Crime and Punishment Historical Context

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Dostoyevsky's Russia: Social and Political Background

For most modern Americans, the Russia of Dostoyevsky's time is almost incomprehensible. Sir Winston Churchill's comment in 1939 that Russia "is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma" can apply equally to the Russia of the 1860s when Dostoyevsky wrote Crime and Punishment. In the most simple terms, much of Russia's historical difference from the West has to do with the fact that for centuries It was cut off from Western Europe. The Reformation, the Renaissance, and the Enlightenment that helped transform the countries of Western Europe from feudalism to modern nations with well-educated citizens and important cultural institutions barely touched Russia. Moreover, large-scale foreign invasions (from the Mongols in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries to the Nazi armies in the early 1940s) periodically devastated the country. As a result, Russia has historically been suspicious of other nations. Also, early in...

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This section contains 1,162 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Crime and Punishment Study Guide
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Crime and Punishment from Novels for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.