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Existentialism
Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821 - 1881)
Crime and Punishment
translated by Constance Garnett


Fyodor Dostoevsky
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- the brothers karamazov
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Chapter Two

-

"AND WHAT if there has been a search already? What if I find them in

my room?"

But here was his room. Nothing and no one in it. No one had peeped

in. Even Nastasya had not touched it. But heavens! how could he have

left all those things in the hole?

He rushed to the corner, slipped his hand under the paper, pulled

the things out and lined his pockets with them. There were eight

articles in all: two little boxes with ear-rings or something of the

sort, he hardly looked to see; then four small leather cases. There

was a chain, too, merely wrapped in newspaper and something else in

newspaper, that looked like a decoration.... He put them all in the

different pockets of his overcoat, and the remaining pocket of his

trousers, trying to conceal them as much as possible. He took the

purse, too. Then he went out of his room, leaving the door open. He

walked quickly and resolutely, and though he felt shattered, he had

his senses about him. He was afraid of pursuit, he was afraid that

in another half-hour, another quarter of an hour perhaps, instructions

would be issued for his pursuit, and so at all costs, he must hide all

traces before then. He must clear everything up while he still had

some strength, some reasoning power left him.... Where was he to go?

That had long been settled: "Fling them into the canal, and all

traces hidden in the water, the thing would be at an end." So he had

decided in the night of his delirium when several times he had had the

impulse to get up and go away, to make haste, and get rid of it all.

But to get rid of it, turned out to be a very difficult task. He

wandered along the bank of the Ekaterininsky Canal for half an hour or

more and looked several times at the steps running down to the

water, but he could not think of carrying out his plan; either rafts

stood at the steps' edge, and women were washing clothes on them, or

boats were moored there, and people were swarming everywhere. Moreover

he could be seen and noticed from the banks on all sides; it would

look suspicious for a man to go down on purpose, stop, and throw

something into the water. And what if the boxes were to float

instead of sinking? And of course they would. Even as it was, every

one he met seemed to stare and look round, as if they had nothing to

do but to watch him. "Why is it, or can it be my fancy?" he thought.

At last the thought struck him that it might be better to go to

the Neva. There were not so many people there, he would be less

observed, and it would be more convenient in every way, above all it

was further off. He wondered how he could have been wandering for a

good half-hour, worried and anxious in this dangerous part without

thinking of it before. And that half-hour he had lost over an

irrational plan, simply because he had thought of it in delirium! He

had become extremely absent and forgetful and he was aware of it. He

certainly must make haste.

He walked towards the Neva along V___ Prospect, but on the way

another idea struck him. "Why to the Neva? Would it not be better to

go somewhere far off, to the Islands again, and there hide the

things in some solitary place, in a wood or under a bush, and mark the

spot perhaps?" And though he felt incapable of clear judgment, the

idea seemed to him a sound one. But he was not destined to go there.

For coming out of V___ Prospect towards the square, he saw on the left

a passage leading between two blank walls to a courtyard. On the right

hand, the blank unwhitewashed wall of a four-storied house stretched

far into the court; on the left, a wooden hoarding ran parallel with

it for twenty paces into the court, and then turned sharply to the

left. Here was a deserted fenced-off place where rubbish of

different sorts was lying. At the end of the court, the corner of a

low, smutty, stone shed, apparently part of some workshop, peeped from

behind the hoarding. It was probably a carriage builder's or

carpenter's shed; the whole place from the entrance was black with

coal dust. Here would be the place to throw it, he thought. Not seeing

any one in the yard, he slipped in, and at once saw near the gate a

sink, such as is often put in yards where there are many workmen or

cabdrivers; and on the hoarding above had been scribbled in chalk

the time-honoured witticism, "Standing here strictly forbidden."

This was all the better, for there would be nothing suspicious about

his going in. "Here I could throw it all in a heap and get away!"

Looking round once more, with his hand already in his pocket, he

noticed against the outer wall, between the entrance and the sink, a

big unhewn stone, weighing perhaps sixty pounds. The other side of the

wall was a street. He could hear passers-by, always numerous in that

part, but he could not be seen from the entrance, unless some one came

in from the street, which might well happen indeed, so there was

need of haste.

He bent down over the stone, seized the top of it firmly in both

hands, and using all his strength turned it over. Under the stone

was a small hollow in the ground, and he immediately emptied his

pocket into it. The purse lay at the top, and yet the hollow was not

filled up. Then he seized the stone again and with one twist turned it

back, so that it was in the same position again, though it stood a

very little higher. But he scraped the earth about it and pressed it

at the edges with his foot. Nothing could be noticed.

Then he went out, and turned into the square. Again an intense,

almost unbearable joy overwhelmed him for an instant, as it had in the

police office. "I have buried my tracks! And who, who can think of

looking under that stone? It has been lying there most likely ever

since the house was built, and will lie as many years more. And if

it were found, who would think of me? It is all over! No clue!" And he

laughed. Yes, he remembered that he began laughing a thin, nervous

noiseless laugh, and went on laughing all the time he was crossing the

square. But when he reached the K___ Boulevard where two days before

he had come upon that girl, his laughter suddenly ceased. Other

ideas crept into his mind. He felt all at once that it would be

loathsome to pass that seat on which after the girl was gone, he had

sat and pondered, and that it would be hateful, too, to meet that

whiskered policeman to whom he had given the twenty copecks: "Damn

him!"

He walked, looking about him angrily and distractedly. All his ideas

now seemed to be circling round some single point, and he felt that

there really was such a point, and that now, now, he was left facing

that point- and for the first time, indeed, during the last two

months.

"Damn it all!" he thought suddenly, in a fit of ungovernable fury.

"If it has begun, then it has begun. Hang the new life! Good Lord, how

stupid it is!... And what lies I told to-day! How despicably I

fawned upon that wretched Ilya Petrovitch! But that is all folly! What

do I care for them all, and my fawning upon them! It is not that at

all! It is not that at all!"

Suddenly he stopped; a new utterly unexpected and exceedingly simple

question perplexed and bitterly confounded him.

"If it all has really been done deliberately and not idiotically, if

I really had a certain and definite object, how is it I did not even

glance into the purse and don't know what I had there, for which I

have undergone these agonies, and have deliberately undertaken this

base, filthy degrading business? And here I wanted at once to throw

into the water the purse together with all the things which I had

not seen either... how's that?"

Yes, that was so, that was all so. Yet he had known it all before,

and it was not a new question for him, even when it was decided in the

night without hesitation and consideration, as though so it must be,

as though it could not possibly be otherwise.... Yes, he had known

it all, and understood it all; it surely had all been settled even

yesterday at the moment when he was bending over the box and pulling

the jewel-cases out of it.... Yes, so it was.

"It is because I am very ill," he decided grimly at last, "I have

been worrying and fretting myself, and I don't know what I am

doing.... Yesterday and the day before yesterday and all this time I

have been worrying myself.... I shall get well and I shall not

worry.... But what if I don't get well at all? Good God, how sick I am

of it all!"

He walked on without resting. He had a terrible longing for some

distraction, but he did not know what to do, what to attempt. A new

overwhelming sensation was gaining more and more mastery over him

every moment; this was an immeasurable, almost physical, repulsion for

everything surrounding him, an obstinate, malignant feeling of hatred.

All who met him were loathsome to him- he loathed their faces, their

movements, their gestures. If any one had addressed him, he felt

that he might have spat at him or bitten him....

He stopped suddenly, on coming out on the bank of the Little Neva,

near the bridge to Vassilyevsky Ostrov. "Why, he lives here, in that

house," he thought, "why, I have not come to Razumihin of my own

accord! Here it's the same thing over again.... Very interesting to

know, though; have I come on purpose or have I simply walked here by

chance? Never mind, I said the day before yesterday that I would go

and see him the day after; well, and so I will! Besides I really

cannot go further now."

He went up to Razumihin's room on the fifth floor.

The latter was at home in his garret, busily writing at the

moment, and he opened the door himself. It was four months since

they had seen each other. Razumihin was sitting in a ragged

dressing-gown, with slippers on his bare feet, unkempt, unshaven and

unwashed. His face showed surprise.

"Is it you?" he cried. He looked his comrade up and down; then after

a brief pause, he whistled. "As hard up as all that! Why, brother,

you've cut me out!" he added, looking at Raskolnikov's rags. "Come sit

down, you are tired, I'll be bound."

And when he had sunk down on the American leather sofa, which was in

even worse condition than his own, Razumihin saw at once that his

visitor was ill.

"Why, you are seriously ill, do you know that?" He began feeling his

pulse. Raskolnikov pulled away his hand.

"Never mind," he said, "I have come for this; I have no

lessons.... I wanted... but I don't want lessons...."

"But I say! You are delirious, you know!" Razumihin observed,

watching him carefully.

"No, I am not."

Raskolnikov got up from the sofa. As he had mounted the stairs to

Razumihin's, he had not realised that he would be meeting his friend

face to face. Now, in a flash, he knew, that what he was least of

all disposed for at that moment was to be face to face with any one in

the wide world. His spleen rose within him. He almost choked with rage

at himself as soon as he crossed Razumihin's threshold.

"Good-bye," he said abruptly, and walked to the door.

"Stop, stop! You queer fish."

"I don't want to," said the other, again pulling away his hand.

"Then why the devil have you come? Are you mad, or what? Why, this

is... almost insulting! I won't let you go like that."

"Well, then, I came to you because I know no one but you who could

help... to begin... because you are kinder than any one- clever, I

mean, and can judge... and now I see that I want nothing. Do you hear?

Nothing at all... no one's services... no one's sympathy. I am by

myself... alone. Come, that's enough. Leave me alone."

"Stay a minute, you sweep! You are a perfect madman. As you like for

all I care. I have no lessons, do you see, and I don't care about

that, but there's a bookseller, Heruvimov- and he takes the place of a

lesson. I would not exchange him for five lessons. He's doing

publishing of a kind, and issuing natural science manuals and what a

circulation they have! The very titles are worth the money! You always

maintained that I was a fool, but by Jove, my boy, there are greater

fools than I am! Now he is setting up for being advanced, not that

he has an inkling of anything, but, of course, I encourage him. Here

are two signatures of the German text- in my opinion, the crudest

charlatanism; it discusses the question, 'Is woman a human being?'

And, of course, triumphantly proves that she is. Heruvimov is going to

bring out this work as a contribution to the woman question; I am

translating it; he will expand these two and a half signatures into

six, we shall make up a gorgeous title half a page long and bring it

out at half a rouble. It will do! He pays me six roubles the

signature, it works out to fifteen roubles for the job, and I've had

six already in advance. When we have finished this, we are going to

begin a translation about whales, and then some of the dullest

scandals out of the second part of Les Confessions we have marked

for translation; somebody has told Heruvimov, that Rousseau was a kind

of Radishchev. You may be sure I don't contradict him, hang him! Well,

would you like to do the second signature of 'Is woman a human being?'

If you would, take the German and pens and paper- all those are

provided, and take three roubles; for as I have had six roubles in

advance on the whole thing, three roubles come to you for your

share. And when you have finished the signature there will be

another three roubles for you. And please don't think I am doing you a

service; quite the contrary, as soon as you came in, I saw how you

could help me; to begin with, I am weak in spelling, and secondly, I

am sometimes utterly adrift in German, so that I make it up as I go

along for the most part. The only comfort is, that it's bound to be

a change for the better. Though who can tell, maybe it's sometimes for

the worse. Will you take it?"

Raskolnikov took the German sheets in silence, took the three

roubles and without a word went out. Razumihin gazed after him in

astonishment. But when Raskolnikov was in the next street, he turned

back, mounted the stairs to Razumihin's again and laying on the

table the German article and the three roubles, went out again,

still without uttering a word.

"Are you raving, or what?" Razumihin shouted, roused to fury at

last. "What farce is this? You'll drive me crazy too... what did you

come to see me for, damn you?"

"I don't want... translation," muttered Raskolnikov from the stairs.

"Then what the devil do you want?" shouted Razumihin from above.

Raskolnikov continued descending the staircase in silence.

"Hey, there! Where are you living?"

No answer.

"Well, confound you then!"

But Raskolnikov was already stepping into the street. On the

Nikolaevsky Bridge he was roused to full consciousness again by an

unpleasant incident. A coachman, after shouting at him two or three

times, gave him a violent lash on the back with his whip, for having

almost fallen under his horses' hoofs. The lash so infuriated him that

he dashed away to the railing (for some unknown reason he had been

walking in the very middle of the bridge in the traffic). He angrily

clenched and ground his teeth. He heard laughter, of course.

"Serves him right!"

"A pickpocket I dare say."

"Pretending to be drunk, for sure, and getting under the wheels on

purpose; and you have to answer for him."

"It's a regular profession, that's what it is."

But while he stood at the railing, still looking angry and

bewildered after the retreating carriage, and rubbing his back, he

suddenly felt some one thrust money into his hand. He looked. It was

an elderly woman in a kerchief and goatskin shoes, with a girl,

probably her daughter, wearing a hat, and carrying a green parasol.

"Take it, my good man, in Christ's name."

He took it and they passed on. It was a piece of twenty copecks.

From his dress and appearance they might well have taken him for a

beggar asking alms in the streets, and the gift of the twenty

copecks he doubtless owed to the blow, which made them feel sorry

for him.

He closed his hand on the twenty copecks, walked on for ten paces,

and turned facing the Neva, looking towards the palace. The sky was

without a cloud and the water was almost bright blue, which is so rare

in the Neva. The cupola of the cathedral, which is seen at its best

from the bridge about twenty paces from the chapel, glittered in the

sunlight, and in the pure air every ornament on it could be clearly

distinguished. The pain from the lash went off, and Raskolnikov forgot

about it; one uneasy and not quite definite idea occupied him now

completely. He stood still, and gazed long and intently into the

distance; this spot was especially familiar to him. When he was

attending the university, he had hundreds of times- generally on his

way home- stood still on this spot, gazed at this truly magnificent

spectacle and almost always marvelled at a vague and mysterious

emotion it roused in him. It left him strangely cold; this gorgeous

picture was for him blank and lifeless. He wondered every time at

his sombre and enigmatic impression and, mistrusting himself, put

off finding the explanation of it. He vividly recalled those old

doubts and perplexities, and it seemed to him that it was no mere

chance that he recalled them now. It struck him as strange and

grotesque, that he should have stopped at the same spot as before,

as though he actually imagined he could think the same thoughts, be

interested in the same theories and pictures that had interested

him... so short a time ago. He felt it almost amusing, and yet it

wrung his heart. Deep down, hidden far away out of sight all that

seemed to him now- all his old past, his old thoughts, his old

problems and theories, his old impressions and that picture and

himself and all, all.... He felt as though he were flying upwards, and

everything were vanishing from his sight. Making an unconscious

movement with his hand, he suddenly became aware of the piece of money

in his fist. He opened his hand, stared at the coin, and with a

sweep his arm flung it into the water; then he turned and went home.

It seemed to him, he had cut himself off from every one and from

everything that moment.

Evening was coming on when he reached home, so that he must have

been walking about six hours. How and where he came back he did not

remember. Undressing, and quivering like an overdriven horse, he lay

down on the sofa, drew his greatcoat over him, and at once sank into

oblivion....

It was dusk when he was waked up by a fearful scream. Good God, what

a scream! Such unnatural sounds, such howling, wailing, grinding,

tears, blows and curses he had never heard.

He could never have imagined such brutality, such frenzy. In

terror he sat up in bed, almost swooning with agony. But the fighting,

wailing and cursing grew louder and louder. And then to his intense

amazement he caught the voice of his landlady. She was howling,

shrieking and wailing, rapidly, hurriedly, incoherently, so that he

could not make out what she was talking about; she was beseeching,

no doubt, not to be beaten, for she was being mercilessly beaten on

the stairs. The voice of her assailant was so horrible from spite

and rage that it was almost a croak; but he, too, was saying

something, and just as quickly and indistinctly, hurrying and

spluttering. All at once Raskolnikov trembled; he recognized the

voice- it was the voice of Ilya Petrovitch. Ilya Petrovitch here and

beating the landlady! He is kicking her, banging her head against

the steps- that's clear, that can be told from the sounds, from the

cries and the thuds. How is it, is the world topsy-turvy? He could

hear people running in crowds from all the storeys and all the

staircases; he heard voices, exclamations, knocking, doors banging.

"But why, why, and how could it be?" he repeated, thinking seriously

that he had gone mad. But no, he heard too distinctly! And they

would come to him then next, "for no doubt... it's all about that...

about yesterday.... Good God!" He would have fastened his door with

the latch, but he could not lift his hand... besides, it would be

useless. Terror gripped his heart like ice, tortured him and numbed

him.... But at last all this uproar, after continuing about ten

minutes, began gradually to subside. The landlady was moaning and

groaning; Ilya Petrovitch was still uttering threats and curses....

But at last he, too, seemed to be silent, and now he could not be

heard. "Can he have gone away? Good Lord!" Yes, and now the landlady

is going too, still weeping and moaning... and then her door

slammed.... Now the crowd was going from the stairs to their rooms,

exclaiming, disputing, calling to one another, raising their voices to

a shout, dropping them to a whisper. There must have been numbers of

them- almost all the inmates of the block. "But, good God, how could

it be! And why, why had he come here!"

Raskolnikov sank worn out on the sofa, but could not close his eyes.

He lay for half an hour in such anguish, such an intolerable sensation

of infinite terror as he had never experienced before. Suddenly a

bright light flashed into his room. Nastasya came in with a candle and

a plate of soup. Looking at him carefully and ascertaining that he was

not asleep, she set the candle on the table and began to lay out

what she had brought- bread, salt, a plate, a spoon.

"You've eaten nothing since yesterday, I warrant. You've been

trudging about all day, and you're shaking with fever."

"Nastasya... what were they beating the landlady for?"

She looked intently at him.

"Who beat the landlady?"

"Just now... half an hour ago, Ilya Petrovitch, the

assistant-superintendent, on the stairs.... Why was he ill-treating

her like that, and... why was he here?"

Nastasya scrutinised him, silent and frowning, and her scrutiny

lasted a long time. He felt uneasy, even frightened at her searching

eyes.

"Nastasya, why don't you speak?" he said timidly at last in a weak

voice.

"It's the blood," she answered at last softly, as though speaking to

herself.

"Blood? What blood?" he muttered, growing white and turning

towards the wall.

Nastasya still looked at him without speaking.

"Nobody has been beating the landlady," she declared at last in a

firm, resolute voice.

He gazed at her, hardly able to breathe.

"I heard it myself.... I was not asleep... I was sitting up," he

said still more timidly. "I listened a long while. The

assistant-superintendent came.... Every one ran out on to the stairs

from all the flats."

"No one has been here. That's the blood crying in your ears. When

there's no outlet for it and it gets clotted, you begin fancying

things.... Will you eat something?"

He made no answer. Nastasya still stood over him, watching him.

"Give me something to drink... Nastasya."

She went downstairs and returned with a white earthenware jug of

water. He remembered only swallowing one sip of the cold water and

spilling some on his neck. Then followed forgetfulness.


Ce qu'on fait n'est jamais compris mais seulement loué ou blâmé. Nietzsche, Gay Science

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