“Crime and Punishment” for Lent

In her article for Christianity Today, “The Best Books to Read for Lent (That You Won’t Find in a Christian Bookstore),” writer Sarah Arthur recommends the novel that I am currently reading with my students: Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment. She writes:

The central character of Dostoevsky’s 19th-century classic is the murderer Raskolnikov, one of the most complex, lovingly drawn criminals in literature. Tormented, sickly, half mad with grandiose visions of his own righteousness—he takes an interest in the family of Sonia, a young woman of great faith who is forced into prostitution to provide for her consumptive mother and siblings. Sonia, as yet unaware of Raskolnikov’s guilt and bewildered by his attentions to her family, nonetheless senses he is morally and spiritually adrift when the young man demands she read to him from the story of Lazarus in the Gospel of John. Lent is hardly complete without Dostoevsky’s candlelit tableaux in Part IV, Chapter IV, of “the murderer and the harlot who…so strangely encountered each other in the reading of the eternal book.”

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