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The Core Curriculum

Core Readings: Lit Hum Instructor Liza Knapp reads Dostoevsky

1866 CE

 

Liza Knapp, professor of Slavic Literature at Columbia, reads selections from Crime & Punishment

An impoverished student kills two old women — a pawn-broker reviled among students and soldiers of Saint Petersburg — and her sister, a mentally disabled innocent.  Dostoevsky’s great crime novel is not so much a "who" but a “why done it?”   Was Raskolnikov operating under the influence of corrupting ideas from the West?  Was he traumatized in childhood by the pervasive brutality of Russian culture under czarist absolutism and serfdom?  

In her reading, Knapp takes us deep into the tortured psyche of Dostoevsky’s haplessly murderous antagonist as he grapples with his dark deed and searches for the light. 

 

SELECTION 

Part 1, Ch. 5.  “Raskolnikov’s  dream”

 

(17 mins)