One of my all-time favorite novels, Crime and Punishment, is a murder story told from the murderer’s point of view. It is a cat-and-mouse game between a tormented young killer and a cheerfully implacable detective. It is an investigation of the forces that impel a man toward sin, suffering and grace.
In Crime and Punishment, the hero is the theoretician murderer Raskolnikov, whose motives for killing are a mystery; the most mystified character in the book is the murderer himself. All the characters and events converge on the enigma of Raskolnikov and entry is allowed only into his consciousness. Dreams, waking visions (even ghosts) are as much a part of his world as the buildings and canals of St. Petersburg; the line dividing the out from the inner wavers.
Crime and Punishment is an ambiguous book that does not make light of suffering. Suffering is unmitigated in a world that is saturated with evil. This book delves into the mind of a tormented man who is confronted with a world and dimensions of himself that he did not anticipate and cannot understand. Even in the end, his pride rises up against a world he thinks has defeated him. But part of him begins to work against his will. He spends the night in a drenching rainstorm and with painfully slow steps begins to move toward “a new, hitherto completely unknown reality.” There the author leaves him
In every cadence, every tone, the realization of every character, this novel shows its mastery. .