Crime and Punishment, Fyodor Dostoevsky

Historical and Cultural Context

Crime and Punishment is a novel by Russian author Fyodor Dostoevsky, first published in 1866. The novel is set in St. Petersburg, Russia, reflecting the socio-economic conditions of the time.

The novel unfolds during the era of Tsarist Russia, a period marked by political repression and great social inequality. Dostoevsky, himself, experienced Siberian exile and penal servitude, which influenced his depiction of suffering and redemption in the book. 

The novel explores themes of morality, guilt, and the psychological effects of crime, influenced by Dostoevsky's engagement with Russian Orthodox Christianity and Western philosophical ideas. 

The protagonist, Raskolnikov, embodies the 'Superman' theory influenced by Nietzschean philosophy, questioning whether moral laws apply to 'extraordinary' individuals.

Dostoevsky's experiences with the Russian judicial system, as both a prisoner and a court reporter, inform the legal proceedings and the depiction of crime in the novel.

The text reflects the rising urban poverty in St. Petersburg, contributing to the depiction of desperate characters and bleak environments. 

The book features the tension between traditional Russian values and Western modernising influences, a major concern in 19th-century Russian society. Dostoevsky's focus on mental anguish and moral dilemmas in the novel reflects his own struggle with epilepsy and his ongoing philosophical and spiritual queries.

A. Leo Tolstoy

B. Anton Chekhov

C. Alexander Pushkin

D. Fyodor Dostoevsky

A. Moscow

B. St. Petersburg

C. Vladivostok

D. Yekaterinburg

A. Communist Russia

B. Tsarist Russia (Answer)

C. Modern Russia

D. Democratic Russia

A. Epicureanism

B. Utilitarianism

C. 'Superman' theory

D. Empiricism

DISCUSSION:  How does Dostoevsky's personal experiences and the socio-political context of Tsarist Russia influence the portrayal of urban poverty and moral dilemmas in Crime and Punishment?

Further reading