Tuesday, June 04, 2013

#Quotes: Quotes from Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky*

On an exceptionally hot evening early in July a young man came out of the garret in which he lodged in S. Place and walked slowly, as though in hesitation towards K. Bridge. [3]

When reason fails, the devil helps. [65]

What do you think? ... [Y]ou think I am attacking them for talking nonsense? Not a bit! I like them to talk nonsense. That's man's one privilege over all creation. Through error you come to the truth! I am a man because I err! You never reach any truth without making fourteen mistakes and very likely a hundred and fourteen. And a fine thing, too, in its way; but we can't even make mistakes on your own account! Talk nonsense, but talk your own nonsense, and I'll kiss you for it. To go wrong in one's own way is better than to go right in someone else's. In the first case you are a man, in the second case you're no better than a bird. Truth won't escape you, but life can be cramped. There have been examples. And what are we doing now? In science, development, thought, invention, ideals, aims, liberalism, judgement, experience and everything, everything, everything, we are still in the preparatory class at school. We prefer to live on other people's ideas, it's what we are used to! Am I right, am I right? [174]

[T]hough all my friends there are drunk, yet they are all honest, and though we do talk a lot of trash, and I do, too, yet we shall talk our way to the truth at last, for we are on the right path.. [174]

In wine is truth, and the truth had all come out, 'that is, all the uncleanness of his coarse and envious heart'! [181]

There is some truth in your observation. ... In that sense we are certainly all not infrequently like madmen, but with the slight difference that the deranged are somewhat madder, for we must draw a line. A normal man, it is true, hardly exists. Among dozens - perhaps hundreds of thousands - hardly one is to be met with. [194]

To help others one must have the right to do it or else, Crevez, chien, si vous n'etes pas contents! [195]

The living soul demands life, the soul won't obey the rules of mechanics, the soul is an object of suspicion, the soul is retrograde! [219]

You can't skip over nature by logic. Logic presupposes three possibilities, but there are millions. Cut away a million, and reduce it all to the question of comfort! That's the easiest solution of the problem! It's seductively clear and you mustn't think! The whole secrets of life in two pages of print! [219]

The vast mass of mankind is mere material, and only exists in order by some great effort, by some mysterious process, by means of some crossing of races and stocks, to bring into the world at last perhaps one man out of a thousand with a spark of independence. One in ten thousand perhaps ... is born with some independence, and with still greater independence one in a hundred thousand. The man of genius is one of millions, and the great geniuses, the crown of humanity, appear on earth perhaps one in many thousand millions. [224-5]

Because only peasants, or the most inexperienced novices deny everything flatly at examinations. If a man is ever so little developed and experienced, he will certainly try to admit all the external facts that can't be avoided, but will seek other explanations of them, will introduce some special, unexpected turn, that will give them another significance and put them into another light. [230]

The more cunning a man is, the less he suspects that he will be caught in a simple thing. The more cunning a man is, the simpler the trap he must be caught in. [230]

Reason is the slave of passion, you know; ... [239]

Good God! ... is there no justice upon earth? Whom should you protect if not orphans? [341]

[I]f one waits for everyone to get wiser it will take too long... [351-2]

[P]ower is only vouchsafed to the man who dares to stoop and pick it up. There is only one thing, one thing needful: one has only to dare. [352]

Nothing in the world is harder than speaking the truth and nothing easier than flattery. If there's the hundredth part of a false note in speaking the truth, it leads to a discord and that leads to trouble. But if all, to the last note, is false in flattery, it is just as agreeable and is heard not without satisfaction. It may be coarse satisfaction, but it is still a satisfaction. And however coarse the flattery, at least half will be sure to seem true. [400]

Everyone thinks of himself, and he lives most gaily who knows best how to deceive himself. [404]

Everything seems stupid when it fails. [436]

The fear of appearances is the first symptom of impotence. [437]

On the banks of a broad solitary river stands a town, one of the administrative centres of Russia; in the town is a fortress, in the fortress there is a prison. In the prison the second-class convict Rodion Raskolnikov has been confined for nine months. [449]
*This edition was translated by Constance Garnett and published by Wordsworth Classics (2000 Edition)
*Read the review


  1. These are wonderful quotes - and so true about truth and flattery - there is some good "food for thought". Must confess to not having read Crime and Punishment - very interesting to read the excerpts.

    1. thanks BP. I'm glad to have shared them with you.


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