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Today, A Superfluous Man reviews an audiobook for the first time.

Title: Crime and Punishment, by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Motivation: Crime and Punishment always rewards rereading, especially for dark and tormented souls like A Superfluous Man.

Completed: May 15, 2012 (#31)

Recommendation: A fine unabridged narration by Anthony Heald.

A Superfluous Man has read Crime and Punishment on three occasions, once at twelve years old, once as a college sophomore, and again last month. Naturally, the book has grown on me with age.

Dostoevsky’s classic requires no further introduction, and A Superfluous Man would only embarrass himself if he attempted to say something clever or novel about it. Rather, let us limit our commentary to this very fine dramatic reading of the book by Mr. Anthony Heald.

Mr. Heald “does the voices” well, and although it requires far more hours to listen to Crime and Punishment than to read it, it is well worth the added investment of time. It takes a few dozen riveting hours to get to the climax, but A Superfluous Man will wager that you’ll not regret it once you have heard an utterly emotionally depleted Mr. Heald sigh: “It was I killed the old pawnbroker woman and her sister Lizaveta with an axe and robbed them.” A great moment in Western literature is only enhanced by Mr. Heald’s solid performance.

Some will cavil that one has not truly “read” a book if one has only heard it on tape (or, nowadays, via MP3 files available at audible.com), but this is surely a fatuous criticism. In the days when books were dear and attention spans long, our forebears were quite accustomed to reading aloud to one another in parlors, around fireplaces, and over breakfast tables. There is no shame in enjoying a book aurally; indeed, numerous scientific studies indicate that one retains material better when absorbed through the ear.

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Incidentally, what is your recollection of the weather when Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov does the vile deed? A chilling St. Petersburg blizzard, perhaps? Funny that we tend to associate Russian literature with bitter cold, as though the Grande Armée were perpetually in retreat before a wintry Siberian blast.

In fact, Crime and Punishment takes place in the feverish heat of July and August—a perfect setting for a work that, inter alia, deals with guilt and its aftermath. The very first line of the novel:

On an exceptionally hot evening early in July a young man came out of the garret in which he lodged in S. Place and walked slowly, as though in hesitation, towards K. bridge.

For some reason, the weather of Crime and Punishment has always stuck in A Superfluous Man‘s mind, even from the first encounter at the tender age of twelve. And you?