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Quoting Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment

Fifteen citations from Fyodor Dostoyevsky's classic Realist novel Crime and Punishment

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As much as I hate to admit it, I read a hell of a lot more with a Kindle these days than with actual books.

<figcaption>Street Art: Rodion Raskolnikov in Saint Petersburg, Russia</figcaption>
Street Art: Rodion Raskolnikov in Saint Petersburg, Russia

The downside to this is that I could be contributing to the predicted death of paper. The upside is that because Kindle makes it so easy to highlight and save particularly insightful or thought-provoking snippets, that makes it easy for me to share them effortlessly (lucky you).

In April I read Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment, the brilliant and intriguing tale of Rodion Raskolnikov, which rests on the question, “would not one tiny crime be wiped out by thousands of good deeds?”

I highlighted roughly fifty passages in the book, but will not bombard you with that amount. So here are fifteen:

“Russians in general are broad in their ideas, Avdotya Romanovna, broad like their land and exceedingly disposed to the fantastic, the chaotic.”

***

“To what a pitch of stupidity a man can be brought by frenzy! Never undertake anything in a frenzy, Rodion Romanovitch.”

***

“Nothing in the world is harder than speaking the truth and nothing easier than flattery.”

***

“Mere existence had always been too little for him; he had always wanted more. Perhaps it was just because of the strength of his desires that he had thought himself a man to whom more was permissible than to others.”

***

“I divined then, Sonia,” he went on eagerly, “that power is only vouchsafed to the man who dares to stoop and pick it up. There is only one thing, one thing needful: one has only to dare!”

***

“I didn’t ask you whether you believe that ghosts are seen, but whether you believe that they exist…I agree that ghosts only appear to the sick, but that only proves that they are unable to appear except to the sick, not that they don’t exist.”

***

“There are instances of it with everyone; human beings in general, indeed, greatly love to be insulted, have you noticed that?”

***

“The more cunning a man is, the less he suspects that he will be caught in a simple thing. The more cunning a man is, the simpler the trap he must be caught in.”

***

“People with new ideas, people with the faintest capacity for saying something new, are extremely few in number, extraordinarily so in fact…The vast mass of mankind is mere material, and only exists in order by some great effort, by some mysterious process, by means of some crossing of races and stocks, to bring into the world at last perhaps one man out of a thousand with a spark of independence. One in ten thousand perhaps—I speak roughly, approximately—is born with some independence, and with still greater independence one in a hundred thousand. The man of genius is one of millions, and the great geniuses, the crown of humanity, appear on earth perhaps one in many thousand millions.”

***

“I maintain that all great men or even men a little out of the common, that is to say capable of giving some new word, must from their very nature be criminals—more or less, of course. Otherwise it’s hard for them to get out of the common rut; and to remain in the common rut is what they can’t submit to, from their very nature again, and to my mind they ought not, indeed, to submit to it.”

***

“In that sense we are certainly all not infrequently like madmen, but with the slight difference that the deranged are somewhat madder, for we must draw a line. A normal man, it is true, hardly exists. Among dozens—perhaps hundreds of thousands—hardly one is to be met with.”

***

“He has a noble nature and a kind heart. He does not like showing his feelings and would rather do a cruel thing than open his heart freely. Sometimes, though, he is not at all morbid, but simply cold and inhumanly callous; it’s as though he were alternating between two characters.

Sometimes he is fearfully reserved! He says he is so busy that everything is a hindrance, and yet he lies in bed doing nothing. He doesn’t jeer at things, not because he hasn’t the wit, but as though he hadn’t time to waste on such trifles. He never listens to what is said to him. He is never interested in what interests other people at any given moment. He thinks very highly of himself and perhaps he is right.”

***

“To go wrong in one’s own way is better than to go right in someone else’s.”

***

“I don’t praise him for taking bribes. I only say he is a nice man in his own way! But if one looks at men in all ways—are there many good ones left?”

***

“What do you think, would not one tiny crime be wiped out by thousands of good deeds?”

So there you have it.

Sticking with the Russian theme, up next is James Meek’s The People’s Act of Love and after that, Mikhail Bulgakov’s The White Guard.

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