22. From Death into Life

Sarah Trimmer (1741–1810)
A Description of a Set of Prints taken from the New Testament
London: John Marshall, 1790

Christ’s resurrection of Lazarus is an occasional but potent theme in Crime and Punishment. The image of Lazarus being raised from the dead shown here was drawn by the eighteenth-century British evangelist Sarah Trimmer. Trimmer was known for her influential publications of educational children’s books through a Christian lens, religious commentary, editions of the Bible, and philanthropy.

The story first appears in the novel when the investigator Porfiry asks if Raskolnikov believes in the New Jerusalem, God, and Lazarus rising from the dead; he replies to each question in the affirmative. It next appears when Raskolnikov asks Sonya to read to him from the Bible (using a copy which belonged to Lizaveta, one of his victims). The allusion is symbolic of Raskolnikov’s spiritual rebirth, as he aims to find salvation – a common theme in Dostoevsky’s work. Finally, in the epilogue, Raskolnikov is seen reading the Bible and recalling the story of Lazarus, and he realises that he loves Sonya – exemplifying the means through which his newly found faith allows him to connect with others.

Isabella Picui

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