I have a different outlook on life. Thanks to AP Literature and Composition.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 16, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Classic

    I've read this many times, and will probably read it many times more. Dostoevsky is one of my favorite authors for delving into the psyche of his characters in detail, sometimes flawed detail. It's a must read, and one that I hope the young adults out there are fascinated with, as I was so long ago...

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 14, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    True Russian classic

    This is a great book. There are few books that better portray a deranged criminal mind. Dostoevsky does such a good job of character development that the charactrers really feel real to the reader. This book can seem a little long and boring at times, but overall I feel that it was worth reading. It really does give me a better understanding of the darker side of the human psyche.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 15, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    a great story

    An old lady and her sister are brutally murdered with an ax. A smart<BR/>detective starts investigation. Who did it?<BR/><BR/>Just kidding...

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 2, 2008

    Great book, great read

    I love to read books that introduce me to something new. Crime and Punishment was not only a great story, but also served as a window into russian culture (something I knew next to nothing about. I highly recomend this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2008

    A Wonderful Book

    ¿Crime And Punishment¿ is written by Fyodor Dostoyevsky and published by New American Library in New York 1968. I thought this book was interesting and a true mind twister. It makes the readers search deep into themselves as the obviously mad man goes wild with confusion. Raskolnikov, a poor student, thinks he is wonderful and makes a theory where the extraordinary men of the world have a right to commit any crime if they have something to offer humanity. To prove his theory, he murders an old, despicable pawnbroker and her half-sister. Immediately after the crime, he becomes sick and stays in his room for a while. When he recovers, he finds that his friend Razumihkin, looked for him. While he is recovering, he gets a visit from his sister¿s fiancé Luzhin. Raskolnikov insults Luzhin and sends him away because he doesn¿t like his attitude toward Dunya. As soon as he can go out again, Raskolnikov reads about the crime in all the newspapers of the last few days. He meets an official from the police station and almost confesses the crime. He becomes suspicious. When he returns to his room, he finds his mother and sister who have just arrived to prepare for the wedding with Luzhin. He refuses to allow his sister to marry such a mean and nasty man. At the same time, Svidrigailov, Dunya¿s former employer, arrives in town and looks up Raskolnikov and asks for a meeting with Dunya. Svidrigailov had attempted to seduce Dunya and when Raskolnikov heard of it, he naturally formed a violent dislike for the man. Raskolnikov hears that the police inspector, Porfiry, is interviewing all people who had ever had any business with the old pawnbroker. He goes for an interview and leaves thinking that the police suspect him. He meets Sonya Marmeladov, the daughter of a dead man that he had helped. He goes to her and asks her to read him the story of Lazarus. He feels sympathy for Sonya who had been forced into prostitution in order to support her family while her father drank constantly. He promises to tell her who murdered the old pawnbroker and her sister who was a friend of Sonya¿s. After another interview with Porfiry Raskolnikov decides to confess to Sonya. He gies back to her and during the confession, Svidrigailov is listening through a door. He uses this information to try to force Dunya to sleep with him. She refuses and he kills himself later in the night. Porfiry informs Raskolnikov that he knows who murdered the pawnbroker. After talking with Sonya, Raskolnikov fully confesses to the murder and is sentenced to eight years in a Siberian prison. Sonya follows him, and with her help, Raskolnikov begins his new life. This is an interesting and intriguing book ranking with the classics of Shakespeare and some of the greats.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 13, 2007

    Fantastic Story

    What a fantastic story this is. Sometimes we read classics and get too caught up in symbolism and meaning. Crime and Punishment is just a great story. While vivid descriptions make reading the book like watching a movie, the story carries you through the multitude of pages quite easily. The game of cat and mouse between Raskolinov and Porfiry is intriguing and the inner struggle of yound Rodia, puts you in to his shoes as he walks a thin line between theory and delerium. Read this book!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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