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On Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment

Beginning in August, the Lyceum Institute will hold a three-week Symposium discussion titled “A Dilemma of Ideology and Faith”, on Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment. This symposium is open to all enrolled members but we are also accepting applications (see below) for a limited number of spots available to the public.

We strongly recommend the use of Constance Garnett’s excellent translation. It is readily available from many online booksellers.

About Crime and Punishment

Published in 1866, Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment—composed after spending ten years in Siberian exile—is often regarded as the first great novel of his career. At the heart of the story is a tension between a theory of greatness (or of the indomitable supremacy of the human will) and the realities of love, faith, and the reality of being human. The protagonist, Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov, struggles with the beliefs conveyed through higher education (a strange confluence of ideologies which converged in the St. Petersburg of the 1860s) and the deeper roots of his relations to other persons.

Thus, we find the “ideological intoxication” of utilitarianism, nihilism, socialist utopianism, and mechanistic materialism clashing against the ecstatic love of self-sacrifice and true fortitude. We encounter the madness of ideas and the torment of conscience; the conflict of evil, apathy, and good; and at the center, the drama of the human heart, torn by convictions, seeking its true rest.

Dostoevsky’s prose (in Garnett’s translation) reads quick, at times frantic—evocative and catching—and, at other times, dwells upon details, drawing us into the significance of the mundane, exaggerating nuance to emphasize the extraordinary truths of what we so often obscure to ourselves. But the heart of his writing unfolds in the dialogues of his characters. Just as his descriptive prose unveils the world we obscure to ourselves through an aesthetic inattentiveness, his dialogue penetrates into the heart of thought and feeling to which we, in our worldly ways, all too often allow ourselves to grow numb.

We hope you will join us!

Reading Schedule

Our discussion sessions will meet for three consecutive weeks, at 4pm Eastern Time on Sunday afternoons. We may add a secondary time if there is sufficient interest and ability to host. Our schedule is as follows:

8/13 – Parts I & II
8/20 – Parts III & IV
8/27 – Parts V & VI

If this endeavor is successful, we will host more literature reading groups in the future. Discussion sessions will be recorded, but only enrolled Lyceum members will have access to them.

Public Application

We are offering limited spots to the public! We will evaluate each application and notify those accepted by 6 August 2023. Please fill out the form below.