Crime & Punishment

On this Boxing Day of post-Christmas stupor I finished reading Fyodor Dostoevsky’s “Crime & Punishment”.

Heron Books published good quality series of classic novels well printed on white paper from the 1960s to the 1980s. My copy of this novel is inscribed ex libris 1960 by me.

Introduced by ‘A Portrait of Dostoevsky’ by Gilbert Sigaux, the work is illustrated by Philippe Jullian (1919-1977), “a French illustrator, art historian, biographer, aesthete, novelist and dandy.” (Wikipedia)

This is definitely not a whodunnit – we learn quite quickly the detail of the crime, the nature and identity of its perpetrator. The punishment is the mental and psychological self-inflicted torment which is the theme of the guilty party, whose gradual deterioration is reflected in the living conditions of the residents of 19th century St Petersburg.

The dependent circumstances of women is another focus in what is also a story of loves, lies, manipulation, suicide, and resilience.

As usual I will avoid giving details of the tale, save to say that, despite the author’s typically depressing bent, his fluid prose is easy to follow; his complex characterisation evidence of knowledge of the mental processes; and his dialogue convincing. Strangely enough, the translator is not credited in this edition, but he or she must have aided the reader’s comprehension. I am sure many of my readers are familiar with the story, but I do not wish to spoil the mystery for anyone who isn’t.

Half the artist’s quirky illustrations have already been featured in

Here are the rest.