The Hero’s Journey of Dostoyevsky

Crime and Punishment, which drew on Dostoyevsky’s prison experience in Siberia to create the story of a struggling soul, was the result of endless labor and revision. Dostoyevsky had first cast it as a confession, then as a diary, before its final form, which appeared serially for a year beginning in January 1866.


The hero, Raskolnikov, a nihilist governed by ‘reason’, makes his own definition of good and evil and commits murder to serve a ‘better’ end. Dostoyevsky summarized in his notebooks the ‘Idea of the Novel’ :  “There is no happiness in comfort; happiness is brought by suffering. Man is not born for happiness.”  Finally Raskolnikov too discovers that the soul is satisfied only by confession and accepting punishment.

The public reception of the book was sensational, but somehow did not relieve Dostoyevsky’s personal agonies. The seven thousand rubles from it soon disappeared into the pockets of unsatisfied creditors.