Crime and Punishment

by Fyodor Dostoevsky, 1866

Wow – what a book – what a writer! Took you to such depths of anguish to the last page when all is redeemed and love conquers evil.

Young Russian man, Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov, poor and destitute, stops being a student and gets it in his head to murder the old hag money lender. He struggles with this idea but finally decides it must be done. He kills her with an axe. Unfortunately, Lizaveta, her sister, comes in so he kills her too. He steals a few things and escapes unseen by any. He never uses what he stole – hides it under a stone.

Sickness, torment, anguish, meaninglessness ensue, also paranoia. We meet his friends, Razumikhin, who has a doctor friend, Zosimov, who try to help him in his illness (no one knows yet that he was the one who murdered 2 people). We meet an examining magistrate, Porfiry Petrovich, who is a psychological genius and knows Rodya did it and is just waiting for him to confess. We meet Sonya (Sofya Semenovna) daughter of Marmeladov, a drunk dismissed government clerk, who ends up dead by being run over by horses. Rodya gives the family all his money that his mom sent so they can have a funeral. Sonya had to become a prostitute to support her drunk father and his wife and 3 little children. She has a true heart of love. Rodya eventually confesses all to her. She carries the knowledge and convinces him to confess. He eventually does. She follows him to Siberia and sees him while in prison. Finally, after an illness while in prison, he realizes he loves her (2nd to last page of the book):

“They tried to speak, but they could not. Tears stood in their eyes. They were both pale and thin, but in their white sick faces there glowed the dawn of a new future, a perfect resurrection into a new life. Love had raised them from the dead, and the heart of each held endless springs of life for the heart of the other.

“They knew they must wait and be patient. They had seven more years before them, and what unbearable sufferings and infinite happiness those years would hold! But he was restored to life and he knew it and felt to the full all his renewed being, and she – she lived only in his life! …”

Last paragraph: “But that is the beginning of a new story, the story of the gradual renewal of a man, of his gradual regeneration, of his slow progress from one world to another, of how he learned to know a hitherto undreamed-of reality. All that might be the subject of a new tale, but our present one is ended.”

There are other characters in the book – his loving mother, his beautiful sister, Dunechka. His sister’s fiance – a scoundrel – Peter Petrovich Luzhin – who Rodya sees through immediately. His sister ends up marrying Razumikhin – the good-hearted friend. And Svidrigaylov, his sister’s former employer, who fell in love with her and ends up committing suicide. He was a womanizer. The consumptive step-mother of Sonya, Katerina Ivanovna, who goes crazy after Marmeladov’s death, and dies in a consumptive fit. And others – landladies, servant (Nastasya), painters, policemen.

All set in St. Petersburg in late 1800’s. Decided to read this book because of the Justin Moore trial – Valerie Gendernalik’s Mom said, “We all know the story of Fyodor Dostoevsky where he was punished by himself,” she said.