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


Fyodor Dostoevsky
- Life
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- the brothers karamazov
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Chapter Five

-

THIS WAS a gentleman no longer young, of a stiff and portly

appearance, and a cautious and sour countenance. He began by

stopping short in the doorway, staring about him with offensive and

undisguised astonishment, as though asking himself what sort of

place he had come to. Mistrustfully and with an affectation of being

alarmed and almost affronted, he scanned Raskolnikov's low and

narrow "cabin." With the same amazement he stared at Raskolnikov,

who lay undressed, dishevelled, unwashed, on his miserable dirty sofa,

looking fixedly at him. Then with the same deliberation he scrutinised

the uncouth, unkempt figure and unshaven face of Razumihin, who looked

him boldly and inquiringly in the face without rising from his seat. A

constrained silence lasted for a couple of minutes, and then, as might

be expected, some scene-shifting took place. Reflecting, probably from

certain fairly unmistakable signs, that he would get nothing in this

"cabin" by attempting to overawe them, the gentleman softened

somewhat, and civilly, though with some severity, emphasising every

syllable of his question, addressed Zossimov:

"Rodion Romanovitch Raskolnikov, a student, or formerly a student?"

Zossimov made a slight movement, and would have answered, had not

Razumihin anticipated him.

"Here he is lying on the sofa! What do you want?"

This familiar "what do you want" seemed to cut the ground from the

feet of the pompous gentleman. He was turning to Razumihin, but

checked himself in time and turned to Zossimov again.

"This is Raskolnikov," mumbled Zossimov, nodding towards him. Then

he gave a prolonged yawn, opening his mouth as wide as possible.

Then he lazily put his hand into his waistcoat-pocket, pulled out a

huge gold watch in a round hunter's case, opened it, looked at it

and as slowly and lazily proceeded to put it back.

Raskolnikov himself lay without speaking, on his back, gazing

persistently, though 'without understanding, at the stranger. Now that

his face was turned away from the strange flower on the paper, it

was extremely pale and wore a look of anguish, as though he had just

undergone an agonising operation or just been taken from the rack. But

the new-comer gradually began to arouse his attention, then his

wonder, then suspicion and even alarm. When Zossimov said "This is

Raskolnikov" he jumped up quickly, sat on the sofa and with an

almost defiant, but weak and breaking, voice articulated:

"Yes, I am Raskolnikov! What do you want?"

The visitor scrutinised him and pronounced impressively:

"Pyotr Petrovitch Luzhin. I believe I have reason to hope that my

name is not wholly unknown to you?"

But Raskolnikov, who had expected something quite different, gazed

blankly and dreamily at him, making no reply, as though he heard the

name of Pyotr Petrovitch for the first time.

"Is it possible that you can up to the present have received no

information?" asked Pyotr Petrovitch, somewhat disconcerted.

In reply Raskolnikov sank languidly back on the pillow, put his

hands behind his head and gazed at the ceiling. A look of dismay

came into Luzhin's face. Zossimov and Razumihin stared at him more

inquisitively than ever, and at last he showed unmistakable signs of

embarrassment.

"I had presumed and calculated," he faltered, "that a letter

posted more than ten days, if not a fortnight ago..."

"I say, why are you standing in the doorway?" Razumihin

interrupted suddenly. "If you've something to say, sit down.

Nastasya and you are so crowded. Nastasya, make room. Here's a

chair, thread your way in!"

He moved his chair back from the table, made a little space

between the table and his knees, and waited in a rather cramped

position for the visitor to "thread his way in." The minute was so

chosen that it was impossible to refuse, and the visitor squeezed

his way through, hurrying and stumbling. Reaching the chair, he sat

down, looking suspiciously at Razumihin.

"No need to be nervous," the latter blurted out. "Rodya has been ill

for the last five days and delirious for three, but now he is

recovering and has got an appetite. This is his doctor, who has just

had a look at him. I am a comrade of Rodya's, like him, formerly a

student, and now I am nursing him; so don't you take any notice of us,

but go on with your business."

"Thank you. But shall I not disturb the invalid by my presence and

conversation?" Pyotr Petrovitch asked of Zossimov.

"N-no," mumbled Zossimov; "you may amuse him." He yawned again.

"He has been conscious a long time, since the morning," went on

Razumihin, whose familiarity seemed so much like unaffected

good-nature that Pyotr Petrovitch began to be more cheerful, partly,

perhaps, because this shabby and impudent person had introduced

himself as a student.

"Your mamma," began Luzhin.

"Hm!" Razumihin cleared his throat loudly. Luzhin looked at him

inquiringly.

"That's all right, go on."

Luzhin shrugged his shoulders.

"Your mamma had commenced a letter to you while I was sojourning

in her neighbourhood. On my arrival here I purposely allowed a few

days to elapse before coming to see you, in order that I might be

fully assured that you were in full possession of the tidings; but

now, to my astonishment..."

"I know, I know!" Raskolnikov cried suddenly with impatient

vexation. "So you are the fiance? I know, and that's enough!"

There was no doubt about Pyotr Petrovitch's being offended this

time, but he said nothing. He made a violent effort to understand what

it all meant. There was a moment's silence.

Meanwhile Raskolnikov, who had turned a little towards him when he

answered, began suddenly staring at him again with marked curiosity,

as though he had not had a good look at him yet, or as though

something new had struck him; he rose from his pillow on purpose to

stare at him. There certainly was something peculiar in Pyotr

Petrovitch's whole appearance, something which seemed to justify the

title of "fiance" so unceremoniously applied to him. In the first

place, it was evident, far too much so indeed, that Pyotr Petrovitch

had made eager use of his few days in the capital to get himself up

and rig himself out in expectation of his betrothed- a perfectly

innocent and permissible proceeding, indeed. Even his own, perhaps too

complacent, consciousness of the agreeable improvement in his

appearance might have been forgiven in such circumstances, seeing that

Pyotr Petrovitch had taken up the role of fiance. All his clothes were

fresh from the tailor's and were all right, except for being too new

and too distinctly appropriate. Even the stylish new round hat had the

same significance. Pyotr Petrovitch treated it too respectfully and

held it too carefully in his hands. The exquisite pair of lavender

gloves, real Louvain, told the same tale, if only from the fact of his

not wearing them, but carrying them in his hand for show. Light and

youthful colours predominated in Pyotr Petrovitch's attire. He wore

a charming summer jacket of a fawn shade, light thin trousers, a

waistcoat of the same, new and fine linen, a cravat of the lightest

cambric with pink stripes on it, and the best of it was, this all

suited Pyotr Petrovitch. His very fresh and even handsome face

looked younger than his forty-five years at all times. His dark,

mutton-chop whiskers made an agreeable setting on both sides,

growing thickly about his shining, clean-shaven chin. Even his hair,

touched here and there with grey, though it had been combed and curled

at a hairdresser's, did not give him a stupid appearance, as curled

hair usually does, by inevitably suggesting a German on his

wedding-day. If there really was something unpleasing and repulsive in

his rather good-looking and imposing countenance, it was due to

quite other causes. After scanning Mr. Luzhin unceremoniously,

Raskolnikov smiled malignantly, sank back on the pillow and stared

at the ceiling as before.

But Mr. Luzhin hardened his heart and seemed to determine to take no

notice of their oddities.

"I feel the greatest regret at finding you in this situation," he

began, again breaking the silence with an effort. "If I had been aware

of your illness I should have come earlier. But you know what business

is. I have, too, a very important legal affair in the Senate, not to

mention other preoccupations which you may well conjecture. I am

expecting your mamma and sister any minute."

Raskolnikov made a movement and seemed about to speak; his face

showed some excitement. Pyotr Petrovitch paused, waited, but as

nothing followed, he went on:

"...Any minute. I have found a lodging for them on their arrival."

"Where?" asked Raskolnikov weakly.

"Very near here, in Bakaleyev's house."

"That's in Voskresensky," put in Razumihin. "There are two storeys

of rooms, let by a merchant called Yushin; I've been there."

"Yes, rooms..."

"A disgusting place- filthy, stinking and, what's more, of

doubtful character. Things have happened there, and there are all

sorts of queer people living there. And I went there about a

scandalous business. It's cheap, though..."

"I could not, of course, find out so much about it, for I am a

stranger in Petersburg myself," Pyotr Petrovitch replied huffily.

"However, the two rooms are exceedingly clean, and as it is for so

short a time... I have already taken a permanent, that is, our

future flat," he said, addressing Raskolnikov, "and I am having it

done up. And meanwhile I am myself cramped for room in a lodging

with my friend Andrey Semyonovitch Lebeziatnikov, in the flat of

Madame Lippevechsel; it was he who told me of Bakaleyev's house,

too...."

"Lebeziatnikov?" said Raskolnikov slowly, as if recalling something.

"Yes, Andrey Semyonovitch Lebeziatnikov, a clerk in the Ministry. Do

you know him?"

"Yes... no," Raskolnikov answered.

"Excuse me, I fancied so from your inquiry. I was once his

guardian.... A very nice young man and advanced. I like to meet

young people: one learns new things from them." Luzhin looked round

hopefully at them all.

"How do you mean?" asked Razumihin.

"In the most serious and essential matters," Pyotr Petrovitch

replied, as though delighted at the question. "You see, it's ten years

since I visited Petersburg. All the novelties, reforms, ideas have

reached us in the provinces, but to see it all more clearly one must

be in Petersburg. And it's my notion that you observe and learn most

by watching the younger generation. And I confess I am delighted..."

"At what?"

"Your question is a wide one. I may be mistaken, but I fancy I

find clearer views, more, so to say, criticism, more practicality..."

"That's true," Zossimov let drop.

"Nonsense! There's no practicality." Razumihin flew at him.

"Practicality is a difficult thing to find; it does not drop down from

heaven. And for the last two hundred years we have been divorced

from all practical life. Ideas, if you like, are fermenting," he

said to Pyotr Petrovitch, "and desire for good exists, though it's

in a childish form, and honesty you may find, although there are

crowds of brigands. Anyway, there's no practicality. Practicality goes

well shod."

"I don't agree with you," Pyotr Petrovitch replied, with evident

enjoyment. "Of course, people do get carried away and make mistakes,

but one must have indulgence; those mistakes are merely evidence of

enthusiasm for the cause and of abnormal external environment. If

little has been done, the time has been but short; of means I will not

speak. It's my personal view, if you care to know, that something

has been accomplished already. New valuable ideas, new valuable

works are circulating in the place of our old dreamy and romantic

authors. Literature is taking a maturer form, many injurious prejudice

have been rooted up and turned into ridicule.... In a word, we have

cut ourselves off irrevocably from the past, and that, to my thinking,

is a great thing..."

"He's learnt it by heart to show off Raskolnikov pronounced

suddenly.

"What?" asked Pyotr Petrovitch, not catching his words; but he

received no reply.

"That's all true," Zossimov hastened to interpose.

"Isn't it so?" Pyotr Petrovitch went on, glancing affably at

Zossimov. "You must admit," he went on, addressing Razumihin with a

shade of triumph and superciliousness- he almost added "young man"-

"that there is an advance, or, as they say now, progress in the name

of science and economic truth..."

"A commonplace."

"No, not a commonplace! Hitherto, for instance, if I were told,

'love thy neighbour,' what came of it?" Pyotr Petrovitch went on,

perhaps with excessive haste. "It came to my tearing my coat in half

to share with my neighbour and we both were left half naked. As a

Russian proverb has it, 'catch several hares and you won't catch one.'

Science now tells us, love yourself before all men, for everything

in the world rests on self-interest. You love yourself and manage your

own affairs properly and your coat remains whole. Economic truth

adds that the better private affairs are organised in society- the

more whole coats, so to say- the firmer are its foundations and the

better is the common welfare organised too. Therefore, in acquiring

wealth solely and exclusively for myself, I am acquiring so to

speak, for all, and helping to bring to pass my neighbour's getting

a little more than a torn coat; and that not from private, personal

liberality, but as a consequence of the general advance. The idea is

simple, but unhappily it has been a long time reaching us, being

hindered by idealism and sentimentality. And yet it would seem to want

very little wit to perceive it..."

"Excuse me, I've very little wit myself," Razumihin cut in

sharply, "and so let us drop it. I began this discussion with an

object, but I've grown so sick during the last three years of this

chattering to amuse oneself, of this incessant flow of commonplaces,

always the same, that, by Jove, I blush even when other people talk

like that. You are in a hurry, no doubt, to exhibit your acquirements;

and I don't blame you, that's quite pardonable. I only wanted to

find out what sort of man you are, for so many unscrupulous people

have got hold of the progressive cause of late and have so distorted

in their own interests everything they touched, that the whole cause

has been dragged in the mire. That's enough!"

"Excuse me, sir," said Luzhin, affronted, and speaking with

excessive dignity. "Do you mean to suggest so unceremoniously that I

too..."

"Oh, my dear sir... how could I?... Come, that's enough,"

Razumihin concluded, and he turned abruptly to Zossimov to continue

their previous conversation.

Pyotr Petrovitch had the good sense to accept the disavowal. He made

up his mind to take leave in another minute or two.

"I trust our acquaintance," he said, addressing Raskolnikov, "may,

upon your recovery and in view of the circumstances of which you are

aware, become closer.... Above all, I hope for your return to

health..."

Raskolnikov did not even turn his head. Pyotr Petrovitch began

getting up from his chair.

"One of her customers must have killed her," Zossimov declared

positively.

"Not a doubt of it," replied Razumihin. "Porfiry doesn't give his

opinion, but is examining all who have left pledges with her there."

"Examining them?" Raskolnikov asked aloud.

"Yes. What then?"

"Nothing."

"How does he get hold of them?" asked Zossimov.

"Koch has given the names of some of them, other names are on the

wrappers of the pledges and some have come forward of themselves."

"It must have been a cunning and practised ruffian! The boldness

of it! The coolness!"

"That's just what it wasn't!" interposed Razumihin. "That's what

throws you all off the scent. But I maintain that he is not cunning,

nor practised, and probably this was his first crime! The

supposition that it was a calculated crime and a cunning criminal

doesn't work. Suppose him to have been inexperienced, and it's clear

that it was only a chance that saved him- and chance may do

anything. Why, he did not foresee obstacles, perhaps! And how did he

set to work? He took jewels worth ten or twenty roubles, stuffing

his pockets with them, ransacked the old woman's trunk, her rags-

and they found fifteen hundred roubles, besides notes, in a box in the

top drawer of the chest! He did not know how to rob; he could only

murder. It was his first crime, I assure you, his first crime; he lost

his head. And he got off more by luck than good counsel!"

"You are talking of the murder of the old pawnbroker, I believe?"

Pyotr Petrovitch put in, addressing Zossimov. He was standing, hat and

gloves in hand, but before departing he felt disposed to throw off a

few more intellectual phrases. He was evidently anxious to make a

favourable impression and his vanity overcame his prudence.

"Yes. You've heard of it?"

"Oh, yes, being in the neighbourhood."

"Do you know the details?"

"I can't say that; but another circumstance interests me in the

case- the whole question, so to say. Not to speak of the fact that

crime has been greatly on the increase among the lower classes

during the last five years, not to speak of the cases of robbery and

arson everywhere, what strikes me as the strangest thing is that in

the higher classes, too, crime is increasing proportionately. In one

place one hears of a student's robbing the mail on the high road; in

another place people of good social position forge false banknotes; in

Moscow of late a whole gang has been captured who used to forge

lottery tickets, and one of the ringleaders was a lecturer in

universal history; then our secretary abroad was murdered from some

obscure motive of gain.... And if this old woman, the pawnbroker,

has been murdered by some one of a higher class in society- for

peasants don't pawn gold trinkets- how are we to explain this

demoralisation of the civilised part of our society?"

"There are many economic changes," put in Zossimov.

"How are we to explain it?" Razumihin caught him up. "It might be

explained by our inveterate unpracticality."

"How do you mean?"

"What answer had your lecturer in Moscow to make to the question why

he was forging notes? 'Everybody is getting rich one way or another,

so I want to make haste to get rich too.' I don't remember the exact

words, but the upshot was that he wants money for nothing, without

waiting or working! We've grown used to having everything

ready-made, to walking on crutches, to having our food chewed for

us. Then the great hour struck,* and every man showed himself in his

true colours."

-

* The emancipation of the serfs in 1861 is meant.- TRANSLATOR'S

NOTE.

-

"But morality? And so to speak, principles..."

"But why do you worry about it?" Raskolnikov interposed suddenly.

"It's in accordance with your theory!"

"In accordance with my theory?"

"Why, carry out logically the theory you were advocating just now,

and it follows that people may be killed..."

"Upon my word!" cried Luzhin.

"No, that's not so," put in Zossimov.

Raskolnikov lay with a white face and twitching upper lip, breathing

painfully.

"There's a measure in all things," Luzhin went on superciliously.

"Economic ideas are not an incitement to murder, and one has but to

suppose..."

"And is it true," Raskolnikov interposed once more suddenly, again

in a voice quivering with fury and delight in insulting him, "is it

true that you told your fiancee... within an hour of her acceptance,

that what pleased you most... was that she was a beggar... because

it was better to raise a wife from poverty, so that you may have

complete control over her, and reproach her with your being her

benefactor?"

"Upon my word," Luzhin cried wrathfully and irritably, crimson

with confusion, "to distort my words in this way! Excuse me, allow

me to assure you that the report which has reached you, or rather

let me say, has been conveyed to you, has no foundation in truth,

and I... suspect who... in a word... this arrow... in a word, your

mamma... She seemed to me in other things, with all her excellent

qualities, of a somewhat highflown and romantic way of thinking....

But I was a thousand miles from supposing that she would misunderstand

and misrepresent things in so fanciful a way.... And indeed...

indeed..."

"I tell you what," cried Raskolnikov, raising himself on his

pillow and fixing his piercing, glittering eyes upon him, "I tell

you what."

"What?" Luzhin stood still, waiting with a defiant and offended

face. Silence lasted for some seconds.

"Why, if ever again... you dare to mention a single word... about my

mother... I shall send you flying downstairs!"

"What's the matter with you?" cried Razumihin.

"So that's how it is?" Luzhin turned pale and bit his lip. "Let me

tell you, sir," he began deliberately, doing his utmost to restrain

himself but breathing hard, "at the first moment I saw you you were

ill-disposed to me, but I remained here on purpose to find out more. I

could forgive a great deal in a sick man and a connection, but

you... never after this..."

"I am not ill," cried Raskolnikov.

"So much the worse..."

"Go to hell!"

But Luzhin was already leaving without finishing his speech,

squeezing between the table and the chair; Razumihin got up this

time to let him pass. Without glancing at any one, and not even

nodding to Zossimov, who had for some time been making signs to him to

let the sick man alone, he went out, lifting his hat to the level of

his shoulders to avoid crushing it as he stooped to go out of the

door. And even the curve of his spine was expressive of the horrible

insult he had received.

"How could you- how could you!" Razumihin said, shaking his head

in perplexity.

"Let me alone- let me alone all of you!" Raskolnikov cried in a

frenzy. "Will you ever leave off tormenting me? I am not afraid of

you! I am not afraid of any one, any one now! Get away from me! I want

to be alone, alone, alone!"

"Come along," said Zossimov, nodding to Razumihin.

"But we can't leave him like this!"

"Come along," Zossimov repeated insistently, and he went out.

Razumihin thought a minute and ran to overtake him.

"It might be worse not to obey him," said Zossimov on the stairs.

"He mustn't be irritated."

"What's the matter with him?"

"If only he could get some favourable shock, that's what would do

it! At first he was better.... You know he has got something on his

mind! Some fixed idea weighing on him.... I am very much afraid so; he

must have!"

"Perhaps it's that gentleman, Pyotr Petrovitch. From his

conversation I gather he is going to marry his sister, and that he had

received a letter about it just before his illness...."

"Yes, confound the man! he may have upset the case altogether. But

have you noticed, he takes no interest in anything, he does not

respond to anything except one point on which he seems excited- that's

the murder?"

"Yes, yes," Razumihin agreed, "I noticed that, too. He is

interested, frightened. It gave him a shock on the day he was ill in

the police office; he fainted."

"Tell me more about that this evening and I'll tell you something

afterwards. He interests me very much! In half an hour I'll go and see

him again.... There'll be no inflammation though."

"Thanks! And I'll wait with Pashenka meantime and will keep watch on

him through Nastasya...."

Raskolnikov, left alone, looked with impatience and misery at

Nastasya, but she still lingered.

"Won't you have some tea now?" she asked.

"Later! I am sleepy! Leave me."

He turned abruptly to the wall; Nastasya went out.


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

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