Historical Context in Crime and Punishment
First published in The Russian Messenger, a notable magazine in the 19th century, Crime and Punishment was officially published in 1867 and was greeted with acclaim. The story takes place during the 1860s in St. Petersburg, Russia, under the reign of Tsar Alexander II. Alexander had freed the Russian serfs in 1861 and began a progressive social and economic reform movement in an attempt to “catch up” to Western Europe. The city of St. Petersburg itself was filled with bankers, clerks, and intellectuals in all spheres, many writing about new, politically “liberal” philosophies modeled on similar movements in France and Germany. Such movements are directly responsible for much of the content in Dostoevsky’s work. Raskolnikov himself discusses them at length with other characters in the novel.