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Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Portrait by Vasily Perov, 1872

Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Portrait by Vasily Perov, 1872

Fyodor Mikhaylovich Dostoyevsky, Dostoyevsky also spelled Dostoevsky (FYOH-dahr dahs-tah-YEHVS-kee) (born November 11, (October 30, Old Style), 1821, Moscow; died February 9, (January 28, O.S.), 1881, St. Petersburg, Russia), Russian writer, one of the major figures in Russian literature. He is sometimes said to be a founder of existentialism.

Born to parents Mikhail and Maria, Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky was the second of seven children. Fyodor's mother died of an illness in 1837.

Fyodor and his brother Michael were sent to the Military Engineering Academy at St. Petersburg shortly after their mother's death, though these plans had begun even before she became ill.

It was not long before his father, a retired military surgeon who served as a doctor at the Mariinsky Hospital for the Poor in Moscow, also died in 1839. While not known for certain, it is believed that Mikhail Dostoyevsky was murdered by his own serfs, who reportedly became enraged during one of Mikhail's drunken fits of violence, restrained him, and poured vodka into his mouth until he drowned.

Dostoyevsky was arrested and imprisoned in 1849 for engaging in revolutionary activity against Tsar Nicholas I. On November 16 that year he was sentenced to death for anti-government activities linked to a radical intellectual group. After a mock execution in which he faced a staged firing squad, Dostoyevsky's sentence was commuted to a number of years of exile performing hard labor at a katorga prison camp in Siberia. The incidents of epileptic seizures, to which he was predisposed, increased during this period. His sentence was completed in 1854, at which point he enrolled in the Siberian Regiment.

This was a turning point in the author's life. Dostoyevsky abandonded his earlier radical sentiments and became deeply conservative and extremely religious. He began an affair with, and later married, Maria Dmitrievna Isaeva, the wife of an acquaintance in Siberia.

In 1860, he returned to St. Petersburg, where he ran a series of unsuccessful literary journals with his older brother Mikhail. Dostoyevsky was devastated by his wife's death in 1864, followed shortly thereafter by his brother's death. He was financially crippled by business debts and the need to provide for his brother's widow and children. Dostoyevsky sunk into a deep depression, frequenting gambling parlors and blithely accumulating massive losses at the tables.

To escape creditors in St. Petersburg, Dostoyevsky traveled to Europe. There, he attempted to rekindle a love affair with Apollinaria (Polina) Suslova, a young university student with whom he had had an affair several years prior, but she refused his marriage proposal. Dostoyevsky was heartbroken, but soon met Anna Snitkina, a nineteen-year-old stenographer whom he married in 1867. This period resulted in the writing of his greatest books.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky died on January 28 (O.S.), 1881 and was interred in Tikhvin Cemetery at the Alexander Nevsky Monastery, St. Petersburg, Russia.

Major works

  • Netochka Nezvanova (1849)
  • The Village of Stepanchikovo (or The Friend of the Family) (1859)
  • The House of the Dead (1862)
  • A Nasty Story (1862)
  • Notes from the Underground (or Letters from the Underworld) (1864)
  • Crime and Punishment (1866)
  • The Gambler (1867)
  • The Idiot (1868)
  • The Possessed (or Demons or The Devils) (1872)
  • The Raw Youth (1875)
  • The Brothers Karamazov (1880)

External links and references



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Edwin Hubble
Jean Piaget
Robert Boyle
Rene Descartes
Miguel de Cervantes
Friedrich Nietzsche
Michelangelo Buonarroti
Gary Kasparov
Galileo Galilei
Dmitri Mendeleev
Albert Einstein
Isaac Newton
Leonhard Euler
Enrico Fermi
Joseph Louis Lagrange
Carl Friedrich Gauss
Bernhardt Riemann
Kurt Gödel
William Shakespeare
Betrand Russell
Charles Darwin
Fyodor Dostoevsky
Leo Tolstoy
Niels Bohr
Linus Pauling
Leonardo Da Vinci
Blaise Pascal
Michael Faraday
James Clerk Maxwell
Alan Turing
Sigmund Freud
Gottfried Leibniz
Max Planck
Aleksandr Pushkin
Ivan Pavlov
Pierre de Fermat


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