Analysis of Dostoevsky and Nietzsche's Literature
Friedrich Nietzsche once said, “Dostoevsky, the only one who has taught me anything about psychology.” The two writers share many similarities and differences. Dostoevsky clearly had an effect on the thinking of Nietzsche. The two would be considered both philosophers and psychologists. Both writers became prominent in the late 19th century in Germany and Russia respectively. Dostoevsky was noted for his Russian literary classics and would be responsible for a flowering of late 19th century Russian literary culture. His Russian contemporaries include Leo Tostoy and Anton Chekov. Dostoevsky’s most famous works include The Brothers Karamozov, The Idiot, and Crime and Punishment. Nietzsche is most famous for his philosophical works such as thus spoke Zarathustra. The two writers have many similarities in their philosophy. They both see a changing role in religion. Nietzsche and Dostoevsky also differ sharply on some other aspects of life. One of these being the differing views on the role of the fatherland. Nietzsche’s beyond good and evil and Dostoevsky’s crime and punishment are two works that can be compared and contrasted to show the similarities and dissimilarities of the two geniuses. The two men offer great insights in these books on morality and the affect it can have on the actions of the individual and the society as a whole.
Dostoevsky’s crime and punishment, is set in Tsarist Russia in the 19th century. Rodya Raskolnikov, the main character, is a student at a University in St. Petersburg. By the early stages of the novel, he has dropped out of school and is left in his one room shanty, to ponder his own philosophical questions. He is poor, hungry and desperate for money. He begins to sell some of his possessions to a pawnbroker, Alyona Ivanovna, to gain money for his basic survival. He begins to see the poverty and desperation of St. Petersburg at this time. Rodya would begin to look at Alyona as a source of this problem. Alyona, in Rodya’s eyes, was profiting off of the poverty and misery of others by buying off their possession at unreasonably low prices. She would then horde the money for herself while the people outside of her own apartment starved to death. Raskolnikov decides to murder the pawnbroker for the sake of humanity. His plan is not deeply thought out in advance and it runs into trouble when Lizaveta, Alyona’s sister walks in. Rodya has to take the irrevocable step of murdering her. Originally, just Alyona is to be murdered and the she would be robbed. The reasons for this will be explained later in the following sections of the novel and this essay.
Rodya has now committed the terrible deed of murder. He now begins to try to reason out the murder through philosophy. This philosophy he uses would be considered very Nietzschian by any standards. While sorting out the ins and outs of why he has done this, he falls into a catatonic sickness. For days...