Literary Reaction


A literary detonation is perhaps not as powerful as a nuclear one, but close!

I have mentioned now and then Dostoevsky’s novel Crime and Punishment in sermons. These mentions have been peripheral and slight, but I’ve made no secret that I find Dostoevsky fascinating. So, as it goes, sometimes someone will take me seriously. And that can get me in trouble. Today I received an e-mail (reprinted here by permission):

Thanks so much for talking about ‘Crime and Punishment’ like it was a classic that needed to be read – I went out and bought it, and now I’m thoroughly disgusted and disturbed!  I’ve only made it to the crime part, where he just bashed in the heads of the mean pawnbroker and her poor simpering sister, and I haven’t cracked it since Monday.

”This better get better….“

Do I detect an ‘or else’ in that last statement? Yikes! I’m not sure now what she hasn’t ‘cracked since Monday’, but I appeal to her to stay away from axes!

I do understand her frustration. The ‘crime’ occurs about one-quarter into the book, and is very brutal and very senseless, but it is an act that is consistent with the philosophic presuppositions of the perpetrator. I did respond to her, but before I share my response, I’d like others of you to take a shot at doing so. I’d like to know what you think.

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2 thoughts on “Literary Reaction

  1. Gus&Adri

    I read the book a longtime ago and have forgotten many of the details of what happens after the crime, except for the horrible desperation of the criminal. I think you encapsulated the summary of the book in your analysis of the motivation.GE

  2. MagistraCarminae

    Like Gus&Adri (whichever one they are…) I read it many years ago. It is a tough book to take, and is about the way the beliefs of the criminal affect what he has done. If you hang in to the end, you get a slight glimmer of hope in the last sentence or two…D. is tough for me to read, also. I prefer fluff and clarity, but D. makes you think and wonder at the fallen nature of our world, and where redemption is to be had. My eldest son would wax eloquently about the beauty of tragedy because of how it reflects the nature of man and this world and our sense of what ought to happen but doean’t. Hang in there!

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