In Raskolnikov’s illness he had dreamed that the whole world was doomed to fall victim to some terrible yet unknown and unseen pestilence, spreading to Europe from the depths of Asia. Everyone was to perish, except for certain, very few chosen ones. Some new trichinae had appeared, microscopic creatures that lodged themselves in men’s bodies.
Entire settlements, entire cities and nations would be infected and go mad. Everyone became anxious and no one understood anyone else. Each thought the truth was contained in himself alone and suffered looking at others.*
This pestilence cited at the end of Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment is a spiritual one, that of nihilism sweeping the world.