“In short, I deduce that all, not only great men, but even those who are a tiny bit off the beaten track — that is, who are a tiny bit capable of saying something new — by their very nature cannot fail to be criminals, more or less, to be sure.”

Part Three, Chapters 4-6
by Dennis Abrams

Sonya Semyonovna Marmeladov arrives at Raskolnikov’s room. Her humiliation leads to pity. Where should she sit? An invitation to Raskolnikov to attend Marmeladov’s funeral and the meal afterwards, none of which would have been possible without his generosity. The heat of summer, the smell of the body. Sonya’s thin little face, “She could not even have been called pretty, but her blue eyes were so clear, and when they were animated, the expression of her face became so kind and simple-hearted, that one involuntarily felt drawn to her.” A simple coffin. Raskolnikov’s mother and sister and Sonya. Dunya’s similarity to her brother. Dunya calls Luzhin “a worthless gossip.” Raskolnikov tells Razumikhin that he wants to talk to police inspector Porfiry regarding the belongings he’d pawned with Alyona Ivanovna. Sonya is followed home by an unknown gentleman who, it turns out, lives next door to her. Raskolnikov teases Razumikhin about his apparent feelings for his sister, and tumbling so into Porfiry’s office, Raskolnikov actually laughs. Porfiry, “A man of about thirty-five, of less than average height, stout and even pot-bellied, clean-shaven, with no moustache or side whiskers, and with closely cropped hair on a large, round head that bulged somehow especially roundly at the back. His puffy, round, slightly pug-nosed face was of a sickly, dark yellow color, but rather cheerful and even mocking…” How Raskolnikov can get his stuff back. Raskolnikov becomes certain that Porfiry “knows.” Taunting. Porfiry tells Raskolnikov that he’s been waiting for him. Zamyotov is in the room — Raskolnikov’s delirium of the day before. Tea. Raskolnikov is convinced the police have been watching him “like a pack of dogs,”…”but what it if only seems to to me? What if it’s a mirage, what I’m completely mistaken, get angry on account of my inexperience, and fail to keep up my vile role?…Did Porfiry wink at me just now, or not?” A discussion about socialism. The role of environment in crime. Porfiry tells Raskolnikov that he’d read his article in Periodical Discourse,” a book review that Raskolnikov did not know had been published. The article: The act of crime is always accompanied by illness. There are those who are entitled commit cries “and to whom the law supposedly does not apply.” The ordinary and the extraordinary. Raskolnikov suggests that the “‘extraordinary’ man has the right…that is, not not an official right, but his own right, to follow his own conscience to…step over certain obstacles, and then only in the the event that the fulfillment of his idea — sometimes perhaps salutary for the whole of mankind — calls for it.” “…the lawgivers and founders of mankind, starting from the most ancient and going on to the Lycurguses, the Solons, the Muhammeds, the Napoleons and so forth, that all of them to a man were criminals, from the fact alone that in giving a new law they thereby violated the old one…and they certainly did not stop at shedding blood either…In short, I deduce that all, not only great men, but even those who are a tiny bit off the beaten track — that is, who are tiny big capable of saying something new — by their very nature cannot fail to be criminals — more or less, to be sure.” “I only believe in my main idea. It consists precisely in people being divided generally, according to the law of nature, into two categories: a lower or, so to speak, material category (the ordinary), serving solely for the reproduction of their own kind; and people proper — that is, those who have the gift or talent of speaking a new word in their environment…those of the second category all transgress the law, are destroyers or inclined to destroy, depending on their abilities.” The scarcity of the extraordinary, of genius. The New Jerusalem. Razumikhin, “This permission to shed blood in all conscience is…is to my mind more horrible than if bloodshed were officially, legally permitted…” Raskolnikov: “Allow me to observe,’ he answered dryly,’ that I do not consider myself a Muhammad or a Napoleon…or any such person whatsoever, and am consequently unable, not being them, to give you a satisfactory explanation of how I would act.” “‘But, my goodness, who in our Russia nowadays doesn’t consider himself a Napoleon?’ Porfiry suddenly pronounced with horrible familiarity.” Porfiry asks Raskolnikov to come to the office the next day at 11:00. “‘Oh yes, by the way!’ he exclaimed suddenly happy about something, ‘by the way, I’ve just remembered — what’s the matter with me…'” Confusion over the date and the painters. How to speak to the police. Razumikhin vows to straighten Porfiry out. Raskolnikov returns home, encountering an unknown trademan who had been looking for him and tells him “You are a murderer.” Raskolnikov’s pale face and deadened eyes. The man disappears, Raskolnikov returns home. In bed, random thoughts, pretending to be asleep. “…the true master, to whom all is permitted, sacks Toulon, makes a slaughterhouse of Paris, forgets an army in Egypt, expends half a million men in a Moscow campaign, ad gets off with a pun in Vilno, and when he dies they set up monuments to him — and thus everything is permitted…The little old crone is nonsense…The old woman was a mistake, perhaps, but she’s not the point!…I was in a hurry to step over…it wasn’t a human being I killed, it was a principle!…No, life is given to me only once and never will again — I don’t want to sit waiting for universal happiness. I want to live myself; otherwise it’s better not to live at all….And ultimately, ultimately I am a louse…because I myself am perhaps even more vile and nasty than the louse I killed, and I had anticipated beforehand that I would tell myself so after I killed her…” A new dream: Raskolnikov follows the unknown tradesman to the pawnbroker’s building, to the apartment where the painters had been working, to the third floor, to the top…the old crone hiding behind her wrap, “and he quietly freed the axe from its loop and struck the old woman on the crown of the head, once and then again. But strangely, she did not even stir under his blows, as though she were made of wood…Rage overcame him…but at every blow of the axe the laughing and whispering from the bedroom grew strong and louder, and the little crone heaved all over with laughter.” Raskolnikov wakes up, and finds an unknown man standing by his bed, “Allow me to introduce myself. Arkady Ivanovich Svidrigailov…”

I hope to have a lot more about Raskolnikov’s theories in tomorrow’s post, but for now, a couple of brief observations about the weekend’s reading:

1. It is said that Profiry is the basis for the television character, Columbo, played, of course, by Peter Falk.

2. With the introduction of Svidrigailov at the end of Chapter Six, I think that all the major characters are now in place.

3. Does Raskolnikov believe what he’s saying, or is he applying his theory after the fact?

Monday’s Reading:

Part Four, Chapter One


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6 Responses to “In short, I deduce that all, not only great men, but even those who are a tiny bit off the beaten track — that is, who are a tiny bit capable of saying something new — by their very nature cannot fail to be criminals, more or less, to be sure.”

  1. Eddie Chism says:

    As much as I love this book, the plotting coincidences are ridiculous – especially that this particular character (I won’t name him in case there’s anyone who doesn’t know yet) just happens to live next door to Sonya(!)

    Anyways, I loved the dream sequence that closed out this section. From my previous reading (about 18 years ago), I remembered the horse dream quite vividly, but I had completely forgotten about this one, so it caught me by surprise. I thought it was very interesting that the tradesman was referred to (in this translation at least) “the man from underground”, which brings to mind “Notes from Underground” (not that this character is comparable to the protagonist of that one).

    • I’m going to slightly disagree with you slightly on the ridiculousness of the plotting coincidences — it as a part of the Victorian novel (which Dostoevsky was writing, Russian anguish edition) — any worse than the coincidences in Dickens? Or Proust (Rachel from the Lord becoming the girlfriend of Marcel’s best friend Saint-Loup just off the top of my head)…

      I do agree though completely on the second dream sequence — I too had forgotten completely about that one. Nice catch on the “man from underground” as well.

      • Eddie Chism says:

        Oh, I agree – the use of coincidence is very much a standard part of the 19th century novel, certainly no more ridiculous than anything in Dickens, etc. Don’t get me wrong – it doesn’t really bother me, but you do have to roll your eyes sometimes!

  2. Catherine says:

    I can’t believe how much suspense Dostoyevsky can generate and yet stay almost entirely within the head of the traumatized and sometimes deranged Raskolnikov.
    The moral and philosophical thoughts on crime made me think of people who cheat (students for instance), commit fraud, or think the traffic laws don’t apply to them, but justify it for the greater good.

  3. marchhare says:

    I was amused at reading about the custom of bowing in Proust In Search of Lost Time.
    Now in C&P here it is once more when Raskolnikov’s mother and sister leave the room after meeting Sonya. Sonya ultimately gets a good bow from the sister after the mother’s attempt to bow not quite coming off. What an interesting way to send a message. A plus for some: the passive-aggressive person has the opportunity to get a parting shot while leaving the room with an offending bow. Glad this is not the custom today. Am so much enjoying this book. As to plot devices, I read almost every novel with the “willing suspension of disbelief.”

  4. Eddie Chism says:

    I’m not sure I really see Porfiry as being that close to Columbo? Interesting…

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