Crime And Punishment Page-8

Crime And Punishment

with resignation and to regard it as a blessing in his own case, he constantly recurs to the subject in his writings. He describes the awful agony of the condemned man and insists on the cruelty of inflicting such torture. Then followed four years of penal servitude, spent in the company of common criminals in Siberia, where he began the “Dead House,” and some years of service in a disciplinary battalion. He had shown signs of some obscure nervous disease before his arrest and this now developed into violent attacks of epilepsy, from which he suffered for the rest of his life. The fits occurred three or four times a year and were more frequent in periods of great strain. In 1859 he was allowed to return to Russia. He started a journal—“Vremya,” which was forbidden by the Censorship through a misunderstanding. In 1864 he lost his first wife and his brother Mihail. He was in terrible poverty, yet he took upon himself the payment of his brother’s debts. He started another journal—“The Epoch,” which within a few months was also prohibited. He was weighed down by debt, his brother’s family was dependent on him, he was forced to write at heart-breaking speed, and is said never to have corrected his work. The later years of his life were much softened by the tenderness and devotion of his second wife. In June 1880 he made his famous speech at the unveiling of the monument to Pushkin in Moscow and he was received with extraordinary demonstrations of love and honour. A few months later Dostoevsky died. He was followed to the grave by a vast multitude of mourners, who “gave the hapless man the funeral of a king.” He is still probably the most widely read writer in Russia. In the words of a Russian critic, who seeks to explain the feeling inspired by Dostoevsky: “He was one of ourselves, a man of our blood and our bone, but one who has suffered and has seen so much more deeply than we have his insight impresses us as wisdom... that wisdom of the heart which we seek that we may learn from it how to live. All his other gifts came to him from nature, this he won for himself and through it he became great.”