Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821 - 1881)
Crime and Punishment
translated by Constance Garnett
I've been meaning lately to go to Razumihin's to ask for
work, to ask him
to get me lessons or something..." Raskolnikov
what help can he be to me now? Suppose he gets me
he shares his last farthing with me, if he has any
farthings, so that
I could get some boots and make myself tidy
enough to give
lessons... hm... Well and what then? What shall I do
with the few coppers
I earn? That's not what I want now. It's really
absurd for me to
go to Razumihin...."
The question why
he was now going to Razumihin agitated him even
more than he was
himself aware; he kept uneasily seeking for some
in this apparently ordinary action.
have expected to set it all straight and to find a way
out by means of
Razumihin alone?" he asked himself in perplexity.
He pondered and
rubbed his forehead, and, strange to say, after long
as if it were spontaneously and by chance, a
came into his head.
Razumihin's," he said all at once, calmly, as though he
had reached a final
determination. "I shall go to Razumihin's of
not now. I shall go to him... on the next day after It,
when It will be
over and everything will begin afresh...."
And suddenly he
realised what he was thinking.
he shouted, jumping up from the seat, "but is It
really going to
happen? Is it possible it really will happen?" He left
the seat, and went
off almost at a run; he meant to turn back,
the thought of going home suddenly filled him with
in that hole, in that awful little cupboard of
his, all this had
for a month past been growing up in him; and he
walked on at random.
His nervous shudder
had passed into a fever that made him feel
shivering; in spite
of the heat he felt cold. With a kind of effort he
began almost unconsciously,
from some inner craving, to stare at all
the objects before
him, as though looking for something to distract
but he did not succeed, and kept dropping every
moment into brooding.
When with a start he lifted his head again and
he forgot at once what he had just been thinking
about and even
where he was going. In this way he walked right
Ostrov, came out on to the Lesser Neva, crossed
the bridge and
turned towards the islands. The greenness and freshness
were at first restful
to his weary eyes after the dust of the town and
the huge houses
that hemmed him in and weighed upon him. Here there
were no taverns,
no stifling closeness, no stench. But soon these
new pleasant sensations
passed into morbid irritability. Sometimes
he stood still
before a brightly painted summer villa standing among
he gazed through the fence, he saw in the distance
women on the verandahs and balconies, and children
running in the
gardens. The flowers especially caught his attention;
he gazed at them
longer than at anything. He was met, too, by
and by men and women on horseback; he watched them
with curious eyes
and forgot about them before they had vanished
from his sight.
Once he stood still and counted his money; he found he
had thirty copecks.
"Twenty to the policeman, three to Nastasya for
the letter, so
I must have given forty-seven or fifty to the
he thought, reckoning it up for some unknown
reason, but he
soon forgot with what object he had taken the money out
of his pocket.
He recalled it on passing an eating-house or tavern,
and felt that he
was hungry.... Going into the tavern he drank a glass
of vodka and ate
a pie of some sort. He finished eating it as he
walked away. It
was a long while since he had taken vodka and it had
an effect upon
him at once, though he only drank a wine-glassful.
His legs felt suddenly
heavy and a great drowsiness came upon him.
He turned homewards,
but reaching Petrovsky Ostrov he stopped
turned off the road into the bushes, sank down
upon the grass
and instantly fell asleep.
In a morbid condition
of the brain, dreams often have a singular
and extraordinary semblance of reality. At times
are created, but the setting and the whole picture
are so truthlike
and filled with details so delicate, so unexpectedly,
but so artistically
consistent, that the dreamer, were he an artist
like Pushkin or
Turgenev even, could never have invented them in the
waking state. Such
sick dreams always remain long in the memory and
make a powerful
impression on the overwrought and deranged nervous
a fearful dream. He dreamt he was back in his
childhood in the
little town of his birth. He was a child about
seven years old,
walking into the country with his father on the
evening of a holiday.
It was a grey and heavy day, the country was
exactly as he remembered
it; indeed he recalled it far more vividly in
his dream than
he had done in memory. The little town stood on a level
flat as bare as
the hand, not even a willow near it; only in the far
distance, a copse
lay, a dark blur on the very edge of the horizon.
A few paces beyond
the last market garden stood a tavern, a big
tavern, which had
always aroused in him a feeling of aversion, even of
fear, when he walked
by it with his father. There was always a crowd
there, always shouting,
laughter and abuse, hideous hoarse singing and
Drunken and horrible-looking figures were hanging
about the tavern.
He used to cling close to his father, trembling
all over when he
met them. Near the tavern the road became a dusty
track, the dust
of which was always black. It was a winding road,
and about a hundred
paces further on, it turned to the right to the
graveyard. In the
middle of the graveyard stood a stone church with
a green cupola
where he used to go to mass two or three times a year
with his father
and mother, when a service was held in memory of his
had long been dead, and whom he had never seen. On
they used to take on a white dish tied up in a table
napkin a special
sort of rice pudding with raisins stuck in it in
the shape of a
cross. He loved that church, the old-fashioned,
and the old priest with the shaking head. Near his
which was marked by a stone, was the little grave
of his younger
brother who had died at six months old. He did not
remember him at
all, but he had been told about his little brother,
and whenever he
visited the graveyard he used religiously and
reverently to cross
himself and to bow down and kiss the little grave.
And now he dreamt
that he was walking with his father past the
tavern on the way
to the graveyard; he was holding his father's hand
and looking with
dread at the tavern. A peculiar circumstance
attracted his attention:
there seemed to be some kind of festivity
going on, there
were crowds of gaily dressed townspeople, peasant
women, their husbands,
and riff-raff of all sorts, all singing and all
more or less drunk.
Near the entrance of the tavern stood a cart,
but a strange cart.
It was one of those big carts usually drawn by
and laden with casks of wine or other heavy goods.
He always liked
looking at those great cart-horses, with their long
manes, thick legs,
and slow even pace, drawing along a perfect
mountain with no
appearance of effort, as though it were easier
going with a load
than without it. But now, strange to say, in the
shafts of such
a cart he saw a thin little sorrel beast, one of
nags which he had often seen straining their utmost
under a heavy load
of wood or hay, especially when the wheels were
stuck in the mud
or in a rut. And the peasants would be at them so
even about the nose and eyes and he felt so
sorry, so sorry
for them that he almost cried, and his mother always
used to take him
away from the window. All of a sudden there was a
great uproar of
shouting, singing and the balalaika, and from the
tavern a number
of big and very drunken peasants came out, wearing red
and blue shirts
and coats thrown over their shoulders.
get in!" shouted one of them, a young thick-necked
peasant with a
fleshy face red as a carrot. "I'll take you all, get
But at once there
was an outbreak of laughter and exclamations in
all with a beast like that!"
are you crazy to put a nag like that in such a cart?"
mare is twenty if she is a day, mates!"
I'll take you all," Mikolka shouted again, leaping first
into the cart,
seizing the reins and standing straight up in front.
"The bay has
gone with Marvey," he shouted from the cart- "and this
brute, mates, is
just breaking my heart, I feel as if I could kill
her. She's just
eating her head off. Get in, I tell you! I'll make her
gallop!" and he picked up the whip, preparing himself
with relish to
flog the little mare.
Come along!" The crowd laughed. "D'you hear, she'll
She has not had a gallop in her for the last ten
mind her, mates, bring a whip each of you, get ready!"
Give it to her!"
They all clambered
into Mikolka's cart, laughing and making jokes.
Six men got in
and there was still room for more. They hauled in a
woman. She was dressed in red cotton, in a
headdress and thick leather shoes; she was cracking
nuts and laughing.
The crowd round them was laughing too and indeed,
how could they
help laughing? That wretched nag was to drag all the
cartload of them
at a gallop! Two young fellows in the cart were
just getting whips
ready to help Mikolka. With the cry of "now," the
mare tugged with
all her might, but far from galloping, could scarcely
move forward; she
struggled with her legs, gasping and shrinking
from the blows
of the three whips which were showered upon her like
hail. The laughter
in the cart and in the crowd was redoubled, but
Mikolka flew into
a rage and furiously thrashed the mare, as though he
supposed she really
"Let me get
in, too, mates," shouted a young man in the crowd
all get in," cried Mikolka, "she will draw you all. I'll
beat her to death!"
And he thrashed and thrashed at the mare, beside
himself with fury.
father," he cried, "father, what are they doing? Father,
they are beating
the poor horse!"
come along!" said his father. "They are drunken and
foolish, they are
in fun; come away, don't look!" and he tried to draw
him away, but he
tore himself away from his hand, and, beside
himself with horror,
ran to the horse. The poor beast was in a bad
way. She was gasping,
standing still, then tugging again and almost
to death," cried Mikolka, "it's come to that. I'll do
you about, are you a Christian, you devil?" shouted an old
man in the crowd.
one ever see the like? A wretched nag like that pulling
such a cartload,"
her," shouted the third.
It's my property. I'll do what I choose. Get in, more
of you! Get in,
all of you! I will have her go at a gallop!..."
All at once laughter
broke into a roar and covered everything: the
mare, roused by
the shower of blows, began feebly kicking. Even the
old man could not
help smiling. To think of a wretched little beast
like that trying
Two lads in the
crowd snatched up whips and ran to the mare to
beat her about
the ribs. One ran each side.
in the face, in the eyes, in the eyes," cried Mikolka.
a song, mates," shouted some one in the cart and every
one in the cart
joined in a riotous song, jingling a tambourine and
woman went on cracking nuts and laughing.
...He ran beside
the mare, ran in front of her, saw her being
the eyes, right in the eyes! He was crying, he felt
choking, his tears
were streaming. One of the men gave him a cut
with the whip across
the face, he did not feel it. Wringing his
hands and screaming,
he rushed up to the grey-headed old man with
the grey beard,
who was shaking his head in disapproval. One woman
seized him by the
hand and would have taken him away, but he tore
himself from her
and ran back to the mare. She was almost at the
last gasp, but
began kicking once more.
you to kick," Mikolka shouted ferociously. He threw down
the whip, bent
forward and picked up from the bottom of the cart a
long, thick shaft,
he took hold of one end with both hands and with an
it over the mare.
her," was shouted round him. "He'll kill her!"
property," shouted Mikolka and brought the shaft down
with a swinging
blow. There was a sound of a heavy thud.
thrash her! Why have you stopped?" shouted voices in
And Mikolka swung
the shaft a second time and it fell a second
time on the spine
of the luckless mare. She sank back on her haunches,
but lurched forward
and tugged forward with all her force, tugged
first on one side
and then on the other, trying to move the cart.
But the six whips
were attacking her in all directions, and the
shaft was raised
again and fell upon her a third time, then a
fourth, with heavy
measured blows. Mikolka was in a fury that he could
not kill her at
tough one," was shouted in the crowd.
in a minute, mates, there will soon be an end of
an admiring spectator in the crowd.
axe to her! Finish her off," shouted a third.
you! Stand off," Mikolka screamed frantically; he threw
down the shaft,
stooped down in the cart and picked up an iron
out," he shouted, and with all his might he dealt a
stunning blow at
the poor mare. The blow fell; the mare staggered,
sank back, tried
to pull, but the bar fell again with a swinging
blow on her back
and she fell on the ground like a log.
off," shouted Mikolka and he leapt beside himself, out
of the cart. Several
young men, also flushed with drink, seized
anything they could
come across- whips, sticks, poles, and ran to
the dying mare.
Mikolka stood on one side and began dealing random
blows with the
crowbar. The mare stretched out her head, drew a long
breath and died.
her," some one shouted in the crowd.
she gallop then?"
shouted Mikolka, with bloodshot eyes, brandishing the
bar in his hands.
He stood as though regretting that he had nothing
more to beat.
about it, you are not a Christian," many voices were
shouting in the
But the poor boy,
beside himself, made his way screaming through the
crowd to the sorrel
nag, put his arms round her bleeding dead head and
kissed it, kissed
the eyes and kissed the lips.... Then he jumped up
and flew in a frenzy
with his little fists out at Mikolka. At that
instant his father
who had been running after him, snatched him up and
carried him out
of the crowd.
come! Let us go home," he said to him.
Why did they... kill... the poor horse!" he sobbed, but his
voice broke and
the words came in shrieks from his panting chest.
drunk.... They are brutal... it's not our business!"
said his father.
He put his arms round his father but he felt
He tried to draw a breath, to cry out- and woke up.
He waked up, gasping
for breath, his hair soaked with
stood up in terror.
that was only a dream," he said, sitting down under a
tree and drawing
deep breaths. "But what is it? Is it some fever
coming on? Such
a hideous dream!"
He felt utterly
broken; darkness and confusion were in his soul.
He rested his elbows
on his knees and leaned his head on his hands.
he cried, "can it be, can it be, that I shall really
take an axe, that
I shall strike her on the head, split her skull
open... that I
shall tread in the sticky warm blood, break the lock,
steal and tremble;
hide, all spattered in the blood... with the
axe.... Good God,
can it be?"
He was shaking
like a leaf as he said this.
am I going on like this?" he continued, sitting up again,
as it were in profound
amazement. "I knew that I could never bring
myself to it, so
what have I been torturing myself for till now?
when I went to make that... experiment,
yesterday I realised
completely that I could never bear to do it....
Why am I going
over it again, then? Why am I hesitating? As I came
down the stairs
yesterday, I said myself that it was base,
vile... the very thought of it made me feel sick
and filled me with
"No, I couldn't
do it, I couldn't do it! Granted, granted that there
is no flaw in all
that reasoning, that all that I have concluded
this last month
is clear as day, true as arithmetic.... My God! Anyway
I couldn't bring
myself to it! I couldn't do it, I couldn't do it!
Why, why then am
He rose to his
feet, looked round in wonder as though surprised at
in this place, and went towards the bridge. He was
pale, his eyes
glowed, he was exhausted in every limb, but he seemed
suddenly to breathe
more easily. He felt he had cast off that
that had so long been weighing upon him, and all at
once there was
a sense of relief and peace in his soul. "Lord," he
me my path- I renounce that accursed... dream of mine."
Crossing the bridge,
he gazed quietly and calmly at the Neva, at the
glowing red sun
setting in the glowing sky. In spite of his weakness
he was not conscious
of fatigue. It was as though an abscess that
had been forming
for a month past in his heart had suddenly broken.
He was free from that spell, that sorcery, that
Later on, when
he recalled that time and all that happened to him
during those days,
minute by minute, point by point, he was
impressed by one circumstance, which though in
itself not very
exceptional, always seemed to him afterwards the
of his fate. He could never understand and
explain to himself
why, when he was tired and worn out, when it
would have been
more convenient for him to go home by the shortest and
most direct way,
he had returned by the Hay Market where he had no
need to go. It
was obviously and quite unnecessarily out of his way,
though not much
so. It is true that it happened to him dozens of times
to return home
without noticing what streets he passed through. But
why, he was always
asking himself, why had such an important, such a
decisive and at
the same time such an absolutely chance meeting
happened in the
Hay Market (where he had moreover no reason to go)
at the very hour,
the very minute of his life when he was just in
the very mood and
in the very circumstances in which that meeting
was able to exert
the gravest and most decisive influence on his whole
destiny? As though
it had been lying in wait for him on purpose!
It was about nine
o'clock when he crossed the Hay Market. At the
tables and the
barrows, at the booths and the shops, all the market
people were closing
their establishments or clearing away and
packing up their
wares and, like their customers, were going home.
costermongers of all kinds were crowding round the
taverns in the
dirty and stinking courtyards of the Hay Market.
liked this place and the neighbouring alleys,
when he wandered
aimlessly in the streets. Here his rags did not
attention, and one could walk about in any attire
people. At the corner of an alley a huckster
and his wife had
two tables set out with tapes, thread, cotton
&c. They, too, had got up to go home, but were
lingering in conversation
with a friend, who had just come up to them.
This friend was
Lizaveta Ivanovna, or, as every one called her,
Lizaveta, the younger
sister of the old pawnbroker, Alyona Ivanovna,
had visited the previous day to pawn his watch and
make his experiment....
He already knew all about Lizaveta and she
knew him a little
too. She was a single woman of about thirty-five,
tall, clumsy, timid,
submissive and almost idiotic. She was a complete
slave and went
in fear and trembling of her sister, who made her
work day and night,
and even beat her. She was standing with a
bundle before the
huckster and his wife, listening earnestly and
were talking of something with special warmth. The
caught sight of her, he was overcome by a strange
sensation as it
were of intense astonishment, though there was nothing
make up your mind for yourself, Lizaveta Ivanovna," the
huckster was saying
aloud. "Come round tomorrow about seven. They will
be here too."
said Lizaveta slowly and thoughtfully, as though unable
to make up her
word, what a fright you are in of Alyona Ivanovna," gabbled
wife, a lively little woman. "I look at you, you are
like some little
babe. And she is not your own sister either-
nothing but a stepsister
and what a hand she keeps over you!"
time don't say a word to Alyona Ivanovna," her husband
my advice, but come round to us without asking.
It will be worth
your while. Later on your sister herself may have a
"Am I to
o'clock to-morrow. And they will be here. You will be
able to decide
have a cup of tea," added his wife.
I'll come," said Lizaveta, still pondering, and she
began slowly moving
just passed and heard no more. He passed softly,
not to miss a word. His first amazement was followed
by a thrill of
horror, like a shiver running down his spine. He had
learnt, he had
suddenly quite unexpectedly learnt, that the next day
at seven o'clock
Lizaveta, the old woman's sister and only
be away from home and that therefore at seven o'clock
precisely the old
woman would be left alone.
He was only a
few steps from his lodging. He went in like a man
condemned to death.
He thought of nothing and was incapable of
thinking; but he
felt suddenly in his whole being that he had no
more freedom of
thought, no will, and that everything was suddenly and
he had to wait whole years for a suitable opportunity,
he could not reckon
on a more certain step towards the success of
the plan than that
which had just presented itself. In any case, it
would have been
difficult to find out beforehand and with certainty,
with greater exactness
and less risk, and without dangerous
inquiries and investigations,
that next day at a certain time an old
woman, on whose
life an attempt was contemplated, would be at home and
qu'on fait n'est jamais compris mais seulement loué ou blâmé.
Nietzsche, Gay Science