Crime and Publishing: How Dostoevskii Changed the British Murder

Published: August 13, 2017

A few words on this book: Described by the sixteenth-century English poet George Turbervile as “a people passing rude, to vices vile inclin’d,” the Russians waited some three centuries before their subsequent cultural achievements—in music, art and particularly literature—achieved widespread recognition in Britain. The essays in this stimulating collection attest to the scope and variety of Russia’s influence on British culture. They move from the early nineteenth century — when Byron sent his hero Don Juan to meet Catherine the Great, and an English critic sought to come to terms with the challenge of Pushkin — to a series of Russian-themed exhibitions at venues including the Crystal Palace and Earls Court. The collection looks at British encounters with Russian music, the absorption with Dostoevskii and Chekhov, and finishes by shedding light on Britain’s engagement with Soviet film.

From  A People Passing Rude: British Responses to Russian Culture

A People Passing Rude Leonid Grossman acutely called Dostoevskii’s Crime and Punishment “a philosophical novel with a criminal setting;”[1] the Irish novelist George Moore dismissed the same work as “Gaboriau with psychological sauce.”[2] Whether one chooses to exaggerate or minimize the crime narrative inside Dostoevskii’s novel, it exercised considerable influence on the subsequent development of the genre in Britain. Most historians of crime fiction mention Crime and Punishment, if only in passing and with an apology for tarnishing Dostoevskii’s genius by association. Julian Symons writes, “[i]n a way Dostoevsky was a crime novelist, with the true taste for sensational material, but in his single case the results far transcend anything the crime novelist achieves or even aims at.”[3] William Godwin’s Caleb Williams (1794) has endured an analogous critical fate, recognized as a major novel of ideas yet also frequently claimed as the “first detective novel.”[4] Yet Dostoevskii’s novel can be appropriated by the crime genre with greater justice than Godwin’s. Crime and Punishment was written in the same decade as Émile Gaboriau’s first romans policiers and Wilkie Collins’s foundational novels of detection; its author had steeped himself in Eugène Sue’s Les mystères de Paris (1843), and had recently read and reviewed Edgar Allan Poe’s classics of criminal psychopathology, The Tell-Tale Heart and The Black Cat (both 1843).[5] In the context of such antecedents and contemporaries, there is every reason to regard Crime and Punishment as part of a generation of experimental, highly influential murder mysteries.[6]

This chapter analyses how Crime and Punishment influenced British fiction as a crime novel, arguing that Dostoevskii’s model effected substantial changes to the construction of the fictional British murder. Interesting as it would be to pursue a structural comparison between Crime and Punishment and fiction by professional mystery writers like Agatha Christie and Josephine Tey, any such attempt founders on the lack of evidence indicating that these nominally ‘low-brow’ authors actually read Dostoevskii. I will therefore look at three British authors who are known to have engaged with Dostoevskii’s novel in its first French and English translations: Robert Louis Stevenson, George Gissing and G.K. Chesterton. I will discuss how each of these writers adapted an aspect of Dostoevskii’s criminal plot. My first topic is the murder itself; second, the criminal type; and third, the criminal investigator.


Stevenson: Murder in Cameo

Crime and Punishment first appeared in French translation in Dérély’s version in 1884;[7] two years later, the first English translation, by Frederick Whishaw, followed. Considering Whishaw’s verbosity, it was probably fortunate that Robert Louis Stevenson first read the novel in French. His immediate enthusiasm was evinced in these much-quoted lines to his friend John Addington Symonds: “Raskolnikoff is easily the greatest book I have read in ten years; I am glad you took to it. Many find it dull: Henry James could not finish it: all I can say is, it nearly finished me. It was like having an illness.”[8] When he read Crime and Punishment, Stevenson was gestating two lurid tales of murder that would make him notorious: the short story “Markheim” (written 1884, published 1885) and the novella The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886). As long ago as 1916, Edgar Knowlton made the case that “Markheim” is a “cameo version” of Dostoevskii’s novel.[9] Not only do many details of the two plots correspond, Stevenson has attempted to integrate a medley of Dostoevskian stylistic effects—flashbacks, delirium, unexpected visitors, even a Svidrigailov-like double—in order to replicate the confusion of a novice murderer’s mind. Knowlton overlooks one or two discrepancies: Markheim is a genteel ne’er-do-well, rather than a student; his victim is a niggardly antiques dealer, rather than a pawnbroker; and the weapon is a poignard rather than an axe.

Nonetheless, the essential murder is little different:

Markheim bounded from behind upon his victim. The long, skewer-like dagger flashed and fell. The dealer struggled like a hen, striking his temple on the shelf, and then tumbled on the floor in a heap.[10]

Contrast Dérély’s Le Crime et le Châtiment:

Aléna Ivanovna, selon son habitude, avait la tête nue. Ses cheveux grisonnants, clair-semés, et, comme toujours, gras d’huile, étaient rassemblés en une mince tresse, dite queue de rat, fixées sur la nuque par un morceau de peigne de corne. Le coup atteignit juste le sinciput, ce à quoi contribua la petite taille de la victime. Elle poussa à peine un faible crie et soudain s’affaissa sur le parquet; toutefois elle eut encore la force de lever les deux bras vers sa tête. […] Alors Raskolnikoff, dont le bras avait retrouvé toute sa vigueur, asséna deux nouveaux coups de hache sur le sinciput de l’usurière.[11]

In each case, the fatal blow falls from behind while the victim is distracted by a pretext devised by the murderer: Raskol’nikov tricks Alena Ivanovna into unwrapping what she believes is a silver cigarette-case; Markheim persuades the elderly dealer to look for an engagement present for an imaginary fiancée. Immediately afterwards, both murderers proceed to search their victim’s bloody corpse for keys to his or her savings-box and both are interrupted by the unexpected arrival of a late customer, demanding admittance. Muchnic disputes these similarities, discounting them as mere situational parallels; she argues that Stevenson’s self-conscious devotion to the “[b]eautiful phrase” prevents the reader from fully entering into Markheim’s state of mind.[12]

Granted that Stevenson could not match Dostoevskii’s ability to convey emotional disturbance, it surely remains beyond argument that Dostoevskii’s novel taught Stevenson how to write a murder. Not only are the correspondences between “Markheim” and Crime and Punishment undeniable (despite Muchnic), the physical horror that informs Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde may be more tentatively attributed to the same influence. In the opening pages of this novel, an eyewitness reports how a man later known to be Jekyll “trampled calmly over [a] child’s body and left her screaming on the ground.”[13] Jekyll retreats into his den in a “sinister block of building” with “marks of prolonged and sordid negligence,” recalling Raskol’nikov’s equally squalid kamorka in a Petersburg tenement.[14] Later, another witness reports the “audible shattering” of the bones of the genteel Sir Danvers Carew, beaten to death by Jekyll; this transport of sadistic violence recalls Raskol’nikov’s graphic dream of the horse flogged to death in Crime and Punishment.[15] Jekyll’s first episode of violence, targeting a female child, may reveal the influence not only of Crime and Punishment but also of its predecessor The Insulted and Injured, which Stevenson had also read in French translation with almost equal delight, where the child Nelly is a victim of casual adult brutality and lust.


Gissing: Hero as Murderer

George Gissing first encountered Dostoevskii in the late 1880s; like Stevenson, he read The Insulted and Injured and Crime and Punishment in French translation. His reaction was overwhelmingly positive: Crime and Punishment was “magnificent […] one of the greatest of modern novels” he wrote in 1887.[16] Two years later, the book was still a “marvellous” triumph of psychology and realism; Gissing felt himself to be “deeply in sympathy with Dostoievsky.”[17] Later, he told his friend Eduard Bertz: “The more I read of him, the more I want to read; he appeals to me more distinctly than the other Russians, & more perhaps than any modern novelist.”[18] In 1899, only 4 years before his death, he still considered Crime and Punishment to be “marvellous.”[19] The career of this Yorkshire-born novelist, best known for his portrayal of the suffering of the working classes and lower-middle-class outsiders in London’s Victorian slums, was thus influenced by Dostoevskii throughout his career. In his important “character study” of Dickens in the context of 19th-century European realism, published in 1898, Gissing argues that Dostoevskii’s accuracy, humour, and sense of the grotesque all exceed Dickens’s. There are obvious thematic convergences between Gissing and Dostoevskii, such as the recurrence of prostitute characters, the fixation on economic hardship and social isolation, even the thread of sympathy for Russia that runs through Gissing’s novels: in The Crown of Life (1899), the wealthy heroine demonstrates her inclination for her lower middle-class suitor by learning to read Tolstoi in Russian. I turn now to Gissing’s most famous adaptation of a Dostoevskian motif: the hero of Born in Exile (1892), who is essentially the same type of moral transgressor as Raskol’nikov.

Although George Orwell considered Born in Exile potentially Gissing’s best novel, he also confessed that he had never read it.[20] This was regrettable: Orwell had much in common with Gissing’s hero Godwin Peak. All three—Orwell, Gissing, and Peak—were scholarship boys who narrowly missed the chance to attend university and were forced to define themselves on their own merits against a financially punishing, rigidly hierarchical, and frequently hypocritical class system: all were “proud natures condemned to solitude.”[21] There is a real, if facile, parallel here with Raskol’nikov’s situation at the beginning of Crime and Punishment. Godwin Peak, from wounded pride, spurns the chance of an academic career; Raskol’nikov rejects his friend Razumikhin’s practical plan to earn his own way through university. Instead, the maximalist Raskol’nikov decides on murder in order to gain the money necessary to underwrite his family’s security and his own path to social distinction: he is convinced that the benefit to society will outweigh the initial crime. Additionally, he will thus prove himself to be a Napoleon, rather than a “louse.” Peak’s crime is less bloody but, on a personal level, equally destructive. Having earned a place in the lower middle classes and gained a reputation as a polemical Radical, he still covets the luxury and leisure enjoyed by higher social ranks. As he reflects after meeting an old school-friend’s family, the Warricombes:

This English home, was it not surely the best result of civilisation in an age devoted to material progress? Here was peace, here was scope for the kindliest emotions. Upon him – the born rebel, the scorner of average mankind, the consummate egoist – this atmosphere exercised an influence more tranquillising, more beneficent, than even the mood of disinterested study. […] Heroism might point him to an unending struggle with adverse conditions, but how was heroism possible without faith? Absolute faith he had none; he was essentially a negativist, guided by the mere relations of phenomena. Nothing easier than to contemn the mode of life represented by this wealthy middle class; but compare it with other existences conceivable by a thinking man, and it was emphatically good. It aimed at placidity, at benevolence, at supreme cleanliness, – things which more than compensated for the absence of higher spirituality.[22]

Peak thus convinces himself that the greater good—that is, the intellectual attainment made possible by material comfort—lies through a minor and ultimately meaningless ethical compromise. His rhetoric echoes Raskol’nikov’s insistence that the evil of murder committed for gain (a murder that is virtually ethically neutral, since the victim was a parasite on society) will be cancelled out by the future benefit to humanity from Raskol’nikov’s subsequent career. The irony, of course, is that neither man possesses the opportunity—nor the moral resilience—to sustain their defiance of accepted ethics.

Peak’s route to the greater good lies through marriage with the eldest Warricombe daughter, Sidwell. Convinced that she will only overlook their class difference if he becomes a parson, Peak announces his intention to study for Holy Orders—thus framing his own hypocrisy for inevitable public exposure. Like Raskol’nikov, Peak suffers intense attacks of self-doubt and self-contempt in which he passionately repents his moral relativism; also like Raskol’nikov, Peak confesses his crime to the woman he loves (although Sidwell forgives him, she does not follow him into his subsequent “exile”). But unlike his Russian predecessor, Peak is a sexual trophy-hunter: Sidwell, as a delicately reared English rose, is both his true love and the supreme symbol of social success. Both men are sent into exile: Raskol’nikov’s Siberia is echoed by Peak’s voluntary year of low-paid work in a “vile manufacturing town” in the North of England.[23] Peak’s crime is self-conscious “charlatanism,” by Adrian Poole’s definition, making his duplicity both more conscious and less ideological than Raskol’nikov’s.[24]

Gilbert Phelps and others have identified traces of both Raskol’nikov and Sonia in some of Gissing’s earlier novels;[25] Jacob Korg has discussed the thematic overlap between Crime and Punishment and Born in Exile in some detail, arguing that in the case of both Raskol’nikov’s crime and Peak’s charade, “ostensible motivation was far less important than the ‘theory’ behind it.”[26] Both critics overlook, however, the evidence that Gissing, like Stevenson, has also adapted other significant aspects of Dostoevskii’s narrative. Peak and his equally underprivileged former schoolmate Earwaker, who becomes a newspaper editor, replicate the relationship between Raskol’nikov and Razumikhin. Earwaker chooses Razumikhin’s path of gradualism and hard work, with commensurate reward; he is also the closest equivalent to a confidant that Peak permits. Both Raskol’nikov and Peak are betrayed by an article. Peak is outed as an atheist when his authorship of an anonymous, pro-evolutionary piece in The Critical Review is revealed to the Warricombes; Raskol’nikov’s Napoleon complex is quoted back to him by Porfirii Petrovich, who has read his article on moral elitism in The Periodical Review. In a final, melodramatic scene from Born in Exile, a minor character intervenes to stop a carter from forcing a horse to “drag a load beyond its strength” and is accidentally killed by a blow from the animal’s hooves; this obviously echoes both Raskol’nikov’s dream of the horse and the death of Marmeladov.[27]

While the majority of Gissing’s protagonists face social exclusion and some degree of poverty, Peak’s resort to charlatanry is exceptional among them. Piers Otway in The Crown of Life, for example, overcomes problems almost identical to Peak’s through hard work and rigid honesty. Of all Gissing’s fiction, only Born in Exile is unambiguously in dialogue with Crime and Punishment; Godwin Peak is his response to Raskol’nikov.


Chesterton: the Knight-errant Detective

Although G.K. Chesterton did not mention Dostoevskii in print until a 1912 article in the Illustrated London News, he had probably been familiar with the Russian author’s works since the 1890s. Chesterton read prolifically, and maintained close links with Dostoevskii’s admirers and promoters, including Gissing and Edward Garnett. In 1903 he co-wrote a pamphlet on Tolstoi with Garnett. Dostoevskii was inescapable in 1910, when Irving’s popular stage production of Crime and Punishment at the Garrick Theatre (as The Unwritten Law) inspired Everyman to reprint the Whishaw translation of the novel; this was also the year when Chesterton’s first Father Brown story, “The Blue Cross,” appeared. Heinemann’s publication of Constance Garnett’s translations soon ushered in the so-called “Dostoevsky cult” of 1912-21.[28] It is therefore entirely feasible, albeit speculative, to posit Crime and Punishment as an influence on Chesterton’s detective stories, including the Father Brown series and other crime mysteries such as The Man Who Was Thursday (1908), The Man Who Knew Too Much (1922), and The Poet and the Lunatics (1929).[29] Mark Knight convincingly identifies major themes in both writers’ fiction—the use of the grotesque and of doubles, a fascination with insanity, and an “emphasis on the centrality of human freedom,” that is, on free will.[30] One Chesterton biographer has pointed out that Chesterton never created a character infused with the bitter existentialism of a Raskol’nikov or an Ivan Karamazov: “Raskolnikov is not found lurking in Flambeau.”[31] Yet, if we cannot find Raskol’nikov in Chesterton’s most famous criminal, we can with greater justification find Porfirii Petrovich, the chief criminal investigator in Crime and Punishment, lurking within the British author’s various detective heroes. I contend that Porfirii Petrovich represents the inauguration, and Chesterton’s detective the continuation, of a particular archetype: the investigator who solves crimes by a combination of incongruity, perspicacity, intuition and surprise, besides more conventional police methods, without resorting to sensational tactics or egoistic posturing. In both Dostoevskii’s novel and the majority of Chesterton’s mysteries, crime is solved through a fixed alternation of pretence and recognition. Initially, the detective and the criminal each misrepresents himself: the criminal pretends innocence, while the detective manifests a chaotic or incompetent persona. The criminal “misreads” the detective’s pretence as genuine, while the detective correctly “reads” the criminal’s attitude as false. When, at the moment of exposure, the criminal finally “reads” or interprets the detective correctly, punishment is suspended while both men experience the temporary equality—and intimacy—of mutual recognition.

Here is how Razumikhin describes Porfirii Petrovich to a suspicious Raskol’nikov:

He is a nice fellow, you will see, brother. Rather clumsy, that is to say, he is a man of polished manners, but I mean clumsy in a different sense. He is an intelligent fellow, very much so indeed, but he has his own range of ideas…. He is incredulous, sceptical, cynical… he likes to impose on people, or rather to make fun of them. His is the old, circumstantial method…. But he understands his work… thoroughly… Last year he cleared up a case of murder in which the police had hardly a clue. He is very, very anxious to make your acquaintance![32]

Here Razumikhin has identified the essential traits in the character of the Chief Investigator: Porfirii’s unusual combination of social polish with assumed “clumsiness” (amply evidenced by his rapid changes of tone or apparent loss of the thread of a conversation), his desire to “make fun” of people, and his thorough grasp of circumstantial evidence. At his first meeting with Raskol’nikov, Porfirii is inappropriately garbed in a dressing-gown, and his appearance is deliberately unprepossessing:

He was a man of about five and thirty, short, stout even to corpulence, and clean shaven. He wore his hair cut short and had a large round head, particularly prominent at the back. His soft, round, rather snub-nosed face was of a sickly yellowish colour, but had a vigorous and rather ironical expression. It would have been good-natured except for a look in the eyes, which shone with a watery, mawkish light under almost white, blinking eyelashes. The expression of those eyes was strangely out of keeping with his somewhat womanish figure, and gave it something far more serious than could be guessed at first sight.[33]

While Porfirii is “womanish” (‘bab’e’),[34] Father Brown is repeatedly characterized as “childlike.” He is also short, round and stout, and he enlarges on Porfirii’s clumsiness to the point of helplessness: “The little priest […] had a face as round and dull as a Norfolk dumpling; he had eyes as empty as the North Sea; he had several brown paper parcels, which he was quite incapable of collecting.”[35] Like Porfirii, Father Brown’s deceptively harmless appearance is belied by his eyes. A murderer opens his confession to the priest: “damn your eyes, which are very penetrating ones;”[36] elsewhere, Father Brown stares at a murder suspect “so long and steadily as to prove that his large grey, ox-like eyes were not quite so insignificant as the rest of his face.”[37] Porfirii Petrovich and Father Brown (and, indeed, all of Chesterton’s detectives) unerringly identify their suspects by a combination of observation and intuition, supported by painstakingly accumulated evidence. Porfirii, for example, has Raskol’nikov’s room searched, interviews everyone with whom the student has had contact, and retains, as he claims, “a little fact” of solid evidence (never disclosed).[38] Yet it is intuition, rather than evidence, which allows Porfirii to accuse Raskol’nikov unequivocally after only three informal meetings. The casual laughter Raskol’nikov artfully produces at their first encounter does not deceive Porfirii for an instant: forewarned by intuition, he correctly interprets it as a disguise. Similarly, the unworldliness, vulnerability, and distraction manifested by Chesterton’s detectives are disguises designed to unbalance and disarm the criminal. Porfirii ingenuously calls his plan to startle Raskol’nikov into confessing by confronting him with a witness his “little surprise;”[39] in “The Face in the Target,” Horne Fisher unexpectedly confronts his suspect with a caricature of the victim to confirm his guilt; in “The Blue Cross,” Father Brown bamboozles Flambeau by behaving outrageously in public.

Dostoevskii’s and Chesterton’s detectives understand their suspects’ motives and urge them to redemption by “taking their suffering” (the Old Believer penance that Porfirii encourages Raskol’nikov to emulate).[40] Porfirii allows Raskol’nikov time to confess, because moral regeneration is pendant on confession; Father Brown prevents a repentant murderer “from committing suicide because “that door leads to hell;”[41] Horne Fisher refrains from exposing certain criminals to avoid harming innocent people. It is not quite true, as one critic writes, that “Porfiry Petrovitch goes beyond understanding Raskolnikov to identifying with him in some respects;”[42] Porfirii recognizes and admires, but does not necessarily share, the ideas raised in Raskol’nikov’s article. The Man Who Was Thursday’s Gabriel Syme, an undercover detective posing as an anarchist to win a seat on the Anarchist Council, exemplifies the extreme of deliberate identification with one’s moral opposite. Yet, ironically, the plot reveals that there are no real anarchists on the Council: each member is an undercover detective.

While one must not over-emphasize Chesterton’s debt to Dostoevskii, it is worth stressing that each deploys the same distinct type of detective. Dostoevskii, possibly inspired by Gaboriau, made Porfirii an ordinary police official at a time when professional investigators (as opposed to amateur or accidental sleuths) were highly unglamorous ancillary figures.[43] There is doubt whether Dostoevskii had yet encountered Dickens’s charismatic Inspector Bucket in Bleak House (1852-3), although he certainly acquired a copy after 1871.[44] Chesterton’s detectives are all marginal, superficially insignificant individuals, pursuing undistinguished professions, with the single exception of Gabriel Syme, who is a kind of professional amateur, a detective dilettante rather than a dilettante detective. Father Brown is a Catholic priest; Horne Fisher is a private secretary; and Gabriel Gale is a minor poet on the brink of being committed to the lunatic asylum. Despite their marginality, all four emerge, like Porfirii Petrovich, as dedicated defenders of humane behaviour. As Chesterton wrote in 1901, the detective story reminds us “that civilization itself is the most sensational of departures and the most romantic of rebellions,” and that “the agent of social justice… [is]… the original and poetic figure…[…] The romance of the police force is thus the whole romance of man.” This was a view with which Porfirii Petrovich, as the forerunner of Chesterton’s “successful knight-errantry” of “noiseless and unnoticeable police management,”[45] would certainly have concurred.


Conclusion: the Isosceles Triangle

In his study of Dickens, Gissing summarizes Crime and Punishment as “a story of a strange murder, of detective ingenuity.” Significantly, Gissing understood Dostoevskii’s novel primarily as crime narrative, even as he strove to excuse Dickens for failing to reach Dostoevskii’s heights of psychology, social realism, or stylistic innovation. Dickens was simply too obedient to decorum, in Gissing’s view, to create an English Sonia; and as for Raskol’nikov, “his motives, his reasonings, could not be comprehended by an Englishman of the lower middle class.”[46] Ironically and apparently unwittingly, Gissing thus excluded himself also from fully understanding Raskol’nikov. As Phelps has noted, Stevenson shows comparable selectivity by borrowing Dostoevskian ‘melodrama’ and neglecting psychological method; the motifs of serial murder and malign doubling in Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde owe, in all probability, more to Hogg’s Gil-Martin than to Dostoevskii’s Svidrigailov.[47] In the cases of both Gissing and Stevenson, their categorization of Crime and Punishment as crime fiction actually impeded its reception as a novel of ideas. Dostoevskii’s contribution to enriching the British murder may have compromised his reputation as a serious writer.

On the philosophical level, G.K. Chesterton—the least substantiated of the three Dostoevskian imitators discussed here—is also the most faithful. In the short story “The Yellow Bird,” part of the Poet and the Lunatics collection, Gabriel Gale asks a friend: “Were you ever an isosceles triangle?” Gale is curious “whether it would be a cramping sort of thing to be surrounded by straight lines, and whether being in a circle would be any better.”[48] This apparent irrelevance in fact expresses Gale’s insight into the mind of a (coincidentally) Russian anarchist, whose delight in exploding barriers has become a dangerous fixation. As Gale explains, “What exactly is liberty? First and foremost, surely, it is the power of a thing to be itself. […] Then I began to think that being oneself, which is liberty, is itself limitation. We are limited by our brains and bodies; and if we break out, we cease to be ourselves, and, perhaps, to be anything.”[49] Raskol’nikov is a close moral relative of Dostoevskii’s Underground Man; the latter’s determination to defy geometry and arithmetic is transformed into Raskol’nikov’s compulsion to shatter the barriers of conventional ethics. But like Gale’s anarchist, Raskol’nikov lacks the strength to survive within self-ordained limits, after “breaking out” of the cage of society. The triangle of British interpretations discussed above demonstrates that Dostoevskii’s fiction, at least, was capable of surviving beyond the boundaries of national identity.

The preceding piece by Muireann Maguire, “Crime and Publishing: How Dostoevskii Changed the British Murder,” is taken from the recently published A People Passing Rude: British Responses to Russian Culture (edited by Anthony Cross). The volume is released by Open Book Publishers (an independent publisher created by academics in Cambridge, UK, for the Open Access diffusion of academic research) and is available free to read in its entirety from the publisher’s website.


[1] Leonid G rossman, Dostoevskii: A Biography, trans. Mary Mackler (London, 1974), p. 357.

[2] Cited by W.H. Leatherbarrow, ‘Introduction’, in Dostoevskii and Britain, ed. W.H. Leatherbarrow (Oxford, 1995), pp. 1-38 (p. 25).

[3] Julian Symons, Bloody Murder: From the Detective Story to the Crime Novel: A History(London, 1972), p. 58.

[4] Michael Cohen, Murder Most Fair: The Appeal of Mystery Fiction (London, 2000), pp. 35-40.

[5] For Joan Delaney Grossman’s fascinating discussion of how Poe’s tales may have influenced Crime and Punishment (providing a prototype for Raskol’nikov’s masochistic compulsion to flaunt his guilt), see her Edgar Allan Poe in Russia: A Study in Legend and Literary Influence (Würzburg, 1973), pp. 31-4. Dostoevskii reviewed Poe’s tales in 1861 for his journal Vremia.

[6] For more conventionally themed analysis of how Dostoevskii’s novels influenced British literature, see, for example, Gary Adelman, Retelling Dostoyevsky: Literary Responses and Other Observations (London, 2001); Colin Crowder, ‘The Appropriation of Dostoevsky in the Early Twentieth Century: Cult, Counter-cult, and Incarnation’, in European Literature and Theology in the Twentieth Century, eds. Colin Crowder and David Jasper (London, 1990), pp. 15-33; and Peter Kaye, Dostoevsky and English Modernism, 1900-1930 (Cambridge, 1999).

[7] Plon published a second edition of Dérély’s translation, cited below, in 1885.

[8] Cited by Edgar C. Knowlton in ‘A Russian Influence on Stevenson’, Modern Philology, XIV, 8 (1916), pp. 449-54 (p. 450).

[9] Knowlton, ‘A Russian Influence on Stevenson’, p. 449.

[10] Robert Louis Stevenson, ‘Markheim’, in his The Complete Short Stories, ed. Ian Bell, II (Edinburgh and London, 1993), pp. 86-101 (p. 89).

[11] Fedor Dostoevskii, Le Crime et le Châtiment (2nd edn), trans. Victor Dérély (Paris, 1885), pp. 96-7.

[12] Helen Muchnic, Dostoevsky’s English Reputation (1881-1936) (Northampton, MA, 1939), p. 173.

[13] Robert Louis Stevenson, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, in his The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Other Tales of Terror (London, 2002), hereafter Jekyll and Hyde, pp. 2-70 (p. 7).

[14] Stevenson, Jekyll and Hyde, p. 6.

[15]Ibid., p. 22.

[16] George Gissing, undated letter to Mary E. Carter, in The Collected Letters of George Gissing, eds. Paul F. Mattheisen, Arthur C. Young, and Pierre Coustillas, III (Athens, Ohio, 1992), p. 160.

[17] Gissing, letter to Eduard Bertz, 4 November 1889, in Collected Letters, IV, pp. 139-41 (p. 140).

[18] Gissing, letter to Eduard Bertz, 16 December 1891, in Collected Letters, IV, pp. 342-4 (p. 343).

[19] Gissing, letter to Eduard Bertz, 22 October 1899, in Collected Letters, VII, pp. 388-90 (p. 389).

[20] George Orwell, ‘George Gissing’, in Pierre Coustillas (ed.), Collected Articles on George Gissing (London, 1968), pp. 50-7 (p. 54).

[21] George Gissing, Born in Exile (London, 1985), p. 51.

[22] Gissing, Born in Exile, pp. 170-1.

[23] Gissing, Born in Exile, p. 482.

[24] For Adrian Poole’s discussion of ‘charlatanism’ in the context of Peak, Raskol’nikov and Dickensian hypocrites, see his Gissing in Context (London, 1975), pp. 171-3.

[25] Gilbert Phelps, The Russian Novel in English Fiction (London, 1956), p. 164; see also Muchnic, Dostoevsky’s English Reputation, p. 171.

[26] Jacob Korg, ‘The Spiritual Theme of ‘Born in Exile’’, in Pierre Coustillas (ed.), Collected Articles on George Gissing (London, 1968) pp. 131-42 (p. 138).

[27] Gissing, Born in Exile, p. 471.

[28] Muchnic, Dostoevsky’s English Reputation, pp. 62-110. See also Olga Ushakova, ‘Russia and Russian Culture in The Criterion (1922-39)’ in this volume.

[29] Mark Knight has traced a detailed timeline of Chesterton’s potential encounters with Dostoevskii in his article ‘Chesterton, Dostoevsky, and Freedom’, in English Literature in Transition, 1880-1920, XLIII, no. 1 (2000), pp. 37-50 (37-41).

[30] Knight, ‘Chesterton, Dostoevsky, and Freedom’, p. 42.

[31] Gary Wills, Chesterton: Man and Mask (New York, 1961), p. 51.

[32] Fyodor Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment, trans. Constance Garnett (London, 1914, 1979), hereafter Crime and Punishment, p. 226.

[33] Crime and Punishment, p. 230.

[34] Dostoevskii, Prestuplenie i nakazanie, in his Polnoe sobranie sochinenii v XVIII tomakh, VII (Moscow, 2004), p. 174.

[35] G.K. Chesterton, ‘The Blue Cross’, in Chesterton, The Annotated Innocence of Father Brown, ed. Martin Gardner (Oxford, 1988), pp. 15-41 (p. 18).

[36] Chesterton, ‘The Wrong Shape’, in The Annotated Innocence of Father Brown, pp. 138-59 (p. 156).

[37] Chesterton, ‘The Hammer of God’, in The Annotated Innocence of Father Brown, pp. 179-96 (pp. 189-90).

[38] Crime and Punishment, p. 412.

[39] Crime and Punishment, p. 317.

[40] Ibid., p. 415.

[41] Chesterton, ‘The Hammer of God’, p. 195.

[42] Michael Cohen, Murder Most Fair: The Appeal of Mystery Fiction (London, 2000), p. 73.

[43] See Julian Symons, Bloody Murder: From the Detective Story to the Crime Novel: A History (London, 1972), pp. 40-55.

[44] See N.M. Lary, Dostoevsky and Dickens: A Study in Literary Influence (London and Boston, 1973), p. 10. For an argument that Dostoevskii did read Bleak House while still in exile, see Veronica Shapalov, ‘They Came From Bleak House’, Dostoevsky Studies,IX (1988), [accessed 15.10.2012].

[45] G.K. Chesterton, ‘A Defence of Detective Stories’, in The Defendant (London, 1901), pp. 118-23 (pp. 122-3).

[46] George Gissing, Charles Dickens: A Character Study, in Collected Works of George Gissing on Charles Dickens, ed. Simon James, II (Surrey, 2004), pp. 17-191 (pp. 177-8).

[47] See Phelps, The Russian Novel in English Fiction, pp. 166-8; for more on Stevenson’s Scottish influences, see Christopher Maclachlan, ‘Murder and the Supernatural: Crime in the Fiction of Scott, Hogg, and Stevenson’, in Clues: A Journal of Detection, XXVI: 2 (2008), pp. 10-22.

[48] G.K. Chesterton, ‘The Yellow Bird’, in G.K. Chesterton: Selected Stories, ed. Kingsley Amis (London, 1972), pp. 226-45 (pp. 233-4).

[49] Ibid., pp. 242-3.


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About the author

Muireann Maguire

Muireann Maguire is Senior Lecturer in Russian at the University of Exeter. She has taught courses on nineteenth- and twentieth-century Russian literature and on comparative literature.

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