Raskolnikov’s Burden

Just before I left for my forest vacation two weeks ago, I set a goal for myself to read 10 books by the end of 2019. My rationale was at around 200-300 pages per book, I could read between 25-30 pages a day and this goal would be easy to hit. As with any new habit, I left the gate strong! In two weeks I finished Thoreau’s Walden and Machiavelli’s The Prince. I wanted to change it up a bit so, for my third book, I switched to fiction and started reading Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky.

Big mistake! The philosophical-fiction novel is really challenging my reserve. Not only is it much longer than I planned for, my copy clocking in at around 500 pages, but it is dreadfully boring. It took me a full 7-day week to hit page 95. When I read Walden and The Prince, I was excited to sit down with them every evening and learn something new, even if I didn’t agree with them. I dread seeing the “25pp Crime” slot approach on my day planner. Most days this week, I ignored it and went to bed or played around on my phone or computer instead.

So, the question I’m asking myself is should I finish it? It’s definitely considered a classic and my goal is to read as many of the classics as I can. Should I finish reading the book because of this, because I’ve already started it, and to test my willpower? Or should I give in to what every neuron in my brain is telling me and switch to another book? I’m not sure, but I think I would feel like I’ve failed at something if I did that.

Winston Churchill said, “Success is not final, failure isn’t fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” Churchill’s mindset suggests that I should continue despite my nerves about it. However, Churchill also said, “Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” I could easily stumble from Crime and Punishment to a book that I enjoy more, right? Ha!

No, I think I will finish the book. When I think about how great I will feel when the last page is turned and I’ve gleaned the message behind all of the insipid writing, I am motivated. Although taxing, I have learned a bit about Dostoevsky’s world through what I’ve read thus far. Raskolnikov is a true misanthrope, the likes of whom I’ve never read before. Chapter two of the first act also contains one of the best portrayals of alcoholism I’ve read yet. For that alone, I recommend at least skimming through the book.

7 thoughts on “Raskolnikov’s Burden

  1. I couldn’t get through it either. The guy felt whiny and immature and I didn’t want to waste my time on him.

    If you want to read a Russian with better storytelling skills (more entertaining, sort of like a soap opera except loaded with truth), go for Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. But DONT go for War and Peace, I am a book nerd but still couldn’t get though it.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha, I read it in high school and I remember it being pretty cringey. I don’t know why but I’ve never really liked American authors from that time period. I don’t like The Great Gatsby that much either.

        Liked by 1 person

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