Wages of Evil

Cloth Text – $45.00

ISBN 978-0-8101-2848-4
Publication Date
January 2013
Page Count
256 pages
Trim Size
6.125 x 9.25

Wages of Evil

Dostoevsky and Punishment
Anna Schur

Scholars and other readers usually examine Dostoevsky’s views on punishment through the prism of his Christian commitments. For some, this means an orientation toward mercy; for others, an affirmation of suffering as a path toward redemption. Anna Schur brings to bear a wide range of sources in philosophy, criminology, psychology, and history to examine Dostoevsky's ideas. His thinking was shaped not only by his Christian ethics but also by the debates on punishment theory and practice unfolding during his lifetime. As Dostoevsky attempts to balance the various ethical and cultural imperatives, he displays ambivalence both about punishment and about mercy. This ambivalence, Schur argues, is further complicated by what Dostoevsky sees as the unfathomable quality of the self, which hinders every attempt to match crimes with punishments. The one certainty he holds is that a proper response to wrongdoing must include a concern for the wrongdoers’ moral improvement.
About the Author

Anna Schur is an associate professor of English at Keene State College in New Hampshire.


"More than groundbreaking, the book is a splendid piece of work. Exhaustively researched and lucidly written, it should appeal not only to Russian specialists and literary scholars but to the general reader with any interest in the ethical, psychological, legal, sociological, or criminological aspects of the punishment of those found guilty of crimes." —James P. Scanlan, Slavic Review

"The balance and rigour Schur brings to the subject are to be welcomed…Wages of Evil reveals the complexities in Dostoevskii’s position, and the hesitations (a key trope for Schur) and reversals that are apparent as he wrestles with the problem, presenting a picture that is a far cry from the dogmatic Orthodox moralist that sometimes emerges in studies of the author. As much as in its engagement with the specifics of the question of punishment, Schur’s contribution lies in her nuanced approach, and for this she should be applauded." —Modern Language Review