Places Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Places)
*St. Petersburg. Capital of Imperial Russia. Deep within the glittering outer facade of St. Petersburg’s state buildings, elegant promenades, and gilded mansions is a central core of filth, stench, poverty, despair, and depravity. The outside order is mere cover for the horror and disorder within. Dostoevski lived in St. Petersburg for twenty-eight years, moving during this period into twenty different apartments. Minute details about places where Dostoevski lived appear in Crime and Punishment to provide descriptive realism along with significant symbolism. On the micro level, the scenes of Dostoevski’s novel unfold in the vicinity of the apartment he was renting at the time. On the macro level, St. Petersburg is symptomatic of the split in the Russian psyche between the cold Western rationalism and capitalistic materialism of the new Russia and the traditional Muscovite values of the old Russia. Like the city itself, the major character Raskolnikov (whose name means “split” or “schism”) must struggle to discover his identity in a battle between cold rationalism, which leads him to double murder, and his Russian soul, which seeks repentance and resurrection. As a student, Dostoevski himself fell into Western-style radicalism and was sentenced to death in 1849 by the repressive regime of Czar Nicholas I. After being placed before a firing squad in St. Petersburg, Dostoevski was pardoned and his sentence commuted to eight years in Siberia. Back in St. Petersburg, Dostoevski remained aware of a continuing inner struggle. As he says in Crime and Punishment, St. Petersburg has “gloomy and queer influences on the soul of man.”
*Haymarket. District filled with vendor stalls, peasant stalls, bars, hotels, and brothels that developed in St. Petersburg during the last quarter of the eighteenth century. It was filled with alleys and crammed with all sorts of people from the lower classes. It was bordered by slums (where Raskolnikov, Sonya, and the pawnbroker live), yet it was only one-half mile from St. Petersburg’s fashionable Nevskii Prospect. All types of people pass through the Haymarket; it is here that an accidental...
(The entire section is 910 words.)
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Bibliography and Further Reading
Bibliography (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Jackson, Robert Louis, ed. Twentieth Century Interpretations of “Crime and Punishment.” Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1974. Includes an essay by Dostoevski on Crime and Punishment. Offers many theories on Raskolnikov’s personality. Considers the metaphysical point of view in Crime and Punishment.
Johnson, Leslie A. The Experience of Time in “Crime and Punishment.” Columbus, Ohio: Slavica Publishers, 1984. Explains the use of time in the novel as a means for building anxiety and suffering in the characters. Shows how time is manipulated in Crime and Punishment and how the treatment of...
(The entire section is 186 words.)