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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 Three

-

THE FACT was that up to the last moment he had never expected such

an ending; he had been overbearing to the last degree, never

dreaming that two destitute and defenceless women could escape from

his control. This conviction was strengthened by his vanity and

conceit, a conceit to the point of fatuity. Pyotr Petrovitch, who

had made his way up from insignificance, was morbidly given to

self-admiration, had the highest opinion of his intelligence and

capacities, and sometimes even gloated in solitude over his image in

the glass. But what he loved and valued above all was the money he had

amassed by his labour, and by all sorts of devices: that money made

him the equal of all who had been his superiors.

When he had bitterly reminded Dounia that he had decided to take her

in spite of evil report, Pyotr Petrovitch had spoken with perfect

sincerity and had, indeed, felt genuinely indignant at such "black

ingratitude." And yet, when he made Dounia his offer, he was fully

aware of the groundlessness of all the gossip. The story had been

everywhere contradicted by Marfa Petrovna, and was by then disbelieved

by all the townspeople, who were warm in Dounia'a defence. And he

would not have denied that he knew all that at the time. Yet he

still thought highly of his own resolution in lifting Dounia to his

level and regarded it as something heroic. In speaking of it to

Dounia, he had let out the secret feeling he cherished and admired,

and he could not understand that others should fail to admire it

too. He had called on Raskolnikov with the feelings of a benefactor

who is about to reap the fruits of his good deeds and to hear

agreeable flattery. And as he went downstairs now, he considered

himself most undeservedly injured and unrecognised.

Dounia was simply essential to him; to do without her was

unthinkable. For many years he had voluptuous dreams of marriage,

but he had gone on waiting and amassing money. He brooded with relish,

in profound secret, over the image of a girl- virtuous, poor (she must

be poor), very young, very pretty, of good birth and education, very

timid, one who had suffered much, and was completely humbled before

him, one who would all her life look on him as her saviour, worship

him, admire him and only him. How many scenes, how many amorous

episodes he had imagined on this seductive and playful theme, when his

work was over! And, behold, the dream of so many years was all but

realised; the beauty and education of Avdotya Romanovna had

impressed him; her helpless position had been a great allurement; in

her he had found even more than he dreamed of. Here was a girl of

pride, character, virtue, of education and breeding superior to his

own (he felt that), and this creature would be slavishly grateful

all her life for his heroic condescension, and would humble herself in

the dust before him, and he would have absolute, unbounded power

over her!... Not long before, he had, too, after long reflection and

hesitation, made an important change in his career and was now

entering on a wider circle of business. With this change his cherished

dreams of rising into a higher class of society seemed likely to be

realised.... He was, in fact, determined to try his fortune in

Petersburg. He knew that women could do a very great deal. The

fascination of a charming, virtuous, highly educated woman might

make his way easier, might do wonders in attracting people to him,

throwing an aureole round him, and now everything was in ruins! This

sudden horrible rupture affected him like a clap of thunder; it was

like a hideous joke, an absurdity. He had only been a tiny bit

masterful, had not even time to speak out, had simply made a joke,

been carried away- and it had ended so seriously. And, of course, too,

he did love Dounia in his own way; he already possessed her in his

dreams- and all at once! No! The next day, the very next day, it

must all be set right, smoothed over, settled. Above all he must crush

that conceited milksop who was the cause of it all. With a sick

feeling he could not help recalling Razumihin too, but, he soon

reassured himself on that score; as though a fellow like that could be

put on a level with him! The man he really dreaded in earnest was

Svidrigailov.... He had, in short, a great deal to attend to....

-

"No, I, I am more to blame than any one!" said Dounia, kissing and

embracing her mother. "I was tempted by his money, but on my honour,

brother, I had no idea he was such a base man. If I had seen through

him before, nothing would have tempted me! Don't blame me, brother!"

"God has delivered us! God has delivered us!" Pulcheria Alexandrovna

muttered, but half consciously, as though scarcely able to realise

what had happened.

They were all relieved, and in five minutes they were laughing. Only

now and then Dounia turned white and frowned, remembering what had

passed. Pulcheria Alexandrovna was surprised to find that she, too,

was glad: she had only that morning thought rupture with Luzhin a

terrible misfortune. Razumihin was delighted. He did not yet dare to

express his joy fully, but he was in a fever of excitement as though a

ton-weight had fallen off his heart. Now he had the right to devote

his life to them, to serve them.... Anything might happen now! But

he felt afraid to think of further possibilities and dared not let his

imagination range. But Raskolnikov sat still in the same place, almost

sullen and indifferent. Though he had been the most insistent on

getting rid of Luzhin, he seemed now the least concerned at what had

happened. Dounia could not help thinking that he was still angry

with her, and Pulcheria Alexandrovna watched him timidly.

"What did Svidrigailov say to you?" said Dounia, approaching him.

"Yes, yes!" cried Pulcheria Alexandrovna.

Raskolnikov raised his head.

"He wants to make you a present of ten thousand roubles and he

desires to see you once in my presence."

"See her! On no account!" cried Pulcheria Alexandrovna. "And how

dare he offer her money!"

Then Raskolnikov repeated (rather drily) his conversation with

Svidrigailov, omitting his account of the ghostly visitations of Marfa

Petrovna, wishing to avoid all unnecessary talk.

"What answer did you give him?" asked Dounia.

"At first I said I would not take any message to you. Then he said

that he would do his utmost to obtain an interview with you without my

help. He assured me that his passion for you was a passing

infatuation, now he has no feeling for you. He doesn't want you to

marry Luzhin.... His talk was altogether rather muddled."

"How do you explain him to yourself, Rodya? How did he strike you?"

"I must confess I don't quite understand him. He offers you ten

thousand, and yet says he is not well off. He says he is going away,

and in ten minutes he forgets he has said it. Then he says is he going

to be married and has already fixed on the girl.... No doubt he has

a motive, and probably a bad one. But it's odd that he should be so

clumsy about it if he had any designs against you.... Of course, I

refused this money on your account, once for all. Altogether, I

thought him very strange.... One might almost think he was mad. But

I may be mistaken; that may only be the part he assumes. The death

of Marfa Petrovna seems to have made a great impression on him."

"God rest her soul," exclaimed Pulcheria Alexandrovna. "I shall

always, always pray for her! Where should we be now, Dounia, without

this three thousand! It's as though it had fallen from heaven! Why,

Rodya, this morning we had only three roubles in our pocket and Dounia

and I were just planning to pawn her watch, so as to avoid borrowing

from that man until he offered help."

Dounia seemed strangely impressed by Svidrigailov's offer. She still

stood meditating.

"He has got some terrible plan," she said in a half whisper to

herself, almost shuddering.

Raskolnikov noticed this disproportionate terror.

"I fancy I shall have to see him more than once again," he said to

Dounia.

"We will watch him! I will track him out!" cried Razumihin,

vigorously. "I won't lose sight of him. Rodya has given me leave. He

said to me himself just now. 'Take care of my sister.' Will you give

me leave, too, Avdotya Romanovna?"

Dounia smiled and held out her hand, but the look of anxiety did not

leave her face. Pulcheria Alexandrovna gazed at her timidly, but the

three thousand roubles had obviously a soothing effect on her.

A quarter of an hour later, they were all engaged in a lively

conversation. Even Raskolnikov listened attentively for some time,

though he did not talk. Razumihin was the speaker.

"And why, why should you go away?" he flowed on ecstatically. "And

what are you to do in a little town? The great thing is, you are all

here together and you need one another- you do need one another,

believe me. For a time, anyway.... Take me into partnership and I

assure you we'll plan a capital enterprise. Listen! I'll explain it

all in detail to you, the whole project! It all flashed into my head

this morning, before anything had happened... I tell you what; I

have an uncle, I must introduce him to you (a most accommodating and

respectable old man). This uncle has got a capital of a thousand

roubles, and he lives on his pension and has no need of that money.

For the last two years he has been bothering me to borrow it from

him and pay him six per cent. interest. I know what that means; he

simply wants to help me. Last year I had no need of it, but this

year I resolved to borrow it as soon as he arrived. Then you lend me

another thousand of your three and we have enough for a start, so

we'll go into partnership, and what are we going to do?"

Then Razumihin began to unfold his project, and he explained at

length that almost all our publishers and booksellers know nothing

at all of what they are selling, and for that reason they are

usually bad publishers, and that any decent publications pay as a rule

and give a profit, sometimes a considerable one. Razumihin had,

indeed, been dreaming of setting up as a publisher. For the last two

years he had been working in publishers' offices, and knew three

European languages well, though he had told Raskolnikov six days

before that he was "schwach" in German with an object of persuading

him to take half his translation and half the payment for it. He had

told a lie, then, and Raskolnikov knew he was lying.

"Why, why should we let our chance slip when we have one of the

chief means of success- money of our own!" cried Razumihin warmly. "Of

course there will be a lot of work, but we will work, you, Avdotya

Romanovna, I, Rodion.... You get a splendid profit on some books

nowadays! And the great point of the business is that we shall know

just what wants translating, and we shall be translating,

publishing, learning all at once. I can be of use because I have

experience. For nearly two years I've been scuttling about among the

publishers, and now I know every detail of their business. You need

not be a saint to make pots, believe me! And why, why should we let

our chance slip! Why, I know- and I kept the secret- two or three

books which one might get a hundred roubles simply for thinking of

translating and publishing. Indeed, and I would not take five

hundred for the very idea of one of them. And what do you think? If

I were to tell a publisher, I dare say he'd hesitate- they are such

blockheads! And as for the business side, printing, paper, selling,

you trust to me, I know my way about. We'll begin in a small way and

go on to a large. In any case it will get us our living and we shall

get back our capital."

Dounia's eyes shone.

"I like what you are saying, Dmitri Prokofitch!" she said.

"I know nothing about it, of course," put in Pulcheria Alexandrovna,

"it may be a good idea, but again God knows. It's new and untried.

Of course, we must remain here at least for a time." She looked at

Rodya.

"What do you think, brother?" said Dounia.

"I think he's got a very good idea," he answered. "Of course, it's

too soon to dream of a publishing firm, but we certainly might bring

out five or six books and be sure of success. I know of one book

myself which would be sure to go well. And as for his being able to

manage it, there's no doubt about that either. He knows the

business.... But we can talk it over later...."

"Hurrah!" cried Razumihin. "Now, stay, there's a flat here in this

house, belonging to the same owner. It's a special flat apart, not

communicating with these lodgings. It's furnished, rent moderate,

three rooms. Suppose you take them to begin with. I'll pawn your watch

to-morrow and bring you the money, and everything can be arranged

then. You can all three live together, and Rodya will be with you. But

where are you off to, Rodya?"

"What, Rodya, you are going already?" Pulcheria Alexandrovna asked

in dismay.

"At such a minute?" cried Razumihin.

Dounia looked at her brother with incredulous wonder. He held his

cap in his hand, he was preparing to leave them.

"One would think you were burying me or saying good-bye for ever,"

he said somewhat oddly. He attempted to smile, but it did not turn out

a smile. "But who knows, perhaps it is the last time we shall see each

other..." he let slip accidentally. It was what he was thinking, and

it somehow was uttered aloud.

"What is the matter with you?" cried his mother.

"Where are you going, Rodya?" asked Dounia rather strangely.

"Oh, I'm quite obliged to..." he answered vaguely, as though

hesitating what he would say. But there was a look of sharp

determination in his white face.

"I meant to say... as I was coming here... I meant to tell you,

mother, and you, Dounia, that it would be better for us to part for

a time. I feel ill, I am not at peace.... I will come afterwards, I

will come of myself... when it's possible, I remember you and love

you.... Leave me, leave me alone. I decided this even before... I'm

absolutely resolved on it. Whatever may come to me, whether I come

to ruin or not, I want to be alone. Forget me altogether, it's better.

Don't inquire about me. When I can, I'll come of myself or... I'll

send for you. Perhaps it will all come back, but now if you love me,

give me up... else I shall begin to hate you, I feel it.... Good-bye!"

"Good God!" cried Pulcheria Alexandrovna. Both his mother and his

sister were terribly alarmed. Razumihin was also.

"Rodya, Rodya, be reconciled with us! Let us be as before!" cried

his poor mother.

He turned slowly to the door and slowly went out of the room. Dounia

overtook him.

"Brother, what are you doing to mother?" she whispered, her eyes

flashing with indignation.

He looked dully at her.

"No matter, I shall come.... I'm coming," he muttered in an

undertone, as though not fully conscious of what he was saying, and he

went out of the room.

"Wicked, heartless egoist!" cried Dounia.

"He is insane, but not heartless. He is mad! Don't you see it?

You're heartless after that!" Razumihin whispered in her ear,

squeezing her hand tightly. "I shall be back directly," he shouted

to the horror-stricken mother, and he ran out of the room.

Raskolnikov was waiting for him at the end of the passage.

"I knew you would run after me," he said. "Go back to them- be

with them... be with them to-morrow and always.... I... perhaps I

shall come... if I can. Good-bye."

And without holding out his hand he walked away.

"But where are you going? What are you doing? What's the matter with

you? How can you go on like this?" Razumihin muttered, at his wits'

end.

Raskolnikov stopped once more.

"Once for all, never ask me about anything. I have nothing to tell

you. Don't come to see me. Maybe I'll come here.... Leave me, but

don't leave them. Do you understand me?"

It was dark in the corridor, they were standing near the lamp. For a

minute they were looking at one another in silence. Razumihin

remembered that minute all his life. Raskolnikov's burning and

intent eyes grew more penetrating every moment, piercing into his

soul, into his consciousness. Suddenly Razumihin started. Something

strange, as it were, passed between them.... Some idea, some hint as

it were, slipped, something awful, hideous, and suddenly understood on

both sides.... Razumihin turned pale.

"Do you understand now?" said Raskolnikov, his face twitching

nervously. "Go back, go to them," he said suddenly, and turning

quickly, he went out of the house.

I will not attempt to describe how Razumihin went back to the

ladies, how he soothed them, how he protested that Rodya needed rest

in his illness, protested that Rodya was sure to come, that he would

come every day, that he was very, very much upset, that he must not be

irritated, that he, Razumihin, would watch over him, would get him a

doctor, the best doctor, a consultation.... In fact from that

evening Razumihin took his place with them as a son and a brother.


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

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