What’s the one book you would never mind to read over and again? Why?
A book that changed my life would definitely be ‘Crime & Punishment’ by Fyodor Dostoevsky (Translation by Constance Garnett).
I read it for the first time whilst doing my undergrads in Moscow back in the Summer of 2002; and having read it for the first time was kind of a realization of sorts, that my life has been such a waste up until now. I later moved to England for reading my Masters degree in Oxford University; and then moved on to visit many nations, work many places and when I look back… having read well over 5,000+ books and having more than 3,000+ books in my library; I am yet to find a book that changed my view(s) of life so considerably; its trepidation; the multiple strata of society; the abject absolution of God, crime, punishment, Übermensch; and the philosophical and psychological treatise of man’s struggle against the heaviest of odds; than Crime & Punishment.
Intrinsic duality of the human mind, the eternal pain and suffering, existence of God; or maybe the absence of God and the requirement of moral ethics & judgement; and tribulations of life guided by moral nihilism is the central theme of this classic.
Any brain that can once read this book, absorb its content; will never be the same again. It is extremely heavy and sad at times; but prepares one for the path of life.
Some immortal quotes from this immortal book:
“Pain and suffering are always inevitable for a large intelligence and a deep heart. The really great men must, I think, have great sadness on earth.”
“To go wrong in one’s own way is better than to go right in someone else’s.”
“The darker the night, the brighter the stars,
The deeper the grief, the closer is God!”
“It takes something more than intelligence to act intelligently.”
“Power is only vouchsafed to the man who dares to stoop and pick it up. There’s only one thing needful and it is simply to dare and send your luck flying to the devil.”
“If he has a conscience, he will suffer for his mistake. That will be the punishment; as well as the prison.”
“We’re always thinking of eternity as an idea that cannot be understood, something immense. But why must it be? What if, instead of all this, you suddenly find just a little room there, something like a village bath-house, grimy, and spiders in every corner, and that’s all eternity is. Sometimes, you know, I can’t help feeling that that’s what it is.”
“There is nothing in the world more difficult than candor, and nothing easier than flattery. If there is a hundredth of a fraction of a false note to candor, it immediately produces dissonance, and as a result, exposure. But in flattery, even if everything is false down to the last note, it is still pleasant, and people will listen not without pleasure; with coarse pleasure, perhaps, but pleasure nevertheless.”
“Where is it I’ve read that someone condemned to death says or think, an hour before his death, that if he had to live on some high rock, on such a narrow ledge that he’d only room to stand, and the ocean, everlasting darkness, everlasting solitude, everlasting tempest around him, if he had to remain standing on a square yard of space all his life, a thousand years, eternity, it were better to live so than to die at once! Only to live, to live and live! Life, whatever it may be!… How true it is! Good God, how true! Man is a vile creature! And vile is he who calls him vile for that.”
ONE trivia about this book. The great, one of the contemporaries of Dostoevsky; when the former died in his sleep; on the bed-stand, he had ‘Crime & Punishment’ open; whereas in real life; both were bitter rivals in public and practically had vouched never to have read one another’s work. It truly is a very special book.
This book is so powerful – After having read this book, if you meet the worse degenerate prostitute that ever lived on Earth; you will show her immense respect and maybe even smile and spend a good one hour with her trying to understand life’s tribulations she has had gone through.
Having read it 4 more times till date; there are sections in the Book that I know by heart… entire pages of it. Especially most of the sections dealing with the protagonist Raskolnikov. This is definitely the only book I would prefer carrying to my afterlife if given a choice. Another great one would be ‘Meditations’ by Roman Emperor, Marcus Aurelius, but ‘Crime & Punishment’ is a better one.
Here’s my top 10 highly recommended reads for a better understanding of Life. I possess over 3,000+ books/novels in my personal collection including 100+ classics. These are the most prized ones in my collection personally:
- Meditations by Marcus Aurelius Antoninus
- Crime & Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky (Translation by Constance Garnett)
- The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky (Translation by Constance Garnett)
- War & Peace by Leo Tolstoy
- On The Road by Jack Kerouac
- For Whom The Bell Tolls by Ernest Miller Hemingway
- Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda
- Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
- Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
- The Complete Works Of Swami Vivekananda (Set Of 9 Volumes) by Swami Vivekananda
My 1967 published, Crime & Punishment in leather-bound hard cover with Gold Embroidery, printed in Switzerland, Geneva.