• In total there is 1 user online :: 0 registered, 0 hidden and 1 guest (based on users active over the past 60 minutes)
    Most users ever online was 1230 on Sun Jul 14, 2024 2:51 am

Crime and Punishment - Part 1

#179: Oct. - Dec. 2021 (Fiction)
User avatar
LanDroid

2A - MOD & BRONZE
Comandante Literario Supreme
Posts: 2811
Joined: Sat Jul 27, 2002 9:51 am
21
Location: Cincinnati, OH
Has thanked: 199 times
Been thanked: 1170 times
United States of America

Re: Crime and Punishment - Part 1

Unread post

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

1F - BRONZE CONTRIBUTOR
Has Plan to Save Books During Fire
Posts: 3826
Joined: Wed Jun 16, 2004 10:16 am
20
Location: NJ
Has thanked: 7 times
Been thanked: 137 times
Gender:
United States of America

Re: Crime and Punishment - Part 1

Unread post

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

2B - MOD & SILVER
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame
Posts: 6503
Joined: Tue Oct 04, 2005 9:16 pm
18
Location: Canberra
Has thanked: 2733 times
Been thanked: 2666 times
Contact:
Australia

Re: Crime and Punishment - Part 1

Unread post

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
Bookasaurus
Posts: 1922
Joined: Sun May 01, 2011 10:42 am
13
Location: Denver, CO
Has thanked: 2341 times
Been thanked: 1022 times
Ukraine

Re: Crime and Punishment - Part 1

Unread post

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

2B - MOD & SILVER
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame
Posts: 6503
Joined: Tue Oct 04, 2005 9:16 pm
18
Location: Canberra
Has thanked: 2733 times
Been thanked: 2666 times
Contact:
Australia

Re: Crime and Punishment - Part 1

Unread post

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

2B - MOD & SILVER
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame
Posts: 6503
Joined: Tue Oct 04, 2005 9:16 pm
18
Location: Canberra
Has thanked: 2733 times
Been thanked: 2666 times
Contact:
Australia

Re: Crime and Punishment - Part 1

Unread post

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

2B - MOD & SILVER
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame
Posts: 6503
Joined: Tue Oct 04, 2005 9:16 pm
18
Location: Canberra
Has thanked: 2733 times
Been thanked: 2666 times
Contact:
Australia

Re: Crime and Punishment - Part 1

Unread post

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.
User avatar
geo

2C - MOD & GOLD
pets endangered by possible book avalanche
Posts: 4784
Joined: Sun Aug 03, 2008 4:24 am
15
Location: NC
Has thanked: 2203 times
Been thanked: 2205 times
United States of America

Re: Crime and Punishment - Part 1

Unread post

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.
Sorry to be so late to this party. I wanted to participate in this discussion but my copy of the novel was still in storage and not accessible. Only recently did I finally gain access to my books so I could finally resurrect my copy (translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky).

In these early chapters, I don't get a sense that Raskolnikov is a sociopath or narcissist. Indeed, there are actually two Good Samaritan moments, one when Raskolnnikov leaves a few coins in the apartment of Marmeladov the drunkard, whose daughter has become a prostitute to help support the family. And then again when he gives the cop money for a cab to take the drunk girl home. Both times his good deeds are spontaneous and both times he comes to regret giving away his coins, perhaps because he sees the futility of it. By contrast, his idea of murdering the unscrupulous pawnbroker is something he broods about constantly. Perhaps Dostoevsky is showing us that Raskolnikov’s plan to murder the pawnbroker actually goes against his nature. His descent into madness and murder are more of a result of his hopeless circumstances, his crushing poverty and solitude and lack of purpose.

Peaver in the introduction of my book says the name "Raskolnikov" derives from the Russian raskolnik meaning "schismatic." Perhaps Raskolnikov would be a better person, less divided, if only circumstances would allow it.
-Geo
Question everything
Post Reply

Return to “Crime and Punishment - by Fyodor Dostoyevsky”