Home > Art, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Literature > How old is the Raskolnikov character in “Crime and Punishment?”

How old is the Raskolnikov character in “Crime and Punishment?”


april 16 2011
Just finished the book: about 24, can’t cite page, but did the math from a line late in the novel.
ORIGINAL QUESTION:
John Hurt was 39 in actual chronological age when the he played Raskolnikov in the BBC version of Dostoyevsky’s novel. That is so wrong. Closeups etc. How old at the outside would the character have been? Not like having a non-caucasian playing, just wrong, wrong, wrong.
I started watching the 1979 BBC miniseries version of “Crime and Punishment” with John Hurt in the role of Raskolnikov. John Hurt’s actual age during the film would have been about 39. My guess is that the character in the novel would be about 20 at the time that he commits the murders. I have no argument with the quality of Hurt’s talent and skill, but after watching the first hour of the miniseries, I just can’t go on. It is simply too incongruous, cognitive dissonance on a major scale…for me at least. At the same time, I’m about a third of the way through the actual novel. I’ve googled and binged, but can find no answer to the question of how old the Raskolnikov character is supposed to be. Chacha.com says he’s about 20, but gives no evidence, internal or otherwise for the answer. So more specifically, I’m looking for any “hard” evidence of how old the Raskolnikov character is “supposed” to be. My opinion: he’s a university drop-out, described in fascinating detail in the novel. From the context I’d say he’s about 20, but I have not proof. I’m also fascinated that I could find nothing of value on this question on the Net.
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  1. christian
    April 8, 2012 at 6:13 pm

    My guess is 23 or 24. He is too advanced for 20, but disillusioned enough to be 23. He not to long ago was a recent student at the university and the influence of those years convince me that he was in school longer than two years.

  2. April 8, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    Hi Christian, yes, that was my conclusion as well. I had posted the same question in Quora, and I think that I mentioned my “final” conclusion there, but not in TGIAA. It’s been a year since reading CAP, but your logic is very good and I agree: right around 23.

    There is ONE single clue toward the end of the book. Rascal is in a forest or a cemetery and he has an interior monolog that alludes to his age by way of his schooling and experiences.

    I keep thinking about this novel. FD was addressing some issues with regards to free will, ethics, Christianity, nature vs nurture. Many thinkers of his level in Europe had already experienced hundreds of years of “the enlightenment,” and moving on to Darwinism, which advanced the cause of the Enlightenment even more. But first-rate Russian writer/philosophers like Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky and many others were not as immersed in that phenomenon. They felt the tug of religion much more deeply. Obviously, I’m just a grasshopper in these issues, but for what it’s worth, that’s my take.

    But the book remains deeply embedded in my consciousness. I wish I read Russian and German.

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