Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky was born October 30, 1821, in Moscow’s Hospital for the Poor. He was the second of seven children born to a former army surgeon, who was murdered in 1839 when his own serfs poured vodka down his throat until he died.
Following a boarding school education in Moscow with his older brother Mikhail, Fyodor was admitted to the Academy of Military Engineers in St. Petersburg in 1838.
He completed his studies in 1843, graduating as a lieutenant, but was quickly convinced that he preferred a career in writing to being mired in the bureaucratic Russian military. In 1844 he published a translation of Balzac’s Eugenie Grandet,
and he followed this two years later with his first original published work, Poor Folk, a widely-acclaimed short novel championed by the influential critic Vissarion Belinsky.
On April 23, 1849, Dostoevsky was arrested with other members of the Petrashevsky circle and was sentenced to death to work as materialist atheism. He was placed in solitary confinement in the Petropavlovsky Fortress for eight months.
During this time, Tsar Nikolai I changed his sentence but ordered that this change only be announced at the last minute. On December 22, Dostoevsky and his fellow prisoners were led through all the initial steps of execution, and several of them were already tied to posts awaiting their deaths when the reprieve was sounded.
Dostoevsky’s harrowing near-execution and his terrible years of imprisonment made an indelible impression on him,converting him to a lifelong intense spirituality.
These beliefs formed the basis for his great novels. Time passed, and Dostoevsky, preoccupied with a longer, serialized novel, did no work on the book he had promised Stellovsky until at last, on the advice of friends, he hired the young Anna Grigorievna Snitkin as his stenographer.
He dictated The Gambler to her, and the manuscript was delivered to Stellovsky on the very day their agreement was to expire. Through November, Dostoevsky completed the longer novel Crime and Punishment, which was published that year to immediate and abundant success. Fyodor proposed to Anna, and they soon were wed on February 15, 1867.
Fyodor Dostoevsky died on January 28, 1881, of complications related to his epilepsy. At the funeral procession in St. Petersburg, his coffin was followed by thirty to forty thousand people. His epitaph reads, “verily, verily, i say unto you, except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone.
But if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” which is the quotation Dostoevsky chose for the preface of The Brothers Karamazov.
Dostoevsky is one of the first writers to explore the ideas of psychoanalysis in his works. His religious ideas are still relevant in theological debate.
He also is one of the seminal creators of the ideas of existentialism. Despite his varying success during his lifetime, today Dostoevsky is considered to be one of the preeminent Russian novelists—indeed, one of the preeminent novelists—of all time.
Best Quotes From Fyodor Dostoevsky
” Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love. “
” What is hell? I maintain that it is the suffering of being unable to love. “
” The darker the night, the brighter the stars, The deeper the grief, the closer is God! “
” People speak sometimes about the “bestial” cruelty of man, but that is terribly unjust and offensive to beasts, no animal could ever be so cruel as a man, so artfully, so artistically cruel. “
” The soul is healed by being with children. “