Fyodor Dostoevsky Biography

(Best Known for His Novella Notes from The 'Underground')

Birthday: November 11, 1821 (Scorpio)

Born In: Moscow, Russia

Fyodor Dostoevsky was a philosopher and novelist whose works portrayed human turmoil in the midst of a politically and socially troubled atmosphere of the 19th century Russia. His works were characterized by an intensity that led him to be labeled one of the most significant psychologists of the literary world. He was exposed to literature from an early age and had already published a novel by the time he was 25 years of age. A brilliant young man, he also boasted of a great academic record, graduating at third position from engineering college. Russia was going through a politically turbulent period and Dostoevsky, along with his brothers was forced to join military services which he absolutely loathed. His youth was ridden with strife and he was once arrested for his involvement in revolutionary activities and sentenced to death, only to be pardoned at the last minute. He was of delicate health and suffered from epileptic seizures. However, his health problems could not keep him away from writing and he went on to produce classics like ‘Crime and Punishment’ and ‘The Brothers Karamazov’. In spite of his successes with his books, his life was marked by periods of financial crises and illnesses. He overcame the many obstacles life threw at him to become one of the most widely read Russian writers of all time.

Quick Facts

Also Known As: Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky

Died At Age: 59


Spouse/Ex-: Anna Grigorievna Snitkin (m. 1867), Maria Dmitrievna Isaeva ​(m. 1857–1864), Anna Grigorievna Snitkin (m. 1867), Maria Dmitrievna Isaeva ​ (m. 1857–1864)

father: Mikhail Dostoevsky

mother: Maria Dostoevsky

siblings: Mikhail Dostoevsky

children: Alexei

Born Country: Russia

Quotes By Fyodor Dostoevsky Novelists

Died on: February 9, 1881

place of death: Saint Petersburg, Russia

Notable Alumni: Military Engineering-Technical University

Diseases & Disabilities: Epilepsy

Cause of Death: Emphysema

City: Moscow, Russia

Founder/Co-Founder: Dostoyevsky Publishing Company, Epoch

More Facts

education: Military Engineering-Technical University

Childhood & Early Life
Dostoevsky was born in into a middle class family. His parents, Mikhail and Maria, were religious and hard-working. His father was a doctor and was very strict with his son.
His nanny Alena and his mother used to tell him many stories, sagas, and fairytales which kindled his rich imagination. He became aware about the works of various illustrious authors like Karamzin, Pushkin, Schiller, and Walter Scott.
He was sent to a French boarding school in 1833. Later on, he attended the Chermak boarding school. He felt like a misfit among his aristocratic classmates.
He joined the Nikolayev Military Engineering Institute in 1838. He did not like the institute at all and felt like a misfit. He was a kind-hearted soul who fought against corruption and helped poor farmers.
He started suffering epileptic attacks during 1839 after learning about the death of his father. He continued his studies and passed his exams.
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He found work as a lieutenant engineer in 1843. The same year, his first literary work, a translation of the novel, ‘Eugenie Grandet’ was published. This was followed by several other translations.
He published his first novel ‘Poor Folk’ in 1846. It was described as Russia’s first social novel by the renowned critic Vissarion Belinsky, and became a huge commercial success.
He resigned from his military career in order to focus on his literary pursuits. His second novel, ‘The Double’ was also out in 1846. However, it did not do well and the failure of this novel affected his health.
He wrote several short stories for the magazine ‘Annals of the Fatherland’ from 1846 to 1848, but none of them performed well. He found himself in financial trouble as a result.
In 1846, he joined the Petrashevsky Circle, a literary discussion group that opposed the Tsarist autocracy.
The Emperor Nicholas I had the members of the circle arrested in 1849 and sentenced to death. However, at the last moment Dostoevsky’s sentence was changed to four years in exile in Siberia.
He was released in 1854, and wrote about his experiences in the prison camp in his novel ‘The House of the Dead’ in 1861. He described the details and living conditions of the camps very vividly.
In 1864, his novella ‘Notes from Underground’ was published. It is considered by many literary critics as the first existential novel.
He became very popular as a author though he was always in dire financial conditions due to his gambling addiction. When the first two parts of ‘Crime and Punishment’ were published in the January and February 1866 issues of ‘The Russian Messenger’, the periodical saw an increase of at least 500 new subscribers.
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His novel ‘The Idiot’ was first published in a serialized format in ‘The Russian Messenger’ between 1868 and 1869. It is considered to be one of his most brilliant literary achievements.
Along with his wife, he founded a publishing house, Dostoevsky Publishing Company, and published the novel ‘Demons’ in 1873. The book did well and sold around 3000 copies.
He was made the vice president of the Slavic Benevolent Society in 1880. He gave a speech at the unveiling of the Pushkin memorial in Moscow that was so well received by the audience that even his longtime rival Turgenev embraced him.
His final novel ‘The Brothers Karamozov’ was completed in 1880 after nearly two years of writing. Dostoevsky died just a few months after its publication.
Major Works
His novel ‘Crime and Punishment’, a detective story, deals with the moral dilemmas faced by a poor student who murders an unscrupulous rich woman for money but is later overcome with guilt.
The novella ‘Notes from Underground’ is regarded as the first existential novel and is credited to have influenced many philosophers including Jean-Paul Sartre.
‘The Brothers Karamazov’, his longest ever work is considered to be his magnum opus. Set in the 19th century Russia, it tells the story of the three Karamazov brothers Alyosha, Ivan and Dmitri, and their struggles with moral issues like faith, doubt and reason.
Personal Life & Legacy
He married a widow, Maria Dmitrievna Isaeva in 1857. The marriage was a complicated affair due to the complex nature of both the individuals involved. Even though the marriage was not happy, they loved each other too much to part ways.
He married Anna Grigoryevna Snitkina after the death of his first wife.
In addition to his wives, he had been romantically involved with several other women as well.
He died of a pulmonary haemorrhage in 1881.
He is considered one of the greatest novelists of the Golden Age of Russian literature, and his works have been translated into more than 170 languages.
The apartment where he wrote his first and final novels was converted into a Dostoevsky Museum in 1971.
His works have been criticized for being overly psychological and philosophical instead of artistic.
A postal stamp dedicated to him was released in the Soviet Union in 1956.
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