by Fyodor Dostoyevsky | Grades: 11-12 | Ages: 16+ | Lexile Level: 900
About Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Determined to overreach his humanity and assert his untrammelled individual will, Raskolnikov, an impoverished student living in the St. Petersburg of the Tsars, commits an act of murder and theft and sets into motion a story which, for its excrutiating suspense, its atmospheric vividness, and its profundity of characterization and vision, is almost unequaled in the literatures of the world.
One of the world's greatest novels, Crime and Punishment is the story of a murder and its consequences--an unparalleled tale of suspense set in the midst of nineteenth-century Russia's troubled transition to the modern age.
In the slums of czarist St. Petersburg lives young Raskolnikov, a sensitive, intellectual student. The poverty he has always known drives him to believe that he is exempt from moral law. But when he puts this belief to the test, he suffers unbearably. Crime and punishment, the novel reminds us, grow from the same seed.
"No other novelist," wrote Irving Howe of Dostoyevsky, "has dramatized so powerfully the values and dangers, the uses and corruptions of systematized thought." And Friedrich Nietzsche called him "the only psychologist I have anything to learn from."
Biographical Notes About George Selden
Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821-81) was educated in Moscow and at the School of Military Engineers in St. Petersburg, where he spent four years. In 1846, he wrote his first novel, Poor Folk; it was an immediate critical and popular success. This was followed by short stories and the novel The Double. While at work on Netochka Nezvanova, the twenty-seven-year-old author was arrested for belonging to a young socialist group. He was tried and condemned to death, but at the last moment his sentence was commuted to prison in Siberia. He spent four years in the penal settlement as Omsk. In 1859, he was granted full amnesty and allowed to return to St. Petersburg. In the fourteen years before his death, Dostoyevsky produced his greatest works, including Crime and Punishment, The Idiot, The Possessed, and The Brothers Karamazov. The last was published a year before his death.