14. The Crime Scene

Handbook for Travellers in Russia, Poland, and Finland
London: John Murray, 1865

Location in Crime and Punishment is more than a mere backdrop – the streets of St Petersburg actively influence characters’ thoughts and actions. Fyodor Dostoevsky spent the majority of his life in the city, and Crime and Punishment depicts real and recognisable St Petersburg locations that were familiar to him. While writing the novel in 1865, Dostoevsky himself lived very near the protagonist Raskolnikov’s house, roughly in the area around #13 and #29 on the map. Crime and Punishment remains a historical and literary document of the poverty, vice, and bustle of nineteenth-century St Petersburg.

The map of St Petersburg shown here belongs to an 1865 guidebook compiled by Thomas Michell, a translator and attaché in the British Embassy. The guidebook genre’s expansion resulted from a rising interest in foreign travel during the mid-nineteenth century. The map points out the city’s main religious, cultural, and political locations (which for the British audience include the Embassy and the English Club). Many of the famous locations mentioned in Crime and Punishment or that were important in Dostoevsky’s life are numbered on this map including his engineering alma mater, Mikhailovsky Palace (#14).

Alexandra Trim

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