Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Some information on Dostoyevksy (from Wikipedia):

Fyodor Mikhaylovich Dostoyevsky
Born: 11 November 1821
Died: 9 February 1881)

Dostoyevsky was a Russian writer and essayist best known for his novels Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov.

Dostoyevsky’s literary works explored human psychology in the troubled political, social and spiritual context of 19th-century Russian society. Considered by many as a founder or precursor of 20th-century existentialism, his Notes from Underground (1864), written in the embittered voice of the anonymous “underground man”, was called the “best overture for existentialism ever written” by Walter Kaufmann. A prominent figure in world literature, Dostoyevsky is often acknowledged by critics as one of the greatest psychologists in world literature.

View a list of his works here.

Some highlights from his life:

  • Dostoyevsky was the second of six children born to Mikhail and Maria Dostoyevsky. Dostoyevsky’s father Mikhail was a retired military surgeon who had practiced at the Mariinsky Hospital for the Poor in Moscow.
  • In 1837, Dostoyevsky and his brother were sent to the Nikolayev Military Engineering Institute, now the Military Engineering-Technical University at Saint Petersburg.
  • Dostoyevsky suffered from epilepsy and his first seizure occurred when he was nine years old. Epileptic seizures recurred sporadically throughout his life, and Dostoyevsky’s experiences are thought to have formed the basis for his description of Prince Myshkin’s epilepsy in his novel The Idiot and that of Smerdyakov in The Brothers Karamazov, among others.
  • Dostoyevsky started to write his own fiction in late 1844 after leaving the army.
  • Dostoyevsky was incarcerated on 23 April 1849 for being part of the liberal intellectual group the Petrashevsky Circle.
  • Dostoyevsky, along with other members of the Petrashevsky Circle, was sentenced to death, but his sentence was commuted to four years of exile with hard labor at a katorga prison camp in Omsk, Siberia.
  • In prison, his Christian Orthodox faith was strengthened.
  • In December 1859, Dostoyevsky returned to Saint Petersburg, where he ran a series of unsuccessful literary journals, Vremya (Time) and Epokha (Epoch), with his older brother Mikhail.
  • After his wife’s death in 1864 and his brother’s shortly afterward, he assumed his brother’s outstanding debts and financially supported his wife’s son and his brother’s family.
  • Dostoyevsky suffered from an acute gambling compulsion.
  • He married Anna Grigorevna Snitkina, a twenty-year-old stenographer in 1867.
  • In his later years, Dostoyevsky lived for an extended period at the resort of Staraya Russa in northwestern Russia.
  • Dostoyevsky died on 9 February 1881 of a lung hemorrhage associated with emphysema and an epileptic seizure.
  • His tombstone 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.” (Excerpt from John 12:24, which is also the epigraph of his final novel, The Brothers Karamazov.)

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