“Crime and Punishment” by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1866)

“You, too, stepped over - you had the strength to step over - you’ve laid hand on yourself - destroyed a life - your own life - it’s the same thing! You might had led a decent life, a life of spirit, a life of understanding, but you’ll end up in the Hay Market. You won’t be able to bear it, and if you remain alone, you will go mad like me. You are even almost out of your mind. So we must go together along the same road. Let us go!”

In a feverish delirium Rodion Raskolnikov, the former student murders an old woman with a borrowed hatchet. Within a febrile state he begins to worry obsessively over the murder, and as the fever comes and go the following days the reader dwelled deep into the psychology of a murderer.

Raskolnikov's becomes defeated by a crushing sense of guilt from the ever imposing shadow of law and justice. Thus, this work is much more than your generic ‘who-knows-he-dunit?” novel, but a deep political, philosophical and social commentary.

When we first meet Raskolnikov he is a handsome intellectual, crushed by his poverty and hunger-induced mental instability. In his feverish solitude, he is lead on the path of ‘half-baked’ ideas. He contemplates crime as a temporary respite. Who would miss the old neighboring hag? Stupid and greedy and she is - nothing but grievance for existence; absolutely worthless. He decides to kill her, rob her of her money and live the rest of his life as an honest citizen, without ever again swerving from the path of righteousness. Maybe 100 good deeds, can amend one bad one?

In the end, Raskolnikov’s suffering seems to capture a raw core of human condition at its most gruesome and intimate. A melancholiac destruction follows the narrative, as it encloses the degenerate streets of St. Petersburg. A poor horse is whipped to death by its owner for none other reason than the crowds' amusement, daughters must sell themselves to afford drink to their drunkard fathers. Mothers are driven mad with grief, among starving children.

Raskolnikov’s is haunted by the pain of his community and finally breaks: ’ I did not bow down to you, I bowed down to all the suffering of humanity.’


FictionRasmus Nielsen