Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821 - 1881)
Crime and Punishment
translated by Constance Garnett
be still a dream?" Raskolnikov thought once more.
He looked carefully
and suspiciously at the unexpected visitor.
What nonsense! It can't be!" he said at last aloud in
His visitor did
not seem at all surprised at this exclamation.
to you for two reasons. In the first place, I wanted to
make your personal
acquaintance, as I have already heard a great
deal about you
that is interesting and flattering; secondly, I cherish
the hope that you
may not refuse to assist me in a matter directly
welfare of your sister, Avdotya Romanovna. For
without your support
she might not let me come near her now, for she
is prejudiced against
me, but with your assistance I reckon on..."
wrongly," interrupted Raskolnikov.
arrived yesterday, may I ask you?"
"It was yesterday,
I know. I only arrived myself the day before.
Well, let me tell
you this, Rodion Romanovitch, I don't consider it
necessary to justify
myself, but kindly tell me what was there
on my part in all this business, speaking
with common sense?"
to look at him in silence.
my own house I persecuted a defenceless girl and
'insulted her with
my infamous proposals'- is that it? (I am
But you've only to assume that I, too, am a man
et nihil humanum...
in a word, that I am capable of being attracted
and falling in
love (which does not depend on our will), then
be explained in the most natural manner. The question
is, am I a monster,
or am I myself a victim? And what if I am a
victim? In proposing
to the object of my passion to elope with me to
America or Switzerland,
I may have cherished the deepest respect for
her, and may have
thought that I was promoting our mutual happiness!
Reason is the slave
of passion, you know; why, probably, I was doing
more harm to myself
than any one!"
not the point," Raskolnikov interrupted with disgust.
that whether you are right or wrong, we dislike you. We
don't want to have
anything to do with you. We show you the door. Go
into a sudden laugh.
but there's no getting round you," he said,
laughing in the
frankest way. "I hoped to get round you, but you
took up the right
line at once!"
are trying to get round me still!"
it? What of it?" cried Svidrigailov, laughing openly.
is what the French call bonne guerre, and the most
innocent form of
deception!... But still you have interrupted me;
one way or another,
I repeat again: there would never have been any
except for what happened in the garden. Marfa
got rid of Marfa Petrovna, too, so they say?"
heard that, too, then? You'd be sure to, though....
But as for your
question, I really don't know what to say, though my
is quite at rest on that score. Don't suppose that I am
in any apprehension
about it. All was regular and in order; the
diagnosed apoplexy due to bathing immediately after
a heavy dinner
and a bottle of wine, and indeed it could have proved
nothing else. But
I'll tell you what I have been thinking to myself of
late, on my way
here in the train, especially: didn't I contribute
to all that...
calamity, morally, in a way, by irritation or something
of the sort. But
I came to the conclusion that that, too, was quite
out of the question."
you trouble yourself about it!"
are you laughing at? Only consider, I struck her just
twice with a switch-
there were no marks even... don't regard me as
a cynic, please;
I am perfectly aware how atrocious it was of me and
all that; but I
know for certain, too, that Marfa Petrovna was very
at my, so to say, warmth. The story of your sister
had been wrung
out to the last drop; for the last three days Marfa
Petrovna had been
forced to sit at home; she had nothing to show
herself with in
the town. Besides, she had bored them so with that
letter (you heard
about her reading the letter). And all of a sudden
those two switches
fell from heaven! Her first act was to order the
carriage to be
got out.... Not to speak of the fact that there are
cases when women
are very, very glad to be insulted in spite of all
their show of indignation.
There are instances of it with every one;
human beings in
general, indeed, greatly love to be insulted, have you
noticed that? But
it's particularly so with women. One might even
say it's their
At one time Raskolnikov
thought of getting up and walking out and so
finishing the interview.
But some curiosity and even a sort of
prudence made him
linger for a moment.
fond of fighting?" he asked carelessly.
very," Svidrigailov answered, calmly. "And Marfa Petrovna
and I scarcely
ever fought. We lived very harmoniously, and she was
with me. I only used the whip twice in all our seven
years (not counting
a third occasion of a very ambiguous character).
The first time,
two months after our marriage, immediately after we
arrived in the
country, and the last time was that of which we are
speaking. Did you
suppose I was such a monster, such a reactionary,
such a slave driver?
Ha, ha! By the way, do you remember, Rodion
a few years ago, in those days of beneficent
publicity, a nobleman,
I've forgotten his name, was put to shame
all the papers, for having thrashed a German woman in
the railway train.
You remember? It was in those days, that very
year I believe,
the 'disgraceful action of the Age' took place (you
know, 'The Egyptian
Nights,' that public reading, you remember? The
dark eyes, you
know! Ah, the golden days of our youth, where are
they?). Well, as
for the gentleman who thrashed the German, I feel
no sympathy with
him, because after all what need is there for
sympathy? But I
must say that there are sometimes such provoking
I don't believe there is a progressive who could
quite answer for
himself. No one looked at the subject from that point
of view then, but
that's the truly humane point of view, I assure
After saying this,
Svidrigailov broke into a sudden laugh again.
clearly that this was a man with a firm purpose in his
mind and able to
keep it to himself.
you've not talked to any one for some days?" he asked.
any one. I suppose you are wondering at my being such an
"No, I am
only wondering at your being too adaptable a man."
I am not offended at the rudeness of your questions? Is
that it? But why
take offence? As you asked, so I answered," he
replied, with a
surprising expression of simplicity. "You know,
anything I take interest in," he went on, as it were
now, I've nothing to do.... You are quite at
liberty to imagine
though that I am making up to you with a motive,
I told you I want to see your sister about
I'll confess frankly, I am very much bored. The last
three days especially,
so I am delighted to see you.... Don't be
angry, Rodion Romanovitch,
but you seem to be somehow awfully
Say what you like, there's something wrong with you,
and now, too...
not this very minute, I mean, but now, generally....
Well, well, I won't,
I won't, don't scowl! I am not such a bear, you
know, as you think."
gloomily at him.
not a bear, perhaps, at all," he said. "I fancy indeed that
you are a man of
very good breeding, or at least know how on
occasion to behave
"I am not
particularly interested in any one's opinion,"
dryly and even with a shade of haughtiness,
why not be vulgar at times when vulgarity is such a
for our climate... and especially if one has a
that way," he added, laughing again.
heard you have many friends here. You are, as they say,
'not without connections.'
What can you want with me, then, unless
you've some special
that I have friends here," Svidrigailov admitted, not
replying to the
chief point. "I've met some already. I've been
for the last three days, and I've seen them, or they've
seen me. That's
a matter of course. I am well dressed and reckoned not
a poor man; the
emancipation of the serfs hasn't affected me; my
chiefly of forests and water meadows. The revenue
has not fallen
off; but... I am not going to see them, I was sick of
them long ago.
I've been here three days and have called on no one....
What a town it
is! How has it come into existence among us, tell me
that? A town of
officials and students of all sorts. Yes, there's a
great deal I didn't
notice when I was here eight years ago, kicking up
my heels.... My
only hope now is in anatomy, by Jove, it is!"
"But as for
these clubs, Dussauts, parades, or progress, indeed, may
be- well, all that
can go on without me," he went on, again without
noticing the question.
"Besides, who wants to be a card-sharper?"
you been a card-sharper then?"
I help being? There was a regular set of us, men of the
best society, eight
years ago; we had a fine time. And all men of
breeding, you know,
poets, men of property. And indeed as a rule in
our Russian society,
the best manners are found among those who've
have you noticed that? I've deteriorated in the
country. But I
did get into prison for debt, through a low Greek who
came from Nezhin.
Then Marfa Petrovna turned up; she bargained with
him and bought
me off for thirty thousand silver pieces (I owed
We were united in lawful wedlock and she bore me
off into the country
like a treasure. You know she was five years
older than I. She
was very fond of me. For seven years I never left
the country. And,
take note, that all my life she held a document over
me, the I.O.U.
for thirty thousand roubles, so if I were to elect to
be restive about
anything I should be trapped at once! And she would
have done it! Women
find nothing incompatible in that."
"If it hadn't
been for that, would you have given her the slip?"
know what to say. It was scarcely the document restrained
me. I didn't want
to go anywhere else. Marfa Petrovna herself
invited me to go
abroad, seeing I was bored, but I've been abroad
before, and always
felt sick there. For no reason, but the sunrise,
the bay of Naples,
the sea- you look at them and it makes you sad.
What's most revolting
is that one is really sad! No, it's better at
home. Here at least
one blames others for everything and excuses
oneself. I should
have gone perhaps on an expedition to the North
Pole, because j'ai
le vin mauvais and hate drinking, and there's
nothing left but
wine. I have tried it. But, I say, I've been told
Berg is going up
in a great balloon next Sunday from the Yusupov
Garden and will
take up passengers at a fee. Is it true?"
you go up?"
oh, no," muttered Svidrigailov really seeming to be deep
he mean? Is he in earnest?" Raskolnikov wondered.
document didn't restrain me," Svidrigailov went on,
was my own doing, not leaving the country, and
nearly a year ago
Marfa Petrovna gave me back the document on my
name day and made
me a present of a considerable sum of money, too.
She had a fortune,
you know. 'You see how I trust you, Arkady
was actually her expression. You don't believe she
used it? But do
you know I managed the estate quite decently, they
know me in the
neighbourhood. I ordered books, too. Marfa Petrovna
at first approved,
but afterwards she was afraid of my over-studying."
to be missing Marfa Petrovna very much?"
her? Perhaps. Really, perhaps I am. And, by the way, do you
believe in ghosts?"
"Do you believe
not, pour vous plaire.... I wouldn't say no exactly."
"Do you see
at him rather oddly.
is pleased to visit me," he said, twisting his mouth
into a strange
"How do you
mean 'she is pleased to visit you'?"
been three times. I saw her first on the very day of the
funeral, an hour
after she was buried. It was the day before I left to
come here. The
second time was the day before yesterday, at
daybreak, on the
journey at the station of Malaya Vishera, and the
third time was
two hours ago in the room where I am staying. I was
I was wide awake every time. She comes, speaks to me
for a minute and
goes out at the door- always at the door. I can
almost hear her."
me think that something of the sort must be happening
to you?" Raskolnikov
At the same moment
he was surprised at having said it. He was much
you think so?" Svidrigailov asked in astonishment. "Did
you really? Didn't
I say that there was something in common between
said so!" Raskolnikov cried sharply and with heat.
I did. When I came in and saw you lying with your eyes
I said to myself at once 'here's the man.'"
you mean by 'the man?' What are you talking about?" cried
I mean? I really don't know...." Svidrigailov muttered
though he, too, were puzzled.
For a minute they
were silent. They stared in each other's faces.
nonsense!" Raskolnikov shouted with vexation. "What does
she say when she
comes to you?"
you believe it, she talks of the silliest trifles and-
man is a strange
creature- it makes me angry. The first time she
came in (I was
tired you know: the funeral service, the funeral
ceremony, the lunch
afterwards. At last I was left alone in my
study. I lighted
a cigar and began to think), she came in at the door.
'You've been so
busy to-day, Arkady Ivanovitch, you have forgotten
to wind the dining
room clock,' she said. All those seven years I've
wound that clock
every week, and if I forgot it she would always
remind me. The
next day I set off on my way here. I got out at the
station at daybreak;
I'd been asleep, tired out, with my eyes half
open, I was drinking
some coffee. I looked up and there was suddenly
sitting beside me with a pack of cards in her hands.
'Shall I tell your
fortune for the journey, Arkady Ivanovitch?' She
was a great hand
at telling fortunes. I shall never forgive myself for
not asking her
to. I ran away in a fright, and, besides, the bell
rang. I was sitting
to-day, feeling very heavy after a miserable
dinner from a cookshop;
I was sitting smoking, all of a sudden Marfa
She came in very smart in a new green silk dress
with a long train.
'Good day, Arkady Ivanovitch! How do you like my
dress? Aniska can't
make like this.' (Aniska was a dressmaker in the
country, one of
our former serf girls who had been trained in
Moscow, a pretty
wench.) She stood turning round before me. I looked
at the dress, and
then I looked carefully, very carefully, at her
face. 'I wonder
you trouble to come to me about such trifles, Marfa
gracious, you won't let one disturb you about
anything!' To tease
her I said, 'I want to get married, Marfa
just like you, Arkady Ivanovitch; it does you
very little credit
to come looking for a bride when you've hardly
buried your wife.
And if you could make a good choice, at least, but I
know it won't be
for your happiness or hers, you will only be a
to all good people.' Then she went out and her train
seemed to rustle.
Isn't it nonsense, eh?"
you are telling lies?" Raskolnikov put in.
lie," answered Svidrigailov thoughtfully, apparently not
noticing the rudeness
of the question.
"And in the
past, have you ever seen ghosts before?"
have seen them, but only once in my life, six years ago. I
had a serf, Filka;
just after his burial I called out forgetting
'Filka, my pipe!'
He came in and went to the cupboard where my pipes
were. I sat still
and thought 'he is doing it out of revenge,' because
we had a violent
quarrel just before his death. 'How dare you come
in with a hole
in your elbow,' I said. 'Go away, you scamp!' He turned
and went out, and
never came again. I didn't tell Marfa Petrovna at
the time. I wanted
to have a service sung for him, but I was ashamed."
go to a doctor."
"I know I
am not well, without your telling me, though I don't
know what's wrong;
I believe I am five times as strong as you are. I
didn't ask you
whether you believe that ghosts are seen, but whether
you believe that
"No, I won't
believe it!" Raskolnikov cried, with positive anger.
people generally say?" muttered Svidrigailov, as though
speaking to himself,
looking aside and bowing his head: "They say,
'You are ill, so
what appears to you is only unreal fantasy.' But
that's not strictly
logical. I agree that ghosts only appear to the
sick, but that
only proves that they are unable to appear except to
the sick, not that
they don't exist."
of the sort," Raskolnikov insisted irritably.
don't think so?" Svidrigailov went on, looking at him
what do you say to this argument (help me with it):
ghosts are as it
were shreds and fragments of other worlds, the
beginning of them.
A man in health has, of course, no reason to see
them, because he
is above all a man of this earth and is bound for the
sake of completeness
and order to live only in this life. But as
soon as one is
ill, as soon as the normal earthly order of the
organism is broken,
one begins to realise the possibility of another
world; and the
more seriously ill one is, the closer becomes one's
contact with that
other world, so that as soon as the man dies he
into that world. I thought of that long ago. If you
believe in a future
life, you could believe in that, too."
believe in a future life," said Raskolnikov.
lost in thought.
if there are only spiders there, or something of that
"He is a
madman," thought Raskolnikov.
imagine eternity as something beyond our conception,
vast! But why must it be vast? Instead of all that,
what if it's one
little room, like a bathhouse in the country, black
and grimy and spiders
in every corner, and that's all eternity is? I
it like that."
"Can it be
you can imagine nothing juster and more comforting than
cried, with a feeling of anguish.
And how can we tell, perhaps that is just, and do you
know it's what
I would certainly have made it," answered Svidrigailov,
with a vague smile.
answer sent a cold chill through Raskolnikov.
his head, looked at him, and suddenly began
he cried, "half an hour ago we had never seen each
other, we regarded
each other as enemies; there is a matter
us; we've thrown it aside, and away we've gone
into the abstract!
Wasn't I right in saying that we were birds of a
me," Raskolnikov went on irritably, "to ask you to
explain why you
have honoured me with your visit... and... and I am in
a hurry, I have
no time to waste. I want to go out."
"By all means,
by all means. Your sister, Avdotya Romanovna, is
going to be married
to Mr. Luzhin, Pyotr Petrovitch?"
refrain from any question about my sister and from
name? I can't understand how you dare utter her name in
my presence, if
you really are Svidrigailov."
I've come here to speak about her; how can I avoid
speak, but make haste."
"I am sure
that you must have formed your own opinion of this Mr.
Luzhin, who is
a connection of mine through my wife, if you have
only seen him for
half an hour, or heard any facts about him. He is no
match for Avdotya
Romanovna. I believe Avdotya Romanovna is
generously and imprudently for the sake of...
for the sake of
her family. I fancied from all I had heard of you that
you would be very
glad if the match could be broken off without the
sacrifice of worldly
advantages. Now I know you personally, I am
convinced of it."
is very naive... excuse me, I should have said impudent on
to say that I am seeking my own ends. Don't be uneasy,
if I were working for my own advantage, I would
not have spoken
out so directly. I am not quite a fool. I will confess
curious about that: just now, defending my
love for Avdotya
Romanovna, I said I was myself the victim. Well,
let me tell you
that I've no feeling of love now, not the slightest,
so that I wonder
myself indeed, for I really did feel something..."
idleness and depravity," Raskolnikov put in.
am idle and depraved, but your sister has such
even I could not help being impressed by them. But
that's all nonsense,
as I see myself now."
seen that long?"
to be aware of it before, but was only perfectly sure of it
the day before
yesterday, almost at the moment I arrived in
Petersburg. I still
fancied in Moscow, though, that I was coming to
try to get Avdotya
Romanovna's hand and to cut out Mr. Luzhin."
for interrupting you; kindly be brief, and come to the
object of your
visit. I am in a hurry, I want to go out..."
greatest pleasure. On arriving here and determining on a
I should like to make some necessary preliminary
left my children with an aunt; they are well
provided for; and
they have no need of me personally. And a nice
father I should
make, too! I have taken nothing but what Marfa
Petrovna gave me
a year ago. That's enough for me. Excuse me, I am
just coming to
the point. Before the journey which may come off, I
want to settle
Mr. Luzhin, too. It's not that I detest him so much,
but it was through
him I quarrelled with Marfa Petrovna when I learned
that she had dished
up this marriage. I want now to see Avdotya
your mediation, and if you like in your presence, to
explain to her
that in the first place she will never gain anything
but harm from Mr.
Luzhin. Then begging her pardon for all past
to make her a present of ten thousand roubles and so
assist the rupture
with Mr. Luzhin, a rupture to which I believe she
is herself not
disinclined, if she could see the way to it."
certainly mad," cried Raskolnikov not so much angered as
dare you talk like that!"
"I knew you
would scream at me; but in the first place, though I
am not rich, this
ten thousand roubles is perfectly free; I have
absolutely no need
for it. If Avdotya Romanovna does not accept it,
I shall waste it
in some more foolish way. That's the first thing.
Secondly, my conscience
is perfectly easy; I make the offer with no
You may not believe it, but in the end Avdotya
Romanovna and you
will know. The point is, that I did actually cause
your sister, whom
I greatly respect, some trouble and
and so, sincerely regretting it, I want- not to
to repay her for the unpleasantness, but simply to
do something to
her advantage, to show that I am not, after all,
privileged to do
nothing but harm. If there were a millionth
fraction of self
interest in my offer, I should not have made it so
openly; and I should
not have offered her ten thousand only, when five
weeks ago I offered
her more, Besides, I may, perhaps, very soon marry
a young lady, and
that alone ought to prevent suspicion of any
design on Avdotya
Romanovna. In conclusion, let me say that in
marrying Mr. Luzhin,
she is taking money just the same, only from
another man. Don't
be angry, Rodion Romanovitch, think it over
coolly and quietly."
was exceedingly cool and quiet as he was saying
"I beg you
to say no more," said Raskolnikov. "In any case this is
"Not in the
least. Then a man may do nothing but harm to his
neighbour in this
world, and is prevented from doing the tiniest bit
of good by trivial
conventional formalities. That's absurd. If I died,
for instance, and
left that sum to your sister in my will, surely
she wouldn't refuse
indeed. However, if you refuse it, so be it, though ten
is a capital thing to have on occasion. In any case I
beg you to repeat
what I have said to Avdotya Romanovna."
"No, I won't."
case, Rodion Romanovitch, I shall be obliged to try and see
her myself and
worry her by doing so."
"And if I
do tell her, will you not try to see her?"
know really what to say. I should like very much to see her
But you don't know me. Perhaps we may become better
we may become friends?"
not?" Svidrigailov said, smiling. He stood up and took
his hat. "I
didn't quite intend to disturb you and I came here without
reckoning on it...
though I was very much struck by your face this
you see me this morning?" Raskolnikov asked uneasily.
"I saw you
by chance.... I kept fancying there is something about
you like me....
But don't be uneasy. I am not intrusive; I used to get
on all right with
card-sharpers, and I never bored Prince Svirbey, a
who is a distant relation of mine, and I could write
Madonna in Madam Prilukov's album, and I never left
side for seven years, and I used to stay the night at
in the Hay Market in the old days, and I may go up
in a balloon with
right. Are you starting soon on your travels, may I ask?"
that 'journey'; you spoke of it yourself."
Oh, yes. I did speak of a journey. Well, that's a wide
only you knew what you are asking," he added, and
gave a sudden,
loud, short laugh. "Perhaps I'll get married instead of
the journey. They're
making a match for me."
you had time for that?"
"But I am
very anxious to see Avdotya Romanovna once. I earnestly
beg it. Well, good-bye
for the present. Oh, yes, I have forgotten
your sister, Rodion Romanovitch, that Marfa Petrovna
in her will and left her three thousand rubles.
certain. Marfa Petrovna arranged it a week before
her death, and
it was done in my presence. Avdotya Romanovna will be
able to receive
the money in two or three weeks."
telling the truth?"
her. Well, your servant. I am staying very near you."
As he went out,
Svidrigailov ran up against Razumihin in the
qu'on fait n'est jamais compris mais seulement loué ou blâmé.
Nietzsche, Gay Science