Other Literary Forms

(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

In addition to short fiction, Fyodor Dostoevski wrote novels, nonfiction, criticism, and Yevgeniya Grande (1844), a translation of Honoré de Balzac’s novel Eugénie Grandet (1833). In his own time, Dostoevski was exceptionally influential, especially through Dnevnik pisatelya (1876-1877, 1800-1881; The Diary of a Writer, 1949), a series of miscellaneous writings that he published occasionally in St. Petersburg. Dostoevski also wrote a series of essays on Russian literature, some feuilletons, and the well-known travelogue “Zimniye zametki o letnikh vpechatleniyakh” (1863; “Winter Notes on Summer Impressions,” 1955). His most famous contribution in his own time was his speech in Alexander Pushkin’s honor, given on the occasion of the dedication of a monument to Pushkin in 1880.

Fyodor Dostoevski Achievements

(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

In the world literature of the nineteenth century, Fyodor Dostoevski has few rivals. Some of his 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. He initiated psychological realism, inspiring both Friedrich Nietzsche and Sigmund Freud. His novels are read in translation in twenty-six languages. Dostoevski 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. Even though his style is markedly nineteenth century, Dostoevski still seems quite modern even in the twentieth century.

Fyodor Dostoevski Other literary forms

(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

The collected works of Fyodor Dostoevski (dahs-tuh-YEHF-skee) are available in many Russian editions, starting from 1883. The most carefully prepared of these, comprising some thirty volumes, is the Leningrad Nauka edition, which began publishing in 1972. A wide variety of selected works are also available in English. While the novels dominate Dostoevski’s later creative period, he began his career with sketches, short stories, and novellas, and he continued to write shorter pieces throughout his working life. These works do not exhibit the same unity of theme as the major novels, though many of them in one way or another involve Dostoevski’s favorite topic, human duality.

Dostoevski’s nonfictional writing is diverse. In his monthly Dnevnik pisatelya (1876-1877, 1880-1881; The Diary of a Writer, 1949), he included commentary on sociopolitical issues of the time, literary analyses, travelogues, and fictional sketches. He also contributed many essays to his own journals and other publications. The nonfictional writings often clash with the views expressed in the novels and consequently enjoy wide circulation among specialists for comparative purposes. Equally popular is his correspondence, comprising several volumes in his collected works. The notebooks for the major novels, as well as other background comments, are also included in the collection. They became available in English in editions published by the University of Chicago Press during the 1960’s and 1970’s.

Fyodor Dostoevski Achievements

(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Both Leo Tolstoy and Fyodor Dostoevski, the giants of the Russian novel during the era preceding the 1917 October Revolution, are firmly part of the Western literary tradition today, but whereas Tolstoy’s outlook is solidly rooted in the nineteenth century, Dostoevski’s ideas belong to modern times. His novels go far beyond the parameters of aesthetic literature; they are studied not only by literary historians and critics but also by psychologists, philosophers, and theologians the world over. Each discipline discerns a different drift in Dostoevski’s work, and few agree on what the author’s basic tenets are, but all claim him as their hero. His contemporaries, too, were at a loss to categorize him, primarily because his style and subject matter had little in common with accepted literary norms. Russia’s most prominent writing, as espoused by Ivan Turgenev and Tolstoy, was smooth and lyric. While Turgenev analyzed topical social problems in a restrained, faintly didactic manner, and Tolstoy presented panoramic visions of certain Russian social classes and their moral problems, Dostoevski brought an entirely new style and content to Russian writing. He disregarded his colleagues’ logically progressing, chronologicalnarrative mode and constructed his stories as mosaics or puzzles, often misleading the audience, experimenting with peculiar narrative voices, allowing his pathological figures to advance the plot in disconcertingly disorienting ways, and in...

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Fyodor Dostoevski Contribution

(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Although most of Fyodor Dostoevski’s major works deal with crime, especially murder and suicide, only two of his works fit into the genre of detective fiction, and only one is frequently associated with the popular form known as the murder mystery. Bratya Karamazovy (1879-1880; The Brothers Karamazov, 1912) deals with a murder, a manhunt, and a trial, but Prestupleniye i nakazaniye (1866; Crime and Punishment, 1886) focuses more closely on the nature of crime and its detection. In Crime and Punishment, Dostoevski elevates the murder mystery to the level of great art. Engaging in a penetrating study of the criminal mind, he probes deeply into the psychopathology of crime. He follows the criminal through his obsessions, his anxieties, and his nightmares.

By highlighting the effects of poverty and isolation on potential criminals, Dostoevski depicts the social milieu that breeds crime and encourages criminal behavior. Furthermore, he re-creates big-city life, with its nefarious characters and its hopeless derelicts living at the brink of despair. Probing deeply into the shadows of the human condition, he tries to unearth the root of crime itself.

Dostoevski goes beyond the sociology of crime and murder, however, to explore its politics and metaphysics. Instead of asking who the murderer is, he explores such questions as, is murder permissible? If so, by whom? Under what conditions does one differentiate between the revolutionary and the common criminal? He also follows the criminal beyond the act of his apprehension to explore how crime should be punished. To Dostoevski, crime becomes sin, a sin that must be expiated through deep personal suffering and a mystical transformation of character. Dostoevski does not ask who committed the murder, but why there is murder. In his opinion, the murder mystery is merely a vehicle for exploring the mystery of murder.

Fyodor Dostoevski Discussion Topics

(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Why is it possible to have a better understanding of Fyodor Dostoevski’s psychological novels today than could readers of his time?

Present evidence that Notes from the Underground is a “literary archetype.”

Explain whether or not Dostoevski’s literary punishments fit the crimes.

Does a character like Alyosha in The Brothers Karamazov verify that Dostoevski can demonstrate redeeming features in human nature?

Is Dostoevski’s opposition to atheism as an essential basis for immorality convincing?

To what extent does Dostoevski show his major characters overcoming criminal temptations?

Fyodor Dostoevski Bibliography

(Critical Guide to Censorship and Literature)

Adelman, Gary. Retelling Dostoyesvky: Literary Responses and Other Observations. Lewisburg, Pa.: Bucknell University Press, 2001. A study of the possible influence of Dostoevski on a number of authors from Joseph Conrad to Frank Herbert.

Bloom, Harold, ed. Fyodor Dostoevsky. New York: Chelsea House, 1989. Essays on all of Dostoevski’s major novels as well as on his treatment of heroes and nihilism. Includes introduction, chronology, and bibliography.

Catteau, Jacques. Dostoevsky and the Process of Literary Creation. Translated by Audrey Littlewood. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1989. This excellent book offers detailed textual analysis and factual information on...

(The entire section is 764 words.)