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Crime and Punishment explores human nature, morality, and existential themes as told by Fyodor Dostoevsky.

For the 2024 A to Z Challenge, I am sharing favorite quotes from favorite books. Enjoy!

What is Crime and Punishment About?

“Crime and Punishment” is a novel by Fyodor Dostoevsky that delves into the psychological and moral consequences of committing a crime. The story follows Rodion Raskolnikov, a destitute former student in Saint Petersburg, who formulates and executes a plan to kill an elderly pawnbroker for her money.

The novel explores Raskolnikov’s internal turmoil before, during, and after the crime, as he grapples with his justifications for the murder and his descent into guilt-ridden madness. Throughout the narrative, Dostoevsky weaves together themes of morality, redemption, and the nature of evil, challenging the reader to consider complex questions about human nature and the consequences of one’s actions.

As the story unfolds, Raskolnikov is pursued by his own conscience and by the meticulous investigation of the police detective, Porfiry Petrovich. Alongside Raskolnikov’s inner turmoil, the novel also portrays the lives of other characters, including the virtuous prostitute Sonya Marmeladova and the enigmatic Svidrigailov, providing a rich tapestry of human experience and moral dilemmas.

Ultimately, “Crime and Punishment” is a profound exploration of guilt, redemption, and the search for meaning in a world marked by suffering and moral ambiguity.

5 Fun Facts About Fyodor Dostoevsky

Fyodor Dostoevsky was a fascinating figure in literature and history. Here are five fun facts about him:

  1. Brush with death and Siberian exile: In 1849, Dostoevsky was arrested for his involvement with a group of intellectuals discussing utopian socialism and was sentenced to death by firing squad. At the last moment, his sentence was commuted to four years of hard labor in Siberia, followed by military service. This experience deeply influenced his writing and outlook on life.
  2. Gambling addiction: Dostoevsky had a lifelong struggle with gambling. His addiction to roulette and other games of chance led him to financial ruin several times throughout his life. He even wrote about his experiences with gambling in his novel “The Gambler,” drawing from his own compulsive behavior.
  3. Literary innovation: Dostoevsky’s writing style was innovative for its time, as he delved into the psychology of his characters and explored complex philosophical and moral themes. His novel “Crime and Punishment” is often cited as one of the first psychological thrillers, as it delves deep into the mind of its protagonist, Raskolnikov.
  4. Love for children: Despite his often dark and intense writing, Dostoevsky had a deep love for children. He and his wife, Anna Grigoryevna, had four children together, and he was known to be a loving and attentive father. His affection for children is reflected in some of his works, such as “The Brothers Karamazov,” where children play significant roles.
  5. Interest in religion and philosophy: Dostoevsky was deeply interested in religion and philosophy, and his works often grapple with existential questions about the nature of faith, morality, and the existence of God. He had a complex relationship with Christianity, at times questioning his faith and at other times expressing profound religious convictions. This spiritual dimension adds depth and richness to his novels.

Crime and Punishment Quotes

“Crime and Punishment” by Fyodor Dostoevsky is filled with profound and thought-provoking quotes. Here are a few:

  1. “Pain and suffering are always inevitable for a large intelligence and a deep heart. The really great men must, I think, have great sadness on earth.”
  2. “Taking a new step, uttering a new word, is what people fear most.”
  3. “Man is a creature who can get accustomed to anything, and I think that is the best definition of him.”
  4. “It takes something more than intelligence to act intelligently.”
  5. “To go wrong in one’s own way is better than to go right in someone else’s.”
  6. “Power is given only to him who dares to stoop and take it… one must have the courage to dare.”
  7. “It is not the brains that matter most, but that which guides them – the character, the heart, generous qualities, progressive ideas.”
  8. “The darker the night, the brighter the stars, the deeper the grief, the closer is God!”

Crime and Punishment 2002 Miniseries

BBC2 produced a two-part miniseries of Crime and Punishment in 2002 starring John Simm (The Master in Doctor Who), Ian McDiarmid (Emperor Palpatine in the Star Wars franchise), and Shaun Dingwall (Pete Tyler in Doctor Who). It was filmed on site in St. Petersburg, Russia, and actor John Simms was quote as saying, “The hard job for me is to make the viewer understand why Raskolnikov kills. But that is helped by seeing the place that he has to live in, it was absolutely disgusting. He is a very intelligent guy, who is slowly driven to madness by the things he sees around him.”

Russian literature does not always translate well to the screen. Take the numerous Anna Karenina attempts. Part of this has to do with the length of depth of the written word with over 208,000 words. Even with a miniseries, there is no way for a Hollywood or BBC production to do justice to the entire storyline and to the character development as written by authors such as Fyodor Dostoevsky.

Out of respect to filmmaker Julian Jarrold‘s creation and the incredible performances by the lead cast, I would highly recommend this 2002 adaptation. If I still taught Literature, I would happily recommend this adaptation to my students to be watched after reading Crime and Punishment.

The Guardian’s Nancy Banks-Smith wrote, “As Raskolnikov, the murderer, John Simm is the spindle the whole thing whirls around. He gives a vivid performance and looks like a vicious angel. In the current Augean state of the stables, I am not able to find fault with this well-bred winner.

Buy Crime and Punishment

Audiobook Narrated by Anthony Heald

Penguin Classics’ Crime and Punishment

2002 Miniseries Starring John Simm and Ian Thompson

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8 powerful Crime and Punishment quotes by Fyodor Dostoevsky.

“It takes something more than intelligence to act intelligently." Crime and Punishment quotes.