Crime and Punishment at 150 (2016)

Schismatic Temporalities : Raskolnikov and the Raskolniki Haxhi, Tomi


My inspiration for this project comes from the root of the protagonist’s name—raskolnik, or a schismatic—and its ties to the sect of the Old Believers, i.e. the Raskolniki who broke away from the Russian Orthodox Church following the reforms of the patriarch Nikon in the seventeenth century. I will demonstrate the various parallels and discrepancies, between Raskolnikov’s conception and experience of time and that of the Old Believers. The conflict between linear, historical time (chronos) and vertical, eternal time (kairos) constitutes the central temporal problematic for the protagonist. How does this temporal concern extend to the Old Believers? Their schism from the church implies temporal properties of its own—a schismatic temporality cut off from history, one in which time stands still in wait for the so-called ‘end’. This brings me to my next point—the implications that such problematic temporalities hold for the course of history, as Raskolnikov and the Raskolniki envision it, and their role in it. Raskolnikov hopes that his crime will effect a ‘schism’ in his place in history, that it will make a ‘great man’ of him. In contrast, how do the Raskolniki view their role in history in light of their schism? Bakhtin’s “Forms of Time and of the Chronotope” provides the primary framework with which I intend to tackle this project; his theory of eschatological temporalities appears particularly pertinent in light of the apocalyptic tendencies of the Raskolniki. Focusing on the oft-neglected relationship between Raskolnikov and the Old Believers, my project presents a new avenue into Dostoevsky’s philosophy of history and the individual.

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