“So you pray to God a great deal, Sonia?” he asked her.
Sonia did not speak; he stood beside her waiting for an answer.
“What should I be without God?” she whispered rapidly, forcibly, glancing at him with suddenly flashing eyes, and squeezing his hand.
“Ah, so that is it!” he thought.
“And what does God do for you?” he asked, probing her further.
Sonia was silent a long while, as though she could not answer. Her weak chest kept heaving with emotion.
“Be silent! Don’t ask! You don’t deserve!” she cried suddenly, looking sternly and wrathfully at him.
“That’s it, that’s it,” he repeated to himself.
“He does everything,” she whispered quickly, looking down again.
“That’s the way out! That’s the explanation,” he decided, scrutinising her with eager curiosity, with a new, strange, almost morbid feeling. He gazed at that pale, thin, irregular, angular little face, those soft blue eyes, which could flash with such fire, such stern energy, that little body still shaking with indignation and anger–and it all seemed to him more and more strange, almost impossible. “She is a religious maniac!” he repeated to himself.
There was a book lying on the chest of drawers. He had noticed it every time he paced up and down the room. Now he took it up and looked at it. It was the New Testament in the Russian translation. It was bound in leather, old and worn.
“Where did you get that?” he called to her across the room.
She was still standing in the same place, three steps from the table.
“It was brought me,” she answered, as it were unwillingly, not looking at him.
“Who brought it?”
“Lizaveta, I asked her for it.”
“Lizaveta! strange!” he thought.
Everything about Sonia seemed to him stranger and more wonderful every moment. He carried the book to the candle and began to turn over the pages.
“Where is the story of Lazarus?” he asked suddenly.
Sonia looked obstinately at the ground and would not answer. She was standing sideways to the table.
“Where is the raising of Lazarus? Find it for me, Sonia.”
She stole a glance at him.
“You are not looking in the right place. . . . It’s in the fourth gospel,” she whispered sternly, without looking at him.
“Find it and read it to me,” he said. He sat down with his elbow on the table, leaned his head on his hand and looked away sullenly, prepared to listen.
“In three weeks’ time they’ll welcome me in the madhouse! I shall be there if I am not in a worse place,” he muttered to himself.
Sonia heard Raskolnikov’s request distrustfully and moved hesitatingly to the table. She took the book however.
“Haven’t you read it?” she asked, looking up at him across the table.
Her voice became sterner and sterner.
“Long ago. . . . When I was at school. Read!”
“And haven’t you heard it in church?”
“I . . . haven’t been. Do you often go?”
“N-no,” whispered Sonia.
“I understand. . . . And you won’t go to your father’s funeral to-morrow?”
“Yes, I shall. I was at church last week, too . . . I had a requiem service.”
“For Lizaveta. She was killed with an axe.”
His nerves were more and more strained. His head began to go round.
“Were you friends with Lizaveta?”
“Yes. . . . She was good . . . she used to come . . . not often . . . she couldn’t. . . . We used to read together and . . . talk. She will see God.”
The last phrase sounded strange in his ears. And here was something new again: the mysterious meetings with Lizaveta and both of them– religious maniacs.
“I shall be a religious maniac myself soon! It’s infectious!”
“Read!” he cried irritably and insistently.
Sonia still hesitated. Her heart was throbbing. She hardly dared to read to him. He looked almost with exasperation at the “unhappy lunatic.”
“What for? You don’t believe? . . .” she whispered softly and as it were breathlessly. Continue reading “Dostoevsky — Sonia’s reading of the raising of Lazarus in Crime and Punishment”