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Crime And Punishment

Crime And Punishment

3.9 166
by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

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One of the most influential novels of the nineteenth century, Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment tells the tragic story of Raskolnikov—a talented former student whose warped philosophical outlook drives him to commit murder. Surprised by his sense of guilt and terrified of the consequences of his actions, Raskolnikov wanders through the


One of the most influential novels of the nineteenth century, Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment tells the tragic story of Raskolnikov—a talented former student whose warped philosophical outlook drives him to commit murder. Surprised by his sense of guilt and terrified of the consequences of his actions, Raskolnikov wanders through the slums of pre-revolutionary St. Petersburg trying to escape the ever-suspicious Porfiry, the official investigating the crime.

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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.

He had successfully avoided meeting his landlady on the staircase. His garret was under the roof of a high, five-storied house and was more like a cupboard than a room. The landlady who provided him with garret, dinners, and attendance, lived on the floor below, and every time he went out he was obliged to pass her kitchen, the door of which invariably stood open. And each time he passed, the young man had a sick, frightened feeling, which made him scowl and feel ashamed. He was hopelessly in debt to his landlady, and was afraid of meeting her.

This was not because he was cowardly and abject, quite the contrary; but for some time past he had been in an overstrained irritable condition, verging on hypochondria. He had become so completely absorbed in himself, and isolated from his fellows that he dreaded meeting, not only his landlady, but any one at all. He was crushed by poverty, but the anxieties of his position had of late ceased to weigh upon him. He had given up attending to matters of practical importance; he had lost all desire to do so. Nothing that any landlady could do had a real terror for him. But to be stopped on the stairs, to be forced to listen to her trivial, irrelevant gossip, to pestering demands for payment, threats and complaints, and to rack his brains for excuses, to prevaricate, to lie - no, rather than that, he would creep down the stairs like a cat and slip out unseen.

This evening, however, on coming out into the street, he became acutely aware of his fears.

"I want to attempt a thing like that, and am frightened by these trifles," he thought, with an odd smile. "Hm … yes, all is in a man's hands and he lets it all slip from cowardice, that's an axiom. It would be interesting to know what it is men are most afraid of. Taking a new step, uttering a new word is what they fear most … But I am talking too much. It's because I chatter that I do nothing. Or perhaps it is that I chatter because I do nothing. I've learned to chatter this last month, lying for days together in my den thinking … of Jack the Giant-killer. Why am I going there now? Am I capable of that? Is that serious? It is not serious at all. It's simply a fantasy to amuse myself; a plaything! Yes, maybe it is a plaything."

The heat in the street was terrible: and the airlessness, the bustle and the plaster, scaffolding, bricks, and dust all about him, and that special Petersburg stench, so familiar to all who are unable to get out of town in summer - all worked painfully upon the young man's already overwrought nerves. The insufferable stench from the pot-houses, which are particularly numerous in that part of the town, and the drunken men whom he met continually, although it was a working day, completed the revolting misery of the picture. An expression of the profoundest disgust gleamed for a moment in the young man's refined face. He was, by the way, exceptionally handsome, above the average in height, slim, well-built, with beautiful dark eyes and dark brown hair. Soon he sank into deep thought, or more accurately speaking, into a complete blankness of mind; he walked along not observing what was about him and not caring to observe it. From time to time, he would mutter something, from the habit of talking to himself, to which he had just confessed. At these moments he would become conscious that his ideas were sometimes in a tangle and that he was very weak; for two days he had scarcely tasted food.

He was so badly dressed that even a man accustomed to shabbiness would have been ashamed to be seen in the street in such rags. In that quarter of the town, however, scarcely any shortcoming in dress would have created surprise. Owing to the proximity of the Hay Market, the number of establishments of bad character, the preponderance of the trading and working class population crowded in these streets and alleys in the heart of Petersburg, types so various were to be seen in the streets that no figure, however queer, would have caused surprise. But there was such accumulated bitterness and contempt in the young man's heart, that, in spite of all the fastidiousness of youth, he minded his rags least of all in the street. It was a different matter when he met with acquaintances or with former fellow students, whom, indeed, he disliked meeting at any time. And yet when a drunken man who, for some unknown reason, was being taken somewhere in a huge waggon dragged by a heavy dray horse, suddenly shouted at him as he drove past: "Hey there, German hatter" bawling at the top of his voice and pointing at him - the young man stopped suddenly and clutched tremulously at his hat. It was a tall round hat from Zimmerman's, but completely worn out, rusty with age, all torn and bespattered, brimless and bent on one side in a most unseemly fashion. Not shame, however, but quite another feeling akin to terror had overtaken him.

"I knew it," he muttered in confusion, "I thought so! That's the worst of all! Why, a stupid thing like this, the most trivial detail might spoil the whole plan. Yes, my hat is too noticeable … It looks absurd and that makes it noticeable … With my rags I ought to wear a cap, any sort of old pancake, but not this grotesque thing. Nobody wears such a hat, it would be noticed a mile off, it would be remembered … What matters is that people would remember it, and that would give them a clue. For this business one should be as little conspicuous as possible … Trifles, trifles are what matter! Why, it's just such trifles that always ruin everything …"

He had not far to go; he knew indeed how many steps it was from the gate of his lodging house: exactly seven hundred and thirty. He had counted them once when he had been lost in dreams. At the time he had put no faith in those dreams and was only tantalising himself by their hideous but daring recklessness. Now, a month later, he had begun to look upon them differently, and, in spite of the monologues in which he jeered at his own impotence and indecision, he had involuntarily come to regard this "hideous" dream as an exploit to be attempted, although he still did not realise this himself. He was positively going now for a "rehearsal" of his project, and at every step his excitement grew more and more violent.

With a sinking heart and a nervous tremor, he went up to a huge house which on one side looked on to the canal, and on the other into the street. This house was let out in tiny tenements and was inhabited by working people of all kinds - tailors, locksmiths, cooks, Germans of sorts, girls picking up a living as best they could, petty clerks, &c. There was a continual coming and going through the two gates and in the two courtyards of the house. Three or four door-keepers were employed on the building. The young man was very glad to meet none of them, and at once slipped unnoticed through the door on the right, and up the staircase. It was a back staircase, dark and narrow, but he was familiar with it already, and knew his way, and he liked all these surroundings: in such darkness even the most inquisitive eyes were not to be dreaded.

"If I am so scared now, what would it be if it somehow came to pass that I were really going to do it?" he could not help asking himself as he reached the fourth storey. There his progress was barred by some porters who were engaged in moving furniture out of a flat. He knew that the flat had been occupied by a German clerk in the civil service, and his family. This German was moving out then, and so the fourth floor on this staircase would be untenanted except by the old woman. "That's a good thing anyway," he thought to himself, as he rang the bell of the old woman's flat. The bell gave a faint tinkle as though it were made of tin and not of copper. The little flats in such houses always have bells that ring like that. He had forgotten the note of that bell, and now its peculiar tinkle seemed to remind him of something and to bring it clearly before him … He started, his nerves were terribly overstrained by now. In a little while, the door was opened a tiny crack: the old woman eyed her visitor with evident distrust through the crack, and nothing could be seen but her little eyes, glittering in the darkness. But, seeing a number of people on the landing, she grew bolder, and opened the door wide. The young man stepped into the dark entry, which was partitioned off from the tiny kitchen. The old woman stood facing him in silence and looking inquiringly at him. She was a diminutive, withered up old woman of sixty, with sharp malignant eyes and a sharp little nose. Her colourless, somewhat grizzled hair was thickly smeared with oil, and she wore no kerchief over it. Round her thin long neck, which looked like a hen's leg, was knotted some sort of flannel rag, and, in spite of the heat, there hung flapping on her shoulders, a mangy fur cape, yellow with age. The old woman coughed and groaned at every instant. The young man must have looked at her with a rather peculiar expression, for a gleam of mistrust came into her eyes again.

What People are Saying About This

Virginia Woolf
The novels of Dostoevsky are seething whirlpools, gyrating sandstorms, waterspouts which hiss and boil and suck us in. They are composed purely and wholly of the stuff of the soul.

Meet the Author

Fyodor Dostoyevsky was born in Moscow in 1821. He died in 1881 having written some of the most celebrated works in the history of literature, including Crime and Punishment, The Idiot, and The Brothers Karamazov.

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Crime and Punishment 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 166 reviews.
Brainylainy More than 1 year ago
I tried reading the Garnett translation that has been a sort of standard for years. However, I found it far too smooth, to like what an English teacher dictates for writing complete, complex, long sentences. That might be okay for another author, but Dostoevsky? Absolutely no! He wrote with passion. With anger. With joy. With tenderness. With deliberate fragments. Indeed, he was the father of the modern novel. Holden Caulfield owes everything to Dostoevsky, and so does Virginia Woolf. The only translation of this that captures the original is Pevear and Volokhonsky's. Unfortunately, B&N does not have that available for NOOK, so I dug out my physical copy and, awkward as it is compared to an e-book, I'm engrossed in it. (BTW, I believe Kindle has the P & V translation available. It has all their other translations that I've looked at.)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I want this book and would even pay for a better format (less typos etc.) But how can I tell ? All the same reviews appear with each offered edition. Same complaints, reported problems. No help at all.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Too many errors in the spelling. Many words missing letters or have symbols instead of letters. It makes it very difficult to read in a smooth manner.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was looking forward to reading this as a free book for my Nook, but it was filled with so many typos it was like reading the book in the original Russian. I don't know if all the free books are like this, but I spent too much time trying to decipher this one.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I picked up the greatest piece of literature that ever graced my hands. People's parents who read this book thought it tasteless but this book is incredible. It places you in the shoes of a man suffers from the crime he did and you will feel sympathy for a murderer.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is an amazing book. Though I read it just this past summer at the age of 13, I am also an advanced reader for my age and found Crime and Punishment to be one of my favorite books. I love how Dostoyevsky presents Raskolnikov's psychological views on Extraordinary and ordinary men. Five Stars easily. I recommend this book to anybody looking for a truly great read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
When I first read this in tenth grade I had just begun a long track out of depression, and had not the begining of this novel so accurately portrayed his mental state before (as well as after) his murder I may not have bothered with this long book. I loved it. The phsycology is so intense and so accuarate! You love the characters (espescially Raskolnikov and Sonia), but the characters are also in a sotory - it is a story not just phsycology. I can't wait to finish other works of Dostoyevsky.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Finished this in about three weeks. Unlike war and peace, which took five months...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A terrific read of a classic thriller that I couldn't put down!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Despite the fact that this translation was not nearly as beautiful as the original, simply the over-all idea and story of Fyodor's Crime and Punishment  remains brilliant. This review might lack quite a bit of information, but it is something in which simply must be read, nonetheless!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
a really nice translation and a good size
Guest More than 1 year ago
Recently I became ensconced in Russian literature--and I suggest others start with David McDuff's translation of 'Crime and Punishment.' While the book is often lauded as a tale of an anti-hero, Raskolnikov, who likens himself with such unmoral people as Napoleon--a category of people Raskolnikov considers 'extraordinary'--that is just the tip of the ice berg. I found that aside from the question of the context of murders' acceptance(wars versus common murders), 'Crime & Punishment' has a theme of counterproductive pride. I don't want to ruin it for those who've yet to read this classic, but after reading it, you will agree. Another reason to read this book is the theme of the hunter becoming the hunted, because, alas, once the hunter stops hunting, he himslef becomes hunted. Porfiry Petrovich is that hunter, a damn good detective character: cunning, cynical, calculating. Give this book a try, you won't be sorry, if you like Russian literature. Enjoy!
Anonymous 8 months ago
It is quite a large place, much like a mix between a manor, school, compound, and an old house. Not very tall, but quite long, this building has three floors, four if you count the roof. The first floor- The first floor is much like a school. Lockers are scattered down the halls, ranging from black to pink. This floor also houses several large classrooms, a few smaller ones, study rooms large and small, the Dining Hall, and a massive, sprawling Library. The Dining Hall is a long hall, with one huge table stretched down the center of the room. Vending machines almost cover one whole wall, filled with snacks of every type, color, and brand. A Buffet is placed in one corner, where you are able to get food 24-7. Several large fridges line part of the oppsite wall, filled with any kind of drink you can think of. Except beer. Or wine. Or absinthe. Or whiskey. Or... never mind. You get the idea. The Library is a massive room, covered in books. On the floor, tables, chairs, almost anywhere. There are only five computers scattered about in the Library, each placed in it's own little nook. Lots and lots of books. The second floor: The second floor houses store rooms, staff/teacher dorms, and a bunch of junk. If you're looking to find something interesting, go there. Mostly covered in dust, this floor is rarely visted. The third floor- The third floor houses the student dorms. There is a large hallway here shaped like a 'T'. To the left is the male dorms, to the right is the female dorms, and straight ahead.... is my study and room. /No-one/ is allowed in... except me and Haze. The roof- Nothing much to tell you. It's a roof. Around the whole edge rests a brick wall about waist height. No jumping off. Other- Much like a sprawling, beautiful, brick compound, there are several inner gardens. The halls are covered in metal suits of armor, paintings, and woven rugs. I think that's it. Now! For the grounds! The School/Home is placed in the middle of nowhere. A large yard surounds the building, filled with gardens, small ponds, and several large oak trees scattered about. Not to mention small hills and mounds. Surounding the yard, spreads a vast wood. Mostly shadey, these woods are filled with animals and trees. Towards the west lays a large field of yellow wild flowers. To the east lays a large pond, used for swimming and/or whatever else you care to do. In the center floats a dock. Reach it... if you can! Alrighty! I think thats it! Enjoy and welcome! ~ Mr. Worchester
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love ur schoolllllll best i found some great friends
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Elizabeth_Anderson More than 1 year ago
Well, I read it, but I think others who have read it know more about it than me. I think I dozed off, unfortunate to say. I was hoping to really get into such a monumental title. Someone pointed out to me that the names being Russian, it makes it harder to follow them in the story. That much is true, much harder than Chekhov, who I follow with ease. So I don’t have much to say about this one except that it seemed a bit more dull than how gripping I think it should have been. A product I would recommend is Sirens of Morning Light by Benjamin Anderson, a quest for a man in Iowa to regain his identity, which becomes entangled with people who claim to have known him when he discovers he is a scientific experiment. The characters remain identifiable.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In Crime and Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky establishes a character who believed a crime could be justified if you were superior enough. This work is ineffective in proving the point that Raskolnikov was superior to the others because he himself wasn’t able to deal with the guilt of the murder. Dostoyesky sets up Raskolnikov’s character to commit murder for money but later on he tries to justify with the concept of for the common good and superiority but it becomes ineffective when Raskolnikov is unable to carry on his daily functions and move on with his life. Raskolnikov tried to convince that he himself was superior. However, he was able to commit the crime but what he wasn’t able to do was to live with the guilt that accompanied it. It wasn’t simply guilt in itself he even became physically sick. He began to favor the thought of prison instead of the thought of remaining in the emotional state in which he was in. When even others tried to converse with him, his emotional state became even more intense where he would push his loved ones away due to his thought that they would find out. With the emotional state becoming worse each passing day and his guilt overflowing in his mind, he almost confesses to being the murderer to Zametov when he met him at the café. One could say that he was in fact imprisoned at this point; he was a prisoner to his own guilt. This causes Raskolnikov to isolate himself from those he held close and at that point Razumikhim realizes that he was in fact involved in the murders. After enduring a desire of solitude from everyone and anything, he finally confides his secret in the woman he loves, Sonia. Raskolnikov was unable to be superior because he wasn’t able to continue on with his motives of stealing money and provide himself with an education which was his true motive. He is unable to live up to Napoleon who is described in the book with justification of killing people for the better good of the people. The author tries to compare Raskolnikov to Napolean but is ineffective in having Raskolnikov live up to that level. The work is ineffective in portraying the superiority quality but it is effective in describing the human psychology. When explaining the attitudes of the ordinary people the author is able to effectively describe the guilt of a crime eating the conscience away. He accurately describes Raskolnikov as the ordinary man instead of the man of superiority. Raskolnikov allows himself to feel guilty of the murder and it affects himself but it also affects the people around him. The guilty conscience is a common occurrence that could occur in someone else too and the author describes the “ordinary” folks this way as well. The author describes the ordinary people through Raskolnikov’s article by saying they are unable to go through actions that would be better for the society; he says the ordinary folk are always obedient to society ways. Even though Raskolnikov attempts to break off by committing a murder he falls back into the ordinary category when he lets the guilty conscience ruin his life. The author is ineffective when it comes to making Raskolnikov appear as a superior being but is effective in portraying Raskolnikov’s character as an ordinary being.
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