Crime and Punishment: Classic World Literature (Paperback)
Classic World Literature
COMPLETE NEW EDITION
Crime and Punishment
Translated By Constance Garnett
Crime and Punishment 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. It was later published in a single volume. It is the second of Dostoyevsky's full-length novels following his return from 10 years of exile in Siberia. Crime and Punishment is considered the first great novel of his "mature" period of writing.
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, in attempts to defend his actions, argues that with the pawnbroker's money he can perform good deeds to counterbalance the crime, while ridding the world of a vermin. He also commits the murder to test a theory of his that dictates some people are naturally capable of such actions, and even have the right to perform them. Several times throughout the novel, Raskolnikov compares himself with Napoleon Bonaparte and shares his belief that murder is permissible in pursuit of a higher purpose.
Dostoyevsky conceived the idea of Crime and Punishment in the summer of 1865, having gambled away much of his fortune, leaving him 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 circumstances, etc., etc." Once Dostoyevsky conceived Raskolnikov and his crime, now inspired by the case of Pierre FranCois Lacenaire, this theme became ancillary, centering on the story of the Marmeladov family.
Dostoyevsky offered his story or novella (at the time Dostoyevsky was not thinking of a novel) 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. 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"; he had thus embarked on his plan to explore the moral and psychological dangers of the ideology of "radicalism." 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.