Crime and Punishment

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CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 19 Ιαν 2014 - 538 σελίδες
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Crime and Punishment is a novel by the Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky. It was first published in the literary journal The Russian Messenger in twelve monthly installments during 1866. It was later published in a single volume. It is the second of Dostoyevsky's full-length novels following his return from ten years of exile in Siberia. Crime and Punishment is the first great novel of his "mature" period of writing.

Crime and Punishment focuses on the mental anguish and moral dilemmas of Rodion Raskolnikov, an impoverished ex-student in St. Petersburg who formulates and executes a plan to kill an unscrupulous pawnbroker for her cash. Raskolnikov argues that with the pawnbroker's money he can perform good deeds to counterbalance the crime, while ridding the world of a worthless vermin. He also commits this murder to test his own hypothesis that some people are naturally capable of such things, and even have the right to do them. Several times throughout the novel, Raskolnikov justifies his actions by comparing himself with Napoleon Bonaparte, believing that murder is permissible in pursuit of a higher purpose.

Reception

The first part of Crime and Punishment published in the January and February issues of The Russian Messenger met with public success. Although the remaining parts of the novel had still to be written, an anonymous reviewer wrote that "the novel promises to be one of the most important works of the author of The House of the Dead". In his memoirs, the conservative belletrist Nikolay Strakhov recalled that in Russia Crime and Punishment was the literary sensation of 1866.

The novel soon attracted the criticism of the liberal and radical critics. G.Z. Yeliseyev sprang to the defense of the Russian student corporations, and wondered, "Has there ever been a case of a student committing murder for the sake of robbery?" Pisarev, aware of the novel's artistic value attempted in 1867 another approach: he argued that Raskolnikov was a product of his environment, and explained that the main theme of the work was poverty and its results. He measured the novel's excellence by the accuracy and understanding with which Dostoyevsky portrayed the contemporary social reality, and focused on what he regarded as inconsistencies in the novel's plot. Strakhov rejected Pisarev's contention that the theme of environmental determinism was essential to the novel, and pointed out that Dostoyevsky's attitude towards his hero was sympathetic: "This is not mockery of the younger generation, neither a reproach nor an accusation-it is a lament over it."

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One of the most powerful and significant authors in all modern fiction, Fyodor Dostoevsky was the son of a harsh and domineering army surgeon who was murdered by his own serfs (slaves), an event that was extremely important in shaping Dostoevsky's view of social and economic issues. He studied to be an engineer and began work as a draftsman. However, his first novel, Poor Folk (1846), was so well received that he abandoned engineering for writing. In 1849, Dostoevsky was arrested for being a part of a revolutionary group that owned an illegal printing press. He was sentenced to be executed, but the sentence was changed at the last minute, and he was sent to a prison camp in Siberia instead. By the time he was released in 1854, he had become a devout believer in both Christianity and Russia - although not in its ruler, the Czar. During the 1860's, Dostoevsky's personal life was in constant turmoil as the result of financial problems, a gambling addiction, and the deaths of his wife and brother. His second marriage in 1887 provided him with a stable home life and personal contentment, and during the years that followed he produced his great novels: Crime and Punishment (1886), the story of Rodya Raskolnikov, who kills two old women in the belief that he is beyond the bounds of good and evil; The Idiots (1868), the story of an epileptic who tragically affects the lives of those around him; The Possessed (1872), the story of the effect of revolutionary thought on the members of one Russian community; A Raw Youth (1875), which focuses on the disintegration and decay of family relationships and life; and The Brothers Karamazov (1880), which centers on the murder of Fyodor Karamazov and the effect the murder has on each of his four sons. These works have placed Dostoevsky in the front rank of the world's great novelists. Dostoevsky was an innovator, bringing new depth and meaning to the psychological novel and combining realism and philosophical speculation in his complex studies of the human condition.

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