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Crime and Punishment

Crime and Punishment is a Russian novel, published in 1866, written by Fyodor Dostoevsky.

Warning: Wikipedia contains spoilers

The novel concerns the carefully planned murder of a miserly old pawnbroker by a destitute Saint Petersburg student named Raskolnikov, and the emotional, mental, and physical effects of that action.

After falling ill with fever and lying bedridden for days, Raskolnikov is overcome with paranoia and begins to imagine that everyone he meets suspects him of the murder - and the knowledge of his crime slowly drives him quite mad. Along the way, however, he meets Sofya Semyonovna, with whom he falls in love, which Dostoevsky eventually uses as an allegory of God's love for fallen humanity and that love's redemptive power, but only after Raskolnikov has confessed to the crime and been sent to Siberia to pay for his crime.

In various other sublevels and subtexts, the novel deals with the themes of Russian revolutionary activity, charity, family life, and various other themes that serve to condemn contemporary Russian society in general. Some critics have seen in the novel a criticism of modern American life, including the American penal system, and the increasing rationalization of capitalist society.

The novel, along with Tolstoy's War and Peace, is frequently displayed, in cartoons and public culture, as representative of a really long book that no one reads any more, but possesses a transformative power on the human mind, and serves as a running gag, and almost cliche, in cartoons where the main character ends up in prison. For obvious reasons.

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