A Psychological Analysis of an Anti-Psychological Novel: Reading Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment with Vygotskian Spectacles 119
The present paper discusses Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment as a novel that pushes the boundaries of psychological analysis in literature. Following L. S. Vygotsky’s approach to psychology of art, the commentary intends to delve into the structure of the novel to find the unique psychological perspective that is embedded in it. The analysis focuses on the opposition between fragmentation and unity in the novel’s structure and character portrayal, as well as on the epilogue as a moment in the narrative that fully unveils the anti-psychological nature of this literary work. The depiction of a deeper reality that cannot be grasped by a linear biographical-scientific understanding of personality is simultaneously the core of the novel’s anti-psychologism and its unique psychology, one that encompasses a metaphysical and spiritual realm in which epiphany finds its meaning. Lastly, we hope that this analytic and sensible effort can somehow contribute to enriching the contact with Dostoevsky’s literature, an experience that is in itself irreplaceable.
Russia’s contribution to world prose literature in the 19th
century has been unmistakably categorized under the label of Realism. However,
it has been often argued that this tradition provided a unique type of
realistic literature, not to be mistaken for the scientism and positivism of
This paper is based on two research projects funded by São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP 07/52450-9 and FAPESP 2015/17830-1).
Vygotsky L.S. Analiz esteticheskoi reaktsii: Tragediia o
Gamlete, printse Datskom U. Shekspira i Psikhologiia iskusstva [Analysis of the
aesthetic reaction: The tragedy of Hamlet, prince of Denmark, by W.
Shakespeare, and Psychology of Art], 2001. Moscow: Labirint, 477 p. (In
Dergacheva I.V. Obrazy Italii v khudozhestvennom nasledii
Dostoevskogo [Images of Italy in the artistic heritage of Dostoevsky]. Yazyk
i tekst=Language and text, 2019. Vol. 6, no, 4, pp. 16–23.
DOI:10.17759/langt.2019060403. (In Russ.).
Adorno T. Notes to Literature, 1991. New York: Columbia
University Press, 350 p.
Bakhtin M. Problems of Dostoevsky’s Poetics, 1984.
Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 384 p.
Dauner L. Raskolnikov in search of a soul. Modern
Fiction Studies, 1958. Vol. 4, no. 3, pp. 199-210. Available at:
www.jstor.org/stable/26277179 (Accessed 19.12.2019).
De Vogüé E.M. Le Roman Russe, 1886. Paris: Librairie Plon,
Dostoevsky F.M. Crime and Punishment, 1989. London: W.W.
Norton & Company, 704 p.
Frye N. Anatomy of Criticism: Four Essays, 1975.
Princeton: Princeton University Press, 383 p.
Kehl M.R. Um romance: Crime e castigo, a vingança
deslocada [A Novel: Crime and Punishment, a displaced revenge],
Ressentimento [Resentment]. 2004. São Paulo: Casa do Psicólogo, pp.
Lukácks G. The Theory of the Novel: A
Historico-Philosophical Essay on the Forms of Great Epic Literature, 1971.
Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 160 p.
Marques, P.N. Polifonia e Emoções: um estudo sobre a
construção da subjetividade em Crime e castigo de Dostoiévski [Polyphony and
Emotions: A Study of the Construction of Subjectivity in Dostoevsky’s Crime and
Punishment]. Thesis (Master’s Degree in Russian Culture and Literature), 2010.
São Paulo: University of São Paulo, 324 p.
Ortega y Gasset J. Dostojewsky y Proust. In Obras
Completas Tomo III, 1942. Barcelona: Penguin Random House, pp. 890-893.
Rahv P. Dostoevsky in “Crime and Punishment”. Partisan
Review, 1960. Vol. 27. № 3. pp. 393-425.
Rosenshield G. Crime and Punishment: The techniques of the
omniscient author, 1978. Lisse: The Peter Ridder Press, 138 p.
Schnaiderman B. Dostoiévski Prosa Poesia [Dostoevsky Prose
Poetry], 1982. São Paulo: Perspectiva, 153 p.
Schnaiderman B. Dostoiévski: a ficção como pensamento
[Dostoesky: Fiction as Thought]. In Novaes A. Artepensamento [Art-thought],
1994. São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, pp. 241-248
Terras V. Reading Dostoevsky, 1998. Wisconsin: The
University of Wisconsin Press, 184 p.
Thaden B.Z. Bakhtin, Dostoevsky, and the Status of the
“I”. Dostoevsky Studies. 1987. № 8. pp. 199-207.
Todorov T. Genres in Discourse, 1990. New York: Cambridge
University Press, 148 p.
Wellek R. Bakhtin’s View of Dostoevsky: “Poliphony” and
“Carnivalesque”. Dostoevsky Studies. 1980. № 1. pp. 31-41.