Few authors have been as personally familiar with desperation as Fyodor Dostoevsky, and none have been so adept at describing it. Crime and Punishment—the novel that heralded the author’s period of masterworks—tells the story of the poor and talented student Raskolnikov, a character of unparalleled psychological depth and complexity. Raskolnikov reasons that men like himself, by virtue of their intellectual superiority, can and must transcend societal law. To test his theory, he devises the perfect crime—the murder of a spiteful pawnbroker living in St. Petersburg.
In one of the most gripping crime stories of all time, Raskolnikov soon realizes the folly of his abstractions. Haunted by vivid hallucinations and the torments of his conscience, he seeks relief from his terror and moral isolation—first from Sonia, the pious streetwalker who urges him to confess, then in a tense game of cat and mouse with Porfiry, the brilliant magistrate assigned to the murder investigation. A tour de force of suspense, Crime and Punishment delineates the theories and motivations that underlie a bankrupt morality.