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Grant number: FZ-256672-17

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FZ-256672-17

Kevin Birmingham
Harvard University (Cambridge, MA 02138-3800)

The Sinner and the Saint: Russian Novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky and the Gentleman Murderer Who Inspired "Crime and Punishment"

Research and writing of a book-length history of Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky’s classic Crime and Punishment.

This project is a cultural microhistory as seen through the making of a single book: Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment. It explores the significance of Dostoevsky’s novel by telling the story of its inspiration, writing and reception amidst the turbulent milieu of 1860s Saint Petersburg. We follow Dostoevsky from his 1849 arrest, mock execution and Siberian exile through his return to literary prominence and his collaboration with (and marriage to) Anna Grigoryevna Snitkina. My research creates a narrative by combining rich biographical detail with substantial historical contextualization and detailed textual analysis—of both Dostoevsky’s novel and its various drafts. One important element of Dostoevsky’s creative process was his fascination with Pierre François Lacenaire, a murderer whose crimes helped inspired Crime and Punishment and whose story helps us to reconsider the significance of Dostoevsky’s novel.

Project fields:
Cultural History; Russian History; Russian Literature

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2017 – 8/31/2018