5. Guilt and Atonement

Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821–1881)
Schuld und Sühne (Raskolnikow) / Guilt and Atonement (Raskolnikov)
Leipzig: Verlag von Philipp Reclam jun., [1917]

This German edition of Crime and Punishment was translated by Hans Moser. Published by Philipp Reclam in Leipzig, the exact publication date is not given but the German National Library estimates it to be 1917.

The original Russian title, Prestuplenie i nakazanie, carries with it the connotations of the words from which it is derived: prestuplenie from stupat ‘ – to step – and prestupat ‘ – to transgress or step over – and nakazanie from kazat ‘ – to prove – and nakazat ‘ – to punish. German translations of Dostoevsky’s title, however, underwent much revision. The first German edition, published in 1882, was simply titled Raskolnikow after the main character. This translation’s title, Schuld und Sühne, translates best to ‘Guilt and Atonement’, though Schuld can also be translated as ‘debt’ or ‘fault’. Other early translations were published as Raskolnikows Schuld und Sühne.

Translator Alexander Eliasberg gave his 1921 translation the title Verbrechen und Strafe – ‘Crime and Punishment’ – a change maintained by Svetlana Geier for her noted 1993 translation of the novel. This version of the title even calls to mind the original Russian, as the German prefix ‘ver-’ and the Russian prefix ‘pre-’ come from the same Indo-European root.

Sarah Hall

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