Wednesday, September 1, 1999

The 306 Greatest Books #12 - Crime and Punishment

I am going back and posting all of my previous book reviews so that they are listed on my site in chronological order. The reviews are dated for the time when I read the book, hence the reason many of them will be listed for times before this website existed. 

The next up on my reading of the 306 greatest books is Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. This book can be found on the Sybervision Book List, the Norwegian Book List, and BBC Book List.


After reading Crime and Punishment, Dostoyevsky went straight to one of my favorite authors. The book follows a man who feels he can commit the "perfect murder". Unfortunately, his guilty conscious gets the better of him and after a long, agonizing reflection period he is eventually caught and punished for his crimes. The writing was excellent, and the story gave us every little nuance in the character's subconscious during the whole ordeal, from planning to regret. This book also illustrated to me that Russian actually translates very well to English, where I have rarely had difficulty in understanding a Russian-to-English translated work, and it has made Russian writers usually some of my favorites. In actuality, my only problem with the book is the epilogue, which is so out of place in the story that it is obvious it was added afterwards because the publishers were unhappy with how the original story concluded. To get the full impact of the story a reader may just want to not read that section, in my opinion. This is a definite recommend in my opinion.

Thursday, April 1, 1999

The 306 Greatest Books #11 - The Cherry Orchard

I am going back and posting all of my previous book reviews so that they are listed on my site in chronological order. The reviews are dated for the time when I read the book, hence the reason many of them will be listed for times before this website existed. 

The next up on my reading of the 306 greatest books is The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekhov. This book can be found on the Sybervision Book List.


Chekhov is definitely a subtle and complex writer. Often, when you finish reading one of his plays or short stories you are left with a feeling that you had missed a ton of hidden messages within the story. He is an expert at layering story elements, particularly with his plays, where there are whole depths of meanings just waiting to be explored. The Cherry Orchard is one of his few plays, but likely the best writing that he had done. The main part of the plot follows a mother who returns to her farm after her son had drowned and continues as she slowly loses that farm. A complex, emotionally-deep story about coping with loss. Although many of Chekhov's stories can be underwhelming, I find his plays are usually on the better end of his range and I definitely recommend this one.