Anna SchurWages of evil: Dostoevsky and punishment
Northwestern University Press (Studies in Russian literature and theory),
2013, xi, 241 pp.
Scholars and other readers usually examine Dostoevsky’s views on punishment through the prism of his Christian commitments. For some, this means an orientation toward mercy; for others, an affirmation of suffering as a path toward redemption. Anna Schur brings to bear a wide range of sources in philosophy, criminology, psychology, and history to examine Dostoevsky's ideas. His thinking was shaped not only by his Christian ethics but also by the debates on punishment theory and practice unfolding during his lifetime. As Dostoevsky attempts to balance the various ethical and cultural imperatives, he displays ambivalence both about punishment and about mercy. This ambivalence, Schur argues, is further complicated by what Dostoevsky sees as the unfathomable quality of the self, which hinders every attempt to match crimes with punishments. The one certainty he holds is that a proper response to wrongdoing must include a concern for the wrongdoers’ moral improvement.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: The Scaffold and the Rod: Dostoevsky on the Death Penalty and Corporal Punishment
Chapter 2 : "Squaring the Circle": The Justice of Punishment
Chapter 3: Foregoing Punishment: Dostoevsky’s Third Category and the Case of Ekaterina Kornilova
Chapter 4: "A Mummy" or a "Resurrected" Self?
Chapter 5: "India Rubber," the "Living Soul," and the Process of Moral Change
Chapter 6: Approximations of Justice: The Novel in the Courtroom
Anna Schur is an associate professor of English at Keene State College in New Hampshire
Fedor Mihailovič Dostoevskij (11.XI.1821-9.II.1881)