Which translation of Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment should I read?

Which translation of Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment should I read?

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?Not to have read it is a crime, and reading it is the punishment.?

So you want to read Fyodor Dostoevsky?s psychological masterpiece, Crime and Punishment. And you don?t read Russian.

No problem. The novel, originally published in 12 monthly installments in 1866 and as a single volume in 1867, has been available in English since 1885 and widely available in English since 1914. You?ll find a copy in any decent library or bookstore, and if you like reading ebooks, you can download the novel for free because it?s not under copyright. That?s sorted, then.

Not so fast!

As soon as you visit the library or bookshop or click over to Amazon, you realize there are a host of publishers offering a myriad of paperback and hardcover editions and dozens of digital versions. What?s the difference?

The good news is, the book is seldom abridged, so you won?t accidentally settle for a book that?s shorter than you would have wanted. Still, there are a variety of translations available, and opinions differ about their merits. Keep reading to learn how to choose an edition that?s right for you.

?I want a free ebook!?

I hear you! If you have a handheld reading device, you don?t have to buy paperback copies of freely available old books or read free ebooks on a power-hungry computer screen.

Image for postStandard Ebooks, ManyBooks, Project Gutenberg / Garnett

The best free ebook I know of is the Standard Ebooks edition of Crime and Punishment (translated by Constance Garnett). The translation is old but perfectly adequate, and Standard Ebooks are better than Gutenberg ebooks.

If you want to look at the text online, refer to the Project Gutenberg edition of Crime and Punishment at ManyBooks.net.

If you prefer to scroll through online HTML rather than page through online HTML, or if you want the source text for some reason, visit Project Gutenberg 2554. At least now all Gutenberg books have cover images, albeit auto-generated ones in some cases.

?I want to read the absolute BEST translation or edition of Crime and Punishment that Russian literature scholars have to offer.?

I would love to tell you which one to read, but in this case I think it depends on what you personally view as best. I?m going to list all thirteen of them (well, okay, seven) and share what I?ve learned so you can decide.

?Wait, I don?t care that much. What?s your top recommendation if I?m willing to buy a copy??

If you want a paperback of the classic translation plus some nice extras, look for the Enriched Classics version published by Simon & Schuster.

Image for postEnriched Classic / Garnett

If you want something a bit more up-to-date, try the 2017 Oxford World?s Classics edition, translated by Nicolas Pasternak Slater. There?s a paperback, a beautiful hardcover, and an ebook.

Image for postOxford / Slater

Or keep reading to consider all your options.

?How is the author?s name supposed to be spelled??

Well, he was Russian, and Russians use the Cyrillic alphabet, not the Latin/Roman alphabet. The author?s name looks like this in Cyrillic:

Image for post

There are multiple ?English? transliterations:

  • Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky
  • Fyodor Mikhaylovich Dostoyevsky
  • Fydor Mikhylovich Dostoyvskiy
  • etc.

There?s a huge list of variations at Library Thing.

?How can we judge a translation, anyway??

If we have knowledge of both languages, we can look at the source material and ask ourselves what translation choice we would have made and see what the translator decided. That?s not possible for most readers. We can probably find examples and explanation provided by someone else.

We can compare samples for style and decide what sounds more appealing. That could tell us which book we?d enjoy reading most, though it doesn?t tell us which translation sounds most like the original.

We can judge a translation based on the effect a novel has on us after we finish it, but that?s not helpful for choosing which translation to read in the first place. However, we can listen to other readers talk about the effect that the book had on them.

We can rely on the opinions of critics who are presumably in a position to know better than we are. The trouble is that whenever there is a new translation, critics tend to disparage the previous ones. There?s no point in issuing a new translation if there?s no noticeable improvement, so fault must be found.

We can judge a translation based on the translator?s background and experience. What?s the translator?s experience with the relevant language, literature, history, and culture? If the translator has done other similar work, that?s a valuable sign of expertise? unless the quantity is so large that you start to wonder about the quality.

Sounds like a lot of work, right? I?m here to help.

Crime and Punishment: Translation History

I count thirteen translations, some of which are out of print, thus relatively scarce. I count seven in-print translations (shown in bold and numbered below).

— Frederick Whishaw, 18851. Constance Garnett, 1914 Heinemann — David Magarshack, 1951 Penguin– Princess Alexandra Kropotkin, 1953– Jessie Coulson, 1953 Norton– Michael Scammell, 1963 Washington Square 2. Sidney Monas, 1968 Signet — Julius Katzer, 1985 Raduga 3. David McDuff, 1991 Viking, Penguin 4. Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, 1992 Knopf 5. Oliver Ready, 2014 Penguin 6. Nicolas Pasternak Slater, 2017 Oxford 7. Michael R. Katz, 2018 Norton

Below are some details about each of the seven in-print translations. After that, I?ll share some information on out-of-print editions and adaptations, including comics and graphic novels.

1. Constance Garnett (1914)

If you open a copy of Crime and Punishment and there?s an unsigned ?Translator?s Preface? or ?Translator?s Note? that starts by saying, ?A few words about Dostoevsky himself may help the English reader to understand his work,? then you?ve got a copy of the Garnett translation. You can also cross-check against the wording of the beginning of Chapter 1 (see excerpt below).

Since the translation is old, the copyright has expired, and anyone can republish the text. That means there are a lot of versions with this translation, and they?re cheap.

Constance Garnett translated a TON of stuff from Russian. Wikipedia says 71 volumes! She is credited with making Russian many works accessible in English. Her contribution to world literature is nothing to sneeze at. Vladimir Nabokov and Joseph Brodsky, nevertheless, accused her writing of being flat and of remaining the same regardless of whom she was translating.

Readers? opinions vary about whether Garnett?s translation of Crime and Punishment is good. Commentators can?t even agree whether the text sounds Victorian and stilted or surprisingly smooth and modern. Some people say Garnett?s version was thankfully superseded long ago, and others say it never can or will be.

I?m inclined to side with those who uphold Garnett?s translation. Those who praise it sound not just nostalgic but also sensible, and those who criticize it are often motivated to praise newer translations simply because they are newer (or because they sound newer), and perhaps feel it?s safe to attack the work of someone who?s not around to defend it.

One reason I like the Garnett translation is that she preserved the abbreviated place names in Dostoevsky?s original text (e.g., ?S. Place? and ?K. Bridge? below). I don?t see any need for readers to be burdened with the actual proper nouns. Several of the translators made the same choice, but not all.

Here are some articles about the Garnett translation:

  • The New Yorker: The Translation Wars?Garnett?s flaws were not the figment of a native speaker?s snobbery. She worked with such speed, with such an eye toward the finish line, that when she came across a word or a phrase that she couldn?t make sense of she would skip it and move on.?
  • The Jolly Traveller Blog: Two Crime and Punishment Translations Compared (Garnett and Magarshack)?She may come handy to those who want a linguistic feel of the times, but I found her simply infuriating.?
  • Commentary Magazine: How to Read Crime and Punishment?[N]either [the McDuff translation nor the Pevear and Volokhonsky translation] measures up to the classic rendition of the novel by Constance Garnett.?
  • Wordsworth Editions: Gained in Translation?[A] well-established translation does have the merits of being tried and tested, and of having already appealed to a wide range of discerning readers?. When you read Constance Garnett?s Dostoevsky, or Louise and Aylmer Maude?s Tolstoy, you are joining a continuum of readers going back a century and a half.?
  • Commentary Magazine: The Pevearsion of Russian Literature?Students once encountered the great Russian writers as rendered by the magnificent Constance Garnett, a Victorian who taught herself the language and then proceeded to introduce almost the entire corpus of Russian literature to the English language over the space of 40 years, from the 1890s to the 1930s. Her greatest virtues were her profound and sympathetic understanding of the works themselves and a literary artist?s feel for the English language.?
  • TLS: Who-knows-he-dunnit??Constance Garnett?s century-old version still flows beautifully: she alone meets the requirement of some translators that no word be used that was introduced into English after 1866 (the date of the original).?

The Garnett translation of Crime and Punishment sounds like this:

Image for postCrime and Punishment, beginning of Chapter 1, Garnett

The Wordsworth Classics edition of Crime and Punishment is (I think, still) available as a paperback (ISBN 9781840224306, 528 pages) and an ebook (ISBN 9781848703506). It includes an introduction and notes by Dr. Keith Carabine, a bibliography, a map, and a list of characters.

The Wordsworth Classics Garnett translation of Crime and Punishment looks like this:

Image for postWordsworth / Garnett

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The Barnes & Noble Classics edition of Crime and Punishment is available as a paperback (ISBN 9781593080815, 576 pages) and an ebook (ISBN 9781411432017). It has been ?revised thoroughly? by Juliya Salkovskaya and Nicholas Rice and includes:

  • about the author
  • historical context / chronology
  • introduction by Priscilla Meyer
  • list of characters
  • portrait of author
  • St. Petersburg map
  • inspired by?
  • comments and questions
  • further reading

Image for postBarnes & Noble / Garnett

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  • Buy Nook ebook from publisher

The Word Cloud Classics edition of Crime and Punishment is available with a flexible plastic/vinyl cover (ISBN 9781684122905, 528 pages) and an ebook (ISBN 9781684123537). I am not sure why anyone would buy the ebook version, because this is a showy book designed to look good. The features have nothing to do with the text itself, which is (as far as I can tell) just a standard reprint.

  • Clean, modern aesthetic
  • Heat-burnished covers
  • Specially-designed endpapers
  • Foil-stamping
  • Cute size (5.25″ x 7.75″)

Image for postWord Cloud / Garnett

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The Macmillan Collector?s Library edition of Crime and Punishment is available as a compact hardcover (ISBN 9781509827749, 736 pages) and an ebook (ISBN 9781509845569). It has an afterword by Oliver Francis.

The main thing to note about this edition is its small size (and small font size). It?s 4.2 x 1.4 x 6.1 inches, set in Plantin, 8.5 pt / line height 10.5pt. The materials the book is made from are really nice: cloth binding and good paper.

The ?Collector?s Library? series used to belong to Barnes & Noble but in 2015 was bought by Macmillan. Although I am not a huge fan of whatever you call that light teal color, I still think the new design is better.

Image for postCollector?s Library / Garnett

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The Simon & Schuster Enriched Classics edition of Crime and Punishment is available as a paperback (ISBN 9780743487634, 704 pages) and an ebook (ISBN 9781416501817). It includes:

  • An introduction
  • A chronology of the author?s life and work
  • A timeline of significant events in history
  • An outline of key themes and plot points
  • Detailed explanatory notes
  • Critical analysis
  • Discussion
  • A list of recommended related books and films

Image for postEnriched Classic / Garnett

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The Bantam Classics edition of Crime and Punishment is available as a paperback (ISBN 9780553211757, 576 pages) and an ebook (ISBN 9780553898088). It includes an introduction by Joseph Frank.

Image for postBantam / Garnett

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The Dover Thrift edition of Crime and Punishment is available as a paperback (ISBN 9780486415871, 448 pages) and an ebook (ISBN 9780486114859). It includes an introductory note by editor Susan L. Rattiner and a ?selection of the Common Core State Standards Initiative?, which is documentation of learning goals relevant to students, teachers, and parents in the US.

Image for postDover/Garnett

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These Penguin Popular Classics are no longer in print, but FYI, they too are Garnett translations:

Image for postPenguin / GarnettImage for postHarperPerennial / Garnett (ISBN 9781443430906)

HarperCollins is selling an ebook of the Garnett translation but it?s nothing special.

Image for postAmazonClassics (ASIN B074W9WW4S)

Amazon offers an AmazonClassics version. Sometimes the AmazonClassics cost a few dollars, sometimes they?re free. I?m pretty sure they?re free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers.

Beware copycat ebooks!

Stay away from any ebook if the publisher is ?Amazon Digital Services? or ?CreateSpace?. Chances are, the ebooks they offer at prices between zero and ten dollars are no better than what you?d get for free and quite possibly worse.

This cover will make you cringe if you have an ounce of design sense:

Image for postPapyrus, my old friend. We meet again.

Meanwhile, whoever made this cover does not seem to know (or care?) that the weapon used by the murderer in Crime and Punishment is an ax.

Image for postYes, you too can use Canva to create a unique book cover!

I thought it couldn?t get worse, but… it totally can. Behold the ?Illustrated Platinum Edition? of Crime and Punishment, depicting a woman holding a gun instead of a man holding an ax:

Image for post?and just look at what they did to Northanger Abbey! Seriously?! OMG.

I am sure there are more Garnett editions out there. Let me know if you find any that are particularly noteworthy!

2. Sidney Monas (1968) / Signet

The Sidney Monas Signet edition of Crime and Punishment is available as a paperback (ISBN 9780451530066, 560 pages) and an ebook (ISBN 9781101142318). It includes:

  • An introduction by Leonard Stanton and James D. Jr. Hardy
  • A translator?s preface
  • An afterword by Robin Feuer Miller
  • A Reading Guide (online)

Sidney Monas sounds like an amazing guy. An American Jew, he was captured and thought to have died in World War II but survived, returned, and took up academic life in Princeton, and went on to earn a PhD from Harvard. Not bad for a dead guy! He died for real in 2019 at the age of 94.

People don?t seem to talk much about his translation of Crime and Punishment, even though it?s still in print. His version is mentioned in some of the articles about newer versions, but nobody seems to champion it.

The Signet Monas translation of Crime and Punishment sounds like this:

Image for postCrime and Punishment, beginning of Chapter 1, Monas

The Signet Monas translation of Crime and Punishment looks like this:

Image for postSignet / Monas

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3. David McDuff (1991) / Viking, Penguin

The David McDuff translation of Crime and Punishment is available as a 2018 Penguin Clothbound Classic designed by Coralie Bickford-Smith in black/red (ISBN 9780241347683, 720 pages). It is also available as a Penguin Classics paperback (ISBN 9780140449136, 718 pages). These Penguin editions have:

  • An introduction
  • List for further reading
  • A note on translation
  • A note on money
  • Endnotes
  • Reading Guide (online)

Penguin is a publishing powerhouse, so you?ll be in good company whether you choose the McDuff version or the Oliver Ready one.

David McDuff is a British translator of Russian and Scandinavian poetry and prose, an editor and a literary critic. Penguin published his translations of Dostoevsky?s The Brothers Karamazov and The Idiot.

Here are some articles about the Penguin/McDuff translation:

  • New York Times: Raskolnikov Says the Darndest Things?Mr. McDuff?s Dostoyevsky survives its too frequent lapses and its too frequent notes.?
  • Commentary Magazine: How to Read Crime and Punishment?When one embarks on translating a classic that has been rendered many times before, one should have a well-formed reason to serve as a guide in making choices. David McDuff seems to have no reason except to produce yet another translation.?

The Penguin McDuff translation of Crime and Punishment sounds like this:

Image for postCrime and Punishment, beginning of Chapter 1, McDuff

The Penguin McDuff translation of Crime and Punishment looks like this:

Image for postPenguin / McDuff

The edition in tan/red (ISBN 9780140455687) is rare. Here?s why.

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  • Buy new clothbound from BookDepository

Older Penguin editions were translated by David Magarshack:

Image for postPenguin / Magarshack

4. Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky (1992) / Knopf

The Pevear and Volokhonsky translation of Crime and Punishment is available as an Everyman hardcover (ISBN 9780679420293, 608 pages). It includes:

  • An introduction by W. J. Leatherbarrow
  • A bibliography
  • A chronology
  • A translator?s note
  • Endnotes

It is also available as a Vintage paperback (ISBN 9780679734505, 565 pages) and ebook (ISBN 9780307829603). It includes a foreword, translators? note and endnotes.

Pevear and Volokhonsky are an American/Russian husband-and-wife team with a huge list of Russian translations to their credit. They became widely known in the US when Oprah chose their version of Anna Karenina for her book club.

There is a LOT of chatter about Pevear and Volokhonsky. Their translations are popular but produced a strong backlash. Their style is characterized as being either ?admirably accurate? or ?too literal?. I?m not positively inclined towards their version; I have the sense that their stuff has been over-hyped.

Here are some articles about the Pevear and Volokhonsky translation:

  • New York Times: Raskolnikov Says the Darndest Things?The version presented by Mr. Pevear and Ms. Volokhonsky does not cover the full distance to English. The way to preserve some of Dostoyevsky?s roughness is not by publishing a rough draft.?
  • The New Yorker: The Translation Wars?Pevear and Volokhonsky may be the premier Russian-to-English translators of the era. They are certainly the most versatile and industrious?. [They] agree with the majority of their critics that they are best at Dostoyevsky.?
  • The Washington Post: The Desperate Hours?I first read Crime and Punishment (in Constance Garnett?s translation) some 30 years ago when my mother had to tear the book from my grasp to send me to bed. I?ve reread the novel three more times since, and in this translation by Pevear/Volokhonsky it is better than ever.?
  • Commentary Magazine: The Pevearsion of Russian Literature?It looks as if people will be reading P&V, as they have come to be called, for decades to come. This is a tragedy, because their translations take glorious works and reduce them to awkward and unsightly muddles.?
  • Commentary Magazine: How to Read Crime and Punishment?Pevear and Volokhonsky have a very definite idea of what they are doing. They want to capture all those colloquialisms, slang expressions, and low tonalities that Garnett smoothed out. Generally speaking, they succeed quite well.?
  • TLS: Who-knows-he-dunnit??Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky seem to follow the Byzantine principle of producing a translation from which the original, if it were ever lost, might be reconstituted word by word.?

The Pevear and Volokhonsky translation of Crime and Punishment sounds like this:

Image for postCrime and Punishment, beginning of Chapter 1, Pevear and Volokhonsky

The Pevear and Volokhonsky translation of Crime and Punishment looks like this:

Image for postKnopf, Vintage, Everyman / Pevear and Volokhonksy

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5. Oliver Ready (2014) / Penguin

The Penguin Oliver Ready translation of Crime and Punishment is available as a UK paperback (ISBN 9780141192802, 752 pages), as a Penguin Deluxe paperback with cover art by Zohar Lazar (ISBN 9780143107637, 608 pages), and as an ebook (ISBN 9780698194151). It includes:

  • An introduction
  • Notes
  • A chronology
  • A list for further reading
  • A note on translation
  • A list of characters, note on names
  • A preface to notes and notes

Oliver Ready is a British translator. His version of Crime and Punishment, his first translation of a classic work, seems well respected; some people seem to consider it the best thing since sliced bread. Personally, I don?t like either of the current covers, and I think I prefer the older, smoother sound of Garnett to this newer but supposedly more authentically jagged language Ready uses.

Here are some articles about the Oliver Ready translation of Crime and Punishment:

  • The Spectator: This new translation of Crime and Punishment is a masterpiece?[The] knife-edge between sentimentality and farce has been so skilfully and delicately captured here. A truly great translation.?
  • Los Angeles Review of Books: All Is Permitted, All Over Again?[I]t is Ready?s grander success that ought to be applauded, his ability to reproduce the whole heady brew of Dostoyevsky?s novel in a consistent but nimble modern English.?
  • The Wichita Eagle: Translation of Dostoyevsky?s ?Crime and Punishment? brings vitality, verve to classic novel?Now comes Oliver Ready?s vivid, new version of the book, promising to adhere more faithfully to the jagged, repetitive rantings inside Raskolnikov?s head and to keep the novel?s language at an even, modern keel, not too dated but not too hip.?
  • Russia Beyond: Dostoevsky?s cacophonic catastrophes?Ready? chose not to use 19th century English or contemporary language. Instead, his vocabulary belongs somewhere in the middle of the 20th century, and he tries to avoid words that appeared after the 1960s. This makes the new translation?s language ?modern, but not contemporary.??
  • Podularity: Conversations with Oliver Ready on Crime and Punishment?[W]hat persuaded him to take the project on? how did he limber up for it? and why ? unusually ? did he write his version out longhand rather than work on a computer??
  • The Nation: Floating in the Air?Published in 2014 by Penguin, Ready?s Crime and Punishment was praised for its preservation of Dostoyevsky?s humor, a welcome relief in a novel whose mixture of emotional intensity, philosophical speculation, and gruesome realism can at times be dizzying.?

The Oliver Ready translation of Crime and Punishment sounds like this:

Image for postCrime and Punishment, beginning of Chapter 1, Ready

The Oliver Ready translation of Crime and Punishment looks like this (UK/US):

Image for postPenguin / Ready

  • Buy UK paperback from Amazon
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  • Buy new deluxe paperback from BookDepository
  • Buy ebook from Amazon

6. Nicolas Pasternak Slater (2017) / Oxford

The Oxford World?s Classics Slater translation of Crime and Punishment is available as a hardcover (ISBN 9780198709701, 544 pages), as a paperback (ISBN 9780198709718, 544 pages) and as an ebook (ISBN 9780198707753). It was edited by Sarah J. Young and includes:

  • An introduction
  • A note on translation
  • A note on table of ranks
  • A bibliography
  • A chronology
  • A map of St Petersburg
  • A list of characters
  • Notes

Nicholas Pasternak Slater is the nephew of Russian novelist Boris Pasternak, author of Doctor Zhivago, and has translated Doctor Zhivago into English for The Folio Society. He was raised bilingual and has a degree in Russian literature from Oxford. He began translation work after retiring from a career as a medical doctor.

The Oxford Slater translation is not the one I read, but I have a good feeling about it, perhaps because the Oxford brand has a careful, academic flavor to it rather than a commercial one. I like the book design and the language choices in the extract.

Here are some articles about the Slater translation of Crime and Punishment:

  • TLS: Who-knows-he-dunnit??[If] a choice is needed then Pasternak Slater probably takes precedence over Katz: the Oxford University Press edition is beautifully produced and competitively priced, and Sarah J. Young has given it a better introduction and notes.?
  • Bloggers Karamazov: Translating Crime and Punishment?In this series of posts, Bloggers Karamazov sits down with the translators to talk about the experience of translating Dostoevsky?s most famous novel.?

The Oxford Slater translation of Crime and Punishment sounds like this:

Image for postCrime and Punishment, beginning of Chapter 1, Slater

The Oxford Slater translation of Crime and Punishment looks like this:

Image for postOxford / Slater

  • Buy new paperback from Amazon
  • Buy new hardcover from Amazon
  • Buy new paperback from BookDepository
  • Buy new hardcover from BookDepository
  • Buy ebook from Amazon

Note that Jessie Coulson was the translator of the older Oxford editions:

Image for postOxford / Coulson

7. Michael R. Katz (2018) / Liveright, Norton

The Michael R. Katz translation is available as a Norton Critical Edition paperback (ISBN 9780393264272, 576 pages) and ebook (ISBN 9780393270167). It includes:

  • A preface
  • A list of characters
  • A map
  • Material from the authors notes, letters, and drafts
  • 26 critical essays!
  • A chronology
  • Serialization
  • A bibliography

It is also available as a Liveright hardcover (ISBN 9781631490330, 621 pages), paperback (ISBN 9781631495311, 621 pages) and ebook. It includes:

  • introduction
  • note on the translation
  • list of characters
  • note on chracters? names

Michael Katz is an Emeritus Professor of Russian and East European Studies and the translator of over a dozen Russian novels. His translation is the newest of the whole batch. I?m impressed by the wealth of features in the Norton Critical Edition but the branding of the Liveright edition points to accessibility rather than scholarship, so I?m a bit confused. I guess there are two target markets! Which one are you in?

Here are some articles about the Katz translation of Crime and Punishment:

  • Bloggers Karamazov: Translating Crime and Punishment?In this series of posts, Bloggers Karamazov sits down with the translators to talk about the experience of translating Dostoevsky?s most famous novel.?
  • The Nation: Floating in the Air?Katz has added something with his own translation: Hoping to accentuate what he calls the novel?s ?richness of registers or tones,? he pays specific attention to how Dostoyevsky?s characters alternate between religious solemnity and drunken vulgarity. The new work also has an American simplicity and informality that sets it apart from Ready?s more elegant British rendering.?

The Katz translation of Crime and Punishment sounds like this:

Image for postCrime and Punishment, beginning of Chapter 1, Katz

The Katz translation of Crime and Punishment looks like this:

Image for postLiveright, Norton / Katz

Liveright (above left)

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Norton Critical Edition (above right)

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Note that Jessie Coulson was the translator of older Norton editions:

Image for postNorton / Coulson

?I want a fancy hardcover edition of Crime and Punishment.?

The in-print Penguin, Word Cloud, Macmillan, Everyman, and Oxford hardcover editions listed above look nice. (That Deluxe Penguin one is creepy, if you ask me? and not a hardcover.) If you?re looking for something really special, check out these out-of-print editions.

Crime and Punishment: Out-of-Print Collector?s Editions

Here?s an Abebooks search for all hardcover editions (oldest first). Here are some out-of-print editions to look out for:

  • Barnes & Noble Leatherbound Classics (translated by Garnett)
  • Easton Press (translated by Garnett, illustrated with wood-engravings by Fritz Eichenberg)
  • Franklin Library (translated by Coulson, illustrated by Robert and Corinne Borja)
  • International Collectors Library (abridged, revised by Kropotkin, illustrated by Marian L. Larer)
  • Folio Society (translated by David McDuff, illustrated by Harry Brockway, introduced by Stephen Tumim)
  • Illustrated Modern Library (translated by Garnett, illustrated by Philip Reisman)
  • Modern Library (translated by Garnett)

?I don?t want to read, like, the whole thing!?

I get where you?re coming from. But this book, despite its length, is not commonly published in an abridged version. You could try the restricted-vocabulary version written for English-as-a-second-language students, an online study guide summary, or an illustrated retelling (see below).

A note on page-counts: I?ve included them throughout. Doing this serves two purposes:

  • The high page-counts reveal the rough scale of the task you are taking on by reading the book, something you can also gauge by looking at photos that show spine-thickness.
  • Low page-counts indicate that the book is an abridgement or retelling.

There is a large variation in the page-counts between unabridged versions because:

  • Each version contains different front matter and back matter (introduction, end notes, etc.).
  • The page size, page margins, font, font size, and line spacing vary from book to book.

Thus you should realize that ?how many pages is the novel? is a question that has no one correct answer, but rather a range of answers.

Books written in contemporary English should have a static word count, regardless of how they are typeset, but this is not a figure that is commonly known or used by readers. Moreover, for works written in an older style of English, the word count could change dramatically if an editor updates the work to reflect modern spelling and punctuation conventions. Word counts will of course vary for works translated into English, as translations can never represent the original text word-for-word.

?Is there a student or ESL version??

Yes. The Level 6 Pearson/Penguin Reader (ISBN 9781405882620, 120 pages) has an introduction, list of characters, word list and activities. It comes with online resources and looks like this:

Image for postPenguin/Pearson English Readers

  • Buy new paperback from Amazon
  • Buy new paperback from BookDepository
  • Buy ebook from Amazon

?I need a study guide for Crime and Punishment!?

Try one of these.

Shmoop Guide for Crime and Punishment

SparkNotes Guide for Crime and Punishment

CliffsNotes Guide for Crime and Punishment

?I?m looking for a children?s edition of Crime and Punishment.?

Really? Well, I thought that was not a thing since it?s a novel about a murder? but I was wrong.

The 2016 Pushkin Children?s adaptation in the Save the Story series is a hardcover measuring approximately 8″ x 10″ (ISBN 9781782690146, 104 pages). It was translated by Stuart Schoffman, written by A.B. Yehoshua and illustrated by Sonja Bougaeva. It looks like this:

Image for postSave the Story / A.B. Yehoshua

  • Buy new hardcover from Amazon
  • Buy new hardcover from BookDepository

There are also some out of print comics.

Image for postClassics Illustrated, Classics Illustrated Notes, Lake Illustrated Classics, Pocket Classics

Classics Illustrated No 89, published in 1951, 48 pages (Abebooks)

Classics Illustrated Notes, published in 1997, ISBN 9781578400096, 64 pages. Edited by Andrew Jay Hoffman and illustrated by Rudolph Palais. (Abebooks)

Lake Illustrated Classics, published in 1994, ISBN 9781561036202, 64 pages. (Abebooks)

Pocket Classics, published in 1984, 9780883017494, 61 pages. (Abebooks)

?Is there a graphic novel of Crime and Punishment??

Check out the 2009 Eye Classics graphic novel adapted by David Zane Mairowitz, illustrated by Alain Korkos (ISBN 9781411415942, 129 pages).

Image for postEye Classics

  • Buy old/new paperback from Abebooks
  • Buy ebook from Amazon

?Is there manga of Crime and Punishment??

Um, yes, actually… Osamu Tezuka originally published a manga adaptation of Crime in Punishment in 1953. Digital Manga Guild produced a version in English (ISBN 9781569703526, 200 pages).

Image for postCutest ax-murderer ever? Thanks, Japan!

Read more about this item?s complicated publication history:

  • Wikipedia
  • TezukaInEnglish

Brought to you by serendipity!

I found some strange and unexpected things at the intersection of Art and Literature while doing research for this post.

Apparently there?s an artist in Chicago named Don Pollack who makes oil paintings of book cover mashups:

Image for postCrime and Punishment by Jane Austen

Yeah, that?s an oil painting! For US$12.5k it can be yours.

Also for your consideration, this Photoshop creation by London artist Simon James:

Image for postThe Russian Thing With That Guy by Fyodor Dostoevsky

His half-forgotten classics posters are the visual equivalent of that old librarian joke: ?What book are you looking for? What?s the title, or who?s it by?? ?I don?t know, but it was orange.?

Meanwhile on Kickstarter, Beehive Books has received backing for a slipcover heirloom illuminated edition of Crime and Punishment with illustrations by Dave McKean.

Image for postBeehive Books / Dave McKean

You can order a copy for $100.

TLDR? Get the Garnett translation of Crime and Punishment!

If you don?t want to spend a lot of time on the decision process, probably any translation would be fine.

Crime and Punishment [is] a story with a power that bursts through any English version. ? Washington Post

But personally I am convinced of the virtue of the Garnett translation, not simply because it is abundant and cheap or even free, or because that?s the one I read (which it was). Generations of readers have accessed Russian classics by means of Garnett?s translations; they are, themselves, classics.

  • Download free ebook from Standard Ebooks
  • Buy new Enriched Classics paperback from Amazon

If you have additions or corrections to suggest, please let me know.

If you have found this guide useful, please share it with others who may benefit. Thanks!

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