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Synopsis

The talented Alex Jennings creates an atmosphere of gripping psychological tension and brings a variety of characters to life in this new audio edition of a crime classic. When the student Raskolnikov puts his philosophical theory to the ultimate test of murder, a tragic tale of suffering and redemption unfolds in the dismal setting of the slums of czarist, prerevolutionary St. Petersburg. While Jennings's adept repertoire of British accents works to demonstrate the varying classes of characters, it occasionally distracts the listener from the Russian setting. However, Dostoyevsky's rendering of 18th-century Russia emerges unscathed, bringing the dark pathos (such as wretched poverty and rampant suffering) to life.

Through the story of the brilliant but conflicted young Raskolnikov and the murder he commits, Fyodor Dostoevsky explores the theme of redemption through suffering. Crime and Punishment put Dostoevsky at the forefront of Russian writers when it appeared in 1866 and is now one of the most famous and influential novels in world literature.

The poverty-stricken Raskolnikov, a talented student, devises a theory about extraordinary men being above the law, since in their brilliance they think “new thoughts” and so contribute to society. He then sets out to prove his theory by murdering a vile, cynical old pawnbroker and her sister. The act brings Raskolnikov into contact with his own buried conscience and with two characters — the deeply religious Sonia, who has endured great suffering, and Porfiry, the intelligent and discerning official who is charged with investigating the murder — both of whom compel Raskolnikov to feel the split in his nature. Dostoevsky provides readers with a suspenseful, penetrating psychological analysis that goes beyond the crime — which in the course of the novel demands drastic punishment — to reveal something about the human condition: The more we intellectualize, the more imprisoned we become.

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