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  • Published: 16 November 2021
  • ISBN: 9780241235942
  • Imprint: Allen Lane
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 432
  • RRP: $55.00

The Sinner and the Saint

Dostoevsky, a Crime and Its Punishment




From the acclaimed author of The Most Dangerous Book, the true story behind the creation of another masterpiece of world literature, Fyodor Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment

As a young man, Dostoevsky was a celebrated writer, but his involvement with the radical politics of his day condemned him to a long Siberian exile. There, he spent years studying the criminals that were his companions. Upon his return to St Petersburg in the 1860s, he fought his way through gambling addiction, debilitating debt, epilepsy, the deaths of those closest to him and literary banishment to craft an enduring classic.

The germ of Crime and Punishment came from the sensational story of Pierre François Lacenaire, a notorious murderer who charmed and outraged Paris in the 1830s. Lacenaire was a glamorous egoist who embodied the instincts that lie beneath nihilism, a western-influenced philosophy inspiring a new generation of Russian revolutionaries. Dostoevsky began creating a Russian incarnation of Lacenaire, a character who could demonstrate the errors of radical politics and ideas. His name would be Raskolnikov. Lacenaire shaped Raskolnikov in profound ways, but the deeper insight, as Birmingham shows, is that Raskolnikov began to merge with Dostoevsky. Dostoevsky was determined to tell a murder story from the murderer's perspective, but his character couldn't be a monster. No. The murderer would be chilling because he wants so desperately to be good.

Dostoevsky's great subject was self-consciousness, and Crime and Punishment advanced a revolution in artistic thinking. It also began the greatest phase of Dostoevsky's career. The Sinner and the Saint now gives us the thrilling and definitive story of that triumph.

  • Published: 16 November 2021
  • ISBN: 9780241235942
  • Imprint: Allen Lane
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 432
  • RRP: $55.00

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