Crime and Punishment

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Crime and Punishment (Russian: Преступление и наказание Pryestupleniye i nakazaniye) is a novel by the Russian author Fyodor Dostoevsky. This was first published in the Russian literary journal The Russian Messenger in twelve monthly installments during 1866.[1] It was later published in a single volume. This is the second of Dostoevsky's full-length novels following his return from five years of exile in Siberia, where he was serving his sentence in Katorga camps, the Tsarist forced-labor system and predecessor to the Soviet Gulag. 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 Romanovich Raskolnikov, an impoverished ex-student in St. Petersburg who formulates and executes a plan to kill an unscrupulous pawnbroker for her money. Raskolnikov argues that with the pawnbroker's money he can perform good deeds to counterbalance the crime, while ridding the world of a worthless parasite. This murder he also commits to test Raskolnikov's hypothesis that some people are naturally able to and also have the right to murder. Several times throughout the novel, Raskolnikov also justifies his actions by connecting himself mentally with Napoleon Bonaparte, believing that murder is permissible in pursuit of a higher purpose, only to find out he "... is not a Napoleon."

Contents

Creation

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 Dostoevsky 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]

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