Suicide and Folk Beliefs in Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment

  • Linda Ivanits


There is now a substantial body of scholarship on religious symbolism in Crime and Punishment (Prestuplenie i nakazanie; 1866) that shows, among other things, how Raskolnikov’s conversion in the epilogue is prepared for in the novel proper through a deliberate network of biblical, hagiographic and folkloric imagery.1 Studies exist on such subjects as the sacramental quality of the earth, the pattern of the saint’s life (zhitie) in Raskolnikov’s portrayal, references to Elijah the Prophet, and the use of folk legends, tales, and laments.2 Most of the imagery studied has to do with positive forces and suggests that in the world of Crime and Punishment, as in that of The Brothers Karamazov (Brat’ia Karamazovy; 1880) everything ‘lives and has its being only through its feeling of being connected with mysterious other worlds’.3


Folk Belief Russian People Prison Experience English Style Traditional Symbolism 
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© International Council for Soviet and East European Studies, and Derek Offord 1992

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  • Linda Ivanits

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