11 November, 2013
If you ask any well informed person or professor of literature to give you a list of the greatest authors of all time, you can bet that you will find the name Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky (Фёдор Михайлович Достоевский) somewhere on that list. And today, 192 years ago, he was born in Moscow. Therefore, we want to celebrate this amazing author’s life and birthday by telling you a little bit about the man who produced such masterpieces as The Idiot, The Brothers Karamazov and of course, Crime and Punishment.
Perhaps one of the reasons Dostoyevsky is so famous for his profound writings, is because many of the things he wrote about came from his personal experiences, of which he had many difficult ones growing up around a poor class Moscow hospital, where his father worked. As a boy, he harbored a keen interest in literature, sparked by nightly readings from his parents. Unfortunately however, his parents sent him to St. Petersburg to begin studies as a military engineer, which he reportedly showed little interest in and was known as a recluse. Things only got worse for Dostoyevsky as at this time he began to suffer from seizures due to epilepsy, wrote a commercial flop and began gambling. In near financial ruin, he decided to write his first novel, Poor Folk (Бедные люди). The Novel was a success, and encouraged Dostoyevsky to pursue a writing career after resigning his position in the military.
As a member of St. Petersburg’s literary circle, Dostoyevsky became exposed to and joined a utopian socialist group, which later got him arrested and nearly executed. Fortunately, the Tsar spared his life, instead exiling him to 4 years in Siberia. After his exile, Dostoyevsky’s life did not get much easier. His first wife died, he suffered from continuous health and gambling problems and also saw continued financial stress. Nonetheless, Dostoyevsky finally began to gain notoriety in the later years of his life when he published numerous successful essays, short stories and novels, which got him the attention of Tsar Alexander II and others in his court. His fame only grew further in the later years if his life until his death at the age of 59 in 1881.
Dostoyevsky is remembered as one of the greatest Russian authors, having been widely read and cited by future historical thinkers and writings like Einstein, Nietzsche, Joyce, Kafka and many others. Celebrate this amazing author’s life with a copy of one of his books or a walk by some of the St. Petersburg sites associated with his life.