From the Publisher
“A truly great translation . . . Sometimes new translations of old favourites are surplus to our requirements. . . . Sometimes, though, a new translation really makes us see a favourite masterpiece afresh. And this English version of Crime and Punishment really is better. . . . Crime and Punishment, as well as being an horrific story and a compelling drama, is also extremely funny. Ready brings out this quality well. . . . That knife-edge between sentimentality and farce has been so skilfully and delicately captured here. . . . Ready’s version is colloquial, compellingly modern and—in so far as my amateurish knowledge of the language goes—much closer to the Russian. . . . The central scene in the book . . . is a masterpiece of translation.” —A. N. Wilson, The Spectator
“This vivid, stylish and rich rendition by Oliver Ready compels the attention of the reader in a way that none of the others I’ve read comes close to matching. Using a clear and forceful mid-20th-century idiom, Ready gives us an entirely new kind of access to Dostoyevsky’s singular, self-reflexive and at times unnervingly comic text. This is the Russian writer’s story of moral revolt, guilt and possible regeneration turned into a new work of art. . . . [It] will give a jolt to the nervous system to anyone interested in the enigmatic Russian author.” —John Gray, New Statesman, “Books of the Year”
“At last we have a translation that brings out the wild humour and vitality of the original.” —Robert Chandler, PEN Atlas
“[A] dazzlingly agile and robust new translation . . . Ready, who has a practiced ear for Russian dialect and a natural grace with English, is exceptionally deft at navigating [the novel’s] challenges. . . . [His] introduction teases out the novel’s ideological and literary subtexts engagingly, succinctly, and with great nuance. . . . His ability to reproduce the whole heady brew of Dostoyevsky’s novel in a consistent but nimble modern English . . . ought to be applauded.” —Los Angeles Review of Books
“A tour de force built from prose that is not only impeccable in its own right but also perfectly suited to the story, its characters, its epoch and themes. We should treasure this new translation and, indeed, this new book.” —New York Journal of Books
“[Ready’s] translation is nothing less than a wonder. He mirrors the tonal shifts in Dostoyevsky’s original more nimbly than any English-language translator has before, and he catches the dark humor that runs through the book mostly below its surface, and best of all, he captures the essential, unchanging absurdity of Raskolnikov perfectly. . . . This new Deluxe edition . . . has the advantage of feeling very sturdy in the hand—this is a Crime and Punishment truly built for the briefcase and backpack. [It] features a vibrant, eye-catching wraparound cover. . . . Ready’s version crackles with grubby, demented vitality—I’m hoping it, and this lovingly twisted Deluxe edition, enjoys a long life as the go-to edition in English.” —Steve Donoghue, Open Letters Monthly
“Ready’s lively translation . . . succeeds in . . . admirably capturing the psychological intensity of Dostoyevsky’s style. . . . [It] replicates natural speech patterns in a way that Pevear and Volokhonsky’s rather stilted translation does not. . . . [Ready’s] English prose is rhythmic and, at times, poetic. . . . It is [the novel’s] sense of frenzy that Ready so brilliantly captures in his new translation, which will ensure that another generation of readers remains enraptured by Crime and Punishment.” —Slavic and East European Journal
“Ready’s vivid, new version . . . is more than a Titanic idea of a great translation. It is the real thing. . . . Crisp and compelling, building on staccato rhythmic structures to heighten the novel’s dramatic tension, then elegantly sidling into Dostoyevsky’s abrupt denouement, his translation brings new life to a 150-year-old classic, rendering the familiar in fresh light.” —The Wichita Eagle
“A gorgeous translation . . . Inside one finds an excellent apparatus: a chronology, a terrific contextualizing introduction, a handy compendium of suggestions for further reading, and cogent notes on the translation. . . . But the best part is Ready’s supple translation of the novel itself. Ready manages to cleave as closely as any prior translator to both spirit and letter, while rendering them into an English that is a relief to read.” —The East-West Review
“Oliver Ready’s dynamic translation certainly succeeds in implicating new readers to Dostoyevsky’s old novel.” —The Times Literary Supplement
“What a pleasure it is to see Oliver Ready’s new translation bring renewed power to one of the world’s greatest works of fiction. . . . Ready’s work is of substantial and superb quality. . . . [His] version portrays more viscerally and vividly the contradictory nature of Raskolnikov’s consciousness. . . . Ready evokes the crux of Crime and Punishment with more power than the previous translators have . . . with an enviably raw economy of prose.” —The Curator
“[An] excellent new translation.” —Critical Mass
“Ready’s new translation of Crime and Punishment is thoughtful and elegant [and] shows us once again why this novel is one of the most intriguing psychological studies ever written. His translation also manages to revive the disturbing humor of the original. . . . In some places, Ready’s version echoes Pevear and Volokhonsky’s prize-winning Nineties version, but he often renders Dostoyevsky’s text more lucidly while retaining its deliberately uncomfortable feel. . . . Ready’s colloquial, economical use of language gives the text a new power.” —Russia Beyond the Headlines
“[A] five-star hit, which will make you see the original with new eyes.” —The Times Literary Supplement, “Books of the Year”
Read an Excerpt
ON AN EXCEPTIONALLY hot evening early in July a young man came out of the garret in which he lodged in S. Place and walked slowly, as though in hesitation, towards K. bridge.
He had successfully avoided meeting his landlady on the staircase. His garret was under the roof of a high, five-storied house and was more like a cupboard than a room. The landlady who provided him with garret, dinners, and attendance, lived on the floor below, and every time he went out he was obliged to pass her kitchen, the door of which invariably stood open. And each time he passed, the young man had a sick, frightened feeling, which made him scowl and feel ashamed. He was hopelessly in debt to his landlady, and was afraid of meeting her.
This was not because he was cowardly and abject, quite the contrary; but for some time past he had been in an overstrained irritable condition, verging on hypochondria. He had become so completely absorbed in himself, and isolated from his fellows that he dreaded meeting, not only his landlady, but any one at all. He was crushed by poverty, but the anxieties of his position had of late ceased to weigh upon him. He had given up attending to matters of practical importance; he had lost all desire to do so. Nothing that any landlady could do had a real terror for him. But to be stopped on the stairs, to be forced to listen to her trivial, irrelevant gossip, to pestering demands for payment, threats and complaints, and to rack his brains for excuses, to prevaricate, to lie - no, rather than that, he would creep down the stairs like a cat and slip out unseen.
This evening, however, on coming out into the street, he became acutely aware of his fears.
"I want to attempt a thing like that, and am frightened by these trifles," he thought, with an odd smile. "Hm … yes, all is in a man's hands and he lets it all slip from cowardice, that's an axiom. It would be interesting to know what it is men are most afraid of. Taking a new step, uttering a new word is what they fear most … But I am talking too much. It's because I chatter that I do nothing. Or perhaps it is that I chatter because I do nothing. I've learned to chatter this last month, lying for days together in my den thinking … of Jack the Giant-killer. Why am I going there now? Am I capable of that? Is that serious? It is not serious at all. It's simply a fantasy to amuse myself; a plaything! Yes, maybe it is a plaything."
The heat in the street was terrible: and the airlessness, the bustle and the plaster, scaffolding, bricks, and dust all about him, and that special Petersburg stench, so familiar to all who are unable to get out of town in summer - all worked painfully upon the young man's already overwrought nerves. The insufferable stench from the pot-houses, which are particularly numerous in that part of the town, and the drunken men whom he met continually, although it was a working day, completed the revolting misery of the picture. An expression of the profoundest disgust gleamed for a moment in the young man's refined face. He was, by the way, exceptionally handsome, above the average in height, slim, well-built, with beautiful dark eyes and dark brown hair. Soon he sank into deep thought, or more accurately speaking, into a complete blankness of mind; he walked along not observing what was about him and not caring to observe it. From time to time, he would mutter something, from the habit of talking to himself, to which he had just confessed. At these moments he would become conscious that his ideas were sometimes in a tangle and that he was very weak; for two days he had scarcely tasted food.
He was so badly dressed that even a man accustomed to shabbiness would have been ashamed to be seen in the street in such rags. In that quarter of the town, however, scarcely any shortcoming in dress would have created surprise. Owing to the proximity of the Hay Market, the number of establishments of bad character, the preponderance of the trading and working class population crowded in these streets and alleys in the heart of Petersburg, types so various were to be seen in the streets that no figure, however queer, would have caused surprise. But there was such accumulated bitterness and contempt in the young man's heart, that, in spite of all the fastidiousness of youth, he minded his rags least of all in the street. It was a different matter when he met with acquaintances or with former fellow students, whom, indeed, he disliked meeting at any time. And yet when a drunken man who, for some unknown reason, was being taken somewhere in a huge waggon dragged by a heavy dray horse, suddenly shouted at him as he drove past: "Hey there, German hatter" bawling at the top of his voice and pointing at him - the young man stopped suddenly and clutched tremulously at his hat. It was a tall round hat from Zimmerman's, but completely worn out, rusty with age, all torn and bespattered, brimless and bent on one side in a most unseemly fashion. Not shame, however, but quite another feeling akin to terror had overtaken him.
"I knew it," he muttered in confusion, "I thought so! That's the worst of all! Why, a stupid thing like this, the most trivial detail might spoil the whole plan. Yes, my hat is too noticeable … It looks absurd and that makes it noticeable … With my rags I ought to wear a cap, any sort of old pancake, but not this grotesque thing. Nobody wears such a hat, it would be noticed a mile off, it would be remembered … What matters is that people would remember it, and that would give them a clue. For this business one should be as little conspicuous as possible … Trifles, trifles are what matter! Why, it's just such trifles that always ruin everything …"
He had not far to go; he knew indeed how many steps it was from the gate of his lodging house: exactly seven hundred and thirty. He had counted them once when he had been lost in dreams. At the time he had put no faith in those dreams and was only tantalising himself by their hideous but daring recklessness. Now, a month later, he had begun to look upon them differently, and, in spite of the monologues in which he jeered at his own impotence and indecision, he had involuntarily come to regard this "hideous" dream as an exploit to be attempted, although he still did not realise this himself. He was positively going now for a "rehearsal" of his project, and at every step his excitement grew more and more violent.
With a sinking heart and a nervous tremor, he went up to a huge house which on one side looked on to the canal, and on the other into the street. This house was let out in tiny tenements and was inhabited by working people of all kinds - tailors, locksmiths, cooks, Germans of sorts, girls picking up a living as best they could, petty clerks, &c. There was a continual coming and going through the two gates and in the two courtyards of the house. Three or four door-keepers were employed on the building. The young man was very glad to meet none of them, and at once slipped unnoticed through the door on the right, and up the staircase. It was a back staircase, dark and narrow, but he was familiar with it already, and knew his way, and he liked all these surroundings: in such darkness even the most inquisitive eyes were not to be dreaded.
"If I am so scared now, what would it be if it somehow came to pass that I were really going to do it?" he could not help asking himself as he reached the fourth storey. There his progress was barred by some porters who were engaged in moving furniture out of a flat. He knew that the flat had been occupied by a German clerk in the civil service, and his family. This German was moving out then, and so the fourth floor on this staircase would be untenanted except by the old woman. "That's a good thing anyway," he thought to himself, as he rang the bell of the old woman's flat. The bell gave a faint tinkle as though it were made of tin and not of copper. The little flats in such houses always have bells that ring like that. He had forgotten the note of that bell, and now its peculiar tinkle seemed to remind him of something and to bring it clearly before him … He started, his nerves were terribly overstrained by now. In a little while, the door was opened a tiny crack: the old woman eyed her visitor with evident distrust through the crack, and nothing could be seen but her little eyes, glittering in the darkness. But, seeing a number of people on the landing, she grew bolder, and opened the door wide. The young man stepped into the dark entry, which was partitioned off from the tiny kitchen. The old woman stood facing him in silence and looking inquiringly at him. She was a diminutive, withered up old woman of sixty, with sharp malignant eyes and a sharp little nose. Her colourless, somewhat grizzled hair was thickly smeared with oil, and she wore no kerchief over it. Round her thin long neck, which looked like a hen's leg, was knotted some sort of flannel rag, and, in spite of the heat, there hung flapping on her shoulders, a mangy fur cape, yellow with age. The old woman coughed and groaned at every instant. The young man must have looked at her with a rather peculiar expression, for a gleam of mistrust came into her eyes again.