Part Three. V

The latter was already going into the apartment. He entered looking as though he had to use all his strength to keep from somehow breaking into giggles. Behind him, his physiognomy completely overthrown and ferocious, red as a peony, lanky and awkward, entered the abashed Razumikhin. His face and his whole figure were indeed comical at that moment, and justified Raskolnikov’s laughter. Raskolnikov, not introduced as yet, bowed to their host, who was standing in the middle of the room looking at them inquiringly, and held out his hand to him, still with an obviously great effort to suppress his hilarity and to utter at least two or three words to introduce himself. But he had barely managed to assume a serious expression and mutter something when suddenly, as if involuntarily, he glanced at Razumikhin again, and here he could no longer restrain himself: the suppressed laughter broke through all the more irresistibly the more forcefully he had been trying to contain it until then. The remarkable ferocity with which Razumikhin was taking this “heartfelt” laughter gave the whole scene a look of the most genuine hilarity and, above all, naturalness. Razumikhin, as if on purpose, was helping things along.

“Pah, the devil!” he bellowed, waving his arm, and happened to hit a small round table on which stood an empty tea glass. Everything went flying and jingling.

“But why go breaking chairs, gentlemen! It’s a loss to the exchequer!” Porfiry Petrovich exclaimed merrily.

The scene presented itself as follows: Raskolnikov, his hand forgotten in his host’s hand, was finishing laughing but, knowing there were limits, was waiting for the moment to end it as quickly and naturally as possible. Razumikhin, embarrassed to the utmost by the fall of the table and the broken glass, looked gloomily at the fragments, spat, and turned sharply to the window, where he stood with his back to the public, his face scowling terribly, looking out the window but seeing nothing. Porfiry Petrovich was laughing, and willingly so, but it was obvious that explanations were called for. On a chair in the corner sat Zamyotov, who had risen when the guests entered and stood expectantly, widening his mouth into a smile, but looked at the whole scene with perplexity and even something like mistrust, and at Raskolnikov even with a certain bewilderment. The unexpected presence of Zamyotov struck Raskolnikov unpleasantly.

“This still needs some figuring out!” he thought.

“Excuse me, please,” he began, trying to look abashed, “Raskolnikov . . .”

“But, my goodness, sir, how nice, and how nicely you came in…What, doesn’t he intend even to say hello?” Porfiry Petrovich nodded towards Razumikhin.

“By God, I don’t know why he’s so furious with me. I simply told him on the way here that he resembled Romeo, and…and proved it. I can’t think of anything else.”

“Swine!” Razumikhin responded, without turning around.

“He must have had very serious reasons, if he got so angry over one little word,” Porfiry laughed.

“Ah, you—investigator! … Ah, devil take you all!” Razumikhin snapped, and suddenly laughed himself, and with a cheerful face, as though nothing had happened, went up to Porfiry Petrovich.

“Enough! Fools all! To business now: this is my friend, Rodion Romanych Raskolnikov; first of all, he’s heard about you and has been wanting to make your acquaintance, and, second, he has a little business with you. Hah! Zamyotov! What brings you here? You mean you know each other? Since when?”

“What’s this now!” Raskolnikov thought uneasily.

Zamyotov seemed abashed, but not very.

“We met yesterday, at your place,” he said offhandedly.

“So God spared me the trouble: last week he was begging me terribly to get him introduced to you somehow, Porfiry, but here you’ve rubbed noses without me…Where do you keep your tobacco?”

Porfiry Petrovich was casually dressed, in a house-jacket, a rather clean shirt, and down-at-the-heel slippers. He was a man of about thirty-five, of less than average height, stout and even pot-bellied, clean-shaven, with no moustache or side-whiskers, and with closely cropped hair on a large, round head that bulged somehow especially roundly at the back. His puffy, round, slightly pug-nosed face was of a sickly, dark yellow color, but rather cheerful and even mocking. It would even have been good-natured were it not for the expression of his eyes, which had a sort of liquid, watery gleam and were covered by nearly white eyelashes that blinked as though winking at someone. The look of these eyes was strangely out of harmony with his whole figure, which had something womanish about it, and lent it something a good deal more serious than might have been expected at first sight.

As soon as he heard that his guest had “a little business” with him, he at once asked him to sit down on the sofa, sat down himself at the other end, and stared at his guest, expecting an immediate account of the business, with the sort of eager and all too serious attention that from the first becomes burdensome and embarrassing, especially for a stranger, and especially when what is being recounted seems, in one’s own opinion, out of all proportion to the unusually weighty attention accorded it. But Raskolnikov explained his business clearly and precisely, in brief and coherent terms, and was left so pleased with himself that he even managed to give Porfiry a thorough looking-over. Porfiry Petrovich, for his part, never once took his eyes off him during the whole time. Razumikhin, settling himself across the table from them, hotly and impatiently followed the account of the business, shifting his glance every second from one to the other and back, which was even a bit too much.

“Fool!” Raskolnikov cursed to himself.

“You ought to make a statement to the police,” Porfiry replied with a most businesslike look, “that, having been informed of such-and-such an event—of this murder, that is—you ask in your turn to inform the investigator in charge of the case that such-and-such things belong to you, and that you wish to redeem them…or perhaps…however, they’ll write it out for you.”

“That’s just the point, that at the present moment,” Raskolnikov did his best to look as abashed as possible, “I am not exactly solvent . . . and even such a trifle is more than…You see, for now I’d like simply to declare that the things are mine, and that when I have the money…”

“That doesn’t matter, sir,” Porfiry Petrovich answered, taking the explanation of finances coldly, “and, as a matter of fact, if you wish you can write directly to me, to the same effect, that having been informed of this and that, and declaring such-and-such things mine, I ask . . .”

“On ordinary paper?” Raskolnikov hastened to interrupt, interested again in the financial aspect of the matter.

“Oh, the most ordinary, sir!” Porfiry Petrovich suddenly looked at him somehow with obvious mockery, narrowing his eyes and as if winking at him. However, perhaps it only seemed so to Raskolnikov, because it lasted no more than an instant. There was something of the sort, at least. Raskolnikov would have sworn to God that he winked at him, devil knew why.

“He knows!” flashed in him like lightning.

“Excuse me for bothering you with such trifles,” he went on, somewhat disconcerted, “my things are worth only five roubles, but they are especially dear to me as mementos of those from whom I received them, and, I confess, as soon as I found out, I was very afraid . . .”

“That’s why you got so roused up yesterday when I let on to Zossimov that Porfiry was questioning the pawners!” Razumikhin put in with obvious intention.

Now, this was insufferable. Raskolnikov could not help himself and angrily flashed a glance at him, his black eyes burning with wrath. But he immediately recovered himself.

“You seem to be taunting me, brother?” he turned to him with artfully feigned irritation. “I agree that in your eyes I may care too much about such trash, but you cannot regard me as greedy or egoistic for that, and in my eyes these two worthless little trinkets may not be trash at all. I told you just now that this two-penny silver watch is the only thing left of my father’s. You may laugh, but my mother has come to visit me,” he suddenly turned to Porfiry again, “and if she were to find out,” he quickly turned back to Razumikhin, trying especially hard to make his voice tremble, “that this watch is lost, I swear she would be in despair! Women!”

“But it’s not that at all! I meant it in a different way! Quite the opposite!” exclaimed the distressed Razumikhin.

“Well done? Natural? Not exaggerated?” Raskolnikov trembled within himself. “Why did I say ‘women’?”

“Your mother has come to visit you?” Porfiry Petrovich inquired for some reason.


“When was that, sir?”

“Yesterday evening.”

Porfiry paused, as if considering something.

“Your things would not be lost in any event,” he went on calmly and coldly, “because I’ve been sitting here a long time waiting for you.”

And as though nothing were the matter, he solicitously began offering an. ashtray to Razumikhin, who was mercilessly flicking cigarette ashes on the carpet. Raskolnikov gave a start, but Porfiry, still solicitous for Razumikhin’s cigarette, seemed not to be looking.

“Wha-a-at? Waiting? So you knew he had pawned things there?” exclaimed Razumikhin.

Porfiry Petrovich addressed Raskolnikov directly.

“Your two things, the ring and the watch, she had wrapped up in one piece of paper, with your name clearly written on it in pencil, together with the day and month when she received them from you . . .”

“How is it you’re so observant? . . .” Raskolnikov grinned awkwardly, making a special effort to look him straight in the eye; but he could not help himself and suddenly added: “I just made that observation because there were probably many pawners…so that it would be difficult for you to remember them all… But, on the contrary, you remember them all so distinctly, and…and…”

(“Stupid! Weak! Why did I add that!”)

“Yes, almost all the pawners are known now; in fact, you are the only one who has not been so good as to pay us a visit,” Porfiry replied, with a barely noticeable shade of mockery.

“I was not feeling very well.”

“So I have heard, sir. I’ve even heard that you were greatly upset by something. You also seem pale now.”

“Not pale at all…on the contrary, I’m quite well!” Raskolnikov snapped rudely and angrily, suddenly changing his tone. Anger was boiling up in him and he could not suppress it. “And it’s in anger that I’ll make some slip!” flashed in him again. “But why are they tormenting me! . . .”

“Not feeling very well!” Razumikhin picked up. “Listen to that drivel! He was in delirium and almost unconscious until yesterday…Would you believe it, Porfiry, he could hardly stand up, but as soon as we—Zossimov and I—turned our backs yesterday, he got dressed and made off on the sly, and carried on somewhere till almost midnight—and all that, I tell you, in complete delirium, can you imagine it! A remarkable case!”

“Really, in complete delirium? You don’t say!” Porfiry shook his head with a sort of womanish gesture.

“Ah, nonsense! Don’t believe it! But then, you don’t believe it anyway!” escaped from Raskolnikov, who was now much too angry. However, Porfiry Petrovich seemed not to hear these strange words.

“But how could you have gone out if you weren’t delirious?” Razumikhin suddenly lost his temper. “Why did you go out? What for?…And why precisely on the sly? Was there any common sense in you then? Now that all the danger is past, I can say it straight out!”

“I got awfully sick of them yesterday,” Raskolnikov suddenly turned to Porfiry with an insolently defiant grin, “so I ran away from them to rent an apartment where they wouldn’t find me, and I took a pile of money with me. Mr. Zamyotov here saw the money. What do you say, Mr. Zamyotov, was I intelligent yesterday or delirious? Settle the argument!”

He could really have strangled Zamyotov at that moment, so much did he dislike his silence and the look in his eyes.

“In my opinion you spoke quite intelligently, and even cunningly, sir, only you were rather irritable,” Zamyotov declared dryly.

“And Nikodim Fomich told me today,” Porfiry Petrovich put in, “that he met you yesterday, quite late, in the apartment of an official who had been run over by horses . . .”

“Now, take this official, for instance!” Razumikhin picked up. “Now, weren’t you crazy at the official’s place? You gave all your money to the widow for the funeral! Now, if you wanted to help—

well, give her fifteen, give her twenty, leave three roubles for yourself at least—but no, you just forked over the whole twenty-five!”

“Maybe I found a treasure somewhere, and you don’t know it. So I gave her money with both hands yesterday…Mr. Zamyotov here knows I found a treasure! … Excuse us, please,” he turned to Porfiry with twitching lips, “for bothering you for half an hour with such a trivial exchange. You must be sick of it, eh?”

“My goodness, sir, on the contrary, on the co-o-ontrary! You have no idea how you interest me! It’s curious both to look and to listen…and, I admit, I’m very glad that you have finally been so good as to come . . .”

“Well, give us some tea at least! Our throats are dry!” Razumikhin cried.

“A wonderful idea! Maybe everyone will join us. But wouldn’t you like…something more substantial…before tea?”

“Ah, go on!”

Porfiry Petrovich went to send for tea.

Thoughts were spinning like a whirlwind in Raskolnikov’s head. He was terribly annoyed.

“What’s more, they don’t even conceal it; they don’t even care to stand on ceremony! What occasion did you have for talking about me with Nikodim Fomich, since you don’t know me at all? It means they don’t even care to conceal the fact that they’re watching me like a pack of dogs! They spit in my mug quite openly!” He was trembling with fury. “Strike directly, then; don’t play cat and mouse with me. It’s not polite, Porfiry Petrovich, and I may still, perhaps, not allow it, sir! … I’ll get up and blurt out the whole truth in your mugs; then you’ll see how I despise you! . . .” He caught his breath with difficulty. “But what if it only seems so to me? What if it’s a mirage, what if I’m completely mistaken, get angry on account of my inexperience, and fail to keep up my vile role? Maybe it’s all unintentional? Their words are all ordinary, but there’s something in them…All this can always be said, and yet there is something. Why did he come out with that ‘she’? Why did Zamyotov add that I spoke cunningly? Why do they all speak in such a tone? Yes…that tone…Razumikhin has been sitting right here, why does he not imagine anything? The innocent dolt never imagines anything! I’m feverish again! … Did Porfiry wink at me just now, or not? Must be nonsense; why would he wink? Do they want to irritate my nerves, or are they taunting me? Either it’s all a mirage, or they know !. . . Even Zamyotov is impertinent…Is Zamyotov impertinent? Zamyotov’s changed his mind overnight. I had a feeling he’d change his mind! He seems quite at home here, yet it’s the first time he’s come. Porfiry doesn’t treat him like a guest, turns his back to him. They’ve already rubbed noses. They must have rubbed noses because of me! They must have been talking about me before we came! … Do they know about the apartment? Just get it over with! … When I said I ran away yesterday to rent an apartment, he let it go, he didn’t pick it up…It was clever to put that in about the apartment—I’ll need it later! … In delirium, I said! … Ha, ha, ha! He knows all about yesterday evening! But he didn’t know about mother’s arrival! … And the witch wrote down the date with a pencil! … Lies! I won’t let you get me! These aren’t facts yet, they’re only a mirage! No, just try giving me facts! The apartment is not a fact either, it’s delirium; I know what to tell them…But do they know about the apartment? I won’t go until I find out! Why did I come? But that I’m angry now—that, perhaps, is a fact! Pah, how irritable I am! But maybe that’s good; the role of the sick man…He’s feeling me out. He’ll try to throw me off. Why did I come?”

All this swept like lightning through his head.

Porfiry Petrovich was back in an instant. He suddenly became somehow merry.

“Since your party yesterday, brother, my head…in fact, the whole of me is somehow unscrewed,” he began in quite a different tone, laughing, to Razumikhin.

“Well, was it interesting? I left you yesterday at the most interesting point. Who won?”

“No one, naturally. We got on to the eternal questions, and it all stayed in the clouds.”

“Just imagine what they got on to yesterday, Rodya: is there such a thing as crime, or not? He said they all lied themselves into the blue devils.”

“What’s so surprising? It’s an ordinary social question,” Raskolnikov replied distractedly.

“The question was not formulated that way,” Porfiry observed.

“Not quite that way, it’s true,” Razumikhin agreed at once, hurrying and getting excited as usual. “You see, Rodion—listen and give your opinion, I want it. I was turning inside out yesterday waiting for you; I told them about you, too, that you were going to come…It started with the views of the socialists. Their views are well known: crime is a protest against the abnormality of the social set-up— that alone and nothing more, no other causes are admitted—but nothing! . . .”

“Now, that is a lie!” cried Porfiry Petrovich. He was growing visibly animated and laughing all the while, looking at Razumikhin, which fired him up all the more.

“N-nothing is admitted!” Razumikhin interrupted hotly. “I’m not lying! … I’ll show you their books: with them one is always a ‘victim of the environment’—and nothing else! Their favorite phrase! Hence directly that if society itself is normally set up, all crimes will at once disappear, because there will be no reason for protesting and everyone will instantly become righteous. Nature isn’t taken into account, nature is driven out, nature is not supposed to be! With them it’s not mankind developing all along in a historical, living way that will finally turn by itself into a normal society, but, on the contrary, a social system, coming out of some mathematical head, will at once organize the whole of mankind and instantly make it righteous and sinless, sooner than any living process, without any historical and living way! That’s why they have such an instinctive dislike of history: ‘there’s nothing in it but outrage and stupidity’—and everything is explained by stupidity alone! That’s why they so dislike the living process of life: there’s no need for the living soul! The living soul will demand life, the living soul won’t listen to mechanics, the living soul is suspicious, the living soul is retrograde! While here, though there may be a whiff of carrion, and it may all be made out of rubber—still it’s not alive, still it has no will, still it’s slavish, it won’t rebel! And it turns out in the end that they’ve reduced everything to mere brickwork and the layout of corridors and rooms in a phalanstery![1] The phalanstery may be all ready, but your nature isn’t ready for the phalanstery, it wants life, it hasn’t completed the life process yet, it’s too soon for the cemetery! You can’t overleap nature with logic alone! Logic will presuppose three cases, when there are a million of them! Cut away the whole million, and reduce everything to the one question of comfort! The easiest solution to the problem! Enticingly clear, and there’s no need to think! Above all, there’s no need to think! The whole of life’s mystery can fit on two printed pages!”

“He’s broken loose again, drumming away! You’ve got to hold him by both arms,” Porfiry laughed. “Imagine,” he turned to Raskolnikov, “it was the same yesterday evening, with six voices, in one room, and with preliminary punch-drinking besides—can you picture that? No, brother, you’re lying: ‘environment’ means a great deal in crime; I can confirm that.”

“I know it means a great deal, but tell me this: a forty-year-old man dishonors a girl of ten—was it the environment that made him do it?”

“Well, strictly speaking, perhaps it is the environment,” Porfiry observed with surprising solemnity. “The crime against the girl may very well be explained by the ‘environment.’”

Razumikhin all but flew into a rage.

“And if you like I can deduce for you right now,” he bellowed, “that you have white eyelashes solely because Ivan the Great[2] is two hundred and fifty feet high, and I can deduce it clearly, precisely, progressively, and even with a liberal tinge. I can! Want to bet?”

“I accept! Let’s listen, please, to how he deduces it!”

“Ah, he just goes on pretending, devil take it!” Razumikhin cried out, jumped up, and waved his arm. “You’re not worth talking to! He does it all on purpose, you don’t know him yet, Rodion! And he took their side yesterday just so as to fool them all. And, Lord, the things he was saying! And didn’t he make them happy! … He sometimes keeps it up like that for two weeks. Last year he assured us, who knows why, that he was going to become a monk: he stood by it for two months! Recently he decided to assure us he was getting married and that everything was set for the wedding. He even had a new suit made. We already started congratulating him. There was no bride, nothing— it was all a mirage!”

“Ah, that’s a lie! I had the suit made before. It was because of the new suit that it occurred to me to pull your legs.”

“Are you really such a dissembler?” Raskolnikov asked casually.

“And did you think I wasn’t? Just wait, I’ll take you in, too—ha, ha, ha! No, you see, I’ll tell you the whole truth! Speaking of all these questions, crimes, the environment, little girls, I now recall, though it always interested me, a certain article of yours: ‘On Crime’…or whatever it was, I don’t remember the title, I’ve forgotten. I had the pleasure of reading it two months ago in Periodical Discourse.

“My article? In Periodical Discourse?” Raskolnikov asked in surprise. “I did indeed write an article dealing with a certain book six months ago, when I left the university, but at the time I took it to Weekly Discourse, not Periodical.

“Yet it got into Periodical Discourse.

“But Weekly Discourse ceased to exist, which is why it wasn’t printed then . . .”

“That’s true, sir; and as it was ceasing to exist, Weekly Discourse merged with Periodical Discourse, and so your little article appeared two months ago in Periodical Discourse. And you didn’t know?”

Raskolnikov indeed knew nothing.

“But, my goodness, you can demand payment from them for the article! What a character you have, though! Your life is so solitary that you don’t even know things that concern you directly. It’s a fact, sir.”

“Bravo, Rodka! I didn’t know either!” Razumikhin exclaimed. “I’ll stop by the reading room today and look for that issue! Two months ago? What was the date? Anyway, I’ll find it! What a thing! And he doesn’t even say!”

“But how did you find out that the article was mine? I signed it with an initial.”

“By chance, and only the other day. Through the editor, an acquaintance of mine…I was quite interested.”

“As I recall, I was considering the psychological state of the criminal throughout the course of the crime.”

“Yes, sir, and you maintain that the act of carrying out a crime is always accompanied by illness. Very, very original, but… as a matter of fact, what interested me was not that part of your article, but a certain thought tossed in at the end, which unfortunately you present only vaguely, by way of a hint… In short, if you recall, a certain hint is presented that there supposedly exist in the world certain persons who can…that is, who not only can but are fully entitled to commit all sorts of crimes and excesses and to whom the law supposedly does not apply.”

Raskolnikov smiled at this forced and deliberate distortion of his idea.

“What? How’s that? The right to commit crimes? But not because they’re ‘victims of the environment’?” Razumikhin inquired, even somewhat fearfully.

“No, no, not quite because of that,” Porfiry replied. “The whole point is that in his article all people are somehow divided into the ‘ordinary’ and the ‘extraordinary.’ The ordinary must live in obedience and have no right to transgress the law, because they are, after all, ordinary. While the extraordinary have the right to commit all sorts of crimes and in various ways to transgress the law, because in point of fact they are extraordinary. That is how you had it, unless I’m mistaken?”

“But what is this? It can’t possibly be so!” Razumikhin muttered in perplexity.

Raskolnikov smiled again. He realized all at once what the point was and where he was being led; he remembered his article. He decided to accept the challenge.

“That isn’t quite how I had it,” he began, simply and modestly. “I admit, however, that your summary is almost correct, even perfectly correct, if you like . . .” (It was as if he were pleased to agree that it was perfectly correct.) “The only difference is that I do not at all insist that extraordinary people absolutely must and are duty bound at all times to do all sorts of excesses, as you say. I even think that such an article would never be accepted for publication. I merely suggested that an ‘extraordinary’ man has the right… that is, not an official right, but his own right, to allow his conscience to…step over certain obstacles, and then only in the event that the fulfillment of his idea— sometimes perhaps salutary for the whole of mankind—calls for it. You have been pleased to say that my article is unclear; I am prepared to clarify it for you, as far as I can. I will perhaps not be mistaken in supposing that that seems to be just what you want. As you please, sir. In my opinion, if, as the result of certain combinations, Kepler’s or Newton’s discoveries could become known to people in no other way than by sacrificing the lives of one, or ten, or a hundred or more people who were hindering the discovery, or standing as an obstacle in its path, then Newton would have the right, and it would even be his duty . . . to remove those ten or a hundred people, in order to make his discoveries known to all mankind. It by no means follows from this, incidentally, that Newton should have the right to kill anyone he pleases, whomever happens along, or to steal from the market every day. Further, I recall developing in my article the idea that all… well, let’s say, the lawgivers and founders of mankind, starting from the most ancient and going on to the Lycurguses, the Solons, the Muhammads, the Napoleons, and so forth,[3] that all of them to a man were criminals, from the fact alone that in giving a new law they thereby violated the old one, held sacred by society and passed down from their fathers, and they certainly did not stop at shedding blood either, if it happened that blood (sometimes quite innocent and shed valiantly for the ancient law) could help them. It is even remarkable that most of these benefactors and founders of mankind were especially terrible blood-shedders. In short, I deduce that all, not only great men, but even those who are a tiny bit off the beaten track—that is, who are a tiny bit capable of saying something new—by their very nature cannot fail to be criminals—more or less, to be sure. Otherwise it would be hard for them to get off the beaten track, and, of course, they cannot consent to stay on it, again by nature, and in my opinion it is even their duty not to consent. In short, you see that so far there is nothing especially new here. It has been printed and read a thousand times. As for my dividing people into ordinary and extraordinary, I agree that it is somewhat arbitrary, but I don’t really insist on exact numbers. I only believe in my main idea. It consists precisely in people being divided generally, according to the law of nature, into two categories: a lower or, so to speak, material category (the ordinary), serving solely for the reproduction of their own kind; and people proper—that is, those who have the gift or talent of speaking a new word in their environment. The subdivisions here are naturally endless, but the distinctive features of both categories are quite marked: people of the first, or material, category are by nature conservative, staid, live in obedience, and like being obedient. In my opinion they even must be obedient, because that is their purpose, and for them there is decidedly nothing humiliating in it. Those of the second category all transgress the law, are destroyers or inclined to destroy, depending on their abilities. The crimes of these people, naturally, are relative and variegated; for the most part they call, in quite diverse declarations, for the destruction of the present in the name of the better. But if such a one needs, for the sake of his idea, to step even over a dead body, over blood, then within himself, in his conscience, he can, in my opinion, allow himself to step over blood—depending, however, on the idea and its scale—make note of that. It is only in this sense that I speak in my article of their right to crime. (You recall we began with the legal question.) However, there’s not much cause for alarm: the masses hardly ever acknowledge this right in them; they punish them and hang them (more or less), thereby quite rightly fulfilling their conservative purpose; yet, for all that, in subsequent generations these same masses place the punished ones on a pedestal and worship them (more or less). The first category is always master of the present; the second— master of the future. The first preserves the world and increases it numerically; the second moves the world and leads it towards a goal. Both the one and the other have a perfectly equal right to exist. In short, for me all men’s rights are equivalent—and vive la guerre éternelle —until the New Jerusalem, of course!”[4]

“So you still believe in the New Jerusalem?”

“I believe,” Raskolnikov answered firmly; saying this, as throughout his whole tirade, he looked at the ground, having picked out a certain spot on the carpet.

“And…and…and do you also believe in God? Excuse me for being so curious.”

“I believe,” Raskolnikov repeated, looking up at Porfiry.

“And…and do you believe in the raising of Lazarus?”[5]

“I be-believe. What do you need all this for?”

“You believe literally?”


“I see, sir…just curious. Excuse me, sir. But, if I may say so— returning to the previous point—they aren’t always punished; some, on the contrary…”

“Triumph in their own lifetime? Oh, yes, some attain in their own lifetime, and then . . .”

“Start doing their own punishing?”

“If necessary, and, in fact, almost always. Your observation, generally speaking, is quite witty.”

“Thank you, sir. But tell me this: how does one manage to distinguish these extraordinary ones from the ordinary? Are they somehow marked at birth, or what? What I’m getting at is that one could do with more accuracy here, more outward certainty, so to speak: excuse the natural uneasiness of a practical and law-abiding man, but wouldn’t it be possible in this case, for example, to introduce some special clothing, the wearing of some insignia, or whatever?…Because, you must agree, if there is some sort of mix-up, and a person from one category imagines he belongs to the other category and starts ‘removing all obstacles,’ as you quite happily put it, well then . . .”

“Oh, it happens quite often! This observation is even wittier than your last one…”

“Thank you, sir . . .”

“Not at all, sir; but consider also that a mistake is possible only on the part of the first category, that is, the ‘ordinary’ people (as I have called them, perhaps rather unfortunately). In spite of their innate tendency to obedience, by some playfulness of nature that is not denied even to cows, quite a few of them like to imagine themselves progressive people, ‘destroyers,’ who are in on the ‘new word,’ and that in all sincerity, sir. And at the same time they quite often fail to notice the really new ones, and even despise them as backward, shabby-minded people. But in my opinion there cannot be any significant danger here, and there is really nothing for you to be alarmed about, because they never go far. Of course, they ought to receive an occasional whipping, to remind them of their place when they get carried away, but no more than that; there isn’t even any need for someone to whip them: they’ll whip themselves, because they’re so well behaved; some perform this service for each other, and some do it with their own hands…all the while imposing various public penances on themselves—the result is beautiful and edifying; in short, there’s nothing for you to be alarmed about…Such a law exists.”

“Well, at least you’ve reassured me somewhat in that regard; but then there’s this other worry: tell me, please, are there many of these people who have the right to put a knife into others—I mean, of these ‘extraordinary’ ones? I am ready to bow down, of course, but you’ll agree, sir, it’s a bit eerie if there are too many of them, eh?”

“Oh, don’t worry about that either,” Raskolnikov went on in the same tone. “Generally, there are remarkably few people born who have a new thought, who are capable, if only slightly, of saying anything new —strangely few, in fact. One thing is clear, that the ordering of people’s conception, all these categories and subdivisions, must be quite correctly and precisely determined by some law of nature. This law is as yet unknown, of course, but I believe that it exists and may one day be known. An enormous mass of people, of material, exists in the world only so that finally, through some effort, some as yet mysterious process, through some interbreeding of stocks and races, with great strain it may finally bring into the world, let’s say, at least one somewhat independent man in a thousand. Perhaps one in ten thousand is born with a broader independence (I’m speaking approximately, graphically). With a still broader independence—one in a hundred thousand. Men of genius—one in millions; and great geniuses, the fulfillers of mankind—perhaps after the elapsing of many thousands of millions of people on earth. In short, I have not looked into the retort where all this takes place. But there certainly is and must be a definite law; it can be no accident.”

“What, are you two joking or something?” Razumikhin cried out at last. “Addling each other’s brains, aren’t you? Sitting there and poking fun at each other! Are you serious, Rodya?”

Raskolnikov silently raised his pale, almost sad face to him, and did not answer. And how strange this quiet and sad face seemed to Razumikhin next to the undisguised, intrusive, annoying, and impolite sarcasm of Porfiry.

“Well, brother, if it’s really serious, then…You’re right, of course, in saying that it’s nothing new, and resembles everything we’ve read and heard a hundred times over; but what is indeed original in it all—and, to my horror, is really yours alone—is that you do finally permit bloodshed in all conscience and, if I may say so, even with such fanaticism…So this is the main point of your article. This permission to shed blood in all conscience is…is to my mind more horrible than if bloodshed were officially, legally permitted . . .”

“Quite right, it’s more horrible,” Porfiry echoed.

“No, you got carried away somehow! It’s a mistake. I’ll read it…You got carried away! You can’t think like that…I’ll read it.”

“That’s not all in the article; it’s only hinted at,” said Raskolnikov.

“Right, right, sir,” Porfiry could not sit still. “It has now become almost clear to me how you choose to look at crime, sir, but… excuse my importunity (I’m bothering you so much; I’m quite ashamed!)— you see, sir, you have reassured me greatly concerning cases of a mistaken mixing of the two categories, but…I keep being bothered by various practical cases! Now, what if some man, or youth, imagines himself a Lycurgus or a Muhammad—a future one, to be sure—and goes and starts removing all obstacles to that end…We’re faced with a long campaign, and for this campaign we need money…and so he starts providing himself for the campaign…you know what I mean?”

Zamyotov suddenly snorted from his corner. Raskolnikov did not even raise his eyes to him.

“I have to agree,” he answered calmly, “that such cases must indeed occur. The vain and silly in particular fall for such bait; young men particularly.”

“So you see, sir. Well, and what then, sir?”

“Then nothing,” Raskolnikov smiled. “It’s not my fault. That’s how it is and always will be. Now, he just said” (he nodded towards Razu-mikhin) “that I permit the shedding of blood. What of it? Society is all too well provided with banishments, prisons, court investigators, hard labor camps—why worry? Go and catch your thief! … ”

“And what if we do catch him?”

“Serves him right.”

“You’re logical, after all. Well, sir, and what about his conscience?”

“But what business is that of yours?”

“But just out of humaneness, sir.”

“Whoever has one can suffer, if he acknowledges his error. It’s a punishment for him—on top of hard labor.”

“Well, and those who are the true geniuses—the ones who are granted the right to put a knife into others,” Razumikhin asked, frowning, “they ought not to suffer at all, even for the blood they’ve shed?”

“Why this word ought? There’s neither permission nor prohibition here. Let him suffer, if he pities his victim…Suffering and pain are always obligatory for a broad consciousness and a deep heart. Truly great men, I think, must feel great sorrow in this world,” he suddenly added pensively, not even in the tone of the conversation.

He raised his eyes, gave them all a thoughtful look, smiled, and took his cap. He was too calm, compared with when he had first come, and he felt it. Everyone rose.

“Well, sir, curse me if you like, be angry if you like, but I cannot help myself,” Porfiry Petrovich rounded off again. “Allow me one more little question (I really am bothering you, sir!); I would like to introduce just one little idea, simply so as not to forget, sir…”

“Very well, tell me your little idea,” Raskolnikov stood expectantly before him, pale and serious.

“Now then, sir…I really don’t know how best to express it…it’s such a playful idea…a psychological idea…Now then, sir, it really cannot be—heh, heh, heh!—that when you were writing your little article you did not regard yourself—say, just the tiniest bit—as one of the ‘extraordinary’ people, as saying a new word —in your sense, I mean…Isn’t that so, sir?”

“It’s quite possible,” Raskolnikov replied disdainfully.

Razumikhin stirred.

“And if so, sir, can it be that you yourself would venture—say, in view of certain worldly failures and constraints, or somehow for the furtherance of all mankind—to step over the obstacle?…well, for instance, to kill and rob? . . .”

And he somehow suddenly winked at him again with his left eye and laughed inaudibly—exactly as earlier.

“If I did, I would certainly not tell you,” Raskolnikov answered with defiant, haughty disdain.

“No, sir, it’s just that I’m interested, properly speaking, in understanding your article, in a literary sense only, sir . . .”

“Pah, how obvious and insolent!” Raskolnikov thought in disgust.

“Allow me to observe,” he answered dryly, “that I do not consider myself a Muhammad or a Napoleon… or any such person whatsoever, and am consequently unable, not being them, to give you a satisfactory explanation of how I would act.”

“But, my goodness, who in our Russia nowadays doesn’t consider himself a Napoleon?” Porfiry suddenly pronounced with horrible familiarity. There was something particularly clear this time even in the tone of his voice.

“Might it not have been some future Napoleon who bumped off our Alyona Ivanovna with an axe last week?” Zamyotov suddenly blurted out from his corner.

Raskolnikov was silent, looking firmly and fixedly at Porfiry. Razumikhin frowned gloomily. He seemed to have begun noticing something even earlier. He looked wrathfully around him. A moment of gloomy silence passed. Raskolnikov turned to leave.

“Leaving already!” Porfiry said kindly, holding out his hand with extreme affability. “I’m very, very glad to have made your acquaintance. And concerning your request, do not be in any doubt. Simply write as I told you. Or, best of all, come to my office yourself…one of these days…tomorrow, even. I’ll be there around eleven o’clock for certain. We can settle everything…and talk…Since you were one of the last to be there, you might be able to tell us something . . .” he added, with a most good-natured air.

“You want to question me officially, with all the trimmings?” Raskolnikov asked sharply.

“What for, sir? There’s no need of that as yet. You misunderstand me. You see, I never let an opportunity go by, and…and I’ve already talked with all the other pawners…taken evidence from some…and since you’re the last one…Oh, yes, by the way!” he exclaimed, suddenly happy about something, “by the way, I’ve just remembered—what’s the matter with me! . . .” He turned to Razu-mikhin. “You were carping at me all the time about this Nikolashka…well, I know, I know myself that the lad is clear,” he turned back to Raskolnikov, “but there was no help for it; we had to bother Mitka as well…The thing is, sir, the whole point is: going up the stairs that time…excuse me, you were there before eight, sir?”

“Before eight,” Raskolnikov answered, at the same time with an unpleasant feeling that he need not have said it.

“So, passing by on the stairs before eight o’clock, did you at least notice two workers in the open apartment—remember?—on the second floor? Or at least one of them? They were painting, didn’t you see? This is very, very important for them! … ”

“Painters? No, I didn’t see . . .” Raskolnikov answered slowly, as if rummaging through his memories, at the same time straining his whole being and frozen with anguish trying to guess where precisely the trap lay, and how not to overlook something. “No, I didn’t see, and I didn’t notice any open apartment either…but on the fourth floor” (he was now in full possession of the trap and was triumphant) “I do remember there was an official moving out of the apartment. . . opposite Alyona Ivanovna’s…yes…that I remember clearly…soldiers carrying out some sofa and pressing me against the wall…but painters—no, I don’t remember any painters being there…and I don’t think there was any open apartment anywhere. No, there wasn’t . . .”

“But what’s the matter with you!” Razumikhin exclaimed suddenly, as if coming to his senses and figuring things out. “The painters were working on the day of the crime itself, and he was there two days earlier! Why ask him?”

“Pah! I got it all mixed up!” Porfiry slapped himself on the forehead. “Devil take it, my mind stumbles all over itself with this case!” he said to Raskolnikov, as if in apology. “It’s so important for us to find out if anyone saw them in the apartment between seven and eight, that I fancied just now you also might be able to tell us…I got it totally mixed up!”

“Well, so you ought to be more careful,” Razumikhin observed morosely.

These last words were spoken in the entryway. Porfiry Petrovich saw them right to the door, with extreme affability. They both came out to the street gloomy and sullen, and did not say a word for a few steps. Raskolnikov drew a deep breath . . .


[1] The term “phalanstery” was coined by the French Utopian socialist thinker Charles Fourier (1772-1837) to designate the physical and productive arrangements for living in the future communal society. Dostoevsky’s interest in “Fourierism” as a young man led to his arrest by the tsar’s agents in 1849.

[2] “Ivan the Great” is a bell-tower in the Moscow Kremlin.

[3] Lycurgus, semilegendary lawgiver of ancient Sparta, is said to have lived in the ninth century b.c. Solon (630?-560? b.c.), lawgiver and reformer of the Athenian state, was one of the “seven sages of Greece.” Muhammad and Napoleon, among other things, also codified the laws of their nations.

[4] The French phrase means “long live the eternal war.” The New Jerusalem appears at the end of Revelation (21:1-3) in St. John’s vision of “the holy city … coming down from God out of heaven.” However, the Saint-Simonians, followers of the Utopian socialist Claude-Henri de Saint-Simon (1760-1825), interpreted this vision as foretelling a future paradise on earth and a new golden age. Saint-Simon’s thought, a sort of neo-Christianity, was popular in Russia during the 1840s.

[5] See John 11:1-45. This is not the beggar Lazarus, but Lazarus the brother of Martha and Mary, whom Jesus raises from the dead. The theme of the raising of Lazarus, central to the novel, is here introduced from an unexpected quarter, and meets an unexpected response.


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