Fyodor Dostoevsky - Biography
Fyodor Dostoevsky, was a Russian novelist. He was born November 11, 1821 and died on February 9, 1881. Although Fyodor Dostoevsky was of Russian descent and his works primarily examine the lives of Russians in the nineteenth century, his works have left an indelible mark over Western literature and world literature. In addition to writing novels, Fyodor Dostoevsky also wrote essays and short stories. His most famous novels include The Idiot, The Brothers Karamozov, and Crime and Punishment. Fyodor Dostoevsky examined the metal interior of his characters. This psychological approach examined how social, spiritual and political forces might interact in the psyche of an individual. For Fyodor Dostoevsky, the important mover of his characters was ideologies and concepts whether they were meek Christians, destructive nihilists, dissipated libertines, or intense Pyrrhic rebels. Many see these characters as acting as signs of concepts as opposed to fully realistic characters. For this reason, many see the works of Fyodor Dostoevsky as the precursor to Russian Symbolism. Fyodor Dostoevsky’s forward looking approach to characterization and perception is seen by many as anticipating and influencing the development of existentialism in the twentieth century.
Although many embrace Fyodor Dostoevsky as an important voice in literature, he had his detractors. Most famously, Vladimir Nabokov attacked Fyodor Dostoevsky for being a writer of middling talent. Nabokov continues to trash his literary predecessor by declaring the works of Fyodor Dostoevsky to be a desert of platitudes. Nabokov also detested some of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s themes. Fyodor Dostoevsky kept the teachings of the Russian Orthodox Church in mind as he composed his work. This has led some critics including Vladimir Nabokov to accuse Fyodor Dostoevsky of producing devices for proselytizing and not literature of the finest quality. Perhaps the least surprising criticism came from Leo Tolstoy who claimed that he knew the ending of Crime and Punishment after only a few chapters. However, the two great authors had a deep respect for each other. Leo Tolstoy reportedly wept when he learned of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s death.
Despite his virulent detractors, most recognize Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s rightful place in the pantheon of great novelists. His works have influenced James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway and Virginia Woof. Mikhail Bakhtin claims that Dostoyevsky’s work has a polyphonic quality that examines the novel from multiple angles. The conflict between the various points of views clash and build into a precarious climax.
On November 11, 1821, Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky was born in Moscow. His parents Mikhail and Maria Dostoevsky had seven children of whom Fyodor Dostoyevsky was the second. Mariinsky Hospital for the Poor employed Dostoyevsky’s father. Until Fyodor Dostoevsky was sixteen, he lived with his family in an apartment located on the property of Mariinksy Hospital. Fyodor Dostoevsky grew up amid an orphanage, an insane asylum, and a cemetery for criminals. The stark confrontation with those individuals Russian society had abandoned shaped the aesthetic and social outlook of the young Fyodor Dostoevsky. Fyodor Dostoevsky’s observations these social phenomena was tempered by his father’s devout Christianity. His parents forbade Fyodor Dostoevsky from interacting with the patients. He often disobeyed and went to the hospital gardens to talk with the ill.
At the age of nine, Fyodor Dostoevsky experienced his first epileptic seizure. He would use his experience of this condition in his later work.
When Fyodor Dostoevsky was sixteen he enrolled in the Nikolayev Military Engineering Institute. Fyodor Dostoevsky and his brothers were required to move to Saint Petersburg to attend classes. This event followed the death of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s mother in 1837. His mother had suffered from tuberculosis. Two years later his father would also die. Some have suggested that his father’s serfs murdered him by restricting his movement and drowning him by pouring vodka down his throat. Some critics see a similarity between this death and a story related in Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Notes from the Underground.In 1928, Sigmund Freud claimed that Fyodor Dostoevsky’s character the dissipated patriarch Fyodor Pavlovich Karamazov from The Brothers Karamazov had arisen from the authors Mikhail Dostoevsky’s experience with his father.
While at school, Fyodor Dostoevsky studied the works of William Shakespeare, E. T. A. Hoffman, Victor Hugo, Blaise Pascal. and Friedrich Schiller. Fyodor Dostoevsky was particularly influenced by Friedrich Schiller as a young man. As he matured as an artist, Fyodor Dostoevsky would come to ridicule Schiller. Although Fyodor Dostoevsky detested the mathematics requirements, he successfully completed his exams in 1841. Due to his successful scores on the exams, Fyodor Dostoevsky was award a commission.
In 1842, Fyodor Dostoevsky was elevated to the rank of lieutenant. The following year, Fyodor Dostoevsky created a Russian translation of Honore de Balzc’s novel Eugenie Grandet. This translation was largely ignored by the reading public. In 1844 Fyodor Dostoevsky left military service and he began to craft his own works of fiction. In 1846, the publication A Petersburg Collection published Fyodor Dostoevsky’s first novel Poor Folk. One anecdote states that the journal’s editor, Nikolai Nekrasov, declared “A new [Nikolai] Gogol has arisen!” Many literary critics, including Vissarion Belinsky, also gave this work much acclaim rocketing Fyodor Dostoevsky to literary fame.
Fyodor Dostoevsky’s reputation was shaken with the publication of his novel The Double in 1846. The work was poorly received, and many began to doubt the young author’s potential to rising to the status of a great Russian writer.
In 1848, Tsar Nicholas I became increasingly distrustful of organizations that he felt might undermine the autocracy. The government became increasingly paranoid about the spread of the revolutions in Western Europe. In 1849, Fyodor Dostoevsky was arrested and imprisoned for his participation in the Petrashevsky Circle. In the November of 1849, Fyodor Dostoevsky and the other members of Pertashevsky Circle were condemned to death. The government forces held a mock execution after which Fyodor Dostoevsky was re-sentenced to a four-year exile of hard labor in Omsk Siberia. His confinement became physically and psychologically crushing.
The imprisonment and exile of Fyodor Dostoevsky would lead to the composition of The House of the Dead in 1854. After his release, the government required Fyodor Dostoevsky to submit to service in the Siberian Regiment. He spent five more years in the military. While in Siberia, Fyodor Dostoevsky started a romantic relationship with a wife of an acquaintance, Maria Dmitrievna Isayeva. Fyodor Dostoevsky’s acquaintance died leaving the way open for the increase of romantic activities. In 1857, Fyodor Dostoevsky and Maria Isayeva were married.
The incarceration and renewed service shifted Fyodor Dostoevsky’s spiritual and political ideologies. He rejected the Western ideals of his youth. Fyodor Dostoevsky embraced the Slavophile cultural movement. He would become even more devoted to his Russian Orthodox faith. Fyodor Dostoevsky now advocated for the Christian ideals of suffering and submission. Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s later literature reflected this new conservative worldview. He abandoned the Western dramas of his youth for darker stories lines that revealed a greater complexity. In some of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s work The Possessed and The Diary of a Writer ridiculed the Socialism and Nihilism he had explored as a young man.
At the end of 1859, Fyodor Dostoevsky came back to the Russian capital of Saint Petersburg. He and his older brother Mikhail started the literary publications Time and Epoch. The imperial government closed Time for its coverage of the 1863 Polish Uprising. During this time, Fyodor Dostoevsky began traveling to casinos throughout Europe.
By 1864, Fyodor Dostoevsky’s wife was dead and he was struggling financially. Fyodor Dostoevsky was consumed by depression and obsessive gambling. This gambling and other family debts became increasingly crippling. Fyodor Dostoevsky sped through the composition of Crime and Punishment in order get an advance from the publisher. In order to evade his creditors, Fyodor Dostoevsky traveled to Western Europe. In 1867, Fyodor Dostoevsky married the twenty-year-old Anna Grigorevna Snitkina. Fyodor Dostoevsky wrote the Writer’s Diary, a series of current event articles and short fiction between 1873 and 1881. This endeavor was incredibly successful.
On February 9, 1891, Fyodor Dostoevsky died of a hemorrhage of the lung.