She at last put his life and finances in order and created stable conditions for his work and new family. They had four children, of whom two survived to adulthood. Written at the same time as The Gambler , Prestupleniye i nakazaniye ; Crime and Punishment describes a young intellectual , Raskolnikov, willing to gamble on ideas. He decides to solve all his problems at a stroke by murdering an old pawnbroker woman.
Why do some Russians hate Dostoevsky? - Russia Beyond
Contradictory motives and theories all draw him to the crime. Utilitarian morality suggests that killing her is a positive good because her money could be used to help many others. On the other hand, Raskolnikov reasons that belief in good and evil is itself sheer prejudice , a mere relic of religion, and that, morally speaking, there is no such thing as crime. Nevertheless, Raskolnikov, despite his denial of morality, sympathizes with the unfortunate and so wants to kill the pawnbroker just because she is an oppressor of the weak. His most famous theory justifying murder divides the world into extraordinary people, such as Solon, Caesar, and Napoleon, and ordinary people, who simply serve to propagate the species.
Meanwhile, Raskolnikov tries to discover the real motive for his crime but never arrives at a single answer.
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Crime and Punishment also offers remarkable psychological portraits of a drunkard, Marmeladov, and of a vicious amoralist haunted by hallucinations, Svidrigailov. Quite deliberately, Dostoyevsky made the heroine of the story, Sonya Marmeladova, an unrealistic symbol of pure Christian goodness.
Having become a prostitute to support her family, she later persuades Raskolnikov to confess and then follows him to Siberia. Critical opinion is divided over whether the epilogue is artistically successful. If he could succeed, Dostoyevsky believed, he would show that Christ-like goodness is indeed possible; and so the very writing of the work became an attempt at what might be called a novelistic proof of Christianity. Ippolit, a spiteful young man dying of consumption , offers brilliant meditations on art, on death, on the meaninglessness of dumb brutish nature, and on happiness, which, to him, is a matter of the very process of living.
Columbus, he explains, was happy not when he discovered America but while he was discovering it. Often regarded as the most brilliant political novel ever written, it interweaves two plots. One concerns Nikolay Stavrogin, a man with a void at the centre of his being. Existentialist critics especially Albert Camus became fascinated with Kirillov, who adopts a series of contradictory philosophical justifications for suicide.
Most famously, Kirillov argues that only an utterly gratuitous act of self-destruction can prove that a person is free because such an act cannot be explained by any kind of self-interest and therefore violates all psychological laws.
Background and early life
It describes a cell of revolutionary conspirators led by Pyotr Stepanovich Verkhovensky, who binds the group together by involving them in murdering Shatov. This incident was based on the scheme of a real revolutionary of the time, Sergey Nechayev. The Possessed is a profoundly conservative and Christian work.
In contrast to its savage portraits of intellectuals, the novel expresses great sympathy for workers and other ordinary people ill-served by the radicals who presume to speak in their name. In —77 Dostoyevsky devoted his energies to Dnevnik pisatelya , which he was now able to bring out in the form he had originally intended.
A one-man journal, for which Dostoyevsky served as editor, publisher, and sole contributor, the Diary represented an attempt to initiate a new literary genre. Issue by monthly issue, the Diary created complex thematic resonances among diverse kinds of material: short stories, plans for possible stories, autobiographical essays, sketches that seem to lie on the boundary between fiction and journalism , psychological analyses of sensational crimes, literary criticism , and political commentary.
The Diary proved immensely popular and financially rewarding, but as an aesthetic experiment it was less successful, probably because Dostoyevsky, after a few intricate issues, seemed unable to maintain his complex design. Instead, he was drawn into expressing his political views, which, during these two years, became increasingly extreme. Specifically, Dostoyevsky came to believe that western Europe was about to collapse, after which Russia and the Russian Orthodox church would create the kingdom of God on earth and so fulfill the promise of the Book of Revelation.
In a series of anti-Catholic articles, he equated the Roman Catholic church with the socialists because both are concerned with earthly rule and maintain Dostoyevsky believed an essentially materialist view of human nature. He reached his moral nadir with a number of anti-Semitic articles. Because Dostoyevsky was unable to maintain his aesthetic design for the Diary , its most famous sections are usually known from anthologies and so are separated from the context in which they were designed to fit.
Something about Devils. A profligate and vicious father, Fyodor Pavlovich Karamazov, mocks everything noble and engages in unseemly buffoonery at every opportunity. Following the wise monk Zosima, Alyosha tries to put Christian love into practice. Evil happens not just because of a few criminals but because of a moral climate in which all people participate by harbouring evil wishes. The novel is most famous for three chapters that may be ranked among the greatest pages of Western literature.
For Christ came to make people free , but, the Inquisitor insists, people do not want to be free, no matter what they say. They want security and certainty rather than free choice, which leads them to error and guilt. Quite strikingly, this Devil is neither grand nor satanic but petty and vulgar, as if to symbolize the ordinariness and banality of evil. In Dostoyevsky delivered an electrifying speech about the poet Aleksandr Pushkin , which he published in a separate issue of The Diary of a Writer August After finishing Karamazov , he resumed the monthly Diary but lived to publish only a single issue January before dying of a hemorrhage on January 28 in St.
For generations, the depth and contradictoriness of his heroes have made systematic psychological theories look shallow by comparison. Many theorists most notably Freud have tried to claim Dostoyevsky as a predecessor. His sense of evil and his love of freedom have made Dostoyevsky especially relevant to a century of world war, mass murder, and totalitarianism.
Above all, his works continue to enthrall readers by combining suspenseful plots with ultimate questions about faith, suffering, and the meaning of life.
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Why do some Russians hate Dostoevsky?
Please note that our editors may make some formatting changes or correct spelling or grammatical errors, and may also contact you if any clarifications are needed. Written By: Gary Saul Morson. Read More on This Topic. Facts Matter. Start Your Free Trial Today. Learn More in these related Britannica articles:. In Russia, the novels of Fyodor Dostoyevsky , particularly Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov , revealed a world of paradox, alienation, and loss of identity, prophetic of the major tragic themes of the 20th….
In a…. Dostoyevsky, who was arrested in for his involvement in a socialist reading group, reentered the literary scene in the late s. Gogol, Leo Tolstoy, and Fyodor Dostoyevsky. The latter was inspired by the startsy when he described in his novels monastic figures such as Zosima in The Brothers Karamazov.
From the ranks of an emerging group of Orthodox lay intellectuals, the production of a living theology—if less scholarly than in…. History at your fingertips. Sign up here to see what happened On This Day , every day in your inbox! By signing up, you agree to our Privacy Notice. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. Help us improve this article! Contact our editors with your feedback. Edit Mode.
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You may find it helpful to search within the site to see how similar or related subjects are covered. Any text you add should be original, not copied from other sources. At the bottom of the article, feel free to list any sources that support your changes, so that we can fully understand their context. Internet URLs are the best. Thank You for Your Contribution! What the two fictions share is a solitary, restless, irritable hero and a feeling for the feverish, crowded streets and dives of St.
Petersburg—an atmosphere of careless improvidence, neglect, self-neglect, cruelty, even sordidness. It is the modern city in extremis. Dostoevsky himself had recently returned from exile, and his St. Petersburg life in this period was furtive and desperate. The text itself purports to be the writings of a retired mid-level government bureaucrat. He alternately teases, insults, and abases himself before them.
They are people besotted, he believes, with Western ideas of progress—the ideologies of utilitarianism, socialism, evolution, the greatest good for the greatest number, and so on. Is the underground man Dostoevsky himself? The text, as academics might say, is multivalent, at odds with itself. We are inevitably subjective and self-justifying—that is one of the modern elements in the book. We are also entirely inconsistent.
The underground man taunts his listeners, apologizes, criticizes himself, then gets aggressive, then collapses again. On and on. Hell is myself. No one would put up with this guy in his home for more than a half hour.
In the first part of the novel, the underground man, after introducing himself, complains, in his ejaculatory, stop-and-start way, about the spectacular Crystal Palace built in London this was back in He rails against everything that the building represents—industrial capitalism, scientific rationality, and any sort of predictive, mathematical model of human behavior.
Could anything be more contemporary?
- The Supreme Court Is One Vote Away from Changing How the U.S. Is Governed;
- Has any author's reputation fallen further or faster than Dostoevsky's?.
- Screening the Marquis de Sade: Pleasure, Pain and the Transgressive Body in Film;
You can easily imagine what Dostoevsky would make of modern sociology, psychology, advertising techniques, war games, polling of any sort. Given the opportunity, they may deny, for themselves, the certainty that two and two makes four. Because the mere right to deny the obvious may be more important than the benefit of sheepishly acknowledging it.
Predictors of human behavior, as the underground man says, generally assume we will act in our own best interests. But do we? When working-class whites vote for Republican policies that will further reduce their economic power—are they voting in their best interests?