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Crime and Punishment



This edition translated by Constance Garnett (1861-1946) in 1914.

First published in the literary journal The Russian Messenger in twelve monthly instalments during the year 1866. It was later published in a single volume. This is the second of Dostoyevsky's full-length novels following his return from ten years of exile in Siberia. It focuses on the mental anguish and moral dilemmas of Rodion Raskolnikov, an impoverished ex-student living 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. Crime and Punishment has been adapted for the stage and screen numerous times.

This is a work which analyses not only the mind of a young man but a whole community. I was deeply affected by the 30th chapter where Raskolnikolf opens his heart to Soniya...who can give such a description...--Submitted by anil

Crime and Punishment is by truth the best book ever written. It talks about Raskolnikov, a foreign student troubled by money woes who commits a heinous crime. Then he gets sick of himself and has all of that guilt in his heart and can't let go of it.--Submitted by Laura

This book was written by Fyodor Dostoevsky to help outline the life of a young man struggling with insanity. It is powerful and moving as he takes you into the psyche and behaviour of one of the most deranged characters of any fictional tale.--Submitted by Matthew Stankowicz

Does madness turn a man into a criminal? or does crime turn a criminal mad?--Submitted by Craig Fleming

This is an indisputable classic, with insight into the lives of poverty stricken Russians during the late 19th century. Although on the surface it appears to be a nothing more than a stretched out story line, the depth of psychological premises and the existentialist nature of the novel create a picture of true suffering and enable the reader to question the basic moralities of both historical and modern cultures. With continuing fatalities and guilt stricken chapters, Crime and Punishment brings forth an autobiographical aspect of Fyodor Dostoevsky and allows for the reader to gain insight and learn to question the systems of society.--Submitted by morgs

This novel is a psychological account of a man steeped in poverty. The biggest question is--is it the poverty that leads him to kill? Or is he just a man who believes that one can choose to be like Napoleon?; to take what they want and not feel remorse? This 19th Century classic asks fundamental questions about humanity, and gets you about as close to the answers as you may get.--Submitted by Kate O'Reilly

Crime and Punishment is a psychological study of a man who explored the limits of crime. Dostoevsky shows what really happens when a man commits a crime. Theorizing and justifying crime and intentions does not satisfy the human soul. The soul has its own way of working and Dostoevsky shows that starkly, with utter honesty. It is a profound study and at the end you realize, learn deeply about the human soul of what morality psychologically means, what crime means at the root. It is an action story and a psychological story integrated and it is a thriller and deeply intellectual at the same time. Read it. It is a book you can't but read with total attention. It is about the human soul and it concerns us all. Dostoevsky is a master story teller.--Submitted by Narendra Vellanki

St. Petersburg, 1866. An ex-student, currently out of a job and living in a sickly-yellow coloured penthouse in total squalor, is having issues with an old pawnbroker down the street. He suddenly decides to play God and pass ultimate judgement of right and wrong, and having determined the pawnbroker's lifetime worth of guilt, he hunts her down. Thus begins the story of Rodion Raskolnikov, his friends, and his enemies as he faces the aftermath of his decisions and undergoes an epic transformation.--Submitted by MPL

Crime And Punishment is the story of a poverty stricken young man who dreams that by killing an old woman and stealing her wealth he can save himself and many other poor souls from utter poverty. But in the aftermath of the actual murder, the story takes an unexpected twist. He doesn't get anything valuable from the old woman to become rich. He becomes psychic. The very thought of the crime shatters his personality. He very cleverly tries to evade the law. But at the end he is caught hold of by the police officer. The depiction of the protagonist's inner struggle is excellent. His sympathy towards the poor and the suffering, his ardent love for Sonia, his affinity towards his mother and sister, and his sense of remorse are all very well depicted. The most intimate conversation between Raskonikov and Sonia is the most attractive part of the novel. Thus the novel reminds us that "for every crime , there awaits you a punishment". Hats off to the great soul ---Dostoesky. --Submitted by M.R. Varghese, Kerala

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Recent Forum Posts on Crime and Punishment

What do you get out of books like this?

I read half of CRIME AND PUNISHMENT and had to dump it. The title seemed ironic by the end. What do you get out of books like this? I read them and I do not get what emotion they are trying to conjure. They just seem obsessed with the mundane aspects of life. I get the impression that books like this are all about the author using the fiction medium to get across their philosophies on life. Wouldn't it be quicker to write a monograph?

Arkady ivanovitch svidrigaÏlov

I generally route for the good guy, I hated smerdyakov from brothers Karamazov. However I find Svidrigailov to be the most complex character of Crime and punishment. In fact I love him more than sofya and raskolnikov. I have a question, was he really a pedophile and what's up with the ghost sightings he had?Was it just his conscience? Are there any svidrigailov lovers here?

"You don't need to be a saint to make pipkins/pots"???

I've always been confused by Razumhikin's line in Part four, chapter IV: While discussing how he has gained enough publishing experience to start a publishing company, he says: "For nearly two years I’ve been scuttling about among the publishers, and now I know every detail of their business. You need not be a saint to make pots, believe me! And why, why should we let our chance slip!" (from the Garnett) In another translation (the Coulson), he uses "pipkins" instead of "pots". I assume the change was made for a specific reason- maybe idiomatic clarity- but I still don't have any clue what it means.

thoughts on porfiry?

i'm not yet done with the book, but I just finished the section where porfiry basically accuses rody of the murder (in the last section). An idea occurred to me (:hurray:) that porfiry might be a godlike figure in some ways. I might be totally off track, but it seems that even though his psychological analysis is brilliant, he seems to also push rody to seek salvation through confession and suffering. also, he seems to be omniscient and watches rody's every move in relating to the murder, like God. I just can't think of any other explanation as to why Porfiry would think so kindly for rody's goodwill, saying that he still 'has a long life before him' ... or is this all just another psychological mind trick, trying to get rody to confess faster so that the case is off his back? haha. blah! someone help :sick:

Conflicting renderings in Part II, ch.2

I am directing my thread to someone who reads Crime and Punishment in Russian. I am teaching a small adult education class, the members of which are using different translations. Today toward the end of Part II, ch.2 Coulson translates a sentence as follows: "He felt that in that moment he had cut himself from everybody and everything, as with a knife." Another translation substitutes "as with a scissors" for "as with a knife" and a third translation omits any reference to a cutting tool. If you can locate the passage in question would you confirm for me what the Russian text says.

Why was Raskolnivkov wrong

I have been obsessing over the meaning of this book (see my other crime and punishment thread). What my question basically comes down to is: why was he wrong? Why does he think his theory was unsuccessful? The author (can't spell it from memory) does such a great job presenting WHY he does the murders, but a short or poor job on why he should not have done them. Please help

What is the meaning of Crime and Punishment!

I have finished this book and left with 100 times the amount of questions I came in with. Here is the list: Is this the story of a man learning he is common? That he is not extraordinary like Napoleon? Is this the main theme of the book? That he failed due to his nature? Why was his theory unsuccessful? Because he felt guilt? Because he didn’t get the funding he “wanted,” although he could have? His theory was never disproven. Did he simply give it up based on emotion? That his theory didn’t make him happy, but Sonia did? That Sonia (love) was the reason for life and not to be extraordinary? Did he not kill himself because he felt a little doubt and thought he would outgrow his theories? WHY did he turn himself in? Why did Svidrigailov kill himself? What did the horse dream represent? What was the relation between his theory and the dream of the infection in the epilog? Why was Luzhin important? If anyone can answer any of these, my mind can finally be at rest. I can't stop thinking... ahhh!!!

Different Translations

I am reading Crime and Punishment and finding it very unsatisfying. I am at the start of Part IV, having just read something else to get away from it for a while. I have enjoyed Dickens and Joyce before, so the length and density of the text do not phase me. I find the characters very difficult to relate to. They seem impenetrable. I do not care either way for any of them. I also find the dialogue jars. "There are ellipses...everywhere..., (brackets are also used while people speak), and when they laugh, haha, it is done mid-speech." I've never seen this in a novel before. I picked up War and Peace to browse through the other day, a novel I would like to read one day. Seeing the text... (haha), it made my stomach turn and I put it down again. I am reading the Wordsworth Classics translation by Constance Garnett. Are there great differences between the different translations available? Is it possible I have a bad one? C&P. Starts with a crime and the rest is just punishment?

Just finished C&P - bit of a muddle?

I guess I am a heretic for saying this, but I wasn't entirely impressed with the novel. It just seemed to drag on and on much longer than necessary. And I was struck by a sense of redundancy and repetition - how many times do we read of a character becoming pale, lips trembling, face contorted, overcome by a sudden thought or feeling, etc. Don't get me wrong, there is much to like here. But am I stupid or is this novel a bit of a muddle at times, even disjointed? It's almost like a manuscript that needs a bit more editing. I read the Pevear/Volokhonksy translation, BTW.

Pevear's Foreword to C&P - confusing?

I'm about to read C&P for the first time (first Russian novel actually) and I just read the Foreword to the P/V translation, written by Pevear. Found it rather confusing and incoherent in parts. Wondering if others found it useful in understanding the novel? Feel like I should go back over it so that I'm sufficiently prepared, but I'm probably being obsessive. Thanks.

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