Crime and punishment - A Noise Within Study Guide

A learn notes on Russian Classical e-book Crime and punishment via Fyodor Dostoevsky.

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Perhaps sensing that the reputation of the medical profession had already been damaged by reports that the murderer possessed some anatomical knowledge, within days the prominent British medical journal the Lancet attacked Baxter’s theory, dismissing it as absurd. The press, however, did not dismiss the story out of hand, perhaps because of their dim view of doctors, but also because the story of an unscrupulous, acquisitive American resonated with the British public. 12 The letter created a sensation not only because the phantom murderer now had a self-appointed name (assuming that the letter was actually written by the killer), but also because what the London Times described as the “brutal character” of the letter’s language was “full of Americanisms” (such as “Dear Boss,” “fix me,” and “shant quit”).

And yet even this rule has exceptions. As Elliott Leyton has argued, “No one ever became famous by beating his wife to death in an alley; but virtually all our multiple murderers achieve true and lasting fame . . During their trials, they will almost certainly be surrounded by admiring women who impress their affections upon the killer, radiating towards him little but admiration and love” (21–22). Even during the crimes themselves, some serial killers have felt and been influenced by the public’s fascinated interest in them.

As Stathis Gourgouris has pointed out, “If American society is paradigmatically founded on the primacy of law [the Bill of Rights], it is also co-incidentally founded on the phantasmatic allure of the outlaw—the Wild West, the frontier, and so on: the errant loner who forges his own rights, in some improvisational fashion, as he goes along” (135, original emphasis). K. Corral with Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, but any reader of Cormac MacCarthy’s classic novel Blood Meridian will know that the realization of “manifest destiny” was, if anything, more violent and bloody than serial murder could ever be.

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