My old paperback is the classic Garnett translation. The first time through I did confuse the characters, especially the women. There aren't so very many main characters, but each one does have two or more names, and wasn't obvious to me that Grushenka is a nickname for Agrafena Alexandrovna.
The next time, the characters were more familiar, and I didn't worry about keeping track of the many minor characters, like the schoolboys. Still, a character guide might help.
This time I am reading on Kindle, and decided to try a different translation. The P&V version was recommended, and I am enjoying it. At first I didn't notice much difference, but soon I found the explanatory footnotes very helpful and interesting. The language also seems to be more faithful to the original, though no less readable. Here's an example.
I could have done better than that. I could have known more than that, if it had not been for my destiny from my childhood up. I would have shot a man in a duel if he called me names because I am descended from a filthy beggar and have no father. And they used to throw it in my teeth in Moscow. It had reached them from here, thanks to Grigory Vassilyevitch. Grigory Vassilyevitch blames me for rebelling against my birth, but I would have sanctioned their killing me before I was born that I might not have come into the world at all.
I could have done even better, miss, and I’d know a lot more, if it wasn’t for my destiny ever since childhood. I’d have killed a man in a duel with a pistol for calling me low-born, because I came from Stinking Lizaveta without a father, and they were shoving that in my face in Moscow, it spread there thanks to Grigory Vasilievich. Grigory Vasilievich reproaches me for rebelling against my nativity: ‘You opened her matrix,’ he says.* I don’t know about her matrix, but I'd have let them kill me in the womb, so as not to come out into the world at all, miss.
The footnote explains that Grigory uses a biblical expression, as is his habit; here "matrix" is a term for the womb (used in Exodus 13:12). Google Translate suggests that P&V is more faithful.
Я бы не то еще мог-с, я бы и не то еще знал-с, если бы не жребий мой с самого моего сыздетства. Я бы на дуэли из пистолета того убил, который бы мне произнес, что я подлец, потому что без отца от Смердящей произошел, а они и в Москве это мне в глаза тыкали, отсюда благодаря Григорию Васильевичу переползло-с. Григорий Васильевич попрекает, что я против рождества бунтую: «Ты, дескать, ей ложесна разверз». Оно пусть ложесна, но я бы дозволил убить себя еще во чреве с тем, чтобы лишь на свет не происходить вовсе-с.
I would not even could, sir, I would not even know, sir, if it was not my lot since I syzdetstva. I would duel pistol that killed him, where I said that I was a scoundrel, because without my father came from the filthy, and they in Moscow it poked me in the eye, hence crawled through Grigory sir. Grigory reproaches that I rebel against Christmas: "You say, rend her womb." It let the womb, but I would have to kill himself has permitted even in the womb, so that only the light did not occur at all, sir.
The footnotes indicate that the characters are constantly quoting, misquoting, and alluding to Schiller, Pushkin and other classic texts. It is a little distracting to interrupt the narrative with these, but very interesting.