• In total there are 0 users online :: 0 registered, 0 hidden and 0 guests (based on users active over the past 10 minutes)
    Most users ever online was 786 on Sun May 10, 2020 1:56 am

Crime and Punishment - Part 1

#179: Oct. - Dec. 2021 (Fiction)
User avatar
Mr. P
Has Plan to Save Books During Fire
Posts: 3807
Joined: Wed Jun 16, 2004 10:16 am
17
Location: NJ
Gender:
United States of America

Re: Crime and Punishment - Part 1

That letter from his mom. I just finished that. Wow...it seems to me that the mom and sis are desperate and a bit naive. I have a feeling that they end up not being safe nor secure with this guy (name escapes me right now.)

I am thinking a little bit bipolar too now that I read through his reaction after reading the letter. Guy is messed up.
When you refuse to learn, you become a disease.
User avatar
Mr. P
Has Plan to Save Books During Fire
Posts: 3807
Joined: Wed Jun 16, 2004 10:16 am
17
Location: NJ
Gender:
United States of America

Re: Crime and Punishment - Part 1

LanDroid wrote: At this point I agree Raskolnikov is not a psychopath but develops a sense that the rules do not apply to folks like him. He does know right from wrong.
So I am not sure R knows right from wrong. It seems to me that he has an idea of what is right and wrong insofar as what society dictates and he is really, in his sociopathic and narcissistic mind, testing these ideas out. Going through motions and ending up following his drive to eventually commit the most egregious of crimes simply to...further his experiments or satiflsfy his urge? That is not someone who is firmly grasping right from wrong, but rather someone who cannot possibly comprehend.

Was he always like this? Determined by his heredity to succumb to these urges, or is it due to a temporary insanity that befalls him due to his perceived injustice of being wronged by life? He seems a bit off kilter to me down to the core.
When you refuse to learn, you become a disease.
User avatar
Robert Tulip
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame
Posts: 6224
Joined: Tue Oct 04, 2005 9:16 pm
16
Location: Canberra
Contact:
Australia

Re: Crime and Punishment - Part 1

The strange incident of the young drunk girl in the street occurs after reading his mother’s letter, and ruminating on the sad fate of his sister. Raskolnikov is walking along when he sees a girl aged about fifteen, totally drunk and with ripped clothing suggesting she has already been attacked. He is overcome by compassion for her, seeking at first to protect her from another man who it seems wants to rape her, and then explaining the situation to a policeman who intervenes in his altercation with the other man. The girl has no wish for help, and wanders off followed by the policeman and the alleged rapist.

The purpose of this vignette appears to be to illustrate the depths of moral depravity that have infested Russian life, a complete moral corruption in which such scenes of public drunkenness and squalor and degradation are commonplace. Dostoyevsky is seeking to prick the national conscience for allowing this to happen with such indifference.

Raskolnikov’s behaviour is noteworthy. His initial sentiment of compassion for a complete stranger, like the Good Samaritan, is compounded by giving the policeman money to take the girl home, and by his angry desire to fight the other man who he thinks has evil designs on the lass’s honour. But then when the girl walks off, he totally gives up, and regrets giving away his money.
Last edited by Robert Tulip on Wed Oct 20, 2021 1:28 am, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
Robert Tulip
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame
Posts: 6224
Joined: Tue Oct 04, 2005 9:16 pm
16
Location: Canberra
Contact:
Australia

Re: Crime and Punishment - Part 1

Dostoyevsky has a remarkable talent for description of character. Raskolnikov has shown us his divided mind, jumping from compassion to indifference toward the distressed girl on the street. Next he reveals himself as quite scattered in his thinking, forgetting why he is there, perhaps due to the shock of his mother’s letter. He recalls he is off to visit a friend. We learn that “in his studies, he kept aloof from everyone, went to see no one, and did not welcome anyone who came to see him, and indeed everyone soon gave him up. He took no part in the students’ gatherings, amusements or conversations. He worked with great intensity without sparing himself, and he was respected for this, but no one liked him. He was very poor, and there was a sort of haughty pride and reserve about him, as though he were keeping something to himself. He seemed to some of his comrades to look down upon them all as children, as though he were superior in development, knowledge and convictions, as though their beliefs and interests were beneath him.”

This picture of the arrogant loner who is superior but socially inept is building the portrayal of severe mental health concern. It makes me wonder what he was keeping to himself. Is it a general attitude of secrecy born of embarrassment?
User avatar
Harry Marks
Authors are MY fans!
Posts: 1832
Joined: Sun May 01, 2011 10:42 am
10

Re: Crime and Punishment - Part 1

Robert Tulip wrote:The strange incident of the young drunk girl in the street occurs after reading his mother’s letter, and ruminating on the sad fate of his sister. Raskolnikov is walking along when he sees a girl aged about fifteen, totally drunk and with ripped clothing suggesting she has already been attacked. He is overcome by compassion for her, seeking at first to protect her from another man who it seems wants to rape her, and then explaining the situation to a policeman who intervenes in his altercation with the other man. The girl has no wish for help, and wanders off followed by the policeman and the alleged rapist.
I took it as a demonstration of R's genuine concern for the downtrodden and Dostoyevsky's honest effort to put R's ravings and narcissistic effort to transcend morality into perspective, noting that everyone accepts the horrors brought on by poverty and the ordinary immorality that is all around them. Raskolnikov seems to have some project in mind of transcending moral obligation, but comes at it from a base that seems to represent a kind of nobility of soul.

I am no more able now to work out exactly what the author has in mind than when I first read it, but my guess is that Dostoyevsky had entertained such thoughts himself. The reference to Napoleon as a standard would be a slap in the face to Russians, a kind of assertion that Napoleon could get away with being above ordinary mortals as long as he won the battles. The suffering that Napoleon inflicted on Russia, while he was being above morality, was truly horrific, and in turn the czar's scorched earth methods of defeating him meant that the suffering fell most heavily on the serfs. No one's hands were clean, no one was on the side of morality, and the entirety of the society was still ordered by violence and oppression 70 years later. But I get ahead of the story.
Robert Tulip wrote:The purpose of this vignette appears to be to illustrate the depths of moral depravity that have infested Russian life, a complete moral corruption in which such scenes of public drunkenness and squalor and degradation are commonplace. Dostoyevsky is seeking to prick the national conscience for allowing this to happen with such indifference.
Rather Dickensian, I would say.
Robert Tulip wrote:Raskolnikov’s behaviour is noteworthy. His initial sentiment of compassion for a complete stranger, like the Good Samaritan, is compounded by giving the policeman money to take the girl home, and by his angry desire to fight the other man who he thinks has evil designs on the lass’s honour. But then when the girl walks off, he totally gives up, and regrets giving away his money.
Yes, an interesting twist. He would like to overturn all the oppression, is willing to put his own money (well, his mother's, actually) on the line for one small effort at redeeming one person, and finds it futile. I would guess many of the students of the day believed in such an overturning, and were similarly caught by the impracticality of actually trying to do something about it.
User avatar
LanDroid
Upper Echelon 2nd Class
Posts: 2420
Joined: Sat Jul 27, 2002 9:51 am
19
Location: Cincinnati, OH
United States of America

Re: Crime and Punishment - Part 1

R does seem scatterbrained. Shortly after renouncing his plan to kill the old woman he overhears timing of the perfect opportunity to enact it and does so the next day. R has to suppress a strong urge to throw all the booty into the river. At the police station shortly after that on an unrelated matter, he has to resist a strong urge to confess everything. Then he takes strong precautions to hide the treasure without looking at it. Don't know where the author is going with this other than R is quite sick - perhaps he will "stabilize" once he recovers...
User avatar
Mr. P
Has Plan to Save Books During Fire
Posts: 3807
Joined: Wed Jun 16, 2004 10:16 am
17
Location: NJ
Gender:
United States of America

Re: Crime and Punishment - Part 1

The final section of part one is indeed excellent writing. You feel every bit of the panic and confusion and anxiety of R. It is one of the best descriptions of a crime in progress I have read.

And R was earlier pondering why and how criminals get caught, finding it not possible for him to get caught. And he fell into every trap he preconceived.
When you refuse to learn, you become a disease.
User avatar
Robert Tulip
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame
Posts: 6224
Joined: Tue Oct 04, 2005 9:16 pm
16
Location: Canberra
Contact:
Australia

Re: Crime and Punishment - Part 1

In Chapter Five, Raskolnikov uses his last copecks to buy food and a wine glass full of vodka. Falling asleep on an island, he dreams of the murder of a horse by brutal laughing drunk peasants in scenes from his childhood village. The owner of the poor animal goads it to gallop under an impossible load, then tortures and kills it in the cruelest way imaginable. All this is in front of a large crowd, some of whom express shock and outrage at this callous act of public brutality. The young Raskolnikov showers compassionate kisses upon the whipped eyes of the dead animal before he is torn away and awakes.

Dostoyevsky is explaining the violent indifference to life that characterises the Russian rural world, the blank lack of concern about how such extreme savagery will traumatise all who see it, sowing the seeds for acceptance of similar future evil deeds.

The dream of the pitiful horse prefigures his murder of the pawnbroker, setting the path to the crime. Feeling as if under the automated compulsion of predestined omens, he learns by chance of the opportunity coming up the next morning when the woman will be alone, and contemplates his obsessive plan to split her skull with an axe, treading in her sticky warm blood.
User avatar
Harry Marks
Authors are MY fans!
Posts: 1832
Joined: Sun May 01, 2011 10:42 am
10

Re: Crime and Punishment - Part 1

Robert Tulip wrote:Dostoyevsky is explaining the violent indifference to life that characterises the Russian rural world, the blank lack of concern about how such extreme savagery will traumatise all who see it, sowing the seeds for acceptance of similar future evil deeds.
The dream of the pitiful horse prefigures his murder of the pawnbroker,
For me the common portrayal of dull, insensitive peasants does not ring true. I am willing to believe that they are/were common enough, but I am not willing to believe they are the standard case. Rather I turn to two things. First, the dull working life of the peasant is missing the "pleasures of the mind" that create stuff for educated folk to think and talk about. Thus the common interest in, e.g. cockfighting, is as much due to the intellectual stimulation (don't laugh, a fight is an engaging challenge to the mind as well as the will and the feelings, and that is a lot of why people watch sports) as to the need for excitement and drama.
But that leads to second, that a life of poverty is very likely to be a life of trauma as well. Certainly Dostoevsky portrays it that way, full of the despair of drink and the desperate need that brings women to prostitution. Perhaps because I listened to a book on trauma and PTSD around the same time I listened to Crime and Punishment, this issue of the savagery of the peasants brought to mind the torment of the peasantry and the resulting fascination with conflict and domination. I think the horse symbolizes the common people as much as the cruelty of the crowd symbolizes the common people.
User avatar
Robert Tulip
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame
Posts: 6224
Joined: Tue Oct 04, 2005 9:16 pm
16
Location: Canberra
Contact:
Australia

Re: Crime and Punishment - Part 1

Harry Marks wrote:For me the common portrayal of dull, insensitive peasants does not ring true. I am willing to believe that they are/were common enough, but I am not willing to believe they are the standard case.
I have had a fascination with Russian literature all my life. Books I have read that describe the extreme violence of the culture include several from Solzhenitsyn, especially The Gulag Archipelago, describing the labour camp system, and also two by British historian Robert Conquest, The Harvest of Sorrow, about the forced Ukraine famine of the early 1930s that starved about ten million people to death, and The Great Terror, about the mass extermination program in Stalin’s purges.

This syndrome of total impunity for random brutality continues today with the Navalny case. Just last night I watched the documentary The Man Putin Couldn’t Kill, telling the outrageous story of how Putin has brazenly authorised and protected attempted political murder. Navalny, leader of the political opposition to Putin, had poison added to his underpants by Russian spies, as one of the murderers explains to Navalny in a direct recorded interview. Putin gives the lame excuse that the FSB are not such buffoons as to fail in this professional assignment.

The movie Putin’s Palace suggests a strong cultural continuity between modern Russia and Dostoyevsky’s story of the thrashing to death of the horse.
User avatar
Robert Tulip
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame
Posts: 6224
Joined: Tue Oct 04, 2005 9:16 pm
16
Location: Canberra
Contact:
Australia

Re: Crime and Punishment - Part 1

Meticulous planning. Understanding that one cannot walk through the street holding an axe without drawing attention, Raskolnikov devises an ingenious concealment, a noose to hold the axe head under his coat so he can look totally normal. As he is rather weak, an axe will dispatch the assignment more reliably than a knife. Proceeding in a mood of personal disbelief about the hideous and absurd nature of his plans, R has determined to steal the axe from the kitchen and then later return it, presenting only minor risk of detection. On the moral questions, R prides himself that his casuistry has become keen as a razor, overcoming all rational objections.

The detached philosophical nature of this preparation for murder illustrates how the criminal enters an alternative universe, a bubble of fantasy delusion. Casuistry is defined as clever but unsound reasoning. R is able to give himself the appearance of legitimacy, ignoring the gaping holes in his moral compass.

R ponders the background question of why most criminals are so incompetent they are easily caught. It seems it is not the objective difficulty of completing the perfect crime, but rather the psychological failure of will and reason, a childish heedlessness. Therefore this meticulous planner will use his hideous and senseless murder to demonstrate his intellectual superiority, his ability to retain a cool and unemotional mental state while killing an old lady with an axe. By the remarkable logic that deems this not to be a crime, for reasons which remain somewhat mysterious, something about she deserved it. Willpower will conquer all, enabling a lack of concern about practical difficulties (which unsurprisingly to the reader will prove to bring factors the criminal had not foreseen). A portrait of severe insanity.

The first unexpected problem, exciting emotions of crushing humiliation and dull animal boiling rage in R, is that the cook is in the kitchen so he can’t steal her axe. But what luck! The devil helps him find another axe. With a strange grin, R puts it into his carefully prepared noose and departs on his mission.
User avatar
Robert Tulip
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame
Posts: 6224
Joined: Tue Oct 04, 2005 9:16 pm
16
Location: Canberra
Contact:
Australia

Re: Crime and Punishment - Part 1

Like a man led to execution who clutches mentally at every object that meets him on the way, R arrives at the house of death. This image recalls Dostoyevsky’s own experience, when he was imprisoned and taken to the yard to be shot, only to be reprieved at the last minute, seemingly by a late decision from the authorities but possibly as part of a cruel and unusual punishment plan. One of his fellow death row inmates did not cope with this experience of expecting certain death and went permanently insane as a result.

His heart throbbing more and more violently, R reaches the old lady’s door seemingly undetected. His meticulous planning, outlined above, had also included the clever ruse of pretending to pawn a cigarette case, displaying the remarkable ability of the criminally insane to focus on irrelevant details while ignoring the main requirements, let alone the underlying moral questions. The cool calm and collected plan was to kill the old lady and take her keys in order to steal her money. But there is something about a vicious premeditated murder and theft that is able to unsettle such plans. It is not just the incompetence; the underlying moral depravity seems somehow to gnaw at his conscience and destabilise his thinking. The axe murder itself proceeds as intended but then all starts to unravel. R manages to smear himself with blood in getting the keys from around her neck. Then he can’t find her money, so just stuffs some baubles in his pockets. Then her sister turns up. As Stalin used to say, ‘no man no problem’. R dispatches Lizaveta with the axe in an even more gory way.

The meticulous planner had not imagined that the pawnbroker might have a steady stream of customers. And indeed, two turn up and trap R in the room. He does not let them in, but they rapidly notice the door is latched from the inside, showing the occupants are at home. Off they go to get the police, while R manages to escape, at this point decidedly unconvinced of his own mental stability. He gets home, somewhat traumatised by his experience, and is even able to secrete the axe back in the box where he got it. Thus ends part one.
Post Reply