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Crime and Punishment

Crime and Punishment (Преступление и наказание) is a novel written in 1866 by Russian author Fyodor Dostoevsky.

The novel portrays the carefully planned murder of a miserly, aged pawnbroker by a destitute Saint Petersburg student named Raskolnikov, followed by the emotional, mental, and physical effects of that action.

After falling ill with fever and lying bedridden for days, Raskolnikov is overcome with paranoia and begins to imagine that everyone he meets suspects him of the murder; the knowledge of his crime eventually drives him mad. Along the way, however, he meets the prostitute Sofya Semyonovna, with whom he falls in love. Dostoevsky uses this relationship as an allegory of God's love for fallen humanity, and that love's redemptive power: but only after Raskolnikov has confessed to the murder and been sent to imprisonment in Siberia.

Apart from Raskolnikov's fate, the novel, with its long and diverse list of characters, deals with themes including charity, family life, atheism, alcoholism, and Russian revolutionary activity, with Dostoevsky highly critical of contemporary Russian society. Some reviewers have seen in the novel a criticism of modern American life, including the American penal system; towards the end, the character Svidrigailov shoots himself and instructs the only witness to tell those who ask that he was 'going to America'. Although Dostoevsky rejected socialism, the novel also appears to be critical of the capitalism that was making its way into Russian society at that time.

See also: Russian literature

Movie versions

There have been literally dozens of film adaptions of the novel. Some of the best-known are:

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