Crime and Punishment is a novel by the Russian author Fyodor Dostoevsky. 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 Dostoevsky’s full-length novels following his return from 5 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 Saint Petersburg who formulates a plan to kill an unscrupulous pawnbroker for her money. Before the killing, Raskolnikov believes that with the money he could liberate himself from poverty and go on to perform great deeds; but afterwards he finds himself racked with confusion, paranoia, and disgust for what he has done. His moral justifications disintegrate completely as he struggles with guilt and horror, and confronts the real world consequences of his deed.
Dostoevsky conceived the idea of Crime and Punishment, prompted by the case of Pierre François Lacenaire, in the summer of 1865. He had been working on another project at the time entitled The Drunkards, which was to deal with “the present question of drunkenness … [in] all its ramifications, especially the picture of a family and the bringing up of children in these circumstances, etc., etc.” This theme, centering on the story of the Marmeladov family, became ancillary to the story of Raskolnikov and his crime.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky (11 November 1821 – 9 February 1881), was a Russian novelist, short story writer, essayist, journalist and philosopher. Dostoevsky’s literary works explore human psychology in the troubled political, social, and spiritual atmospheres of 19th-century Russia, and engage with a variety of philosophical and religious themes. His most acclaimed works include Crime and Punishment (1866), The Idiot (1869), Demons (1872) and The Brothers Karamazov (1880). Dostoevsky’s oeuvre consists of 11 novels, three novellas, 17 short stories and numerous other works. Many literary critics rate him as one of the greatest psychologists in world literature. His 1864 novella Notes from Underground is considered to be one of the first works of existentialist literature.