Because I wrecked my car some time ago, I rely on city buses to get around town. It’s not so bad, but one of the main problems with it for me is that I’m kind of stuck on campus during my breaks between classes; I can’t go home like everyone else. So, my solution to this is bringing my Nook everyday and reading. Lately, I’ve been reading the great Russian classic, Crime and Punishment.
And I must say, I really, really enjoy it.
I’ve come to realize this is partly because of my strong identification with the protagonist, the former student Rodion Raskolnikov, known as “Rodya” to his friends and family. Raskolnikov is poor, lives in a small apartment owned by an absurdly shy landlady and is brought meals by her nosy employee. As mentioned above, he was a student at the university before he decided to leave.
He is brilliant, but moody. Sometimes he is desperate for human interaction, other times he desires fiercely to be left completely alone. He sometimes displays extraordinary empathy, and sometimes none at all. He is absorbed in his nihilistic thoughts, and almost Nietzsche-like views. He believes, at first, that good and evil are simply constructs, and that he is above them, and this is partly how he justifies his murder of a hateful old lady (the other part being that he intended to steal her money and use it for public benefit). He can be terribly irritable, even to his own mother and sister, whom he deeply loves, in actuality. And all these things, sans the murder, remind me strongly of myself.
But he is human; he is haunted by guilt, manifesting often in terrible nightmares. His crime begins to drive him to the brink of insanity. He begins to act suspiciously, almost on purpose, because deep down he hopes he will be realized and turned in for the crime.
Reading the novel, I feel strongly for Raskolnikov and his plight; I can identify with him. And I have not finished the book yet, but as it is a classic, and I have heard about it before, I do have a vague notion of how it ends: he turns himself in, and finds redemption in his sentence of exile. With the help of a prostitute with whom he has just begun a relationship, his views on things change.
I hope to someday meet someone who can help calm my mind, as Sonia (the prostitute) does for Raskolnikov. I also hope to change, to become less bitter, less of a nihilist, less of a person in constant inner suffering and turmoil.
Only time will tell if these frail hopes are ever realized. For now, I am finished writing this post. I want to get back to reading Crime and Punishment.
I want to read the ending for myself.