Another Day…

…another marvelous CSU story.

This morning I went off on a tangent in Latin 201, telling my students I reread Crime and Punishment this summer and making some obscure connection between the Dostoevsky novel and our text, the Cupid and Psyche story from Apuleius’s The Golden Ass.

Bill said, “Funny you should mention that book. Crime and Punishment is why I’m here.”

Before recounting his explanation, let me tell you about Bill. In his fifties, he’s a good-looking, fit guy, with a blunt, blue-collar demeanor. He wears a baseball cap and jeans and runs his own painting business. He’s interested in medieval history and wants eventually to teach in a community college. He’s friendly and good-humored and plain-spoken, capable, conscientious, and down-to-earth.

“My wife and I were going to see Crime and Punishment at the Cleveland Playhouse a few years ago,” he explained. “I thought, ‘I haven’t read a novel in twenty-five years. Maybe I should read the novel before we see the play.’”

So Bill read Crime and Punishment. He couldn’t believe how good it was and even cried a little at the end when the faithful Sonya accompanies Raskolnikov to prison in Siberia. So then he read The Brothers Karamazov and loved it, too. Then he read The Adolescent and The Idiot and a couple more and loved them all. “He’s a great writer,” Bill says.

“I decided that I might want to do some more of this. Reading and studying. So I enrolled in college.” He continues to attend school full-time, look after his family, and run his business.

I wonder what it might mean to callow adolescents (I love them, but they’re callow) to sit in a class with Bill. He doesn’t pontificate as older students sometimes do, he doesn’t talk down to anyone, and he struggles with Latin conditionals and deponent verbs like everyone else. Just by being here, though, and by being himself, he sets an example.

He’s in college because he read Crime and Punishment. What book changed your life?

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