I’ve been on a bit of a reading spree lately. I wanted to finish a classic so I read Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky. Not going to lie, that was a tough read but I found a way to help myself get through it without spending years trying to decipher Dostoevsky, especially at my slow reading pace. I was a bit dissatisfied with my education in literature because it didn’t have enough classics. They provide archetypal stories that are, across the board, accepted as the epitome of literature based on the sheer number of readers that establish them as classics. Nearly all of Dostoevsky’s work falls within that category.
I picked Crime and Punishment as opposed to some of his other novels because one: it was free on amazon kindle for me and two: it was one of the recommended books by Dr. Jordan Peterson. If you don’t know the story, I don’t want to ruin it for you but essentially the protagonist, Raskolnikov, commits an awful crime and then the rest of the story showcases his emotional rollercoaster of experiences and feelings after having seemingly gotten away with the deed. It was a tough read. I found myself looking up words in the dictionary fairly often. My reading speed was so low, that I found myself falling asleep before I was ten pages through. I found a way to work through this that I had never done before. I found C&P on audiobook and played that through my headphones while I read along on my kindle. The combination of having the story read to me and reading along allowed me to keep a steady pace while accessing the story both visually and auditorily. Had I simply read the story, frankly, I would still be trying to read it. My pace would’ve been deathly slow and painful. I needed to pump it up and get crackin’. Having the audiobook rolling (which was nice because I could double the speed and still read along) in combination with the text made the story fly by. My comprehension may have suffered slightly, simply because I tend to daydream with audiobooks which is why they’re not my first choice, but I imagine my comprehension would’ve been suffering terribly if I was reading at a snail’s pace trying to remember each and every detail.
C&P was a difficult read. Sometimes I couldn’t tell which character was talking, sometimes I zoned out, and other times I simply didn’t understand what was happening. I could see the various themes Dostoevsky worked on throughout the story, those of internal conflict, good versus evil, morality, and others but to be honest, I was so focused on trying to just finish the damn thing that I didn’t spend too much time on the nitty-gritty, professor-like details of the story. I was doing my best to enjoy it and get the big details that drove the story rather than analyze it for things like motifs, the smaller themes, and the ways in which they were all constructed and displayed for me, the reader. Like I said, it was a tough read but I’ve found that pretty much all classics are. But the Russians are something else man, they have a way of writing that really makes you turn your head.