Historum - History Forums  

Go Back   Historum - History Forums > Themes in History > History Book Reviews > Historum Book Discussion
Register Forums Blogs Social Groups Mark Forums Read

Historum Book Discussion History Book Discussion Forum


Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
Old October 29th, 2011, 10:34 AM   #21

Patito de Hule's Avatar
Quack
 
Joined: Jan 2009
From: Minneapolis, MN
Posts: 3,333
Blog Entries: 9

It's been twenty years since I read this and I'm not going to try to discuss it now. But I am reminded of a story.

My daughter read it in 1993/94 in the eighth grade for a book report. She was to choose any book she wanted, and I had just read it. We both enjoyed it, and had many discussions about it together. After she turned in her book report, she came home and asked me who was the protagonist. I told her "Raskolnikov, of course." That's what she had said in her book report, but her teacher told her it couldn't be Raskolnikov because he was an axe murderer. The teacher said that the detective was the protagonist because he caught the bad guy.

This started a discussion between us, and I explained that prot-agonist means "first actor" and not "the good guy" as the teacher had suggested. In fact, my daughter and I had a lengthy discussion about "antiheroes" of novels she'd read. When my daughter mentioned this to her teacher, she (the teacher) replied that she had a masters degree in European Literature and that I had a lot of nerve to challenge her authority to one of her students. The teacher was 72 years old then, and continued to teach for 10 more years until she was forced into retirement. Every year after that she told her class that Rachel B....'s father had had the gall to criticize one of her statements. I continued to hear about the incident from parents of her students long after she retired. Always good for a laugh.
Patito de Hule is offline  
Remove Ads
Old October 29th, 2011, 11:09 AM   #22

unclefred's Avatar
The Snub Nosed Truth
 
Joined: Dec 2010
From: Oregon coastal mountains
Posts: 6,701
Blog Entries: 33

When I was a freshman, I submitted a report on the Odyssey, except I termed it Ulysses. I got the paper back with an 'F' due to it being inappropriate and obscene.
The teacher obviously hadn't read my paper, and apparently thought it was about Joyce's 'Ulysses'.
unclefred is offline  
Old October 29th, 2011, 11:42 AM   #23

Patito de Hule's Avatar
Quack
 
Joined: Jan 2009
From: Minneapolis, MN
Posts: 3,333
Blog Entries: 9

Quote:
Originally Posted by unclefred View Post
When I was a freshman, I submitted a report on the Odyssey, except I termed it Ulysses. I got the paper back with an 'F' due to it being inappropriate and obscene.
The teacher obviously hadn't read my paper, and apparently thought it was about Joyce's 'Ulysses'.
Is Ulysses (Joyce's) inappropriate and obscene? Hmm. When I was about 10 or 12, I picked up Francois Rabelais Gargantua and Pantagruel. I read the first six chapters of Book I. Then I asked my dad what a codpiece was. Finally, without reading any more, I put it back on the bottom shelf of my dad's book case in the garage. This summer it was on the same spot on the bookcase where I always remember it being. So I finally read it. God knows why, except because it was still there after 60 years.
Patito de Hule is offline  
Old October 29th, 2011, 12:13 PM   #24

unclefred's Avatar
The Snub Nosed Truth
 
Joined: Dec 2010
From: Oregon coastal mountains
Posts: 6,701
Blog Entries: 33

Believe it or not, at one time here in the states Joyce's book was controversial. There was a court case in 1933, held in NY, to decide whether it was obscene or pornographic. It was found not to be, but it remained very controversial. My teacher was quite old and still held that view, apparently.
unclefred is offline  
Old October 30th, 2011, 08:14 AM   #25

tvomx314's Avatar
Archivist
 
Joined: Aug 2011
From: American living in HaNoi VN
Posts: 217

As much as I loved Crime and Punishment, I enjoyed Brothers Karamazov much more. The relative narrowness of Crime and Punishment makes for a deeper understanding of one particular character/mindset (godless intellectual), while Brothers K, brilliantly utilizes the three brothers and their vastly differing minds to set contrasting philosophies crashing against each other in spectacular fashion. To me, the standard which all literature is measured. I now am looking forward to reading the Idiot very soon.
tvomx314 is offline  
Old October 30th, 2011, 08:43 AM   #26

Patito de Hule's Avatar
Quack
 
Joined: Jan 2009
From: Minneapolis, MN
Posts: 3,333
Blog Entries: 9

If you found the focus of Crime and Punishment too narrow, I suspect you will find the focus of The Idiot also too narrow. I read the latter as my first Dostoevsky experience and loved it. Like Crime and Punishment, I read Brothers Karamazov with my daughter who did a book report on it. With the latter, I would have missed much, but my friend's father was a professor of Russian literature retired from University of Moscow. He discussed the book at some length with us. Among other things, I asked him about the meaning of Smerdyakov. He wrinkled his nose and said "The smell of death." Nice!

Still OT, but we also discussed War and Peace with this professor friend. Conveniently, my daughter had a copy in Russian she was stumbling through. We asked him about the symbolism of all the trees--oak, birch, rowan--and would have missed quite a bit if I hadn't raised the question. Sometimes there's just no knowing what I've missed when I read a masterpiece without notes or help.
Patito de Hule is offline  
Old October 30th, 2011, 09:02 PM   #27

tvomx314's Avatar
Archivist
 
Joined: Aug 2011
From: American living in HaNoi VN
Posts: 217

Perhaps focus is a better word. I didn't mean to imply that narrowness was a bad thing. Crime in Punishment is still easily among my top five favorite works of literature.

I recently read War and Peace as well, to see how Tolstoy compared to Dostoevsky, and found them to be quite different ( a quick look into their respective backgrounds explained this). I was surprised how enjoyable that book was also. And like you mentioned, I can't imagine how much I missed as far as allusions and metaphors go, but still was able to get so much out of it. I guess I also must read Anna Karenina.
tvomx314 is offline  
Old November 29th, 2011, 07:54 AM   #28

irishcrusader95's Avatar
None shall pass!
 
Joined: Aug 2010
From: Ireland
Posts: 6,729
Blog Entries: 4

finished the book last night for the first time and boy what i wild ride it was. so many questions and points to raise i don't know where to start

i guess i'll start by first giving my impressions on it. at first it was very intriguing as we are introduced to the character of raskolnikov. there were times were it dreadfully boreing me but then others were the suspense gripped me. the whole book is a fascinating look into human psychology and indeed some of the conversations in it like the one between raskolnikov and porfiry in his office raise so many interesting points that there findings in the conversation are almost deserving of a thread in themselves.

i was very fortune that the edition i read came with a very interesting introduction which explains many of the hidden themes in the book which i was truly amazed at one i then realized the significance of them. if i were to read the book one more i would definitely have a far better understanding of it as i now understand the themes of it. for instance i was really surprised to learn that the moneylender ivanova and her sister lizaveta both represent polar opposites to Raskolnikov as the two choices he has between being a louse or a napoleon, even the work Raskol means split or 'schism'.

Razumikhin represents logic and reasoning in the story as the word Razum means 'reason'. i had not even realized that his view of it is better to tell a dozen lies because it shows you are human and only then do you arrive at the truth, rather then shout someone else's truth as you are little better then a parrot them. the theme of this is shown in the final ending of the book as Raskolnikov is finding truth after all his untruths. he in fact does not show any real regret for his crime but only that he failed to succeed because as he says if a person steps over others but succeeds then he is a hero where as Raskolnikov failed so his means does not look justified.

one more thing, does anyone understand the relevance of drunkenness in the book. is it just to paint a realistic picture of perhaps the sickness of society because there drunks all over the book like Marmeladov, the young girl who tries to drown herself and all the drunks that seem to be everywhere in the streets

Last edited by irishcrusader95; November 29th, 2011 at 08:23 AM.
irishcrusader95 is offline  
Old November 29th, 2011, 08:14 AM   #29
Scholar
 
Joined: Jun 2011
From: Germany
Posts: 577

Quote:
Originally Posted by irishcrusader95 View Post
one more thing, does anyone understand the relevance of drunkenness in the book. is it just to paint a realistic picture of perhaps the sickness of society because there drunks all over the book like Marmeladov, the young girl who tries to drown herself and all the drunks that seem to be everywhere in the streets
It is not seldom for Russia to try to "escape" from troubles and unpleasantnesses of life or boredom with help of alcohol. When I have read this book I have not got an impression that the drunken scenes are unnaturally often.
Cornelia is offline  
Old November 29th, 2011, 08:19 AM   #30

irishcrusader95's Avatar
None shall pass!
 
Joined: Aug 2010
From: Ireland
Posts: 6,729
Blog Entries: 4

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cornelia View Post
It is not seldom for Russia to try to "escape" from troubles and unpleasantnesses of life or boredom with help of alcohol. When I have read this book I have not got an impression that the drunken scenes are unnaturally often.
perhaps that is just it as you will see that in any society where the people are dreadful poor drink is there only escape so it may get to a point where drinking heavily becomes part of the culture. still i feel there must be some symbolence to it, for instance if it was to Dostoevsky just an honest portrayal of st.petersburg what is the relevance of the young girl who tries to drown herself. her mother runs to her saying that the drink had driven her to ruin.
irishcrusader95 is offline  
Reply

  Historum > Themes in History > History Book Reviews > Historum Book Discussion

Tags
crime, dostoevsky, fyodor, punishment



Search tags for this page
Thread Tools
Display Modes


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Dostoevsky, The Idiot avon Historum Book Discussion 31 December 25th, 2011 07:45 PM
Equal punishment regardless of crime philosopher Philosophy, Political Science, and Sociology 44 March 20th, 2011 05:25 AM
Philosophes on Crime and Punishment HistoryBuffBenjamin History Help 8 March 12th, 2011 06:39 AM

Copyright © 2006-2013 Historum. All rights reserved.