On its first appearance in Russia, Dostoevsky’s novel Crime and Punishment was the hit of the season. It was serialised throughout 1866 in the journal The Russian Messenger. Nikolai Strakhov, Dostoevsky’s first biographer, described the novel’s effect on the reading public as spectacular: ‘[A]ll that lovers of reading talked about was that novel, about which they complained because of its crushing power … so that people with strong nerves almost became ill, while people with weak nerves had to leave off reading.’ Other contemporaries testified similarly: that the novel, even for Russian readers, was not an easy read.
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