I love the following passage by Dostoyevsky but I don't think I understand the last sentence:
"He wandered aimlessly. The sun was setting. A special form of misery had begun to oppress him of late. There was nothing poignant, nothing acute about it; but there was a feeling of permanence, of eternity about it; it brought a foretaste of hopeless years of this cold leaden misery, a foretaste of an eternity "on a square yard of space." Towards evening this sensation usually began to weigh on him more heavily.”
What does he mean by "a foretaste of eternity on "a square yard of space."
And why is it bracketed? Is it referring to something?
From Crime and Punishment.
I think by "on a square yard of space" he could be referring to an infinite and deep sense of ennui, hopelessness, being bored with life and knowing one will go nowhere beyond that "square yard" which is their life.
"A foretaste of eternity" is his glimpse of this future of hopelessness, seeing life spread bare before him as an ultimately hopeless endeavor.
As for the quotes, I have no idea.
If I had to take a guess, he's feeling claustrophobic, that the walls are closing in and there's nowhere to go or hide. I think he knows about the years of boredom and misery to come, and recognizes that he can't do anything about it.
Presumably it's a Russian common phrase that hasn't translated well into English. My guess is that it was originally a euphemism for prison (like being 'sent down the river') or for being in the grave (like being 'si feet under').
Iirc earlier he said/thought that life, even an eternity on a square yard of space, was better than dying. This was him glorying in the beauty and freedom of the world.
This quote then is him thinking about what he said/thought earlier. It's been a while since I've read the book but this may be (from the context) when he's considering turning himself in or killing himself. Maybe a hopeless eternity on "one yard of space" (prison) isn't better than death.
Of course later, through Sonya, this eternity doesnt seem so hopeless.
What part and what chapter is your quote from, OP? I see 'a square yard of space' used in Pt II, Chap. 6, but it's not your quote. Maybe the use of quotes is because Raskal is quoting himself from earlier. I'm looking in the Russian to see whether the quotes are used there as well.
Assuming it doesn't simply refer to prison, it's clearly meant to express a fundamental dissatisfaction with his situation, that he is utterly doomed, doubly so, doomed and doomed in such a way that even that too is limited.
Yeah, the brackets around 'a square yard of space' in that passage are present in the original Russian. I'm still inclined to think (cf. >>7683869) the quotes indicate that this is quoting the turn of phrase as used earlier in the book. I think the quotes, and the repetition, also foreground the concept too. Raskolnikov's living quarters are described as extremely small. There are perhaps other things mentioned in the book that reinforce this imagery; it's been a few years since I last read the book. It seems to me to tie in with the Punishment aspect of the book, but maybe also in a broader way the ultimate smallness/emptiness of the 'Superman' ideology that seems so liberating to Raskolnikov but is in fact the opposite.