The Project

Our project focuses on Fiodor Dostoevsky’s novel Crime and Punishment (1867) from the perspective of Digital Humanities. In this project for the Computational Methods in Humanities course we were looking into how different name forms are used in the novel. The novel has more than twenty characters who are referred to by different forms of their names. In the Russian name system one person might be referred to by first name, patronymic, last name, nickname, several kinds of diminutive and each name form has social connotation. The questions we were asking were: What name forms are used for each character and by whom? What kinds of patterns can be seen here? For instance, is there a difference in how the narrator refers to characters and how they refer to each other? How characters are called based on gender distinctions?

The Text

Crime and Punishment was first published in Russkii Vestnik (The Russian Messenger) – the influential at that period literary journal with a liberal orientation. The novel was published in twelve monthly installments during 1866. Later the novel was significantly edited and published as a single volume. Dostoevsky is notorious for his writing style, to which some critics and writers refer as prolix, repetitious and lacking in polish, balance, restrain and even good taste. This writing style might seem inappropriate for a computational approach to the text. One would rather seek for patterns or peculiarities in more refined and thoroughly constructed texts, such as poetry or modernist prose. However, one of the major advantages of a computational method is being able to find patterns and peculiarities where the human eye can miss them. Therefore, for such stylistically unrefined texts as Dostoevsky’s novels, a computational approach might reveal unexpected patterns that human reader would have dismissed as a bad style.

The Characters

For the purposes of markup and analysis, we gave each character an identifier. The characters we looked at, and their name forms, are presented here.

First Name Patronymic Informal Patronymic Foreign Patronymic Last Name Nickname Sweet Diminutive Schoolyard Diminutive
Raskolnikov Родион Романович Романыч Раскольников Родя Роденька Родька
PA Пульхерия Александровна Раскольникова
Dunya Авдотья Романовна Раскольникова Дуня Дунечка
Razumikhin Дмитрий Прокофьевич Разумихин
pawnbroker Алёна Ивановна
Lizaveta Лизавета Ивановна
Marmeladov Семён Захарович Захарыч Мармеладов
KI Катерина Ивановна Мармеладова
Sonya Софья Семёновна Мармеладова Соня Сонечка
Svidrigaylov Аркадий Иванович Свидригайлов
MP Марфа Петровна Свидригайлова
Luzhin Пётр Петрович Лужин
Lebezyatnikov Андрей Семёнович Семёныч Лебезятников
landlady Амалия Ивановна/Фёдоровна Людвиговна Липпевехзель
Zosimov Зосимов
Zametov Александр Григорьевич Заметов
PP Порфирий Петрович

Russian Name Forms

Russian names have multiple forms. The first name is the given name. From it are formed a nickname, which is usually used between friends or from adults to young children, sweet diminutives, which are intimate and affectionate, and what we here called a 'schoolyard diminutive', which is an unceremonious form used informally between friends. The patronymic is formed from the father's first name. Among adults, or from children to non-familiar adults, the usual and polite form of address is the first name and patronymic.