Sir Francis Bacon

Histories make men wise; poets, witty; the mathematics, subtle; natural philosophy, deep; moral, grave; logic and rhetoric, able to contend.

--Of Studies--

Cross Reference

I'm approximately halfway through book one of Crime and Punishment, which equates to about 1/12 of the book total (if you don't count the epilogue). I noticed some interesting things while reading, and I thought I'd share them with my loyal readers.

Before we start though, let me say that the story is engrossing. One does not usually think of 19th century translations thus, but this is evidently an exceptional case.

I must praise Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, the translators for this modern edition of an old book. The prose flows easily from the page, and they include a large number of textual notes that elucidate the unschooled proletarians' understanding of the story. Whether they comment that Raskolnikov is wearing the same type of hat Dostoevski posessed, or that St. Petersburg experiences very little night in the summer due to its lattitude, they are all insightful and increase my understanding of the text.

Two such textual notes left me spinning a bit, as they consisted entirely of references to passages in the Bible. I find it interesting that in this day and age the translator would assume the reader have ready access to a Bible. These days one would just ask the Internet, but this 17 year old translation predates the widespread use thereof. At any rate, the house in which I live is the sort of place where one can find such books laying about on sideboards and writing desks, so I was in need of no such electronic assistance.

The references were twofold. In the story, an old drunk, Marmeladov, is soliloquizing his woes to the primary protagonist (also antagonist, depending on your perspective) Raskolnikov, including the fate of his daughter, forced to a life of prostitution to support her destitute family. He says that on judgement day his daughter will be selected among the chosen, forgiven for her sins because it was for love of her family that she sold herself to such an ungodly industry. The biblical reference, Luke 7:47, is as follows from the English Standard Edition:

"Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little."

It was as if he had to prove his argument, and did so by indirectly quoting scripture. Through the entire scene, what Marmeladov says to simultaneously assure and berate himself is more interesting than what he says to entreat Raskolnikov. In his self deprocating fashion, and in continuing with the judgement day theme, he says of himself and his kind (that is to say, drunks and oafs and layabouts) that they will stand before the lord like beasts and be marked and treated as such. The reference here is Revelations 13:15-16, which I will not quote here. Suffice to say it concerns the fate of man, decieved into worshipping the beast (read the devil). The passage itself was not what interested me. A few verses later, they mention the specific mark on the populace imposed by the beast, the number six hundred and sixty six.

I had always had a morbid curiosity concerning the origins of the mark of the beast, as it is still a very prevalent piece of modern mythology. I didn't exactly read the passage in context, but as with most things I imagine the symbology has been blown right out of proportion since it's original inception. It's all over the place really. In the first Harry Potter book, how old was the alchemist who synthesized the philosopher's (or sorceror's) stone when he died? 665. Try examining your local grafitti. My heart nearly stopped the other day when my lunch rang up six dollars and sixth six cents. I had thought the origins were most likely pagan, with a possibile nod to the apocrypha. Nope, turns out every bible I've ever held had the reference somewhere near the back.

Now, I call myself Christian, but I was unfamiliar with these two references. Both new testament, both cross referenced from my edition of Crime and Punishment. Hence, they are cross references. Hence the pun in the title.

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