Fyodor Dostoevsky

Early Life

Fyodor Dostoevsky was born on the 11th of November in 1821 in Moscow, the former USSR. He was an intelligent son of Dr. Mikhail Dostoevsky, an army doctor, while his mother, Maria Dostoevskaya, was a housewife. His parents introduced him to literature and classics at a very young age including Russian writers Karamzin, Derzhavin, and Pushkin and their romantic works and gothic fiction. These early experiences set the grounds for most of his writings.


Fyodor belonged to an upper-class family, and his parents enhanced his love and passion for literature by introducing to classics at a very young age. His early education started from the Academy of Military Engineering in St. Petersburg, where unimaginative and dull routine never allowed him to develop an interest in the military. His penchant for literature was so obsessive that he spent most of his time reading literary works of great writers. After spending two years at the army school, he launched his literary career with a novel, Poor Folk. Upon completing his degree in 1843, he became a sub-lieutenant but resigned to pursue his literary pursuits.

Some Important Facts of His Life

  1. One of the most influential novelists of the Golden Age of Russian Literature, Fyodor Dostoevsky died on the 9th of February in 1881 in St. Petersburg.
  2. A Dostoevsky Museum was established in the apartment where he wrote his novels in 1971.
  3. Numerous memorials were inaugurated in regions and cities including Moscow, Novosibirsk, Omsk, Saint Petersburg, Tallinn, Baden-Baden, and Wiesbaden in his name.
  4. His books have been translated into more than 170 languages besides film and documentary adaptations.

His Career

Fyodor Dostoevsky, an iconic historical figure, started transcribing his feelings on paper at a very young age and earned respect and praise not from the audience but also from the notable literary figures of his age. Although he was destined to be an engineer, yet his love for literature dragged him out of that boring profession and provided him with the ground to express himself freely. He began his literary career fictionalizing the hardships of the poor and the downtrodden. He completed his first novel, Poor Folk, in 1843 followed by another novel, The Double, in the next three years. His first novel earned popularity and immediate success, while the second received a cold reception. After spending four years in prison and four years in army service, Fyodor, once again, turned to writing. He wrote Memoirs from the House of the Dead, in 1861 followed by, Notes from the Underground, in 1864. Later, dealing with the subject of crime, his masterpiece, Crime and Punishment, appeared in 1866. His other notable works include The Idiot, The Possessed, and The Brothers Karamazov.

His Style

Considered as one of the leading modernist writers, Fyodor chose to pen down his emotions and thoughts using a unique style. Instead of writing in straightforward and plain words, he preferred creating psychological and philosophical ideas in his writings. In most of his works, he explored the complex political system of the Russian government. His early works demonstrated the society using the lenses of naturalism and literary realism. However, his later works dealt with religious beliefs, especially the Russian orthodox beliefs and human exploitation. Moreover, elements of gothic fiction are also evident in most of his writings. Regarding literary devices, he often turns to imagery, similes, metaphors, internal dialogues, and sound devices. The recurring themes in most of Fyodor’s writings are poverty, suicide, morality, and human manipulation.

Some Important Works of Fyodor Dostoevsky

  • Best Novels: Some of his best novels include, The Village of Stepanchikovo, Humiliated and Insulted, The House of the Dead, Crime and Punishment, The Idiot, The Adolescent, and The Brothers Karamazov.
  • Other Works: Besides novels, he tried his hands on shorter fiction and essays too. Some of them include “Mr. Prokharchin”, “Another Man’s Wife and a Husband under the Bed”, “An Honest Thief”, “A Christmas Tree and a Wedding” and “The Dream of a Ridiculous Man.”

Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Impact on Future Literature

Fyodor Dostoevsky, with his unique abilities, left profound impacts on global literature. After many years of his demise, his works still enjoy the same prestige. His unique ideas along with distinct literary qualities won applause from his readers, critics, and other fellow writers like Franz Kafka, who called him a “blood relative”, as his works left a deep imprint on Dostoevsky’s style. James Joyce and Ernest Hemingway, too, considered him one of the great idols. Similarly, Freud and Nietzsche praised his great efforts to seamlessly weave the dark and deep intricacies of man’s psychology into his works. The documentation of his ideas in his writings won popularity for him that the present writers envy him for his unique ability to influence civilizations.

Famous Quotes

  1. I am a dreamer. I know so little of real life that I just can’t help re-living such moments as these in my dreams, for such moments are something I have very rarely experienced. I am going to dream about you the whole night, the whole week, the whole year.” (White Nights)
  2. “There is something at the bottom of every new human thought, every thought of genius, or even every earnest thought that springs up in any brain, which can never be communicated to others, even if one were to write volumes about it and were explaining one’s idea for thirty-five years; there’s something left which cannot be induced to emerge from your brain, and remains with you forever..” (The Idiot)
  3. “I want peace; yes, I’d sell the whole world for a farthing, straight off, so long as I was left in peace. Is the world to go to pot, or am I to go without my tea? I say that the world may go to pot for me so long as I always get my tea. Did you know that, or not? Well, anyway, I know that I am a blackguard, a scoundrel, an egoist, a sluggard.” (The House of the Dead)