Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821 - 1881)
Crime and Punishment
translated by Constance Garnett
HIS MOTHER'S letter
had been a torture to him, but as regards the
chief fact in it,
he had felt not one moment's hesitation, even whilst
he was reading
the letter. The essential question was settled, and
in his mind: "Never such a marriage while I am
alive and Mr. Luzhin
be damned;" "The thing is perfectly clear," he
muttered to himself,
with a malignant smile anticipating the triumph
of his decision.
"No, mother, no, Dounia, you won't deceive me! and
then they apologise
for not asking my advice and for taking the
me! I dare say! They imagine it is arranged now and
can't be broken
off; but we will see whether it can or not! A
'Pyotr Petrovitch is such a busy man that even his
wedding has to
be in post-haste, almost by express.' No, Dounia, I see
it all and I know
what you want to say to me; and I know too what
you were thinking
about, when you walked up and down all night, and
what your prayers
were like before the Holy Mother of Kazan who stands
in mother's bedroom.
Bitter is the ascent to Golgotha.... Hm... so
it is finally settled;
you have determined to marry a sensible
business man, Avdotya
Romanovna, one who has a fortune (has already
made his fortune,
that is so much more solid and impressive) a man who
holds two government
posts and who shares the ideas of our most rising
mother writes, and who seems to be kind, as Dounia
That seems beats everything! And that very Dounia
for that very 'seems'
is marrying him! Splendid! splendid!
should like to know why mother has written to me about
'our most rising
generation'? Simply as a descriptive touch, or with
the idea of prepossessing
me in favour of Mr. Luzhin? Oh, the
cunning of them!
I should like to know one thing more: how far they
were open with
one another that day and night and all this time since?
Was it all put
into words, or did both understand that they had the
same thing at heart
and in their minds, so that there was no need to
speak of it aloud,
and better not to speak of it. Most likely it was
partly like that,
from mother's letter it's evident: he struck her
as rude a little,
and mother in her simplicity took her observations
to Dounia. And
she was sure to be vexed and 'answered her angrily.'
I should think
so! Who would not be angered when it was quite clear
without any naive
questions and when it was understood that it was
useless to discuss
it. And why does she write to me, 'love Dounia,
Rodya, and she
loves you more than herself'? Has she a secret
at sacrificing her daughter to her son? 'You are
our one comfort,
you are everything to us.' Oh, mother!"
grew more and more intense, and if he had happened to
meet Mr. Luzhin
at the moment, he might have murdered him.
that's true," he continued, pursuing the whirling
ideas that chased
each other in his brain, "it is true that 'it
needs time and
care to get to know a man,' but there is no mistake
about Mr. Luzhin.
The chief thing is he is 'a man of business and
seems kind,' that
was something, wasn't it, to send the bags and big
box for them! A
kind man, no doubt after that! But his bride and her
mother are to drive
in a peasant's cart covered with sacking (I
know, I have been
driven in it). No matter! It is only ninety versts
and then they can
'travel very comfortably, third class,' for a
Quite right, too. One must cut one's coat according
to one's cloth,
but what about you, Mr. Luzhin? She is your
bride.... And you
must be aware that her mother has to raise money
on her pension
for the journey. To be sure it's a matter of
business, a partnership
for mutual benefit, with equal shares and
and drink provided, but pay for your tobacco. The
business man has
got the better of them, too. The luggage will cost
less than their
fares and very likely go for nothing. How is it that
they don't both
see all that, or is it that they don't want to see?
And they are pleased,
pleased! And to think that this is only the
and that the real fruits are to come! But what
is not the stinginess, is not the meanness, but the
tone of the whole
thing. For that will be the tone after marriage,
it's a foretaste
of it. And mother too, why should she be so lavish?
What will she have
by the time she gets to Petersburg? Three silver
roubles or two
'paper ones' as she says.... that old woman... hm. What
does she expect
to live upon in Petersburg afterwards? She has her
for guessing that she could not live with Dounia after
the marriage, even
for the first few months. The good man has no doubt
let slip something
on that subject also, though mother would deny
it: 'I shall refuse,'
says she. On whom is she reckoning then? Is
she counting on
what is left of her hundred and twenty roubles of
pension when Afanasy
Ivanovitch's debt is paid? She knits woollen
shawls and embroiders
cuffs, ruining her old eyes. And all her
shawls don't add
more than twenty roubles a year to her hundred and
twenty, I know
that. So she is building all her hopes all the time
on Mr. Luzhin's
generosity; 'he will offer it of himself, he will
press it on me.'
You may wait a long time for that! That's how it
always is with
these Schilleresque noble hearts; till the last
moment every goose
is a swan with them, till the last moment, they
hope for the best
and will see nothing wrong, and although they have
an inkling of the
other side of the picture, yet they won't face the
truth till they
are forced to; the very thought of it makes them
shiver; they thrust
the truth away with both hands, until the man they
deck out in false
colours puts a fool's cap on them with his own
hands. I should
like to know whether Mr. Luzhin has any orders of
merit; I bet he
has the Anna in his buttonhole and that he puts it
on when he goes
to dine with contractors or merchants. He will be sure
to have it for
his wedding, too! Enough of him, confound him!
mother I don't wonder at, it's like her, God bless her,
but how could Dounia?
Dounia, darling, as though I did not know you!
You were nearly
twenty when I saw you last: I understood you then.
Mother writes that
'Dounia can put up with a great deal.' I know
that very well.
I knew that two years and a half ago, and for the last
two and a half
years I have been thinking about it, thinking of just
that, that 'Dounia
can put up with a great deal.' If she could put
up with Mr. Svidrigailov
and all the rest of it, she certainly can put
up with a great
deal. And now mother and she have taken it into
their heads that
she can put up with Mr. Luzhin, who propounds the
theory of the superiority
of wives raised from destitution and owing
everything to their
husband's bounty- who propounds it, too, almost at
the first interview.
Granted that he 'let it slip,' though he is a
sensible man, (yet
maybe it was not a slip at all, but he meant to
make himself clear
as soon as possible) but Dounia, Dounia? She
man, of course, but she will have to live with the
man. Why! she'd
live on black bread and water, she would not sell
her soul, she would
not barter her moral freedom for comfort; she
would not barter
it for all Schleswig-Holstein, much less Mr. Luzhin's
money. No, Dounia
was not that sort when I knew her and... she is
still the same,
of course! Yes, there's no denying, the
a bitter pill! It's a bitter thing to spend one's
life a governess
in the provinces for two hundred roubles, but I
know she would
rather be a nigger on a plantation or a Lett with a
than degrade her soul, and her moral dignity, by
for ever to a man whom she does not respect and with
whom she has nothing
in common- for her own advantage. And if Mr.
Luzhin had been
of unalloyed gold, or one huge diamond, she would
never have consented
to become his legal concubine. Why is she
What's the point of it? What's the answer? It's clear
enough: for herself,
for her comfort, to save her life she would not
sell herself, but
for some one else she is doing it! For one she
loves, for one
she adores, she will sell herself! That's what it all
amounts to; for
her brother, for her mother, she will sell herself!
She will sell everything!
In such cases, we 'overcome our moral
feeling if necessary,'
freedom, peace, conscience even, all, all are
brought into the
market. Let my life go, if only my dear ones may be
happy! More than
that, we become casuists, we learn to be Jesuitical
and for a time
maybe we can soothe ourselves, we can persuade
it is one's duty for a good object. That's just like
us, it's as clear
as daylight. It's clear that Rodion Romanovitch
the central figure in the business, and no one else.
Oh, yes, she can
ensure his happiness, keep him in the university,
make him a partner
in the office, make his whole future secure;
perhaps he may
even be a rich man later on, prosperous, respected, and
may even end his
life a famous man! But my mother? It's all Rodya,
her first born! For such a son who would not sacrifice
such a daughter!
Oh, loving, over-partial hearts! Why, for his sake we
would not shrink
even from Sonia's fate. Sonia, Sonia Marmeladov,
the eternal victim
so long as the world lasts. Have you taken the
measure of your
sacrifice, both of you? Is it right? Can you bear
it? Is it any use?
Is there sense in it? And let me tell you,
life is no worse than life with Mr. Luzhin. 'There can
be no question
of love' mother writes. And what if there can be no
if on the contrary there is aversion, contempt,
then? So you will have to 'keep up your appearance,'
too. Is that not
so? Do you understand what that smartness means? Do
that the Luzhin smartness is just the same thing as
Sonia's and may
be worse, viler, baser, because in your case,
Dounia, it's a
bargain for luxuries, after all, but with Sonia it's
simply a question
of starvation. It has to be paid for, it has to be
paid for, Dounia,
this smartness. And what if it's more than you can
if you regret it? The bitterness, the misery, the
curses, the tears
hidden from all the world, for you are not a Marfa
Petrovna. And how
will your mother feel then? Even now she is
uneasy, she is
worried, but then, when she sees it all clearly? And I?
Yes, indeed, what
have you taken me for? I won't have your
I won't have it, mother! It shall not be, so long
as I am alive,
it shall not, it shall not! I won't accept it!"
He suddenly paused
in his reflection and stood still.
not be? But what are you going to do to prevent it? You'll
forbid it? And
what right have you? What can you promise them on your
side to give you
such a right? Your whole life, your whole future, you
will devote to
them when you have finished your studies and obtained a
post? Yes, we have
heard all that before, and that's all words, but
now? Now something
must be done, now, do you understand that? And what
are you doing now?
You are living upon them. They borrow on their
pension. They borrow from the Svidrigailovs. How are
you going to save
them from Svidrigailovs, from Afanasy Ivanovitch
future millionaire Zeus who would arrange their lives
for them? In another
ten years? In another ten years, mother will be
blind with knitting
shawls, maybe with weeping too. She will be worn
to a shadow with
fasting; and my sister? Imagine for a moment what may
have become of
your sister in ten years? What may happen to her during
those ten years?
Can you fancy?"
So he tortured
himself, fretting himself with such questions, and
finding a kind
of enjoyment in it. And yet all these questions were
not new ones suddenly
confronting him, they were old familiar aches.
It was long since
they had first begun to grip and rend his heart.
Long, long ago
his present anguish had its first beginnings; it had
waxed and gathered
strength, it had matured and concentrated, until it
had taken the form
of a fearful, frenzied and fantastic question,
his heart and mind, clamouring insistently for an
answer. Now his
mother's letter had burst on him like a thunderclap.
It was clear that
he must not now suffer passively, worrying himself
over unsolved questions,
but that he must do something, do it at once,
and do it quickly.
Anyway he must decide on something, or else...
up life altogether!" he cried suddenly, in a frenzy-
lot humbly as it is, once for all and stifle
everything in oneself,
giving up all claim to activity, life and
"Do you understand,
sir, do you understand what it means when you
nowhere to turn?" Marmeladov's question came
suddenly into his
mind "for every man must have somewhere to turn..."
He gave a sudden
start; another thought, that he had had
back into his mind. But he did not start at the
to him, for he knew, he had felt beforehand, that it
must come back,
he was expecting it; besides it was not only
The difference was that a month ago, yesterday
even, the thought
was a mere dream: but now... now it appeared not a
dream at all, it
had taken a new menacing and quite unfamiliar
shape, and he suddenly
became aware of this himself.... He felt a
hammering in his
head, and there was a darkness before his eyes.
He looked round
hurriedly, he was searching for something. He wanted
to sit down and
was looking for a seat; he was walking along the K____
was a seat about a hundred paces in front of him.
He walked towards
it as fast he could; but on the way he met with a
which absorbed all his attention. Looking for the
seat, he had noticed
a woman walking some twenty paces in front of
him, but at first
he took no more notice of her than of other
objects that crossed
his path. It had happened to him many times going
home not to notice
the road by which he was going, and he was
accustomed to walk
like that. But there was at first sight something
so strange about
the woman in front of him, that gradually his
attention was riveted
upon her, at first reluctantly and, as it
and then more and more intently. He felt a sudden
desire to find
out what it was that was so strange about the woman. In
the first place,
she appeared to be a girl quite young, and she was
walking in the
great heat bareheaded and with no parasol or gloves,
waving her arms
about in an absurd way. She had on a dress of some
light silky material,
but put on strangely awry, not properly hooked
up, and torn open
at the top of the skirt, close to the waist: a great
piece was rent
and hanging loose. A little kerchief was flung about
her bare throat,
but lay slanting on one side. The girl was walking
stumbling and staggering from side to side. She
whole attention at last. He overtook the girl at
the seat, but,
on reaching it, she dropped down on it, in the
corner; she let
her head sink on the back of the seat and closed her
in extreme exhaustion. Looking at her closely, he saw
at once that she
was completely drunk. It was a strange and shocking
sight. He could
hardly believe that he was not mistaken. He saw before
him the face of
a quite young, fair-haired girl- sixteen, perhaps
not more than fifteen
years old, pretty little face, but flushed and
heavy looking and,
as it were, swollen. The girl seemed hardly to know
what she was doing;
she crossed one leg over the other, lifting it
showed every sign of being unconscious that she
was in the street.
not sit down, but he felt unwilling to leave her,
and stood facing
her in perplexity. This boulevard was never much
now, at two o'clock, in the stifling heat, it was
And yet on the further side of the boulevard, about
fifteen paces away,
a gentleman was standing on the edge of the
pavement, he, too,
would apparently have liked to approach the girl
with some object
of his own. He, too, had probably seen her in the
distance and had
followed her, but found Raskolnikov in his way. He
at him, though he tried to escape his notice, and stood
his time, till the unwelcome man in rags should
have moved away.
His intentions were unmistakable. The gentleman was a
man, about thirty, fashionably dressed, with a high
colour, red lips
and moustaches. Raskolnikov felt furious; he had a
to insult this fat dandy in some way. He left the
girl for a moment
and walked towards the gentleman.
Svidrigailov! What do you want here?" he shouted,
clenching his fists
and laughing, spluttering with rage.
you mean?" the gentleman asked sternly, scowling in haughty
that's what I mean."
you, you low fellow!"
He raised his
cane. Raskolnikov rushed at him with his fists,
that the stout gentleman was a match for two men
like himself. But
at that instant some one seized him from behind, and
a police constable
stood between them.
gentlemen, no fighting, please, in a public place.
What do you want?
Who are you?" he asked Raskolnikov sternly, noticing
at him intently. He had a straight-forward,
face, with grey moustaches and whiskers.
just the man I want," Raskolnikov cried, catching at his
arm. "I am
a student, Raskolnikov.... You may as well know that
too," he added,
addressing the gentleman, "come along, I have
something to show
And taking the
policeman by the hand he drew him towards the seat.
hopelessly drunk, and she has just come down the
is no telling who and what she is, she does not
look like a professional.
It's more likely she has been given drink
and deceived somewhere...
for the first time... you understand? and
they've put her
out into the street like that. Look at the way her
dress is torn,
and the way it has been put on: she has been dressed by
somebody, she has
not dressed herself, and dressed by unpractised
hands, by a man's
hands; that's evident. And now look there: I don't
know that dandy
with whom I was going to fight, I see him for the
first time, but,
he, too has seen her on the road, just now, drunk,
not knowing what
she is doing, and now he is very eager to get hold of
her, to get her
away somewhere while she is in this state... that's
me, I am not wrong. I saw him myself watching her and
but I prevented him, and he is just waiting for me to
go away. Now he
has walked away a little, and is standing still,
pretending to make
a cigarette.... Think how can we keep her out of
his hands, and
how are we to get her home?"
saw it all in a flash. The stout gentleman was easy to
turned to consider the girl. The policeman bent over to
examine her more
closely, and his face worked with genuine compassion.
a pity!" he said, shaking his head- "why, she is quite a
child! She has
been deceived, you can see that at once. Listen, lady,"
he began addressing
her, "where do you live?" The girl opened her
weary and sleepy-looking
eyes, gazed blankly at the speaker and
waved her hand.
said Raskolnikov feeling in his pocket and finding twenty
call a cab and tell him to drive her to her address.
The only thing
is to find out her address!"
the policeman began again, taking the money. "I'll
fetch you a cab
and take you home myself. Where shall I take you,
eh? Where do you
They won't let me alone," the girl muttered, and once more
waved her hand.
how shocking! It's shameful, missy, it's a shame!" He
shook his head
again, shocked, sympathetic and indignant.
"It's a difficult
job," the policeman said to Raskolnikov, and as he
did so, he looked
him up and down in a rapid glance. He. too, must
have seemed a strange
figure to him: dressed in rags and handing him
meet her far from here?" he asked him.
"I tell you
she was walking in front of me, staggering, just here,
in the boulevard.
She only just reached the seat and sank down on it."
shameful things that are done in the world nowadays, God
have mercy on us!
An innocent creature like that, drunk already! She
has been deceived,
that's a sure thing. See how her dress has been
torn too.... Ah,
the vice one sees nowadays! And as likely as not
she belongs to
gentlefolk too, poor ones maybe.... There are many like
She looks refined, too, as though she were a lady," and
he bent over her
Perhaps he had
daughters growing up like that, "looking like
ladies and refined"
with pretensions to gentility and smartness....
thing is," Raskolnikov persisted, "to keep her out of
hands! Why should he outrage her! It's as clear as
day what he is
after; ah, the brute, he is not moving off!"
aloud and pointed to him. The gentleman heard him,
and seemed about
to fly into a rage again, but thought better of it,
and confined himself
to a contemptuous look. He then walked slowly
another ten paces
away and again halted.
out of his hands we can," said the constable thoughtfully,
"if only she'd
tell us where to take her, but as it is.... Missy, hey,
bent over her once more.
She opened her
eyes fully all of a sudden, looked at him intently,
as though realising
something, got up from the seat and walked away in
the direction from
which she had come. "Oh shameful wretches, they
won't let me alone!"
she said, waving her hand again. She walked
staggering as before. The dandy followed her, but
along another avenue,
keeping his eye on her.
anxious, I won't let him have her," the policeman said
he set off after them.
vice one sees nowadays!" he repeated aloud, sighing.
At that moment
something seemed to sting Raskolnikov; in an
instant a complete
revulsion of feeling came over him.
he shouted after the policeman.
The latter turned
be! What is it to do with you? Let her go! Let him amuse
He pointed at the dandy, "What is it to do with you?"
was bewildered, and stared at him open-eyed.
ejaculated the policeman, with a gesture of contempt, and he
walked after the
dandy and the girl, probably taking Raskolnikov for a
madman or something
"He has carried
off my twenty copecks," Raskolnikov murmured angrily
when he was left
alone. "Well, let him take as much from the other
fellow to allow
him to have the girl and so let it end. And why did
I want to interfere?
Is it for me to help? Have I any right to help?
Let them devour
each other alive- what is to me? How did I dare to
give him twenty
copecks? Were they mine?"
In spite of those
strange words he felt very wretched. He sat down
on the deserted
seat. His thought strayed aimlessly.... He found it
hard to fix his
mind on anything at that moment. He longed to forget
to forget everything, and then to wake up and
begin life anew....
he said, looking at the empty corner where she had sat-
come to herself and weep, and then her mother will find
out.... She will
give her a beating, a horrible, shameful beating
and then maybe,
turn her out of doors.... And even if she does not,
the Darya Frantsovnas
will get wind of it, and the girl will soon be
slipping out on
the sly here and there. Then there will be the
(that's always the luck of those girls with
who go wrong on the sly) and then... again the
the taverns... and more hospital, in two or three
years- a wreck,
and her life over at eighteen or nineteen.... Have not
I seen cases like
that? And how have they been brought to it? Why,
they've all come
to it like that. Ugh! But what does it matter? That's
as it should be,
they tell us. A certain percentage, they tell us,
must every year
go... that way... to the devil, I suppose, so that the
rest may remain
chaste, and not be interfered with. A percentage! What
they have; they are so scientific, so consolatory....
Once you've said
'percentage,' there's nothing more to worry about. If
we had any other
word... maybe we might feel more uneasy.... But
what if Dounia
were one of the percentage! Of another one if not
am I going?" he thought suddenly. "Strange, I came out
As soon as I had read the letter I came out.... I was
going to Vassilyevsky
Ostrov, to Razumihin. That's what it was...
now I remember.
What for, though? And what put the idea of going to
my head just now? That's curious."
He wondered at
himself. Razumihin was one of his old comrades at the
was remarkable that Raskolnikov had hardly any
friends at the
university; he kept aloof from every one, went to see
no one, and did
not welcome any one who came to see him, and indeed
every one soon
gave him up. He took no part in the students'
or conversations. He worked with great
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
and convictions, as though their beliefs and
he had got on, or, at least, he was more unreserved
with him. Indeed it was impossible to be on any
other terms with
Razumihin. He was an exceptionally good-humoured
and candid youth,
good-natured to the point of simplicity, though both
depth and dignity
lay concealed under that simplicity. The better of
his comrades understood
this, and all were fond of him. He was
though he was certainly rather a simpleton at
times. He was of
striking appearance- tall, thin, blackhaired and
always badly shaved.
He was sometimes uproarious and was reputed to be
of great physical
strength. One night, when out in a festive
company, he had
with one blow laid a gigantic policeman on his back.
There was no limit
to his drinking powers, but he could abstain from
he sometimes went too far in his pranks; but he
could do without
pranks altogether. Another thing striking about
Razumihin, no failure
distressed him, and it seemed as though no
could crush him. He could lodge anywhere,
and bear the extremes
of cold and hunger. He was very poor, and kept
on what he could earn by work of one sort or another.
He knew of no end
of resources by which to earn money. He spent one
whole winter without
lighting his stove, and used to declare that he
liked it better,
because one slept more soundly in the cold. For the
present he, too,
had been obliged to give up the university, but it
was only for a
time, and he was working with all his might to save
enough to return
to his studies again. Raskolnikov had not been to see
him for the last
four months, and Razumihin did not even know his
two months before, they had met in the street, but
turned away and even crossed to the other side that he
might not be observed.
And though Razumihin noticed him, he passed him
by, as he did not
want to annoy him.
qu'on fait n'est jamais compris mais seulement loué ou blâmé.
Nietzsche, Gay Science