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Crime and Punishment

Talking nonsense is man's only privilege that distinguishes him from all other organisms.

"You're a gentleman," they used to say to him. "You shouldn't have gone murdering people with a hatchet; that's no occupation for a gentleman."

If it were not for Christ's Church, indeed there would be no restraint on the criminal in his evildoing, and no punishment for it later, real punishment, that is, not a mechanical one such as has just been mentioned, which only chafes the heart in most cases, but a real punishment, the only real, the only frightening and appeasing punishment, which lies in the acknowledgement of one's own conscience.


The Brothers Karamazov

"So long as man remains free he strives for nothing so incessantly and so painfully as to find some one to worship."

Imagine that you are creating a fabric of human destiny with the object of makingmen happy in the end......but that it was essential and inevitable to torture to death only one tiny creature...And to found that edifice on its unavenged tears: would you consent to be the architect on those conditions? Tell me, and tell me the truth!

If it were not for Christ's Church, indeed there would be no restraint on the criminal in his evildoing, and no punishment for it later, real punishment, that is, not a mechanical one such as has just been mentioned, which only chafes the heart in most cases, but a real punishment, the only real, the only frightening and appeasing punishment, which lies in the acknowledgement of one's own conscience

Above all, do not lie to yourself. A man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point where he does not discern any truth either in himself or anywhere around him, and thus falls into disrespect towards himself and others. Not respecting anyone, he ceases to love, and having no love, he gives himself up to passions and coarse pleasures, in order to occupy and amuse himself, and in his vices reaches complete beastiality, and it all comes from lying continually to others and to himself. A man who lies to himself is often the first to take offense. It sometimes feels very good to take offense, doesn't it? And surely he knows that no one has offended him, and that he himself has invented the offense and told lies just for the beauty of it, that he has exaggerated for the sake of effect, that he has picked on a word and made a mountain out of a pea- he knows all of that, and still he is the first to take offense, he likes feeling offended, it gives him great pleasure, and thus he reaches the point of real hostility... Do get up from your knees and sit down, I beg you, these posturings are false, too

There is no virtue if there is no immortality.

"Gentlemen, we're all cruel, we're all monsters, we all make men weep, and mothers, and babes at the breast, but of all, let it be settled here, now, of all that I am the lowest reptile! I've sworn to amend, and every day I've done the same filthy things. I understand now that such men as I need a blow, a blow of destiny to catch them as with a noose, and bind them by a force from without. Never, never should I have risen of myself! but the thunderbolt has fallen. I accept the torture of accusation, and my public shame; I want to suffer and by suffering I shall be purified. Perhaps I shall be purified, gentlemen?"

If they drive God from the earth, we shall shelter Him underground.

"Even there, in the mines, underground, I may find a human heart in another convict and murderer by my side, and I may make friends with him, for even there one may live and love and suffer. One may thaw and revive a frozen heart in that convict, one may wait upon him for years, and at last bring up from the dark depths a lofty soul, a feeling, suffering creature; one may bring forth an angel, create a hero! There are so many of them, hundreds of them, and we are to blame for them."


Notes from the Underground

I am a sick man... I am a spiteful man. I am an unpleasant man. I think my liver is diseased. However,...
...to be acutely conscious is a disease, a real, honest-to-goodnes disease."

"When . . . in the course of all these thousands of years has man ever acted in accordance with his own interests?"

"For what is man without desires, without free will, and without the power of choice but a stop in an organ pipe?"

At home, to begin with, I mainly used to read. I wished to stifle with external sensations all that was ceaselessly boiling up inside me. And among external sensations the only one possible for me was reading. Reading was, of course, a great help- it stirred, delighted, and tormented me. But at times it bored me terribly. I still wanted to move about, and so I'd suddenly sink into some murky, subterranean, vile debauch- not a great, but a measly little debauch. There were measly little passions in me, sharp, burning, because of my permanent, morbid irritability. I was given to hysterical outbursts, with tears and convulsions. Apart from reading I had nowhere to turn- that is, there was nothing I could then respect in my surroundings, nothing I would be drawn to. What's more, anguish kept boiling up; a hysterical thrist for contradictions, contrasts, would appear, and so I'd set out on debauchery. It is not at all to justify myself that I've been doing all this talking... But no! that's a lie! I precisely wanted to justify myself. I make this little note for myself, gentlemen. I don't want to lie. I've given my word.

My debauchery I undertook solitarily, by night, covertly, fearfully, filthily, with a shame that would not abandon me... I was then already bearing the underground in my soul.

Every man has some reminiscences which he would not tell to everyone, but only to his friends. He has others which he would not reveal even to his friends, but only to himself, and that in secret. But finally there are still others which a man is even afraid to tell himself, and every decent man has a considerable number of such things stored away. That is, one can even say that the more decent he is, the greater the number of such things in his mind.

It's a burden for us even to be men- men with real, our own bodies and blood; we're ashamed of it, we consider it a disgrace, and keep trying to be some unprecendented omni-men. We're stillborn, and have long ceased to be born of living fathers, and we like this more and more. We're acquiring a taste for it. Soon we'll contrive to be born somehow from an idea. But enough; I don't want to write any more "from Underground"


The Possessed (Demons)

"If there is no God, then I am God."

Life is pain, life is fear, and man is unhappy. Now all is pain and fear. Now man loves life because he loves pain and fear. That's how they've made it. Life now is given in exchange for pain and fear, and that is the whole deceit. Man now is not yet the right man. There will be a new man, happy and proud. He for whom it will make no difference whether he lives or does not live, he will be the new man. He who overcomes pain and fear will himself be God. And this [current] God will not be.

But do you understand, I cry to him, do you understand that along with happiness, in the exact same way and in perfectly equal proportion, man also needs unhappiness!"


The Adolescent

Perhaps I'm being unfair to you," he said, still not sounding like himself." My feeling must be of the species they call passion. . . One thing I know for sure: without you it's the end of me, and with you it's also the end. It makes no difference where you are: far or near, you're always present. I also know that I could hate you a good deal more than I could love you. .. I'm sorry that I had to fall in love with someone like you.


The House of the Dead

Indeed, in our country, and in all classes, there are, and always will be, strange easy-going people whose destiny it is to remain always beggars. They are poor devils all their lives; quite broken down, they remain under the domination or guardianship of some one, generally a prodigal, or a man who has suddenly made his fortune. All initiative is for them an insupportable burden. They only exist on condition of undertaking nothing for themselves, and by serving, always living under the will of another. They are destined to act by and through others. Under no circumstances, even of the most unexpected kind, can they get rich; they are always beggars. I have met these persons in all classes of society, in all coteries, in all associations, including the literary world.

Every one is astounded at the cause of this unexpected explosion on the part of a man thought incapable of such a thing. It is the convulsive manifestation of his personality, an instinctive melancholia, an uncontrollable desire for self-assertion, all of which obscures his reason. It is a sort of epileptic attack, a spasm. A man buried alive who suddenly wakes up must strike in a similar manner against the lid of his coffin. He tries to rise up, to push it from him, although his reason must convince him of the uselessness of his efforts. Reason, however, has nothing to do with this convulsion. It must not be forgotten that almost every voluntary manifestation on the part of the convict is looked upon as a crime. Accordingly, it is a perfect matter of indifference to them whether this manifestation be important or insignificant, debauch for debauch, danger for danger. It is just as well to go to the end, even as far as murder. The only difficulty is the first step.

The criminal who has revolted against society, hates it, and considers himself in the right; society was wrong, not he. Has he not, moreover, undergone his punishment? Accordingly he is absolved, acquitted in his own eyes.


Dream of a Ridiculous Man

I am a ridiculous man. They call me a madman now. That would be a distinct rise in my social position were it not that they still regard me as being as ridiculous as ever.

Is there suffering on this new earth? On our earth we can truly love only with suffering and through suffering! We know not how to love otherwise. We know no other love. I want suffering in order to love.


White Nights

For, after all, you do grow up, you do outgrow your ideals, which turn to dust and ashes, which are shattered into fragments; and if you have no other life, you just have to build one up out of these fragments. And all the time your soul is craving and longing for something else. And in vain does the dreamer rummage about in his old dreams, raking them over as though they were a heap of cinders, looking in these cinders for some spark, however tiny, to fan it into a flame so as to warm his chilled blood by it and revive in it all that he held so dear before, all that touched his heart, that made his blood course through his veins, that drew tears from his eyes, and that so splendidly deceived him!

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