So, there I was as usual listening to the radio in the middle of the night because I can’t sleep. I lucked out because there was a very interesting program broadcast from Pushkin House in London. Pushkin House is a Russian cultural center and they were having an event to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the publication of “Crime and Punishment” by Fyodor Dostoevsky in 1866. There were many speakers including a number of translators of the famous novel (latest in 2014).
I do remember reading the book and the name ‘Raskolnikov’ (the murderer) in High School.
While they discussed the relevant details of the story, I began to hear some familiar themes. This novel was the first of its kind in which the murder and the murderer are known at the beginning and the excitement comes in how the detective figures things out. The detective is disarmingly simple. So, I said to myself, “This sounds like my favorite detective series “Columbo” with Peter Falk (mentioned in previous blogs).
In the TV program, the perpetrators are powerful people who have a sense of entitlement. In C&P, the perpetrator has a belief that some individuals (such as himself) are above the law because of their superior intelligence.
The following morning I went right to Google and Wikipedia and look at what I found:
“It is said that the show’s creators Richard Levinson and William Link …based the character of Columbo on Petrovitch, the detective in Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, and it makes perfect sense. Both men have razor-sharp brains lurking behind disarmingly shambolic exteriors; and the template of the detective slowly and cheerfully reeling in a criminal who makes no attempt to run was also set by the great Russian novel… So, if you’ve been tempted to underestimate Columbo, I urge you to reconsider – that’s what his quarries do, and look where it gets them.”
Mark Monahan, Aug 5, 2009 in The Telegraph, November 2016
I was so happy that in my sleeplessness, I made this theoretical connection and then found out that it was true. Most of the crazy ideas I get at night are not fit to print.