Between the Lines Book Club: Truly Weird Adaptations of Crime and Punishment

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In Sacramento, CA? Join us for an in-person discussion of Crime and Punishment tomorrow (Aug 22, 2015) at 10:30 AM at Arden Dimick Library!

Unlike some other classics, there’s no single iconic adaptation of Crime and Punishment, although there are a few movies and once might sound Law and Order as an adaptation that’s very long-running. While there may be no adaptation that is iconic, there are several that are just plain weird. Here’s some of the bizarre things people have done with the novel:

Proving that everything is better with Batman: Crime and Punishment Batman comic!

This spoof, from the collection Masterpiece Comics, tells the story of Crime and Punishment with Batman as the main character. In this version, Batman decides to take the law into his own hands – murder and angst ensue.

Teen Angst: Crime and Punishment in Suburbia (Film, 2000)

This movie has a 21% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It tells the tale of a teen girl who is attacked by her stepfather and plots to kill him with the help of the school quarterback. When she’s accused of the murder, the weird outcast high school kid with a crush is the only one she can turn to. This seems to be a love it or hate it movie.

Because Les Miserables wasn’t depressing enough:

Crime and Punishment is being made into a musical. I’m just going to drop this here and back slowly away.

Between the Lines Book Club: Four Fun Facts About Fyodor Dostoyevsky

between the lines book club logoWelcome once again to Between the Lines Book Club! This month we are reading Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. You can join us in person on August 22, 2015 at Arden Dimick Library, Sacramento, CA at 10:30AM.

There is a huge amount of detailed information about Dostoyevsky online, but here are four facts about his life:

1. He had epilepsy

According to, a health website for people with epilepsy, Dostoyevsky had a rare form of temporal lobe epilepsy called “static epilepsy”. He documented 102 seizures during the course of his life. Many of his fictional characters have the same condition. In The Idiot, Prince Myshkin describes a seizure:

‘He was thinking, incidentally, that there was a moment or two in his epileptic condition almost before the fit itself (if it occurred in waking hours) when suddenly amid the sadness, spiritual darkness and depression, his brain seemed to catch fire at brief moments….His sensation of being alive and his awareness increased tenfold at those moments which flashed by like lightning.  His mind and heart were flooded by a dazzling light.  All his agitation, doubts and worries, seemed composed in a twinkling, culminating in a great calm, full of understanding…but these moments, these glimmerings were still but a premonition of that final second (never more than a second) with which the seizure itself began.  That second was, of course, unbearable.’

Fyodor as a young man in 1847

2. He was arrested, scheduled to be executed, and exiled to Siberia for reading and circulating banned essays.

Dostoyevsky spent four months in prison waiting to be sentenced and was condemned to death. According to Wikipedia:

They sentenced the members of the circle to death by firing squad, and the prisoners were taken to Semyonov Place in St Petersburg on 23 December 1849 where they were split into three-man groups. Dostoyevsky was the third in the second row; next to him stood Pleshcheyev and Durov. The execution was stayed when a cart delivered a letter from the Tsar commuting the sentence.

Dostoyevsky spent the next eight years in a Siberian prison camp where we was shackled constantly and forbidden to read anything except the bible. Sometimes he was sent to the hospital where he was able to read Dickens and newspapers. His novel, The House of the Dead, written after his release, was the first published Russian novel about prison.

The New Testament that Dostoyevsky took to prison

3. He was unlucky in love until he met Anna Grigoryevna Dostoyevskaya, who became his second wife.

His first wife was Maria Dmitrievna. The marriage was unhappy. She died in 1864. In 1863 he met Polina Suslova, with whom he had a mad affair. After Maria died, Dostoyevsky proposed to Polina but she turned him down. He finally met Anna, who was a fan of his work, seems to have been a fairly stable emotional person, and was smart enough to take over the family finances so that he could not continue to game away all the money he possessed.

Dostoyseky was infirm, neurotic, poor, and a gambling addict, so he wasn’t much of a catch, but he sure knew how to sneak in a proposal. Again, from Wikipedia:

As described in the Memoirs, Dostoyevsky shared with Anna the plot of an imaginary new novel, as if he needed her advice on female psychology.[5] In his story an old painter made a proposal to young girl whose name was Anya. Dostoyevsky asked if it was possible for a girl so young and different in personality to fall in love with the painter. Anna answered that it was quite possible. Then he told Anna: “Put yourself in her place for a moment. Imagine I am the painter, I confessed to you and asked you to be my wife. What would you answer?” Anna said: “I would answer that I love you and I will love you forever”.

Anna Grigoryevna Dostoyevskaya

4. He was famous during his lifetime.

His funeral was huge – anywhere from 40,000 to 100,000 mourners attended.

Between the Lines Book Club: Crime and Punishment

between the lines book club logoWe are closing out summer with a studious book: Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Want to discuss? Leave comments below or join us at Arden Dimick Library in Sacramento at 10:20AM on August 22!

The hardest thing about Crime and Punishment is keeping track of the characters.  Here’s some help in the form of lots and lots of links!

General study guides:

For a general study guide, I recommend  There are plenty of free study guides online but I’m fond of the way Schmoop is organized and their irreverent sense of humor.  Here’s a little backstory they provide, just because I wasn’t feeling unproductive enough:

He had borrowed money from a fellow named Stellovsky, in exchange for writing a novel. If he didn’t give Stellovsky this other book by November 1, 1866, Stellovsky would own the rights to all of Dostoevsky’s work for the next ten years! So Dostoevsky set out to do the impossible – write two novels at the same time, one in the morning, one at night. He was terribly depressed about it, but he did it. He handed Stellovsky The Gambler right on schedule, and Russian Messenger got what you see before you, except in Russian.

I’m also not ashamed to say that I always start with wikipedia, and their page on Crime and Punishment is excellent. So check it out.

Confused about how to pronounce names? Here’s a handy video from youtube:

Characters: who are these people?

This is cool but spoilery: Cliff Notes has character maps that show how every character relates to every other character! It should go without saying that Cliff Notes is also a great general study guide.

For a nice, basic chart that shows all the nicknames with no spoilers, Spring Grove Area School District has your covered with this simple but incredibly helpful list which I am printing out right this second. It’s just the names and nicknames, no spoilers, nice and simple.