Breaking the Rules

25 Jul

I’m thinking about breaking the rules.

I’m seriously considering it.

What’s causing this temptation to cheat?  The Russian names!

In the “How to Read a Novel” section of our guide-book, The Well-Educated Mind, SWB suggests that I keep a list of characters as I read.  In the past, I have done this faithfully (okay, I did completely forget to for Gulliver’s Travels), but I am having a doozy of a time keeping a list for Crime and Punishment.  The names!  Oh, The NAMES!

And I was warned. SWB says, “Sometimes (especially in Russian works) characters have two (or more) names; your character list can help keep them straight.”  I thought I was prepared.  I was wrong.

I finished chapter four last night.  In fifty-four pages I’ve met Raskolnikov, Rodya, and Rodion Romanovitch Raskolnikov.  Hey, what do you know?  It’s three names for the same person.  Silly me for calling him Rask in my notes.

Okay, so Rask’s name game isn’t too difficult to play, but what about Sonia?  Did you catch that her name is Sofya Semyonovna Marmeladov?   Her nickname is Sonia?  Because that’s so much shorter than Sofya (hear the sarcasm?)  I confess that when I wrote down Pyotr Petrovitch (Dounia’s fiancé), I missed that his last name was Luzhin until the next chapter when I couldn’t figure out why Rask was so angry at Mr. Luzhin.  Mr Luzhin?  Who’s that?  He wasn’t on my list.  I had to backtrack until I found my omission.

Today I sneaked a peek at Sparknotes.  I want their character list.  No! I’m not linking up to it.  If you’re going to cheat you’ll have to do it yourself.

I promise to tattle on myself if I do cave and print out that list.

Are you keeping everyone straight?


Posted by on July 25, 2012 in Crime and Punishment


Tags: , , ,

11 responses to “Breaking the Rules

  1. Adriana @ Classical Quest

    July 25, 2012 at 7:07 am

    I think this is a good place to say that I think the characterization in C&P is solid. The characters feel complex, like real human beings. They are memorable. But I agree with you — I have trouble keeping my own children’s names straight!

    I don’t think a little peek at a character map now and then will hurt anything. (But shhh! Don’t tell SWB!)

    • Christine

      July 25, 2012 at 1:11 pm

      I agree. The characters have depth.
      (and I call my kids by the wrong names all the time)

    • Christine

      August 2, 2012 at 8:23 pm

      I think back to Pilgrim’s Progress when the characters’ names were the very virtue or sin they embodied. We’ve come a long way since then.

  2. lutheranmama

    July 25, 2012 at 9:35 am

    Well, I bought a book with a cheat sheet in the front (Barnes and Noble Classic – $6.99). It’s been very helpful! I’m on part 2 now, and more than a little depressed… :/

    • Christine

      July 25, 2012 at 1:12 pm

      I wish my book had a cheat sheet. Congrats on your speedy reading.

  3. Christina Joy

    July 25, 2012 at 11:26 am

    My copy (the one pictured in our sidebar) has a character list and explanation of Russian names in the front. It also happens to be the one SWB recommends. Therefore, I don’t think printing out a list would be cheating at all. In fact it’s practically required.

    • Christine

      July 25, 2012 at 1:13 pm

      An explanation of Russian names? Now that sounds interesting.

  4. Stacy

    July 26, 2012 at 5:32 pm

    Forgive me, for I am often wrong, but isn’t Pyotr Petrovich the fiance of Dunya, not Sonya? Are Dunya and Sonya the same person? These names…….

    • Christine

      July 27, 2012 at 10:55 pm

      No! You are absolutely correct. Pyotr and Dounia go together. See how desperately I need that character list? Thanks for catching my mistake!


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