Alexander Isakov. Dostoyevsky and Lacan. Analysis of the text of “Crime and Punishment”. Vol. 2. No. 1/2. 2017

Publication Details

Dostoyevsky and Lacan. Analysis of the text of “Crime and Punishment”
Title in the language of publication: Достоевский и Лакан. Анализ текста «Преступления и наказания»
Alexander Isakov
PhD in Philosophy, Associate Professor of the Institute of Philosophy of the Saint Petersburg State University.
Address: 7/9 Universitetskaya emb., St. Petersburg 199034, Russia.
P. 23–43.
Language: Russian
Document type: Research Article


According to the author, the novel’s ideology refers to the philosophy of Nietzsche, which in its key point reveals the power as “another” freedom. The power is not a system and hierarchy suppressing the individual, but a pure voluntary motive, a “quant” of will. As Raskolnikov notes, the power means “just to dare”. In this sense, the idea of power appears an alternative to the Christian interpretation of the freedom of will. Raskolnikov commits a crime and at the same time tries to ideologically justify it due to his disease. His will and thought are oriented towards each other by some third instance, which as itself slips away from the character’s conscience. We can specify the mentioned unconscious instance, following Freud, as a hero’s paternal complex. As an outcome of the performed analysis, the conceptual point of the novel shifts so that the hero’s confession, not the crime, becomes its crucial event. Raskolnikov’s crime, as taken in itself, makes just a prerequisite to formulate the main issue: what is the core of and how is it possible to confess an illegal action, moreover, such grave one as murder, once it was actively “passive”, that is, unconscious? In the present article, the author proposes to utilize in the analysis of classical Dostoyevsky’s text the apparatus of J. Lacan’s theory of unconscious. This would allow consider the text of the novel regardless of its conceptual unity as a chain of signifiers, through which the unconsciously desire of the subject obtains an indirect expression beyond his own will, and it comes twofold: from the point of the crime event and from that of the confession event. In both cases, the structure arranging the symbolic order of the text, the absent signifier, is the name of the brother, the real/possible first-born child in Raskolnikov family — LEONID — to whom, in the “real”, the object a corresponds — “A SIX-MONTH-OLD BOY, DEAD”.


Dostoyevsky, Lacan, “Crime and Punishment”, hermeneutics, structure, unconscious, imaginary, symbolic, real.


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© Alexander Isakov, 2017

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