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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