Crime and Punishment - The Murder Scene

Exploring ideas of socialism with a group of friends, Dostoevsky was arrested and, after a trial of sorts, was condemned to death.  While at the execution site - just minutes before he was scheduled to be shot - he and the other condemned men were spared.  Instead of a grave, the prisoners were given penal servitude. 

Fyodor Mikailovich used his near-death experience, and extensive encounter with the Russian judicial system, to invent memorable characters struggling to make sense of senseless events.  With his firsthand knowledge of fear and suffering, he made fictional characters seem real to his readers. 

Dostoevsky turned his prison life in Siberia into Memoirs from the House of the Dead.  A chilling account of deprivation and daily anguish, it remains a difficult read.  As Richard Freeborn observes, in his biography of Dostoevsky:

What one may say without fear of contradiction is that, as a masterpiece of prison literature, it cannot be read even today without a shudder.  (Dostoevsky, by Richard Freeborn, page 38.)

Doing his best to live life in desperately terrible surroundings, Dostoevsky understood a person must have hope to survive.  In House of the Dead, Fyodor Mikailovich describes a man who had lost all hope:

The Bible-reading man who had lurched at the major with a brick while in a drunken stupor, about whose arrest you have already heard, was surely also one of those desperate human beings who have lost every glimmer of hope, and who, since one cannot live without hope, had found a way out in that voluntary, almost artificially created martyrdom ... Who knows what psychological process had gone on within him; no human being can exist without a purpose and without striving.  A person who no longer has a purpose or hope is often transformed from that vacuum into a monster ... But the goal of all prison inmates was freedom.  (Dostoevsky, Memoirs from the House of the Dead, 2001 Oxford University Press translation, pages 305-6.)

Cries in the night, and longing to be free, were just some of the experiences Dostoevsky had during his many years of imprisoned, Siberian exile.  Yet ... all those deprivations ultimately led to a better understanding of human nature which, in turn, formed the basis of the great novels which the former prisoner would ultimately write.  Novels, for example, like Crime and Punishment and Notes from the Underground.

See, also:

Dostoevsky - Great Writer of the Modern World  

Dostoevsky - Crime and Punishment

Crime and Punishment - Death of the Pawnbroker

Crime and Punishment - Raskolnikov

Crime and Punishment - Alienation  

Crime and Punishment - Suffering  

Dostoevsky - The Underground Man

AND ... See:

Brothers Karamazov, in 15 parts

Media Credits

From the British television series, "The Modern World: Ten Great Writers." 

This video clip is from the episode, "Fyodor Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment," which originally aired on 24 January 1988.  Online, courtesy BFI and YouTube.

David Hinton

David Hinton

Professor John Jones
Merton College, Oxford

Ian McDiarmid

Katy Behean

Mrs. Marmeladov:
Mair Coleman

Charlie Drake

Douglas Hodge

Timothy Spall

Old Woman (Alyona Ivanovna):
Ann Way

Underground Man:
Patrick Malahide

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"Crime and Punishment - The Murder Scene" AwesomeStories.com. Oct 07, 2013. Jul 21, 2018.
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