2. EPILOGUE - II (continued)
And if only fate would have sent him repentance--burning repentance
that would have torn his heart and robbed him of sleep, that
repentance, the awful agony of which brings visions of hanging or
drowning! Oh, he would have been glad of it! Tears and agonies would
at least have been life. But he did not repent of his crime.
At least he might have found relief in raging at his stupidity, as he
had raged at the grotesque blunders that had brought him to prison.
But now in prison, /in freedom/, he thought over and criticised all
his actions again and by no means found them so blundering and so
grotesque as they had seemed at the fatal time.
"In what way," he asked himself, "was my theory stupider than others
that have swarmed and clashed from the beginning of the world? One has
only to look at the thing quite independently, broadly, and
uninfluenced by commonplace ideas, and my idea will by no means seem
so . . . strange. Oh, sceptics and halfpenny philosophers, why do you
"Why does my action strike them as so horrible?" he said to himself.
"Is it because it was a crime? What is meant by crime? My conscience
is at rest. Of course, it was a legal crime, of course, the letter of
the law was broken and blood was shed. Well, punish me for the letter
of the law . . . and that's enough. Of course, in that case many of
the benefactors of mankind who snatched power for themselves instead
of inheriting it ought to have been punished at their first steps. But
those men succeeded and so /they were right/, and I didn't, and so I
had no right to have taken that step."
It was only in that that he recognised his criminality, only in the
fact that he had been unsuccessful and had confessed it.
He suffered too from the question: why had he not killed himself? Why
had he stood looking at the river and preferred to confess? Was the
desire to live so strong and was it so hard to overcome it? Had not
Svidrigailov overcome it, although he was afraid of death?