Crime and Punishment

Crime and Punishment

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This classic Russian novel has it all: murder, suspense, passion, struggle, and redemption.

Originally published in 1866, Crime and Punishment is a psychological thriller that deals with issues of morality, conscience, and redemption. Widely considered to be one of the greatest novels written in any language, this novel explores the life of Rodin Raskolnikov, a young Russian man who robs and murders a pawnbroker to save himself from a life of poverty. As a consequence, he must deal with the oppressive mental anguish of being a criminal while attempting to maintain relationships with his friends and family. 

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781843797494
Publisher: Naxos Audiobooks Ltd.
Publication date: 09/03/2013
Series: Naxos Complete Classics
Pages: 17
Product dimensions: 6.60(w) x 5.40(h) x 1.70(d)

About the Author

Fyodor Dostoyevsky is considered one of the greatest novelists of all time. Born in Moscow in 1821, he began adulthood by resigning a commission as a military engineer to embark on a writing career. The praise he earned for his first novel, Poor Folk, immediately vaulted him to literary stardom. His political activity led to imprisonment, a mock execution, and exile to a Siberian prison camp, all of which shaped his later novels. Since his death in 1881, he has been best remembered for his novels Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov.

Constance Garnett (1861–1946) was an English translator of nineteenth-century Russian literature.

Read an Excerpt

Crime and Punishment

By Fyodor Dostoevsky


Copyright © 2017 Open Road Integrated Media, Inc.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-5040-4447-9


ON AN EXCEPTIONALLY hot evening early in July a young man came out of the garret in which he lodged in S. Place and walked slowly, as though in hesitation, towards K. bridge.

He had successfully avoided meeting his landlady on the staircase. His garret was under the roof of a high, five-storied house and was more like a cupboard than a room. The landlady who provided him with garret, dinners, and attendance, lived on the floor below, and every time he went out he was obliged to pass her kitchen, the door of which invariably stood open. And each time he passed, the young man had a sick, frightened feeling, which made him scowl and feel ashamed. He was hopelessly in debt to his landlady, and was afraid of meeting her.

This was not because he was cowardly and abject, quite the contrary; but for some time past he had been in an overstrained irritable condition, verging on hypochondria. He had become so completely absorbed in himself, and isolated from his fellows that he dreaded meeting, not only his landlady, but anyone at all. He was crushed by poverty, but the anxieties of his position had of late ceased to weigh upon him. He had given up attending to matters of practical importance; he had lost all desire to do so. Nothing that any landlady could do had a real terror for him. But to be stopped on the stairs, to be forced to listen to her trivial, irrelevant gossip, to pestering demands for payment, threats and complaints, and to rack his brains for excuses, to prevaricate, to lie — no, rather than that, he would creep down the stairs like a cat and slip out unseen.

This evening, however, on coming out into the street, he became acutely aware of his fears.

"I want to attempt a thing like that and am frightened by these trifles," he thought, with an odd smile. "Hm ... yes, all is in a man's hands and he lets it all slip from cowardice, that's an axiom. It would be interesting to know what it is men are most afraid of. Taking a new step, uttering a new word is what they fear most. ... But I am talking too much. It's because I chatter that I do nothing. Or perhaps it is that I chatter because I do nothing. I've learned to chatter this last month, lying for days together in my den thinking ... of Jack the Giant-killer. Why am I going there now? Am I capable of that? Is that serious? It is not serious at all. It's simply a fantasy to amuse myself; a plaything! Yes, maybe it is a plaything."

The heat in the street was terrible: and the airlessness, the bustle and the plaster, scaffolding, bricks, and dust all about him, and that special Petersburg stench, so familiar to all who are unable to get out of town in summer — all worked painfully upon the young man's already overwrought nerves. The insufferable stench from the pothouses, which are particularly numerous in that part of the town, and the drunken men whom he met continually, although it was a working day, completed the revolting misery of the picture. An expression of the profoundest disgust gleamed for a moment in the young man's refined face. He was, by the way, exceptionally handsome, above the average in height, slim, well-built, with beautiful dark eyes and dark brown hair. Soon he sank into deep thought, or more accurately speaking into a complete blankness of mind; he walked along not observing what was about him and not caring to observe it. From time to time, he would mutter something, from the habit of talking to himself, to which he had just confessed. At these moments he would become conscious that his ideas were sometimes in a tangle and that he was very weak; for two days he had scarcely tasted food.

He was so badly dressed that even a man accustomed to shabbiness would have been ashamed to be seen in the street in such rags. In that quarter of the town, however, scarcely any shortcoming in dress would have created surprise. Owing to the proximity of the Hay Market, the number of establishments of bad character, the preponderance of the trading and working class population crowded in these streets and alleys in the heart of Petersburg, types so various were to be seen in the streets that no figure, however queer, would have caused surprise. But there was such accumulated bitterness and contempt in the young man's heart, that, in spite of all the fastidiousness of youth, he minded his rags least of all in the street. It was a different matter when he met with acquaintances or with former fellow students, whom, indeed, he disliked meeting at any time. And yet when a drunken man who, for some unknown reason, was being taken somewhere in a huge waggon dragged by a heavy dray horse, suddenly shouted at him as he drove past: "Hey there, German hatter" bawling at the top of his voice and pointing at him — the young man stopped suddenly and clutched tremulously at his hat. It was a tall round hat from Zimmerman's, but completely worn out, rusty with age, all torn and bespattered, brimless and bent on one side in a most unseemly fashion. Not shame, however, but quite another feeling akin to terror had overtaken him.

"I knew it," he muttered in confusion, "I thought so! That's the worst of all! Why, a stupid thing like this, the most trivial detail might spoil the whole plan. Yes, my hat is too noticeable. ... It looks absurd and that makes it noticeable. ... With my rags I ought to wear a cap, any sort of old pancake, but not this grotesque thing. Nobody wears such a hat, it would be noticed a mile off, it would be remembered. ... What matters is that people would remember it, and that would give them a clue. For this business one should be as little conspicuous as possible. ... Trifles, trifles are what matter! Why, it's just such trifles that always ruin everything...."

He had not far to go; he knew indeed how many steps it was from the gate of his lodging house: exactly seven hundred and thirty. He had counted them once when he had been lost in dreams. At the time he had put no faith in those dreams and was only tantalising himself by their hideous but daring recklessness. Now, a month later, he had begun to look upon them differently, and, in spite of the monologues in which he jeered at his own impotence and indecision, he had involuntarily come to regard this "hideous" dream as an exploit to be attempted, although he still did not realise this himself. He was positively going now for a "rehearsal" of his project, and at every step his excitement grew more and more violent.

With a sinking heart and a nervous tremor, he went up to a huge house which on one side looked on to the canal, and on the other into the street. This house was let out in tiny tenements and was inhabited by working people of all kinds — tailors, locksmiths, cooks, Germans of sorts, girls picking up a living as best they could, petty clerks, etc. There was a continual coming and going through the two gates and in the two courtyards of the house. Three or four door-keepers were employed on the building. The young man was very glad to meet none of them, and at once slipped unnoticed through the door on the right, and up the staircase. It was a back staircase, dark and narrow, but he was familiar with it already, and knew his way, and he liked all these surroundings: in such darkness even the most inquisitive eyes were not to be dreaded.

"If I am so scared now, what would it be if it somehow came to pass that I were really going to do it?" he could not help asking himself as he reached the fourth storey. There his progress was barred by some porters who were engaged in moving furniture out of a flat. He knew that the flat had been occupied by a German clerk in the civil service, and his family. This German was moving out then, and so the fourth floor on this staircase would be untenanted except by the old woman. "That's a good thing anyway," he thought to himself, as he rang the bell of the old woman's flat. The bell gave a faint tinkle as though it were made of tin and not of copper. The little flats in such houses always have bells that ring like that. He had forgotten the note of that bell, and now its peculiar tinkle seemed to remind him of something and to bring it clearly before him. ... He started, his nerves were terribly overstrained by now. In a little while, the door was opened a tiny crack: the old woman eyed her visitor with evident distrust through the crack, and nothing could be seen but her little eyes, glittering in the darkness. But, seeing a number of people on the landing, she grew bolder, and opened the door wide. The young man stepped into the dark entry, which was partitioned off from the tiny kitchen. The old woman stood facing him in silence and looking inquiringly at him. She was a diminutive, withered up old woman of sixty, with sharp malignant eyes and a sharp little nose. Her colourless, somewhat grizzled hair was thickly smeared with oil, and she wore no kerchief over it. Round her thin long neck, which looked like a hen's leg, was knotted some sort of flannel rag, and, in spite of the heat, there hung flapping on her shoulders, a mangy fur cape, yellow with age. The old woman coughed and groaned at every instant. The young man must have looked at her with a rather peculiar expression, for a gleam of mistrust came into her eyes again.

"Raskolnikov, a student, I came here a month ago," the young man made haste to mutter, with a half bow, remembering that he ought to be more polite.

"I remember, my good sir, I remember quite well your coming here," the old woman said distinctly, still keeping her inquiring eyes on his face.

"And here ... I am again on the same errand," Raskolnikov continued, a little disconcerted and surprised at the old woman's mistrust. "Perhaps she is always like that though, only I did not notice it the other time," he thought with an uneasy feeling.

The old woman paused, as though hesitating; then stepped on one side, and pointing to the door of the room, she said, letting her visitor pass in front of her:

"Step in, my good sir."

The little room into which the young man walked, with yellow paper on the walls, geraniums and muslin curtains in the windows, was brightly lighted up at that moment by the setting sun.

"So the sun will shine like this then too!" flashed as it were by chance through Raskolnikov's mind, and with a rapid glance he scanned everything in the room, trying as far as possible to notice and remember its arrangement. But there was nothing special in the room. The furniture, all very old and of yellow wood, consisted of a sofa with a huge bent wooden back, an oval table in front of the sofa, a dressing-table with a looking-glass fixed on it between the windows, chairs along the walls and two or three half-penny prints in yellow frames, representing German damsels with birds in their hands — that was all. In the corner a light was burning before a small ikon. Everything was very clean; the floor and the furniture were brightly polished; everything shone.

"Lizaveta's work," thought the young man. There was not a speck of dust to be seen in the whole flat.

"It's in the houses of spiteful old widows that one finds such cleanliness," Raskolnikov thought again, and he stole a curious glance at the cotton curtain over the door leading into another tiny room, in which stood the old woman's bed and chest of drawers and into which he had never looked before. These two rooms made up the whole flat.

"What do you want?" the old woman said severely, coming into the room and, as before, standing in front of him so as to look him straight in the face.

"I've brought something to pawn here," and he drew out of his pocket an old-fashioned flat silver watch, on the back of which was engraved a globe; the chain was of steel.

"But the time is up for your last pledge. The month was up the day before yesterday."

"I will bring you the interest for another month; wait a little."

"But that's for me to do as I please, my good sir, to wait or to sell your pledge at once."

"How much will you give me for the watch, Alyona Ivanovna?"

"You come with such trifles, my good sir, it's scarcely worth anything. I gave you two roubles last time for your ring and one could buy it quite new at a jeweler's for a rouble and a half."

"Give me four roubles for it, I shall redeem it, it was my father's. I shall be getting some money soon."

"A rouble and a half, and interest in advance, if you like!"

"A rouble and a half!" cried the young man.

"Please yourself" — and the old woman handed him back the watch. The young man took it, and was so angry that he was on the point of going away; but checked himself at once, remembering that there was nowhere else he could go, and that he had had another object also in coming.

"Hand it over," he said roughly.

The old woman fumbled in her pocket for her keys, and disappeared behind the curtain into the other room. The young man, left standing alone in the middle of the room, listened inquisitively, thinking. He could hear her unlocking the chest of drawers.

"It must be the top drawer," he reflected. "So she carries the keys in a pocket on the right. All in one bunch on a steel ring. ... And there's one key there, three times as big as all the others, with deep notches; that can't be the key of the chest of drawers ... then there must be some other chest or strong-box ... that's worth knowing. Strong-boxes always have keys like that ... but how degrading it all is."

The old woman came back.

"Here, sir: as we say ten copecks the rouble a month, so I must take fifteen copecks from a rouble and a half for the month in advance. But for the two roubles I lent you before, you owe me now twenty copecks on the same reckoning in advance. That makes thirty-five copecks altogether. So I must give you a rouble and fifteen copecks for the watch. Here it is."

"What! only a rouble and fifteen copecks now!"

"Just so."

The young man did not dispute it and took the money. He looked at the old woman, and was in no hurry to get away, as though there was still something he wanted to say or to do, but he did not himself quite know what.

"I may be bringing you something else in a day or two, Alyona Ivanovna — a valuable thing — silver — a cigarette-box, as soon as I get it back from a friend ..." he broke off in confusion.

"Well, we will talk about it then, sir."

"Good-bye — are you always at home alone, your sister is not here with you?" He asked her as casually as possible as he went out into the passage.

"What business is she of yours, my good sir?"

"Oh, nothing particular, I simply asked. You are too quick. ... Good-day, Alyona Ivanovna."

Raskolnikov went out in complete confusion. This confusion became more and more intense. As he went down the stairs, he even stopped short, two or three times, as though suddenly struck by some thought. When he was in the street he cried out, "Oh, God, how loathsome it all is! and can I, can I possibly. ... No, it's nonsense, it's rubbish!" he added resolutely. "And how could such an atrocious thing come into my head? What filthy things my heart is capable of. Yes, filthy above all, disgusting, loathsome, loathsome! — and for a whole month I've been. ..." But no words, no exclamations, could express his agitation. The feeling of intense repulsion, which had begun to oppress and torture his heart while he was on his way to the old woman, had by now reached such a pitch and had taken such a definite form that he did not know what to do with himself to escape from his wretchedness. He walked along the pavement like a drunken man, regardless of the passers-by, and jostling against them, and only came to his senses when he was in the next street. Looking round, he noticed that he was standing close to a tavern which was entered by steps leading from the pavement to the basement. At that instant two drunken men came out at the door, and abusing and supporting one another, they mounted the steps. Without stopping to think, Raskolnikov went down the steps at once. Till that moment he had never been into a tavern, but now he felt giddy and was tormented by a burning thirst. He longed for a drink of cold beer, and attributed his sudden weakness to the want of food. He sat down at a sticky little table in a dark and dirty corner; ordered some beer, and eagerly drank off the first glassful. At once he felt easier; and his thoughts became clear.

"All that's nonsense," he said hopefully, "and there is nothing in it all to worry about! It's simply physical derangement. Just a glass of beer, a piece of dry bread — and in one moment the brain is stronger, the mind is clearer and the will is firm! Phew, how utterly petty it all is!"

But in spite of this scornful reflection, he was by now looking cheerful as though he were suddenly set free from a terrible burden: and he gazed round in a friendly way at the people in the room. But even at that moment he had a dim foreboding that this happier frame of mind was also not normal.


Excerpted from Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky. Copyright © 2017 Open Road Integrated Media, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

A truly great translation . . . Sometimes new translations of old favourites are surplus to our requirements. . . . Sometimes, though, a new translation really makes us see a favourite masterpiece afresh. And this English version of Crime and Punishment really is better. . . . Crime and Punishment, as well as being an horrific story and a compelling drama, is also extremely funny. Ready brings out this quality well. . . . That knife-edge between sentimentality and farce has been so skilfully and delicately captured here. . . . Ready’s version is colloquial, compellingly modern and—in so far as my amateurish knowledge of the language goes—much closer to the Russian. . . . The central scene in the book . . . is a masterpiece of translation.” —A. N. Wilson, The Spectator
“This vivid, stylish and rich rendition by Oliver Ready compels the attention of the reader in a way that none of the others I’ve read comes close to matching. Using a clear and forceful mid-20th-century idiom, Ready gives us an entirely new kind of access to Dostoyevsky’s singular, self-reflexive and at times unnervingly comic text. This is the Russian writer’s story of moral revolt, guilt and possible regeneration turned into a new work of art. . . . [It] will give a jolt to the nervous system to anyone interested in the enigmatic Russian author.” —John Gray, New Statesman, “Books of the Year”

“At last we have a translation that brings out the wild humour and vitality of the original.” —Robert Chandler, PEN Atlas
“What a pleasure it is to see Oliver Ready’s new translation bring renewed power to one of the world’s greatest works of fiction. . . . Ready’s work is of substantial and superb quality. . . . [His] version portrays more viscerally and vividly the contradictory nature of Raskolnikov’s consciousness. . . . Ready evokes the crux of Crime and Punishment with more power than the previous translators have . . . with an enviably raw economy of prose.”The Curator
“Oliver Ready’s dynamic translation certainly succeeds in implicating new readers to Dostoyevsky’s old novel.” —The Times Literary Supplement

“Ready’s new translation of Crime and Punishment is thoughtful and elegant [and] shows us once again why this novel is one of the most intriguing psychological studies ever written. His translation also manages to revive the disturbing humor of the original. . . . In some places, Ready’s version echoes Pevear and Volokhonsky’s prize-winning Nineties version, but he often renders Dostoyevsky’s text more lucidly while retaining its deliberately uncomfortable feel. . . . Ready’s colloquial, economical use of language gives the text a new power.” —Russia Beyond the Headlines

“[A] five-star hit, which will make you see the original with new eyes.” A. N. Wilson, The Times Literary Supplement, “Books of the Year”


Reading Group Guide


When Dostoyevsky started work on Crime and Punishment in the summer of 1865 he was depressed and in serious financial straits. A recent gambling spree had depleted his savings, and he owed money for personal expenses as well as bills for Epokha, the journal he founded and had been forced to discontinue. Threatened with debtors' prison, he was approached by an unscrupulous publisher who offered a ridiculously exploitative contract under which Dostoyevsky signed over the copyrights to all his existing works and agreed to write a work of fiction by the end of the following year. For all this he was paid the sum of three thousand rubles, most of which was quickly swallowed up by promissory notes; what little remained was squandered at the gaming tables. Destitute once again, Dostoyevsky forced himself to concentrate on his writing, and by that fall had conceived of the idea for a novel-length work about a family ruined by alcohol.

The roots of Crime and Punishment can be found in various episodes in Dostoyevsky's life. His original idea, a murderer's first-person confession, came to him during his prison term in Siberia—an experience that profoundly changed his political views and instilled in him a life-long respect for order and authority. There is also evidence that he conceived of the Marmaledov family as the basis for a novel to be titled "The Drunkards," but which was never published. Finally, Dostoyevsky was reacting to the political climate in St. Petersburg, where the impulses of the revolution could be found in the nihilist and radical movements, which Dostoyevsky abhorred. Regardless of its origins, Dostoyevsky meant the novel to be as close to perfect as possible. He took extensive—now famous—notes regarding its structure, toying with different points of view, character, structure, plot, and a variety of thematic strains.

The efforts paid off. Crime and Punishment is a superbly plotted, brilliant character study of a man who is at once an everyman and as remarkable as any character ever written. It poses a simple question, "Can evil means justify honorable ends?" and answers it convincingly without didacticism or naiveté. Dostoyevsky intimates himself so closely with Roskolnikov's consciousness, and describes his turmoil and angst so precisely and exhaustively, that it is easy to forget that the events take place over the course of a mere two weeks. He encourages us to identify with Roskolnikov: the painstaking descriptions of the student's cramped, dingy quarters; the overpowering sights and sounds of a stifling afternoon on the streets of St. Petersburg; the excruciating tension of Porfiry's interrogation—all serve to place the reader at the heart of the action: Roskolnikov's fevered, tormented mind.

The murder itself is almost incidental to the novel; Dostoyevsky devotes no more than a few pages to describing its execution, although he details the painful vacillations that precede the incident and, of course, exposes every aspect of its aftermath. Similarly, Roskolnikov's punishment, in the literal sense, is put off until the epilogue, with his sentence—reduced to seven years due to the accused's apparent temporary insanity—to a Siberian labor camp. Thus Dostoyevsky brilliantly invites readers to put forth their own notions of Crime and Punishment, and engages us in an irresistible debate: Who is the real criminal? Marmeladov, for abandoning his family? Luzhin for exploiting Dunya? Svidrigailov for murdering his wife? Sonya for prostituting herself? The greedy pawnbroker whom Roskolnikov murdered? Or, to turn the question around: Who among us is not a criminal? Who among us has not attempted to impose his or her will on the natural order? Furthermore, we are made to understand that Roskolnikov's true punishment is not the sentence imposed on him by the court of law, but that imposed on him by his own actions: the psychological and spiritual hell he has created for himself; the necessary sentence of isolation from his friends and family; the extreme wavering between wanting to confess his crime, and desperately hoping to get away with it. Compelled, ultimately, to confess his crime—and the confession scene is the only incident in which Roskolnikov actually admits to the crime—we feel that Roskolnikov has suffered sufficiently. Indeed, the epilogue with its abbreviated pace and narrative distance feels like a reprieve for the reader as well as for the criminal. Finally, in Siberia, Roskolnikov has found space.

The public reception of Crime and Punishment was enthusiastic—if a little stunned. There was much discussion about the novel's overwhelming power and rumors of people unable to finish it. Readers were shocked by Dostoyevsky's gruesome descriptions and enthralled by his use of dramatic tension. Perhaps the most virulent, and unexpected, criticism came from readers who felt that Dostoyevsky's portrait of the nihilist movement was an indictment of Russian youth and that its premise was inconceivable. For more than a century, critics have argued about the book's message: Is it a political novel? A tale of morality? A psychological study? A religious epic? As Peter McDuff points out in his Introduction to the Penguin Classics edition, interpretations may be more revealing of the critic than of the text. Whatever Dostoyevsky's purpose—political, moral, psychological, or religious (and most likely he meant to touch on each of these themes)—one thing is certain. In Roskolnikov, Dostoyevsky has created a man who is singular yet universal. He is someone with whom we can sympathize, empathize, and pity, even if we cannot relate to his actions. He is a character we will remember forever, and whose story will echo throughout history.


Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky was born in 1821 at a Moscow hospital where his father was employed as a doctor. The family was poor, but their descent from 17th-century nobility entitled them to own land and serfs. Dostoyevsky's mother, Maria, was loving and religious; his father, Mikhail, tended toward alcoholism and violence, and his cruel behavior toward the peasants on their small estate resulted in his murder when Fyodor was eighteen years old.

Fyodor was the second of eight children. He was particularly close to his younger sister, Varvara, whose unfortunate marriage may have inspired Dostoyevsky's portraits of both Dunya and Sonya. His older brother, Mikhail, shared Dostoyevsky's literary and journalistic interests as well as his early social ideals. Together they attended secondary schools in Moscow, then the military academy in St. Petersburg, followed by service in the Russian army.

Dostoyevsky broadened his education by reading extensively in an attempt to sharpen his literary skills. As a youth he read and admired writers of all nationalities, including Dickens, Hugo, and Zola, and imitated some of Russia's literary geniuses, particularly Gogol. He also began a tortured acquaintance with Turgenev, which was to continue throughout his life.

His first novel, Poor Folk, was published in 1846. This tale of a young clerk who falls haplessly in love with a woman he cannot possess led the literary lion Victor Belinsky to proclaim Dostoyevsky as the next Gogol. Dostoyevsky's entrance into St. Petersburg literary society had begun—but his celebrity status was quickly overshadowed by his somewhat obnoxious behavior. Eventually, Dostoyevsky found another group to join, this time a circle of intellectual socialists run by Mikhail Petrashevsky. Given the reactionary climate of the time, the Petrashevsky group's revolutionary ideas were both exciting and dangerous, and, although Dostoyevsky was far from being a revolutionary, his alignment with the faction brought him to the attention of the police. In 1849 he and the rest of the Petrashevsky group were arrested for subversion. Dostoyevsky was imprisoned at the Peter and Paul Fortress where he and others were subject to a mock execution—an understandably traumatic experience which seems to have triggered an epileptic condition that would plague Dostoyevsky throughout his life. He spent the next five years at hard labor in Siberia, where his acquaintance with the criminal community would provide him with the themes, plots, and characters that distinguish many of his greatest works, including Crime and Punishment.

Dostoyevsky returned to St. Petersburg in 1859. The next decade was filled with emotional and physical turmoil. In 1864 the deaths of his wife, Maria, and his beloved brother, Mikhail, deepened his debt and drove him to gambling. He embarked on a doomed affair with Apollinaria Suslova, who vacillated between admiring and despising him. He also witnessed the dissolution of his literary journal and formed a disadvantageous relationship with an unscrupulous publisher. Yet the 1860s were also a period of great literary fervor, and in 1865, the publication of Crime and Punishment paved the way for a series of novels—including The Idiot, The Devils, and The Brothers Karamazov—that both reclaimed his position in Russia's pantheon of great living writers, and brought stability to his personal and financial affairs. He married his stenographer, Anna Grigorievna Snitkin, with whom he fathered four children, and established himself as a leading conservative who often spoke out against revolutionary activity. In June of 1880, Dostoyevsky attended a celebration of the great novelist, Pushkin, during which he delivered a speech in praise of the writer. His words were met with great adulation, and the event marked what was perhaps the highest point of public approbation Dostoyevsky would ever attain. Little more than six months later, on January 28, 1881, Dostoyevsky died of a lung hemorrhage. His funeral, attended by nearly thirty thousand mourners, was a national event.


  • How does Dostoyevsky achieve and sustain the suspense in his novel? Which scenes strike you as being particularly suspenseful? How does he use description to enhance the turmoil in Roskolnikov's mind?
  • What role does chance play in the development of the novel? In which scenes does coincidence figure heavily in the outcome? Is Dostoyevsky interfering too much with the natural course of events in order to move his story along, or is he making a point about the randomness of life, free will, and divine intervention?
  • Compare the characters of Roskolnikov, Luzhin, and Svidrigailov. How is each of these men a "villain," and to what extent are they guilty? How does each man face his guilt, and how does each suffer for it?
  • Compare the major female characters: Sonya, Dunya, Katerina Ivanovna. Do you think they are well-rounded characters or stereotypes? How does each figure in Roskolnikov's actions?
  • Discuss the scene in which Roskolnikov meets Sonya in her room and he asks her to read the story of Lazarus. What makes this scene so effective? What does Roskolnikov mean when he tells Sonya she is "necessary" to him? (p. 388)
  • Later, in confessing the murder to Sonya, Roskolnikov claims, "Did I really kill the old woman? No, it was myself I killed.... And as for the old woman, it was the Devil who killed her, not I." (p. 488) What does he mean by this? What motive does Roskolnikov give for his murder? Why does he confess to Sonya? Why doesn't the confession ease him of his inner torment?
  • Discuss Roskolnikov's theory of the ordinary versus the extraordinary man. What is Dostoyevsky's attitude toward this theory? Can you think of modern-day examples of this theory put into practice?
  • Does the fact that Roskolnikov never uses the money he stole from the pawnbroker make him less—or more—guilty? Why do you think he never recovers the stolen items or cash?
  • Why does Roskolnikov reject his family's and Razumikhin's attempts at solace and comfort? Why, when they are at their most loving, does he have feelings of hatred for them? What is Dostoyevsky saying about guilt and conscience?
  • Roskolnikov emerges as a dual character, capable of cruelty and compassion, deliberation and recklessness, and alternating between a desire for solitude and companionship. Why has Dostoyevsky created such a complex psychological portrait?
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    Crime and Punishment 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 194 reviews.
    Brainylainy More than 1 year ago
    I tried reading the Garnett translation that has been a sort of standard for years. However, I found it far too smooth, to like what an English teacher dictates for writing complete, complex, long sentences. That might be okay for another author, but Dostoevsky? Absolutely no! He wrote with passion. With anger. With joy. With tenderness. With deliberate fragments. Indeed, he was the father of the modern novel. Holden Caulfield owes everything to Dostoevsky, and so does Virginia Woolf. The only translation of this that captures the original is Pevear and Volokhonsky's. Unfortunately, B&N does not have that available for NOOK, so I dug out my physical copy and, awkward as it is compared to an e-book, I'm engrossed in it. (BTW, I believe Kindle has the P & V translation available. It has all their other translations that I've looked at.)
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I want this book and would even pay for a better format (less typos etc.) But how can I tell ? All the same reviews appear with each offered edition. Same complaints, reported problems. No help at all.
    Benja More than 1 year ago
    A must-read. Even if you think that this will just be some boring, ridiculously long book that people only read because they have to, you will hate that you have to put it down to eat, sleep, and do real work. Be sure to read it before you have to, because it would be terrible to have to skim over parts because you are being made to finish it within a certain time frame.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Too many errors in the spelling. Many words missing letters or have symbols instead of letters. It makes it very difficult to read in a smooth manner.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I was looking forward to reading this as a free book for my Nook, but it was filled with so many typos it was like reading the book in the original Russian. I don't know if all the free books are like this, but I spent too much time trying to decipher this one.
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    I picked up the greatest piece of literature that ever graced my hands. People's parents who read this book thought it tasteless but this book is incredible. It places you in the shoes of a man suffers from the crime he did and you will feel sympathy for a murderer.
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    This is an amazing book. Though I read it just this past summer at the age of 13, I am also an advanced reader for my age and found Crime and Punishment to be one of my favorite books. I love how Dostoyevsky presents Raskolnikov's psychological views on Extraordinary and ordinary men. Five Stars easily. I recommend this book to anybody looking for a truly great read.
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    When I first read this in tenth grade I had just begun a long track out of depression, and had not the begining of this novel so accurately portrayed his mental state before (as well as after) his murder I may not have bothered with this long book. I loved it. The phsycology is so intense and so accuarate! You love the characters (espescially Raskolnikov and Sonia), but the characters are also in a sotory - it is a story not just phsycology. I can't wait to finish other works of Dostoyevsky.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Finished this in about three weeks. Unlike war and peace, which took five months...
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    A terrific read of a classic thriller that I couldn't put down!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Despite the fact that this translation was not nearly as beautiful as the original, simply the over-all idea and story of Fyodor's Crime and Punishment  remains brilliant. This review might lack quite a bit of information, but it is something in which simply must be read, nonetheless!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    a really nice translation and a good size
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    Recently I became ensconced in Russian literature--and I suggest others start with David McDuff's translation of 'Crime and Punishment.' While the book is often lauded as a tale of an anti-hero, Raskolnikov, who likens himself with such unmoral people as Napoleon--a category of people Raskolnikov considers 'extraordinary'--that is just the tip of the ice berg. I found that aside from the question of the context of murders' acceptance(wars versus common murders), 'Crime & Punishment' has a theme of counterproductive pride. I don't want to ruin it for those who've yet to read this classic, but after reading it, you will agree. Another reason to read this book is the theme of the hunter becoming the hunted, because, alas, once the hunter stops hunting, he himslef becomes hunted. Porfiry Petrovich is that hunter, a damn good detective character: cunning, cynical, calculating. Give this book a try, you won't be sorry, if you like Russian literature. Enjoy!
    Anonymous 6 months ago
    Unkletom on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Crime & Punishment has to be one of the most frustrating books I have ever read. The main character is completely unlikeable and large sections of the book are blindingly tedious. Unfortunately, the remaining sections are fascinating and I know that if I give up and put it down I always regret not having finished it. My only recourse is to keep reading and finish it so that I can finally be free of it.
    kambrogi on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    I avoided this book for decades, while reading Dostoevsky¿s [The Brothers Karamazov] twice. I rather regret not jumping into C&P earlier, but who could blame me? I had already heard that the protagonist, rascally Raskolnikov, is an unlikable character who commits a brutal murder and suffers the consequences. That coupled with the challenge of Russian names over the course of 500 or more pages ¿ well, who¿d want to bother? It turned out that I would, and I¿m glad I did.Raskolnikov is a young student suffering from a combination of frustrated ambition, overweening arrogance, poverty and the mental and physical illness that often accompany it. He murders and robs a despicable pawnbroker, ostensibly because he will some day do great things with the wealth he acquires, while ridding the world of an evil predator. From the moment of the murder, however, the plan goes awry. Unlike Napoleon, to whom he compares himself, Raskolnikov has neither the drive nor the clarity of purpose required to overlook the persistent bleat of conscience. His attempt to escape that voice in all its forms is the substance of the story.This tale is enriched by a marvelous variety of secondary characters: his friend and foil, the generous Razumikhin; the tender, loving girlfriend Sonya; the devoted sister and mother Dunya and Pulkheria; the persistent detective Porfiry, the decadent Svidrigailov, and on and on. Each character opens a door into a new mind, a new slice of Russian life, a new way of approaching the idea upon which Raskolnikov has built his crumbling theoretical edifice.Unlike many books from the era ¿ which were often serialized and tended to stray off onto any number of sidetracks -- this one (published in only two installments) remains remarkably focused. Although we never come to love our protagonist, we are interested in what becomes of him and all the people who intercede on his behalf. The result is an engaging, thought-provoking, and ultimately hopeful read.
    SoonerCatholic on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Setting: This story is set in St. Petersburg during the reign of the czar and explores the consequences of crime.Plot: A young student reasons and commits a crime from which he must deal with his guilt.Characters: Raskolnikov (protagonist)- the student; Pawnbroker- victim of the crime; Marmiledov- drunk, ox clerk; Katerina- M's wife; Sonia- M's daughter who is a prostitute; Profiry- unconventional detective; Dounia- R's sister; Svidrigailov- wealth, morally depraved manSymbols: dreams, political theories, crossCharacteristics: insightful, intelligentResponse: I enjoyed the intellectual and psychological aspects of this book.
    fuzzy_patters on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    On the surface, Crime and Punishment is a story about crime and punishment in the form of a guilty conscience. On another level, it is a story about the psychology of love and rationalization. On yet a deeper level, it is a coming of age story about a man who goes from cold, cynical rationality, to a deeper appreciation for life itself. Somehow, Dostoevsky managed to weave all of this together brilliantly and creatds a masterpiece.Perhaps Dostoevsky's greatest strength as a writer was his ability to create characters who were very realistic in thought and feeling and his ability to convey their attitudes to us. The reader feels as if he is reading about old friends that he knows very well rather than characters in a novel. As such, one begins to feel sympathy for them in all of their trials and worry about them between readings. Crime and Punishment is no different in this regard. The reader is left feeling great sympathy for all involved and is emotionally affected by their lives. Dostoevsky also provides the modern reader with the opportunity to experience the sights, sounds, and mostly the attitudes of nineteenth century Russia. To read Dostoevsky is to take a time machine of sorts into another era in a foreign land, and yet, we can see the universalities of the human condition that transcend time an place. In this way, his novels become relevant to us, and we begin to understand ourselves better because of him.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I love ur schoolllllll best i found some great friends
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Elizabeth_Anderson More than 1 year ago
    Well, I read it, but I think others who have read it know more about it than me. I think I dozed off, unfortunate to say. I was hoping to really get into such a monumental title. Someone pointed out to me that the names being Russian, it makes it harder to follow them in the story. That much is true, much harder than Chekhov, who I follow with ease. So I don’t have much to say about this one except that it seemed a bit more dull than how gripping I think it should have been. A product I would recommend is Sirens of Morning Light by Benjamin Anderson, a quest for a man in Iowa to regain his identity, which becomes entangled with people who claim to have known him when he discovers he is a scientific experiment. The characters remain identifiable.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    In Crime and Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky establishes a character who believed a crime could be justified if you were superior enough. This work is ineffective in proving the point that Raskolnikov was superior to the others because he himself wasn’t able to deal with the guilt of the murder. Dostoyesky sets up Raskolnikov’s character to commit murder for money but later on he tries to justify with the concept of for the common good and superiority but it becomes ineffective when Raskolnikov is unable to carry on his daily functions and move on with his life. Raskolnikov tried to convince that he himself was superior. However, he was able to commit the crime but what he wasn’t able to do was to live with the guilt that accompanied it. It wasn’t simply guilt in itself he even became physically sick. He began to favor the thought of prison instead of the thought of remaining in the emotional state in which he was in. When even others tried to converse with him, his emotional state became even more intense where he would push his loved ones away due to his thought that they would find out. With the emotional state becoming worse each passing day and his guilt overflowing in his mind, he almost confesses to being the murderer to Zametov when he met him at the café. One could say that he was in fact imprisoned at this point; he was a prisoner to his own guilt. This causes Raskolnikov to isolate himself from those he held close and at that point Razumikhim realizes that he was in fact involved in the murders. After enduring a desire of solitude from everyone and anything, he finally confides his secret in the woman he loves, Sonia. Raskolnikov was unable to be superior because he wasn’t able to continue on with his motives of stealing money and provide himself with an education which was his true motive. He is unable to live up to Napoleon who is described in the book with justification of killing people for the better good of the people. The author tries to compare Raskolnikov to Napolean but is ineffective in having Raskolnikov live up to that level. The work is ineffective in portraying the superiority quality but it is effective in describing the human psychology. When explaining the attitudes of the ordinary people the author is able to effectively describe the guilt of a crime eating the conscience away. He accurately describes Raskolnikov as the ordinary man instead of the man of superiority. Raskolnikov allows himself to feel guilty of the murder and it affects himself but it also affects the people around him. The guilty conscience is a common occurrence that could occur in someone else too and the author describes the “ordinary” folks this way as well. The author describes the ordinary people through Raskolnikov’s article by saying they are unable to go through actions that would be better for the society; he says the ordinary folk are always obedient to society ways. Even though Raskolnikov attempts to break off by committing a murder he falls back into the ordinary category when he lets the guilty conscience ruin his life. The author is ineffective when it comes to making Raskolnikov appear as a superior being but is effective in portraying Raskolnikov’s character as an ordinary being.