Summer – a time for catching up, relaxing, exploring, starting new projects, or perhaps completing work in progress.  Reading, of course, is key in all of these.  With this in mind, we asked some faculty members at St. John’s about books that have influenced them personally or professionally.

Dr. William Over, a professor in the Department of English and Speech, writes:

Reading Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky as a teenager exposed me to a culture radically different from our own.  Still, Dostoyevsky’s story about an idealistic young man who misjudges his own moral capacity and the effects of an action on his conscience resonated with my personal development during the turbulent 1960’s.  For me the most remarkable scene in the novel was the moment when the peasant whips his draft horse to death.  Surrounded by a street crowd both encouraging and decrying his obsessive action, the peasant driver releases his personal anguish through the relentless bludgeoning of his animal.  The moment is famous as a realistic example of human cruelty towards animals but also as a trope for the persistent pathology of general oppression.  Today such cruelty remains common at home and internationally; Dostoyevsky’s genius offers a compelling instance of self-inflicted moral despair.


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