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Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Fyodor Dostoyevsky Fyodor Dostoyevsky[2†]

Fyodor Dostoyevsky, also known as Fyodor Mikhaylovich Dostoevsky, was a Russian novelist and short-story writer whose psychological penetration into the darkest recesses of the human heart, together with his unsurpassed moments of illumination, had an immense influence on 20th-century fiction[1†][2†]. He is usually regarded as one of the finest novelists who ever lived[1†]. Literary modernism, existentialism, and various schools of psychology, theology, and literary criticism have been profoundly shaped by his ideas[1†].

Dostoyevsky’s works are often called prophetic because he so accurately predicted how Russia’s revolutionaries would behave if they came to power[1†]. In his time he was also renowned for his activity as a journalist[1†][2†]. His most acclaimed novels include Crime and Punishment (1866), The Idiot (1869), Demons (1872), and The Brothers Karamazov (1880). His 1864 novella Notes from Underground is considered to be one of the first works of existentialist literature[1†][2†].

Born in Moscow in 1821, Dostoevsky was introduced to literature at an early age through fairy tales and legends, and through books by Russian and foreign authors[1†][2†]. His mother died in 1837 when he was 15, and around the same time, he left school to enter the Nikolayev Military Engineering Institute[1†][2†]. After graduating, he worked as an engineer and briefly enjoyed a lavish lifestyle, translating books to earn extra money[1†][2†].

In the mid-1840s he wrote his first novel, Poor Folk, which gained him entry into Saint Petersburg’s literary circles[1†][2†]. However, he was arrested in 1849 for belonging to a literary group, the Petrashevsky Circle, that discussed banned books critical of Tsarist Russia[1†][2†]. Dostoevsky was sentenced to death but the sentence was commuted at the last moment[1†][2†]. He spent four years in a Siberian prison camp, followed by six years of compulsory military service in exile[1†][2†]. In the following years, Dostoevsky worked as a journalist, publishing and editing several magazines of his own and later A Writer’s Diary, a collection of his writings[1†][2†].

Early Years and Education

Fyodor Dostoyevsky was born in Moscow, Russia, on November 11, 1821[2†]. He was the son of a doctor[2†][3†]. His family was very religious, and Dostoyevsky was deeply religious all his life[2†][3†]. He began reading widely when he was a youth[2†][3†]. He was first educated by his mother, father, and tutors[2†][3†]. At thirteen years old, he was sent to a private school[2†][3†].

His mother died in 1837 when he was 15[2†], and around the same time, he left school to enter the Nikolayev Military Engineering Institute[2†][4†]. The young Dostoevsky and his older brother Mikhail attended the St. Petersburg Military Engineering School[2†][5†]. Both showed an early preference for literature and journalism[2†][5†]. After one mandatory year of service upon graduation, Dostoevsky resigned and devoted himself to the Petersburg cultural scene, initially as a translator[2†][5†].

Career Development and Achievements

Fyodor Dostoyevsky began his career as an engineer, but he soon realized that his true passion was literature[6†][7†]. He started to enjoy literature in his youth and pursued a writing career for the rest of his life[6†][8†]. His first novel, “Poor Folk”, was published in the mid-1840s, which gained him entry into Saint Petersburg’s literary circles[6†][2†][8†].

However, his career took a dramatic turn in 1849 when he was arrested for belonging to the Petrashevsky Circle, a group of social realists that discussed banned books critical of Tsarist Russia[6†][2†][8†][7†]. Dostoyevsky was sentenced to death, but the sentence was commuted at the last moment[6†][2†][7†]. He spent four years in a Siberian prison camp, followed by six years of compulsory military service in exile[6†][2†][7†]. During this time, he developed epilepsy and experienced a deepening of his religious faith[6†][7†].

After his release, Dostoyevsky returned to the literary scene and worked as a journalist, publishing and editing several magazines of his own and later “A Writer’s Diary”, a collection of his writings[6†][2†]. He also developed a gambling addiction, which led to financial hardship[6†][2†].

Dostoyevsky’s major works, including “Notes from Underground”, “Crime and Punishment”, “The Idiot”, “Demons”, and “The Brothers Karamazov”, are renowned for their psychological profundity[6†][1†][2†]. His works explored the human condition in the troubled political, social, and spiritual atmospheres of 19th-century Russia, and engaged with a variety of philosophical and religious themes[6†][2†]. His works are often called prophetic because he so accurately predicted how Russia’s revolutionaries would behave if they came to power[6†][1†].

First Publication of His Main Works

Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s literary career was marked by the publication of several significant works that have had a profound impact on literature and philosophy[2†][9†][10†][4†]. Here are some of his most notable works:

Each of these works marked a significant milestone in Dostoyevsky’s career and contributed to his reputation as one of the greatest novelists in world literature[2†][9†][10†][4†]. His exploration of philosophical and existential questions through complex characters and intricate narratives has left an indelible mark on literature.

Analysis and Evaluation

Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s work has been the subject of extensive analysis and evaluation, with perspectives ranging from psychoanalytical to existential, theological, and Marxist[11†]. His exploration of human duality, his commentary on sociopolitical issues of his time, and his literary analyses have all contributed to a diverse body of nonfictional writing[11†][12†].

Dostoyevsky’s characters have penetrated literary consciousness and produced a new generation in the works of prominent twentieth-century authors such as Jean-Paul Sartre and Jorge Luis Borges[11†][12†]. He initiated psychological realism, inspiring both Friedrich Nietzsche and Sigmund Freud[11†][12†]. His novels are read in translation in twenty-six languages[11†][12†].

Critical evaluation of Dostoyevsky has been marked by sharp and violently bitter extremes[11†]. His work is seen from various critical attitudes, earning him the title of the great Russian "tragedian of ideas"[11†]. His novels, especially “Notes from Underground”, “Crime and Punishment”, “The Idiot”, “Demons”, and “The Brothers Karamazov”, have been analyzed for their style, influences, and the impact of their work[11†][12†][11†].

Dostoyevsky’s work was originally suppressed in the Soviet Union, only to reemerge as even more influential in the second half of the twentieth century, finding a whole new generation of admirers in his transformed homeland[11†][12†].

Personal Life

Fyodor Dostoyevsky was born into a middle-class family[13†]. His parents, Mikhail and Maria, were religious and hard-working[13†]. His father was a doctor and was very strict with him[13†]. His nanny Alena and his mother used to tell him many stories, sagas, and fairy tales which kindled his rich imagination[13†].

Dostoyevsky was arrested in 1849 for belonging to a literary group, the Petrashevsky Circle, that discussed banned books critical of Tsarist Russia[13†][2†]. He was sentenced to death but the sentence was commuted at the last moment[13†][2†]. He spent four years in a Siberian prison camp, followed by six years of compulsory military service in exile[13†][2†][4†].

During his exile, Dostoyevsky married a young widow[13†][14†]. After his exile, he served four more years as an army private, was pardoned, and left Siberia to resume his literary career[13†][14†]. He soon became one of the great spokesmen of Russia[13†][14†].

In the following years, Dostoyevsky worked as a journalist, publishing and editing several magazines of his own and later A Writer’s Diary, a collection of his writings[13†][2†][4†].

Conclusion and Legacy

Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s name has become synonymous with psychological profundity[15†]. For generations, the depth and contradictoriness of his heroes have made systematic psychological theories look shallow by comparison[15†]. Many theorists, most notably Freud, have tried to claim Dostoyevsky as a predecessor[15†]. His sense of evil and his love of freedom have made Dostoyevsky especially relevant to a century of world war, mass murder, and totalitarianism[15†].

At least two modern literary genres, the prison camp novel and the dystopian novel (works such as Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, and George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-four), derive from his writings[15†]. His ideas and formal innovations exercised a profound influence on Friedrich Nietzsche, André Gide, Camus, Jean-Paul Sartre, André Malraux, and Mikhail Bulgakov, to name only a few[15†].

Above all, his works continue to enthrall readers by combining suspenseful plots with ultimate questions about faith, suffering, and the meaning of life[15†]. His thought-provoking exploration of the human condition resonates deeply with readers, and his influence is felt in the works of countless writers who came after him, such as Albert Camus, Ernest Hemingway, and James Joyce[15†][16†].

Key Information

References and Citations:

  1. Britannica - Fyodor Dostoyevsky: Russian author [website] - link
  2. Wikipedia (English) - Fyodor Dostoevsky [website] - link
  3. Encyclopedia of World Biography - Fyodor Dostoevsky Biography [website] - link
  4. Wikiwand - Fyodor Dostoevsky [website] - link
  5. Columbia University - The Core Curriculum - Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky [website] - link
  6. Biography - Fyodor Dostoyevsky [website] - link
  7. Britannica - Fyodor Dostoyevsky summary [website] - link
  8. PL.org - Fyodor Dostoevsky Accomplishments [website] - link
  9. Wikipedia (English) - Fyodor Dostoevsky bibliography [website] - link
  10. Google Books - THE COMPLETE WORKS OF FYODOR DOSTOYEVSKY: Novels, Short Stories ... - Fyodor Dostoyevsky [website] - link
  11. Google Books - Dostoevsky: A Collection of Critical Essays - René Wellek [website] - link
  12. eNotes - Fyodor Dostoevski Analysis [website] - link
  13. The Famous People - Fyodor Dostoevsky Biography [website] - link
  14. CliffsNotes - Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoevsky Biography [website] - link
  15. Britannica - Legacy of Fyodor Dostoyevsky [website] - link
  16. Tome Tailor - Fyodor Dostoevsky: Life, Works, and Legacy [website] - link
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