Crime and Punishment

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Crime and Punishment
Crimeandpunishmentcover.png
1956 Random House printing of Crime and Punishment, translated by Constance Garnett
Author Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Original title Преступление и наказание
Language Russian
Genre Philosophical novel
Publisher The Russian Messenger (series)
Publication date
1866
OCLC 26399697
891.73/3 20
LC Class PG3326 .P7 1993

Crime and Punishment (Russian: Преступлéние и наказáние, Prestupleniye i nakazaniye) is a novel by the Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky. It was first published in the literary journal The Russian Messenger in twelve monthly installments during 1866.[1] It was later published in a single volume. It is the second of Dostoyevsky's full-length novels following his return from ten years of exile in Siberia. Crime and Punishment is the first great novel of his "mature" period of writing.[2]

Crime and Punishment focuses on the mental anguish and moral dilemmas of Rodion Raskolnikov, an impoverished ex-student in St. Petersburg who formulates and executes a plan to kill an unscrupulous pawnbroker for her cash. Raskolnikov argues that with the pawnbroker's money he can perform good deeds to counterbalance the crime, while ridding the world of a worthless vermin. He also commits this murder to test his own hypothesis that some people are naturally capable of such things, and even have the right to do them. Several times throughout the novel, Raskolnikov justifies his actions by comparing himself with Napoleon Bonaparte, believing that murder is permissible in pursuit of a higher purpose.

Creation[edit]

Dostoyevsky conceived the idea of Crime and Punishment in the summer of 1865, having gambled away much of his fortune, unable to pay his bills or afford proper meals. At the time the author owed large sums of money to creditors, and was trying to help the family of his brother Mikhail, who had died in early 1864. Projected under the title The Drunkards, it was to deal "with the present question of drunkness ... [in] all its ramifications, especially the picture of a family and the bringing up of children in these circumstance, etc., etc." Once Dostoyevsky conceived Raskolnikov and his crime, now inspired by the case of Pierre François Lacenaire, this theme became ancillary, centering on the story of the Marmeladov family.[3]

Dostoyevsky offered his story or novella (at the time Dostoyevsky was not thinking of a novel[4]) to the publisher Mikhail Katkov, whose monthly journal, The Russian Messenger, was a prestigious publication of its kind, and the outlet for both Ivan Turgenev and Leo Tolstoy. However, Dostoyevsky, having carried on quite bruising polemics with Katkov in early 1860s, had never published anything in its pages. Nonetheless, forced by his situation, after all other appeals elsewhere failed, Dostoyevsky turned as a last resort to Katkov, urging for an advance on a proposed contribution.[5] In a letter to Katkov written in September 1865, Dostoyevsky explained to him that the work was to be about a young man who yields to "certain strange, 'unfinished' ideas, yet floating in the air";[6] he had thus embarked on his plan to explore the moral and psychological dangers of the ideology of "radicalism".[7] In letters written in November 1865 an important conceptual change occurred: the "story" has become a "novel", and from here on all references to Crime and Punishment are to a novel.[8]

Dostoyevsky had to race against time, in order to finish on time both The Gambler and Crime and Punishment. Anna Snitkina, a stenographer who would soon become his second wife, was a great help for Dostoyevsky during this difficult task.[9] The first part of Crime and Punishment appeared in the January 1866 issue of The Russian Messenger, and the last one was published in December 1866.[10]

At the end of November much had been written and was ready; I burned it all; I can confess that now. I didn't like it myself. A new form, a new plan excited me, and I started all over again.

— Dostoyevsky's letter to his friend Alexander Wrangel in February 1866[11]

In the complete edition of Dostoyevsky's writings published in the Soviet Union, the editors reassembled and printed the notebooks that the writer kept while working on Crime and Punishment, in a sequence roughly corresponding to the various stages of composition. Because of these labors, there is now a fragmentary working draft of the story, or novella, as initially conceived, as well as two other versions of the text. These have been distinguished as the Wiesbaden edition, the Petersburg edition, and the final plan, involving the shift from a first-person narrator to the indigenous variety of third-person form invented by Dostoyevsky.[12] The Wiesbaden edition concentrates entirely on the moral/physic reactions of the narrator after the murder. It coincides roughly with the story that Dostoyevsky described in his letter to Katkov, and written in a form of a diary or journal, corresponds to what eventually became part II.[13]

I wrote [this chapter] with genuine inspiration, but perhaps it is no good; but for them the question is not its literary worth, they are worried about its morality. Here I was in the right—nothing was against morality, and even quite the contrary, but they saw otherwise and, what's more, saw traces of nihilism ... I took it back, and this revision of a large chapter cost me at least three new chapters of work, judging by the effort and the weariness; but I corrected it and gave it back.

— Dostoyevsky's letter to A.P. Milyukov[14]

Why Dostoyevsky abandoned his initial version remains a matter of speculation. According to Joseph Frank, "one possibility is that his protagonist began to develop beyond the boundaries in which he had first been conceived".[15] The notebooks indicate that Dostoyevsky was aware of the emergence of new aspects of Raskolnikov's character as the plot action proceeded, and he structured the novel in conformity with this "metamorphosis," Frank says.[16] Dostoyevsky thus decided to fuse the story with his previous idea for a novel called The Drunkards.[17] The final version of Crime and Punishment came to birth only when, in November 1865, Dostoyevsky decided to recast his novel in the third person. This shift was the culmination of a long struggle, present through all the early stages of composition.[18] Once having decided, Dostoyevsky began to rewrite from scratch, and was able to easily integrate sections of the early manuscript into the final text—Frank says that he did not, as he told Wrangel, burn everything he had written earlier.[19]

The final draft went smoothly, except for a clash with the editors of The Russian Messenger, about which very little is known. Since the manuscript Dostoyevsky turned in to Katkov was lost, it is unclear to what the editors had objected in the original.

Plot[edit]

Raskolnikov, a conflicted former student, lives in a tiny, rented room in Saint Petersburg. He refuses all help, even from his friend Razumikhin, and devises a plan to murder and to rob an unpleasant elderly pawn-broker and money-lender, Alyona Ivanovna. His motivation comes from the overwhelming sense that he is predetermined to kill the old woman by some power outside of himself. While still considering the plan, Raskolnikov makes the acquaintance of Semyon Zakharovich Marmeladov, a drunkard who recently squandered his family's little wealth. He also receives a letter from his sister and mother, speaking of their coming visit to Saint Petersburg, and his sister's sudden marriage plans which they plan to discuss upon their arrival.

After much deliberation, Raskolnikov sneaks into Alyona Ivanovna's apartment, where he murders her with an axe. He also kills her half-sister, Lizaveta, who happens to stumble upon the scene of the crime. Shaken by his actions, Raskolnikov manages to steal only a handful of items and a small purse, leaving much of the pawn-broker's wealth untouched. Raskolnikov then flees and, due to a series of coincidences, manages to leave unseen and undetected.

After the bungled murder, Raskolnikov falls into a feverish state and begins to worry obsessively over the murder. He hides the stolen items and purse under a rock, and tries desperately to clean his clothing of any blood or evidence. He falls into a fever later that day, though not before calling briefly on his old friend Razumikhin. As the fever comes and goes in the following days, Raskolnikov behaves as though he wishes to betray himself. He shows strange reactions to whoever mentions the murder of the pawn-broker, which is now known about and talked of in the city. In his delirium, Raskolnikov wanders Saint Petersburg, drawing more and more attention to himself and his relation to the crime. In one of his walks through the city, he sees Marmeladov, who has been struck mortally by a carriage in the streets. Rushing to help him, Raskolnikov gives the remainder of his money to the man's family, which includes his teenage daughter, Sonya, who has been forced to become a prostitute to support her family.

In the meantime, Raskolnikov's mother, Pulkheria Alexandrovna, and his sister, Avdotya Romanovna (or Dounia) have arrived in the city. Dounia had been working as a governess for the Svidrigaïlov family until this point, but was forced out of the position by the head of the family, Arkady Ivanovich Svidrigaïlov. Svidrigaïlov, a married man, was attracted to Dounia's physical beauty and her feminine qualities, and offered her riches and elopement. Dounia, having none of this, fled the family and lost her source of income, only to meet Pyotr Petrovich Luzhin, a man of modest income and rank. Luzhin proposes to marry Dounia, thereby securing her and her mother's financial safety, provided she accept him quickly and without question. It is for these very reasons that the two of them come to Saint Petersburg, both to meet Luzhin there and to obtain Raskolnikov's approval. Luzhin, however, calls on Raskolnikov while he is in a delirious state and presents himself as a foolish, self-righteous and presuming man. Raskolnikov dismisses him immediately as a potential husband for his sister, and realizes that she only accepted him to help her family.

As the novel progresses, Raskolnikov is introduced to the detective Porfiry, who begins to suspect him for the murder purely on psychological grounds. At the same time, a chaste relationship develops between Raskolnikov and Sonya. Sonya, though a prostitute, is full of Christian virtue and is only driven into the profession by her family's poverty. Meanwhile, Razumikhin and Raskolnikov manage to keep Dounia from continuing her relationship with Luzhin, whose true character is exposed to be conniving and base. At this point, Svidrigaïlov appears on the scene, having come from the province to Petersburg, almost solely to seek out Dounia. He reveals that his wife is dead, and that he is willing to pay Dounia a vast sum of money in exchange for nothing. She, upon hearing the news, refuses flat out, suspecting him of treachery.

As Raskolnikov and Porfiry continue to meet, Raskolnikov's motives for the crime become exposed. Porfiry becomes increasingly certain of the man's guilt, but has no concrete evidence or witnesses with which to back up this suspicion. Furthermore, another man admits to committing the crime under questioning and arrest. However, Raskolnikov's nerves continue to wear thin, and he is constantly struggling with the idea of confessing, though he knows that he can never be truly convicted. He turns to Sonya for support and confesses his crime to her. By coincidence, Svidrigaïlov has taken up residence in a room next to Sonya's and overhears the entire confession. When the two men meet face to face, Svidrigaïlov acknowledges this fact, and suggests that he may use it against him, should he need to. Svidrigaïlov also speaks of his own past, and Raskolnikov grows to suspect that the rumors about his having committed several murders are true. In a later conversation with Dounia, Svidrigaïlov denies that he had a hand in the death of his wife.

Raskolnikov is at this point completely torn; he is urged by Sonya to confess, and Svidrigaïlov's testimony could potentially convict him. Furthermore, Porfiry confronts Raskolnikov with his suspicions and assures him confession would substantially lighten his sentence. Meantime, Svidrigaïlov attempts to seduce Dounia, but when he realizes that she will never love him, he lets her go. He then spends a night in confusion and in the morning shoots himself. This same morning, Raskolnikov goes again to Sonya, who again urges him to confess and to clear his conscience. He makes his way to the police station, where he is met by the news of Svidrigaïlov's suicide. He hesitates a moment, thinking again that he might get away with a perfect crime, but is persuaded by Sonya to confess.

The epilogue tells of how Raskolnikov is sentenced to eight years of penal servitude in Siberia, where Sonya follows him. Dounia and Razumikhin marry and are left in a happy position by the end of the novel, while Pulkheria, Raskolnikov's mother, falls ill and dies, unable to cope with her son's situation. Raskolnikov himself struggles in Siberia. It is only after some time in prison that his redemption and moral regeneration begin under Sonya's loving influence.[20]

Characters[edit]

In Crime and Punishment, Dostoyevsky succeeds in fusing the personality of his main character, Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov (Russian: Родион Романович Раскольников), with his new anti-radical ideological themes. The main plot involves a murder as the result of "ideological intoxication," and depicts all the disastrous moral and psychical consequences that result from the murder. Raskolnikov's psychology is placed at the center, and carefully interwoven with the ideas behind his transgression; every other feature of the novel illuminates the agonizing dilemma in which Raskolnikov is caught.[21] From another point of view, the novel's plot is another variation of a conventional nineteenth-century theme: an innocent young provincial comes to seek his fortune in the capital, where he succumbs to corruption, and loses all traces of his former freshness and purity. However, as Gary Rosenshield points out, "Raskolnikov succumbs not to the temptations of high society as Honoré de Balzac's Rastignac or Stendhal's Julien Sorel, but to those of rationalistic Petersburg".[22]

Raskolnikov (Rodion) is the protagonist, and the novel focuses primarily on his perspective. A 23-year-old man and former student, now destitute, Raskolnikov is described in the novel as "exceptionally handsome, above the average in height, slim, well built, with beautiful dark eyes and dark brown hair." Perhaps the most striking feature of Raskolnikov, however, is his dual personality. On the one hand, he is cold, apathetic, and antisocial; on the other, he can be surprisingly warm and compassionate. He commits murder as well as acts of compulsive charity. His chaotic interaction with the external world and his nihlistic worldview might be seen as a the cause of his social alienation or the consequence of it.

Despite its title, the novel does not so much deal with the crime and its formal punishment, as with Raskolnikov's internal struggle (the book shows that his punishment results more from his conscience than from the law). Believing society would be better for it, Raskolnikov commits murder with the idea that he possessed enough intellectual and emotional fortitude to deal with the ramifications, [based on his paper/thesis, "On Crime", that he is a Napoleon], but his sense of guilt soon overwhelms him to the point of psychological and somatic illness. It is only in the epilogue that he realizes his formal punishment, having decided to confess and end his alienation from society.

Sofia Semyonovna Marmeladova (Russian: Софья Семёновна Мармеладова), variously called Sonia (Sonya) and Sonechka, is the daughter of a drunkard named Semyon Zakharovich Marmeladov, whom Raskolnikov meets in a tavern at the beginning of the novel. She is often characterized as self-sacrificial, shy, and even innocent despite the fact that she is compelled into prostitution to help her family. She also, as Raskolnikov discerns, shares the same feelings of shame and alienation as he does and becomes the first person to whom Raskolnikov confesses his crime, and she supports him even though she was friends with one of the victims (Lizaveta). Throughout the novel, Sonya is an important source of moral strength and rehabilitation for Raskolnikov, and in some interpretations, even considered a Christ-like figure. She is forced to prostitute herself to provide for her family, leading some critics to make comparisons with Mary Magdalene.

Avdotya Romanovna Raskolnikova (Авдотья Романовна Раскольникова) – Raskolnikov's dominant and sympathetic sister, called Dunya, Dounia or Dunechka for short. She initially plans to marry the wealthy, yet smug and self-possessed, Luzhin, to free the family from financial destitution. She has a habit of pacing across the room while thinking. She is followed to Saint Petersburg by the disturbed Svidrigailov, who seeks to win her back through blackmail. She rejects both men in favour of Raskolnikov's loyal friend, Razumikhin.

Pulkheria Alexandrovna Raskolnikova (Пульхерия Александровна Раскольникова) – Raskolnikov's relatively clueless, hopeful and loving mother. Following Raskolnikov's sentence, she falls ill (mentally and physically) and eventually dies. She hints in her dying stages that she is slightly more aware of her son's fate, which was hidden from her by Dunya and Razumikhin.

Dmitri Prokofich Razumikhin (Дмитрий Прокофьич Разумихин) – Raskolnikov's loyal friend. In terms of Razumikhin's contribution to Dostoyevsky's anti-radical thematics, he is intended to represent something of a reconciliation of the pervasive thematic conflict between faith and reason. The fact that his name means "reason" shows Dostoyevsky's desire to employ this faculty as a foundational basis for his Christian faith in God.

Other characters of the novel are:

  • Praskovya Pavlovna Zarnitsyna (Прасковья Павловна Зарницына) – Raskolnikov's landlady (called Pashenka). Shy and retiring, Praskovya Pavlovna does not figure prominently in the course of events. Raskolnikov had been engaged to her daughter, a sickly girl who had died, and Praskovya Pavlovna had granted him extensive credit on the basis of this engagement and a promissory note for 115 roubles. She had then handed this note to a court councillor named Chebarov, who had claimed the note, causing Raskolnikov to be summoned to the police station the day after his crime.
  • Porfiry Petrovich (Порфирий Петрович) – The detective in charge of solving the murders of Lizaveta and Alyona Ivanovna, who, along with Sonya, moves Raskolnikov towards confession. Unlike Sonya, however, Porfiry does this through psychological games. Despite the lack of evidence, he becomes certain Raskolnikov is the murderer following several conversations with him, but gives him the chance to confess voluntarily. He attempts to confuse and to provoke the unstable Raskolnikov in an attempt to coerce him to confess.
  • Arkady Ivanovich Svidrigaïlov (Аркадий Иванович Свидригайлов) – Sensual, depraved, and wealthy former employer and current pursuer of Dunya, Svidrigaïlov is suspected of multiple acts of murder, and overhears Raskolnikov's confessions to Sonya. With this knowledge he torments both Dunya and Raskolnikov but does not inform the police. When Dunya tells him she could never love him (after attempting to shoot him) he lets her go and commits suicide. Despite his apparent malevolence, Svidrigaïlov is similar to Raskolnikov in regard to his random acts of charity. He fronts the money for the Marmeladov children to enter an orphanage (after both their parents die), gives Sonya five percent bank notes totalling three thousand rubles, and leaves the rest of his money to his juvenile fiancée. There is an interesting fact: Svidrigaïlov has blue eyes; blue color in Russian culture symbolizes purity, kindness, and innocence, implying that Svidrigaïlov is a good person beneath his philandering exterior. (It is noteworthy that Sonya also has blue eyes.)
  • Marfa Petrovna Svidrigaïlova (Марфа Петровна Свидригайлова) – Arkady Svidrigaïlov's deceased wife, whom he is suspected of having murdered, and who he claims has visited him as a ghost. Her bequest of 3,000 rubles to Dunya allows Dunya to reject Luzhin as a suitor.
  • Katerina Ivanovna Marmeladova (Катерина Ивановна Мармеладова) – Semyon Marmeladov's consumptive and ill-tempered second wife, stepmother to Sonya. She drives Sonya into prostitution in a fit of rage, but later regrets it, and beats her children mercilessly, but works ferociously to improve their standard of living. She is obsessed with demonstrating that slum life is far below her station. Following Marmeladov's death, she uses Raskolnikov's money to hold a funeral. She later succumbs to her illness. The character is partially based on Polina Suslova.[23]
  • Semyon Zakharovich Marmeladov (Семён Захарович Мармеладов) – Hopeless drunk who indulges in his own suffering, and father of Sonya. Marmeladov could be seen as a Russian equivalent of the character of Micawber in Charles Dickens' novel, David Copperfield.
  • Pyotr Petrovich Luzhin (Пётр Петрович Лужин) – A well-off lawyer who is engaged to Raskolnikov's sister Dunya in the beginning of the novel. His motives for the marriage are rather despicable, as he states more or less that he chose her since she will be completely beholden to him financially.
  • Andrey Semyenovich Lebezyatnikov (Андрей Семёнович Лебезятников) – Luzhin's utopian socialist and feminist roommate who witnesses his attempt to frame Sonya and subsequently exposes him
  • Alyona Ivanovna (Алёна Ивановна) – Suspicious old pawnbroker who hoards money and is merciless to her patrons. She is Raskolnikov's intended target, and he kills her in the beginning of the book.
  • Lizaveta Ivanovna (Лизавета Ивановна) – Alyona's handicapped, innocent and submissive sister. Raskolnikov murders her when she walks in immediately after Raskolnikov had killed Alyona. Lizaveta was a friend of Sonya.
  • Zosimov (Зосимов) – A friend of Razumikhin and a doctor who cared for Raskolnikov
  • Nastasya Petrovna (Настасья Петровна) – Raskolnikov's landlady's servant who often brings Raskolnikov food and drink
  • Nikodim Fomich (Никодим Фомич)– The amiable chief of police
  • Ilya "Gunpowder" Petrovich (Илья Петрович) – A police official and Fomich's assistant
  • Alexander Grigorievich Zamyotov (Александр Григорьевич Заметов) – Head clerk at the police station and friend to Razumikhin. Raskolnikov arouses Zamyotov's suspicions by explaining how he, Raskolnikov, would have committed various crimes, although Zamyotov later apologizes, believing, much to Raskolnikov's amusement, that it was all a farce to expose how ridiculous the suspicions were.
  • Nikolai Dementiev (Николай Дементьев) – A self-sacrificial painter and sectarian who admits to the murder, since his sect holds it to be supremely virtuous to suffer for another person's crime
  • Polina Mikhailovna Marmeladova (Полина Михайловна Мармеладова) – Ten-year-old adopted daughter of Semyon Zakharovich Marmeladov and younger stepsister to Sonya, sometimes known as Polechka
Name Word Meaning (in Russian)
Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov raskol a schism, or split; "raskolnik" is "one who splits" or "dissenter"; the verb raskalyvat' means "to cleave", "to chop","to crack","to split" or "to break". The former translations clarify the literal meaning of the word. The figurative meaning of the word is "to bring to light", "to make to confess or acknowledge the truth", etc.
Pyotr Petrovich Luzhin luzha a puddle
Dmitri Prokofich Razumikhin razum rationality, mind, intelligence
Alexander Grigorievich Zamyotov zametit to notice, to realize
Andrey Semyenovich Lebezyatnikov lebezit to fawn on somebody, to cringe
Semyon Zakharovich Marmeladov marmelad marmalade/jam
Arkady Ivanovich Svidrigailov Svidrigailo a Lithuanian duke of the fifteenth century (the name given to a character rather by sound, than by meaning)
Porfiry Petrovich Porphyry (perhaps) named after the Neoplatonic philosopher or after the Russian "порфира" ("porphyra") meaning "purple, purple mantle"

Structure[edit]

Crime and Punishment has a distinct beginning, middle and end. The novel is divided into six parts, with an epilogue. The notion of "intrinsic duality" in Crime and Punishment has been commented upon, with the suggestion that there is a degree of symmetry to the book.[24] Edward Wasiolek who has argued that Dostoyevsky was a skilled craftsman, highly conscious of the formal pattern in his art, has likened the structure of Crime and Punishment to a "flattened X", saying:

Parts I-III [of Crime and Punishment] present the predominantly rational and proud Raskolnikov: Parts IV-VI, the emerging "irrational" and humble Raskolnikov. The first half of the novel shows the progressive death of the first ruling principle of his character; the last half, the progressive birth of the new ruling principle. The point of change comes in the very middle of the novel.[25]

This compositional balance is achieved by means of the symmetrical distribution of certain key episodes throughout the novel's six parts. The recurrence of these episodes in the two-halves of the novel, as David Bethea has argued, is organized according to a mirror-like principle, whereby the "left" half of the novel reflects the "right" half.[24] For her part, Margaret Church discerns a contrapuntal structuring: parts I, III and V deal largely with the main hero's relationship to his family (mother, sister and mother surrogates), while parts II, IV and VI deal with his relationship to the authorities of the state "and to various father figures".[26]

The seventh part of the novel, the Epilogue, has attracted much attention and controversy. Some of Dostoyevsky's critics have criticized the novel's final pages as superfluous, anti-climactic, unworthy of the rest of the work,[27] while others have rushed to the defense of the Epilogue, offering various ingenious schemes which conclusively prove its inevitability and necessity. Steven Cassedy argues that Crime and Punishment "is formally two distinct but closely related, things, namely a particular type of tragedy in the classical Greek mold and a Christian resurrection tale".[28] Cassedy concludes that "the logical demands of the tragic model as such are satisfied without the Epilogue in Crime and Punishment ... At the same time, this tragedy contains a Christian component, and the logical demands of this element are met only by the resurrection promised in the Epilogue".[29]

Crime and Punishment is written from a third-person omniscient perspective. It is focalized primarily from the point of view of Raskolnikov; however, it does at times switch to the perspective of Svidrigailov, Razumikhin, Peter Petrovich, or Dunya. This narrative technique, which fuses the narrator very closely with the consciousness and point of view of the central characters of the plot, was original for its period. Franks notes that his identification, through Dostoyevsky's use of the time shifts of memory and his manipulation of temporal sequence, begins to approach the later experiments of Henry James, Joseph Conrad, Virginia Woolf, and James Joyce. A late nineteenth-century reader was, however, accustomed to more orderly and linear types of expository narration. This led to the persistence of the legend that Dostoyevsky was an untidy and negligent craftsman and to critical observations like the following by Melchior de Vogüé:

A word ... one does not even notice, a small fact that takes up only a line, have their reverberations fifty pages later ... [so that] the continuity becomes unintelligible if one skips a couple of pages.[30]

Dostoevsky uses different speech mannerisms and sentences of different length for different characters. Those who use artificial language—Luzhin, for example—are identified as unattractive people. Mrs. Marmeladov's disintegrating mind is reflected in her language, too. In the original Russian text, the names of the major characters have something of a double meaning, but in translation the subtlety of the Russian language is predominately always lost due to the major differences in the language structure and culture. For example, the original title ("Преступление и наказание") is not the direct equivalent to the English. "Преступление" is literally translated as a stepping across. The physical image of crime as a crossing over a barrier or a boundary is lost in translation. So is the religious implication of transgression, which in English refers to a sin rather than a crime.[31]

Symbolism[edit]

Dreams[edit]

Raskolnikov's dreams have a symbolic meaning, which suggests a psychological view. The dream of the mare being whipped has been suggested as the fullest single expression of the whole novel,[32] symbolizing gratification and punishment, contemptible motives and contemptible society, depicting the nihilistic destruction of an unfit mare, the gratification therein, and Rodion's disgust and horror, as an example of his conflicted character. Raskolnikov's disgust and horror is central to the theme of his conflicted character, his guilty conscience, his contempt for society, his rationality of himself as an extraordinary man above greater society, holding authority to kill, and his concept of justified murder. His reaction is pivotal, provoking his first taking of life toward the rationalization of himself as above greater society. The dream is later mentioned when Raskolnikov talks to Marmeladov. Marmeladov's daughter, morally chaste and devout Sonya, must earn a living as a prostitute for their impoverished family, the result of his alcoholism. The dream is also a warning, foreshadowing an impending murder and holds several comparisons to his murder of the pawnbroker. The dream occurs after Rodion crosses a bridge leading out of the oppressive heat and dust of Petersburg and into the fresh greenness of the islands. This symbolizes a corresponding mental crossing, suggesting that Raskolnikov is returning to a state of clarity when he has the dream. In it, he returns to the innocence of his childhood and watches as a group of peasants beat an old mare to death. After Raskolnikov awakes, he reflects on it as a “such a hideous dream,” the same term he earlier used to describe his plot to kill the old woman (62).[33] This diction draws a parallel between the two, suggesting that the child represents the part of him that clings to morality and watches horrified as another facet, represented by the peasants, is driven by hardship and isolation to become cold and unfeeling. The constant laughing of the peasants in the face of brutal slaughter reveals the extent to which they have been desensitized by their suffering, which is a reflection of Raskolnikov’s own condition. This interpretation is further supported by fact that the main peasant, Mikolka, feels that he has the right to kill the horse, linking his actions to Raskolnikov’s theory justifying murder for a select group of extraordinary men. The comparison between the cruel slaughter of the old mare and the plan to murder Alyona Ivanovna delineates the brutality of Raskolnikov’s crime, which is often downplayed by his habitual dehumanizing referral to the old woman as simply a “louse.” While awake, Raskolnikov’s view of the old woman is spiteful, defined by his tenacious belief in his extraordinary man theory. However, the dream acts as a conduit for Raskolnikov’s subconscious, and without the constraints of his theory the horrific nature of his crime becomes apparent. Therefore, in order for Raskolnikov find redemption, he must ultimately renounce his theory. In the final pages, Raskolnikov, who at this point is in the prison infirmary, has a feverish dream about a plague of nihilism, that enters Russia and Europe from the east and which spreads senseless dissent (Raskolnikov's name alludes to "raskol", dissent) and fanatic dedication to "new ideas": it finally engulfs all of mankind. Though we don't learn anything about the content of these ideas they clearly disrupt society forever and are seen as exclusively critical assaults on ordinary thinking: it is clear that Dostoyevsky was envisaging the new, politically and culturally nihilist ideas which were entering Russian literature and society in this watershed decade and with which Dostoyevsky would be in debate for the rest of his life (cp. Chernyshevsky's What Is to Be Done?, Dobrolyubov's abrasive journalism, Turgenev's Fathers and Sons and Dostoyevsky's own The Possessed). Janko Lavrin, who took part in the revolutions of the World War I era, knew Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky and many others, and later would spend years writing and researching on Dostoyevsky and other Russian classics, called this final dream "prophetic in its symbolism".

Cross[edit]

Sonya gives Rodya a cross when he goes to turn himself in and symbolizes the burden Raskolnikov must bear. Sonya tells him they will bear the cross together and is taking part of his burden onto herself, encouraging him to confess. Sonya and Lizaveta had exchanged crosses, so originally the cross was Lizaveta's—whom Rodya didn't intend to kill, making it an important symbol of redemption. Sonya's face reminds him of Lizaveta's face, another example of his guilty conscience and symbolizes a shared grief. Self-sacrifice, along with poverty, is a larger theme of the novel. The desperation of poverty creates a situation where the only way to survive is through self-sacrifice, which Raskolnikov consistently rejects, as part of his philosophical reasoning. For example, he rejects Razumikhin's offer of employment and the idea of his sister's arranged marriage. Raskolnikov originally rejects Sonya's offer to accompany him to the confession but, in a feverish state of mind, sees her following him through the market, and finds power in that idealism.

Saint Petersburg[edit]

On an exceptionally hot evening early in July a young man came out of the garret in which he lodged in S. Place and walked slowly, as though in hesitation, towards K. bridge.[34]
 
— Fyodor Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment, I, I

The above opening sentence of the novel has a symbolic function: Russian critic Vadim K. Kozhinov argues that the reference to the "exceptionally hot evening" establishes not only the suffocating atmosphere of Saint Petersburg in midsummer but also "the infernal ambience of the crime itself".[35] Dostoyevsky was among the first to recognize the symbolic possibilities of city life and imagery drawn from the city. I. F. I. Evnin regards Crime and Punishment as the first great Russian novel "in which the climactic moments of the action are played out in dirty taverns, on the street, in the sordid black rooms of the poor".[36]

Dostoyevsky's Petersburg is the city of unrelieved poverty; "magnificence has no place in it, because magnificence is external, formal abstract, cold". Dostoyevsky connects the city's problems to Raskolnikov's thoughts and subsequent actions.[37] The crowded streets and squares, the shabby houses and taverns, the noise and stench, all are transformed by Dostoyevsky into a rich store of metaphors for states of mind. Donald Fanger asserts that "the real city ... rendered with a striking concreteness, is also a city of the mind in the way that its atmosphere answers Raskolnikov's state and almost symbolizes it. It is crowded, stifling, and parched."[38] The inner turmoil suffered by Raskolnikov can also be perceived as a Shakespearean pathetic fallacy. For example, the great storm in King Lear reflects the state of the King's mind, much like the chaos, disorder and noise of St. Petersburg reflects the state of Raskolnikov's mind.[39]

Yellow[edit]

The colour yellow is used throughout the novel to signify suffering and mental illness. Examples include Sonya's yellow ticket, a license to practice prostitution, the walls of Raskolnikov's garret, and the walls of the old pawnbroker, among numerous other examples. Of note, the Russian term for lunatic asylum, "zholti dom", is literally translated as "yellow house". Yellow can also be seen when it is mentioned as the color of Luzchin's ring.

Themes[edit]

Dostoyevsky's letter to Katkov reveals his immediate inspiration, to which he remained faithful even after his original plan evolved into a much more ambitious creation: a desire to counteract what he regarded as nefarious consequences arising from the doctrines of Russian nihilism.[40] In the novel, Dostoyevsky pinpointed the dangers of both utilitarianism and rationalism, the main ideas of which inspired the radicals, continuing a fierce criticism he had already started with his Notes from Underground.[41] A Slavophile religious believer, Dostoyevsky utilized the characters, dialogue and narrative in Crime and Punishment to articulate an argument against westernizing ideas in general. He thus attacked a peculiar Russian blend of French utopian socialism and Benthamite utilitarianism, which had led to what revolutionaries, such as Nikolai Chernyshevsky, called "rational egoism".

The radicals refused, however, to recognize themselves in the novel's pages (Dimitri Pisarev ridiculed the notion that Raskolnikov's ideas could be identified with those of the radicals of his time), since Dostoyevsky pursued nihilistic ideas to their most extreme consequences. The aim of these ideas was altruistic and humanitarian, but these aims were to be achieved by relying on reason and suppressing entirely the spontaneous outflow of Christian pity and compassion. Chernyshevsky's utilitarian ethic proposed that thought and will in Man were subject to the laws of physical science.[42] Dostoyevsky believed that such ideas limited man to a product of physics, chemistry and biology, negating spontaneous emotional responses. In its latest variety of Bazarovism, Russian nihilism encouraged the creation of an élite of superior individuals to whom the hopes of the future were to be entrusted.[43]

Raskolnikov exemplifies all the potentially disastrous hazards contained in such an ideal. Frank notes that "the moral-psychological traits of his character incorporate this antinomy between instinctive kindness, sympathy, and pity on the one hand and, on the other, a proud and idealistic egoism that has become perverted into a contemptuous disdain for the submissive herd".[44] Raskolnikov's inner conflict in the opening section of the novel results in a utilitarian-altruistic justification for the proposed crime: why not kill a wretched and "useless" old moneylender to alleviate the human misery? Dostoyevsky wants to show that this utilitarian type of reasoning and its conclusions had become widespread and commonplace; they were by no means the solitary invention of Raskolnikov's tormented and disordered mind.[45] Such radical and utilitarian ideas act to reinforce the innate egoism of Raskolnikov's character and, likewise, contempt for the lower qualities in Man and for His ideals. He even becomes fascinated with the majestic image of a Napoleonic personality who, in the interests of a higher social good, believes that he possesses a moral right to kill. Indeed, his "Napoleon-like" plan drags him to a well-calculated murder, the ultimate conclusion of his self-deception with utilitarianism.[46]

In his depiction of the Petersburg background, Dostoyevsky accentuates the squalor and human wretchedness that pass before Raskolnikov's eyes. He also uses Raskolnikov's encounter with Marmeladov to present both the heartlessness of Raskolnikov's convictions and the alternative set of values to be set against them.[45] Dostoyevsky believes that the "freedom" propounded by the aforementioned ideas is a dreadful freedom "that is contained by no values, because it is before values". The product of this "freedom", Raskolnikov, is in perpetual revolt against society, himself, and God.[47] He thinks that he is self-sufficient and self-contained, but at the end "his boundless self-confidence must disappear in the face of what is greater than himself, and his self-fabricated justification must humble itself before the higher justice of God".[48] Dostoyevsky calls for the regeneration and renewal of the "sick" Russian society through the re-discovering of their country, their religion, and their roots.[49]

Reception[edit]

The first part of Crime and Punishment published in the January and February issues of The Russian Messenger met with public success. Although the remaining parts of the novel had still to be written, an anonymous reviewer wrote that "the novel promises to be one of the most important works of the author of The House of the Dead". In his memoirs, the conservative belletrist Nikolay Strakhov recalled that in Russia Crime and Punishment was the literary sensation of 1866.[50]

The novel soon attracted the criticism of the liberal and radical critics. G.Z. Yeliseyev sprang to the defense of the Russian student corporations, and wondered, "Has there ever been a case of a student committing murder for the sake of robbery?" Pisarev, aware of the novel's artistic value attempted in 1867 another approach: he argued that Raskolnikov was a product of his environment, and explained that the main theme of the work was poverty and its results. He measured the novel's excellence by the accuracy and understanding with which Dostoyevsky portrayed the contemporary social reality, and focused on what he regarded as inconsistencies in the novel's plot. Strakhov rejected Pisarev's contention that the theme of environmental determinism was essential to the novel, and pointed out that Dostoyevsky's attitude towards his hero was sympathetic: "This is not mockery of the younger generation, neither a reproach nor an accusation—it is a lament over it."[51]

English translations[edit]

The Garnett translation was the dominant translation for more than 80 years after its publication in 1914. Since the 1990s, McDuff and Pevear/Volokhonsky have become its major competitors.[52]

Film adaptations[edit]

There have been over 25 film adaptations of Crime and Punishment. They include:

When Crime and Punishment came up in an interview, Alfred Hitchcock told French director Francois Truffaut that he would never consider filming it. Hitchcock explained that he could make a great film out of a good book, and even (or especially) a mediocre book, but never a great book, because the film would always suffer by comparison.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ University of Minnesota – Study notes for Crime and Punishment – (retrieved on 1 May 2006)
  2. ^ Frank (1995), 96
  3. ^ Yousef, About Crime and Punishment
    * Fanger (2006), 17–18
  4. ^ Frank, 170
    * Peace (2005), 8
    * Simmons (2007), 131
  5. ^ Frank (1994), 168
  6. ^ Miller (2007), 58
    * Peace (2008), 8
  7. ^ Frank (1994), 179
  8. ^ Miller (2007), 58–59
  9. ^ Frank (1995), 39
    * Peace (2005), 8
  10. ^ Simmons (2007), 131
  11. ^ Miller (2007), 58
  12. ^ Dostoyevsky initially considered four first-person plans: a memoir written by Raskolnikov, his confession recorded eight days after the murder, his diary begun five days after the murder, and a mixed form in which the first half was in the form of a memoir, and the second half in the form of a diary (Rosenshield [1973], 399).
  13. ^ Carabine (2000), x
    * Frank (1994), 170–172
    * Frank (1995), 80
  14. ^ Frank (1994), 185
  15. ^ Frank (1994), 174
  16. ^ Frank (1994), 177
  17. ^ Frank (1994), 175
  18. ^ Frank (1994), 179–180, 182
  19. ^ Frank (1994), 170, 179–180, 184
    * Frank(1995), 93
    * Miller (2007), 58–59
  20. ^ Peace (2005), 8–9 Don't cheat
  21. ^ Frank (1995), 97
  22. ^ Rosenshield (1978), 76. See also Fanger (2006), 21
  23. ^ Gippius, Zinaida (1923). "Zadumchivyj strannik (O Rozanove)" (in Russian). Retrieved 21 September 2010. 
  24. ^ a b Davydov (1982), 162–163
  25. ^ "On the Structure of Crime and Punishment, " in: PMLA, March 1959, vol. LXXIV, No. 1, p. 132–133.
  26. ^ Church (1983), 103
  27. ^ Mikhail Bakhtin, for instance, regards the Epilogue a blemish on the book (Wellek [1980], 33).
  28. ^ Cassedy (1982), 171
  29. ^ Cassedy (1982), 187
  30. ^ Frank (1994), 184
    * Frank (1995), 92–93
  31. ^ Morris (1984), 28
    * Peace (2005), 86
    * Stanton–Hardy (1999), 8
  32. ^ Monas, Sidney, "Afterword: The Dream of the Suffering Horse," from his translation
  33. ^ Dostoyevsky, Fyodor. Crime and punishment. Toronto: Bantam Books, 1987. Print.
  34. ^ Richard Gill points out that "the hump-backed bridges crisscrossing Czar Peter's labyrinthine city are, as found in the novel, likewise to be viewed as metaphorical and highly suitable for marking the stages of the tortuous course of Raskolnikov's internal drama" (Gill [1982], 146).
  35. ^ Gill (1982), 145
  36. ^ Fanger (2006), 24
  37. ^ Lindenmeyr (2006), 37
  38. ^ Fanger (2006), 28
  39. ^ Top10books.org
  40. ^ Frank (1995), 100
  41. ^ Donald Fanger believes that "Crime and Punishment did nothing by continue the polemic, incarnating the tragedy of nihilism in Raskolnikov and caricaturing it in Lebezyatnikov and, partially, in Luzhin" .(Fanger [2006], 21 – see also Frank [1995], 60; Ozick [1997], 114; Sergeyef [1998], 26).
  42. ^ Frank (1995), 100–101
    * Hudspith (2003), 95
  43. ^ Pisarev had sketched the outlines of a new proto-Nietzschean hero (Frank [1995], 100–101; Frank [2002], 11).
  44. ^ Frank (1995), 101
  45. ^ a b Frank (1995), 104
  46. ^ Frank (1995), 107
    * Sergeyef (1998), 26
  47. ^ Wasiolek (2005), 55
  48. ^ Vladimir Solovyov quoted by McDuff (2002), xiii–xiv
    * Peace (2005), 75–76
  49. ^ *McDuff (2002), xxx:"It is the persistent tracing of this theme of a 'Russian sickness' of spiritual origin and its cure throughout the book that justify the author's characterization of it as an 'Orthodox novel'."
    * Wasiolek (2005), 56–57
  50. ^ McDuff, x–xi
  51. ^ Jahn, Dostoevsky's Life and Career
    * McDuff, xi–xii
  52. ^ Raskolnikov Says the Darndest Things

Text

  • Dostoevsky, Fyodor (1866). Crime and Punishment. Translated in English by Constance Garnett.

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