Biography (Critical Survey of Short Fiction, Second Revised Edition)
Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevski was born on November 11, 1821, in a small Moscow public hospital, where his father, Dr. Mikhail Andreevich Dostoevski, worked. He was the second son to the doctor and Marya Fyodorovna (née Nechaeva). One year after his mother’s death, in 1837, Fyodor enrolled in the St. Petersburg Academy for Military Engineers. He completed his studies at the academy even after his father had died of a stroke in 1839, thanks to the inheritance of the Dostoevski estate.
Like so many writers’ attempts, Dostoevski’s first foray into the literary world was through translation—in his case, of Balzac’s Eugénie Grandet, appearing in print in 1844. His first original work was a novel in letters, Bednye lyudi (1846; Poor Folk, 1887), which met with immediate success, creating quite a literary sensation even before its publication. The great critic Vissarion Belinsky hailed it with such enthusiasm that the novice writer was propelled into early fame.
Dostoevski followed this initial success with Dvoynik (1846; The Double, 1917). It was met more coolly, was considered an artistic failure, and was generally unpopular. The failure of The Double, as seen in the twentieth century, is quite ironic, since it contains many of the thematic occupations that eventually made Dostoevski famous. His next novel, Netochka Nezvanova (1849; English translation, 1920), was fated...
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Biography (Critical Survey of Long Fiction, Fourth Edition)
There was little in the childhood of Fyodor Mihaylovich Dostoevski to presage his achievements as a writer of world-famous novels. Born into a middle-class family of few cultural pretensions, he received a mediocre education. His father, a physician at a Moscow hospital for the poor, ruled the family with a strict hand and enforced observance of Russian Orthodox ritual at home. When Dostoevski entered the St. Petersburg Military Engineering School in 1838, he found himself unprepared for academic life; nevertheless, he enjoyed his first exposure to literature and soon immersed himself in it. The elder Dostoevski’s murder at the hands of his serfs (he had in the meantime become a modest landowner) and the first signs of his own epilepsy upset Dostoevski’s academic routine, delaying his graduation until 1843.
Dostoevski worked only briefly as a military engineer before deciding to pursue a literary career. When the efforts of acquaintances resulted in the publication of his first fictional work, Poor Folk, his excitement knew no bounds, and he envisioned a promising writing career. His initial success led easily to publication of several additional pieces, among them the uncompleted Netochka Nezvanova and the psychologically impressive The Double. While these works are not considered primary by Dostoevski scholars, they hint at what was to become the author’s fascination with humankind’s ambiguous inner world.
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Biography (Critical Survey of Mystery & Detective Fiction, Revised Edition)
Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevski was born in Moscow on November 11, 1821. His father, a member of the minor nobility, was a former army surgeon at the Marinksky Hospital for the poor; thus, very early in life, Dostoevski came into contact with poverty, disease, and death—topics that were to haunt his literary works. His father was a tyrannical man, while his mother was a meek, frail woman. During his education in Moscow, Dostoevski was attracted to literary studies, but at his father’s bidding, he entered the St. Petersburg Military Academy. While at school, he avidly studied the works of William Shakespeare, Sir Walter Scott, E. T. A. Hoffmann, Nikolai Gogol, and Honoré de Balzac, and especially the romantic dramas of Friedrich Schiller.
In 1839, Dostoevski’s father was murdered by his own serfs; thus, murder and its effects touched Dostoevski deeply, as borne out in his last and greatest novel, The Brothers Karamazov. Also, during his student days in St. Petersburg, he came into close contact with poverty, alcoholism, and prostitution as he wandered through the notorious Haymarket district of the city. After completing his education, Dostoevski embarked on a literary career, writing translations, articles, and novels. Soon he came under the influence of radical underground organizations and began publishing subversive articles and working with known revolutionaries. In 1849, he was arrested, imprisoned, condemned to death, and paraded...
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Biography (Magill's Survey of World Literature, Revised Edition)
Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevski (dahs-tuh-YEHF-skee), novelist, journalist, religious polemicist, and political reformer, was born in Moscow, Russia, on November 11, 1821, the second child of Mikhail Andreevich Dostoevski and Marya Fedorovna Nechaeva. His father, a surgeon, had served for eight years in the army and, at Fyodor’s birth, held a staff position at St. Mary’s Hospital for the destitute of Moscow. An able and intelligent man who had succeeded in pulling himself out of generations of poverty, Dostoevski’s father was nonetheless often violent, moody, and given to bouts of heavy drinking that frightened his children. His mother was an engaging and attractive woman, practical, efficient, and cheerful in running her household.
Dostoevski had seven brothers and sisters. He was closest to his older brother, Mikhail, and the third child in the family, his sister Varvara. These three seem to have formed a closer relationship to their father than the youngest five, whose lives were centered almost entirely on their mother. Mikhail, Fyodor, and Varvara shared intellectual and literary interests, and Fyodor’s novels and stories reveal themes, types, and motifs closely linked to his lifetime experience with these two close siblings.
Dostoevski spent the first twelve years of his life at home, where he was schooled by his father and by...
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Biography (Cyclopedia of World Authors, Fourth Revised Edition)
Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevski (duhs-tuh-YAHF-skee), thought by many to be the greatest novelist of the nineteenth century, has had an enormous influence on modern literature not only by virtue of the style and content of his works but also in the example he set of a writer’s life. He was the son of a doctor and the second of eight children. Although he was trained as an engineer, his lifelong interest in literature was apparent before he reached the age of twenty. His mother died when he was sixteen, and Dostoevski’s loneliness and need for money at this time are evident in his letters to his father. The need for money became even more acute after he decided to become a professional writer upon his graduation in 1843.
Dostoevski’s first published novel, Poor Folk, secured his reputation as a promising young novelist and signaled his preoccupation with poor and disadvantaged characters. The Double, although it did not receive the same kind of praise from his contemporaries, later became a classic. Its theme of the hero who is dogged by his alter ego and Dostoevski’s evocation of the divided personality, of characters who are split between warring impulses, have been taken up often by modern writers.
In the late 1840’s Dostoevski became involved with a group of intellectuals interested in socialism and in other...
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Fyodor Dostoevsky was born on November 11, 1821, in Moscow, Russia. His father was a doctor, and the family lived close to the hospital where the senior Dostoevsky worked. The neighborhood was one of the worst in Moscow and would mark the young boy, stimulating his compassion for the poor and oppressed of Russia. By the time Dostoevsky was seventeen, both his mother and father were dead. His mother died after suffering from consumption (a disease that is mentioned in Notes From Underground). His father—reportedly a very bitter, often harsh, and very domineering man—is rumored to have been murdered.
After his mother’s death, Dostoevsky was sent to a boarding school in St. Petersburg. He later entered college, where he worked toward a degree in military engineering. When he graduated in 1841, Dostoevsky received a military commission as lieutenant and stayed with the military for three years and then resigned. He did not make much money in the military, and on top of that, he developed a gambling habit that left him with little money to live on. He decided to hone his writing skills in hopes of increasing his finances, and in 1846, his first novel, Poor Folk, was published. The novel was very well received, with Dostoevsky causing quite a stir in the Russian literary world. Literary critics believed that a new star had been born. His next story, The Double (1846), however, did not do so well. The claims that Russia had given birth to another great writer began to fade.
In 1849, Dostoevsky was sentenced to be executed before a firing squad for political activities that were deemed potentially threatening to the tsarist government. The sentence was commuted at the last minute, and Dostoevsky began a period of four years in a prison labor camp, an experience that would change his political and religious beliefs. Whereas he had once been a dreamer, he now was experiencing firsthand the cruelties that one man could inflict on another. As a result, his ideas became more conservative.
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When Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky wrote Crime and Punishment in the mid-1860s, he was already a well-known author. Nonetheless, he lived in near-poverty and was plagued by gambling debts. Born in Moscow in 1821, he was the second child in a family that eventually consisted of seven children. The family's life was unhappy: Dostoyevsky's father, a doctor, ruled the family with an iron hand; his mother, a meek woman, died when the boy was sixteen. Young Dostoyevsky developed a love of books and enthusiastically read Russian, French, and German novels. However, his father insisted that Dostoyevsky study engineering, and from 1838 to 1843 Dostoyevsky trained in this subject at the military engineering academy in St. Petersburg. During this time the elder Dostoyevsky was murdered by one of his serfs, an incident that had a profound impact on Fyodor.
In the mid-1840s Dostoyevsky embarked on a literary career, writing several short stories and novellas, including "The Double" (1846). The concept of the "double" — the notion that a person may have a divided personality, symbolized by a good or evil "twin" — surfaced in several of his later works, including Crime and Punishment. His early published works brought Dostoyevsky some recognition. In 1848 Dostoyevsky joined a group of radical intellectuals (known as the "Petrashevsky Circle" after their leader Mikhail Petrashevsky). The group discussed literary and political ideas and advocated...
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Fyodor Dostoevsky was born in Moscow, the capital of Russia, on October 20, 1821. The son of a Russian family of moderate privilege and wealth, he was highly educated and raised in the Russian Orthodox religion. His father was a doctor and a member of the aristocracy, and his mother’s family belonged to the merchant class. They had a house in town and a country estate with more than one hundred servants. Dostoevsky wrote in Russian, which has a different alphabet than English. Hence, his name may be spelled in English as Dostoevsky, Dostoevski, Dostoyevsky, among others, due to inconsistent transliteration and translation. His works also appear in English translation with slightly varying titles. As a child, Dostoevsky was an avid reader who hoped to become a professional writer one day. His first novel, Poor Folk (1846), was well received by the critics. It tells a story about poverty and compassion through a series of letters, which makes it an example of an epistolary novel. His second novel, The Double, concerns the mental breakdown of a poor clerk. Although this novel received almost unanimously bad reviews, Dostoevsky had established a modest reputation in Russia’s literary world and easily found publishers for his work. At the same time, he began to show symptoms of epilepsy and developed a gambling habit that plagued him for the rest of his life. Dostoevsky belonged to a literary group that secretly met to read and discuss social and...
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Born in Moscow on October 30, 1821, Dostoevsky grew up in a privileged family. His father, a doctor, was a tyrannical disciplinarian; his mother was a pious woman who died before Dostoevsky was sixteen. After her death the family moved to a spacious country estate. To escape the oppressive atmosphere at home, he developed a love for reading, in particular the works of Nikolai Gogol, E.T.A. Hoffmann, and Honore de Balzac.
While attending boarding school, Dostoevsky received word that his father had been murdered by his serfs. The family did not report the murder for fear of losing income; their serfs would undoubtedly have been sent to Siberia for the crime.
According to his father's wishes, Dostoevsky trained as an engineer at the School of Military Engineers in St. Petersburg. With this training, he accepted a commission in the Czar's army in 1843. After a year he resigned and began his career as an author, depending on income from the family estate. His first novel, Poor Folk (1846), was published to great critical acclaim but little commercial success.
Dostoevsky's participation in the subversive and socialist Petrashevsky Circle led to his imprisonment. In 1849 he was ordered to die by firing squad. Fortunately, an imperial rider appeared in the nick of time with the message that his sentence had been commuted to ten years of hard labor in Omsk, Siberia.
This traumatic experience prompted Dostoevsky to abandon his interest in humanism, atheism, Western ideas, and liberal thought; instead, he focused his attention on Russian Orthodox dogma and conservative politics. These new interests were fueled by studying the only book allowed prisoners in Siberia—the New Testament. Consequently, Dostoevsky's works after 1849 are wrought with Gospel images of suffering and redemption.
After four years in the penal colony at Omsk, he was released on the condition that he serve in the army at Semipalatinsk. While in the service, he met and married a widow. In 1859, with a grant of full amnesty, Dostoevsky returned with his wife to St. Petersburg. He set to work immediately and started two political journals. He wrote articles on his belief that Russia should take a religious and conservative course in its development and published them in his magazines. Tragically, he suffered several personal and professional setbacks in the next few years: his wife died in 1864; he became a gambling addict; his brother died; and the authorities shut down his political journals.
In 1867 Dostoevsky married Anna Snitkina, a young woman who had been employed as his stenographer. Soon after they married, they traveled to Europe to escape creditors. Together they raised four children: Sofia, Lyubov, Fyodor, and Aleksei. These years abroad proved very fruitful for Dostoevsky, as he completed several works before his return to Russia in 1871.
In the 1870s he reconciled himself to the liberal elements of Russian politics. He finished The Brothers Karamazov in 1880. Within a year of the book's publication, Dostoevsky suffered a hemorrhage in his throat and died on January 28, 1881.