He has just completed a trial run of the murder, visiting the pawnbroker and taking note of her apartment, its layout, her habits.An intoxicated older man, a government clerk named Marmeladov, approaches Raskolnikov and begins to tell him his life’s story, particularly the woes he has brought upon his family as a result of his alcoholism and financial irresponsibility.The idea inspired a generation of young Russians coming of age in the wake of Czar Alexander II’s “great reforms” (which included the abolition of serfdom and the establishment of local forms of self-government), who wanted to push Russian society along further and more quickly through a revolution that they believed began with remaking themselves and interrogating their own desires.
Indeed, an onslaught of everyday economic violence (the denial of loans, the shame and humiliation inflicted on those in debt, the indignity of having to beg, and so forth) forms so painful a backdrop that the murder sometimes gets lost in the larger canvas of depravity that Dostoyevsky paints in Despite his tendency to rage at the amount of cruelty and greed to be found in 19th-century St.
Petersburg, Dostoyevsky reserves a special anger in this novel for those who talked about the economy in terms abstract and thus callous—the followers, as he puts it, “of the latest ideas.” Shortly after the novel begins, Raskolnikov wanders into a tavern.
In depicting the taking of a human life, Dostoyevsky could bring the full spectrum of lived experience rapidly into focus., Raskolnikov lives in a state of crushing poverty and gets by on meager translation work.
His situation deeply grieves his loving mother and sister; the latter is even considering marriage to a man she doesn’t love in the hopes that it will ease her brother’s financial woes.
Dostoyevsky was especially appalled by Chernyshevsky’s claim that actions taken in pursuit of a better society were themselves necessarily good.
He saw in this seemingly innocent theory a potential justification for violence.
They are not only born out of individual choice; they are social forces that can play a much larger role in our politics than we might care to admit.
amid an unprecedented upsurge in violent crime that was sweeping St. Following the abolition of serfdom in 1861 (just five years before the novel’s publication), the then–Russian capital saw a massive influx of people seeking work.
In September 1865, Fyodor Dostoyevsky was living in Wiesbaden, Germany, and couldn’t pay his rent.
A string of gambling losses had left him near financial ruin, a familiar circumstance for Dostoyevsky (as dramatized in his novel It is a psychological account of a crime. A young student of lower-middle-class origin, who has been expelled from the university, and who lives in dire poverty, succumbs—through thoughtlessness and lack of strong convictions—to certain strange, “incomplete” ideas that are floating in the air, and decides to get out of his misery once and for all.’s antihero, the 23-year-old Raskolnikov, were bombarded with somewhat distorted and jumbled versions of English utilitarianism, French utopian socialism, and Darwinism.