Authors: Fyodor Dostoevski

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

Russian novelist and short-story writer

Author Works

Long Fiction:

Bednye lyudi, 1846 (Poor Folk, 1887)

Dvoynik, 1846 (The Double, 1917)

Netochka Nezvanova, 1849 (English translation, 1920)

Unizhennye i oskorblyonnye, 1861 (Injury and Insult, 1886; better known as The Insulted and Injured)

Zapiski iz myortvogo doma, 1861-1862 (Buried Alive: Or, Ten Years of Penal Servitude in Siberia, 1881; better known as The House of the Dead)

Zapiski iz podpolya, 1864 (Letters from the Underworld, 1913; better known as Notes from the Underground)

Igrok, 1866 (The Gambler, 1887)

Prestupleniye i nakazaniye, 1866 (Crime and Punishment, 1886)

Idiot, 1868 (The Idiot, 1887)

Vechny muzh, 1870 (The Permanent Husband, 1888; better known as The Eternal Husband)

Besy, 1871-1872 (The Possessed, 1913; also known as The Devils)

Podrostok, 1875 (A Raw Youth, 1916)

Bratya Karamazovy, 1879-1880 (The Brothers Karamazov, 1912)

The Novels, 1912 (12 volumes)

Short Fiction:

Sochineniya, 1860 (2 volumes)

Polnoye sobraniye sochineniy, 1865-1870 (4 volumes)

Povesti i rasskazy, 1882

The Gambler, and Other Stories, 1914

A Christmas Tree and a Wedding, and an Honest Thief, 1917

White Nights, and Other Stories, 1918

An Honest Thief, and Other Stories, 1919

The Short Novels of Dostoevsky, 1945

Nonfiction:

“Zimniye zametki o letnikh vpechatleniyakh,” 1863 (“Winter Notes on Summer Impressions,” 1955)

Dnevnik pisatelya, 1876-1887, 1880-1881 (2 volumes; partial translation Pages from the Journal of an Author, 1916; complete translation The Diary of a Writer, 1949)

Pisma, 1928-1959 (4 volumes)

Iz arkhiva F. M. Dostoyevskogo: “Prestupleniye i nakazaniye,” 1931 (The Notebooks for “Crime and Punishment,” 1967)

Iz arkhiva F. M. Dostoyevskogo: “Idiot,” 1931 (The Notebooks for “The Idiot,” 1967)

Zapisnyye tetradi F. M. Dostoyevskogo, 1935 (The Notebooks for “The Possessed,” 1968)

F. M. Dostoyevsky: Materialy i issledovaniya, 1935 (The Notebooks for “The Brothers Karamazov,” 1971)

Dostoevsky’s Occasional Writings, 1963

F. M. Dostoyevsky v rabote nad romanom “Podrostok,” 1965 (The Notebooks for “A Raw Youth,” 1969)

Neizdannyy Dostoyevsky: Zapisnyye knizhki i tetradi 1860-1881, 1971 (3 volumes; The Unpublished Dostoevsky: Diaries and Notebooks, 1860-1881, 1973-1976)

F. M. Dostoyevsky ob iskusstve, 1973

Selected Letters of Fyodor Dostoyevsky, 1987

Translation:

Yevgeniya Grande, 1844 (of Honoré de Balzac’s novel Eugénie Grandet)

Miscellaneous:

Polnoe sobranie sochinenii v tridtsati tomakh, 1972-1990 (30 volumes)

Biography

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.{$I[AN]9810001228}{$I[A]Dostoevski, Fyodor}{$I[geo]RUSSIA;Dostoevski, Fyodor}{$I[tim]1821;Dostoevski, Fyodor}

Fyodor Dostoevski

(Library of Congress)

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 political topics that were banned from public discussion by the czarist regime. In 1849 he was arrested, charged with operating a private printing press, and sent to prison for eight months. Thinking that he was to be executed, Dostoevski tried to prepare himself for death, only to learn, at the last moment, that he was to be exiled and imprisoned in Siberia. This was a devastating experience that marked the writer for life, intensifying his feelings about the fate of human beings and their suffering and imbuing his work with profoundly religious themes. He used this incident later in The Idiot and refers to it in his journalism.

In Siberia Dostoevski continued to write, developing the theme of suffering in several short works that led up to his first masterpiece, Crime and Punishment. This deeply penetrating psychological novel–in which the protagonist, Raskolnikov, murders his landlady and then repents in great suffering over his action–is a landmark in literature. In this novel Dostoevski brings to a high pitch the intellectual and emotional conflicts of human beings. Raskolnikov’s way of thinking, his sense of superiority over other human beings, is brilliantly dramatized at the same time that Dostoevski reveals his isolation, his moral vacuity, and his inability, despite possessing great intellect, to attain a sense of humanity. In this novel Dostoevski profoundly questions the value of human intellect apart from emotional, indeed religious, feelings.

In much of his subsequent work Dostoevski probes deeply into human compulsiveness and into the sins that human beings commit against one another. Distrustful of purely rationalistic and political panaceas (an attitude that was, in part, a reaction against his early radicalism), he stresses compassion for human beings and the inevitability of suffering. The Brothers Karamazov, his last masterpiece, seems to summarize and broaden Dostoevski’s outlook on life. Fyodor Pavlovich Karamazov and his four sons are a family that represent many of the conflicting traits and passions of human beings that had been explored in the novelist’s other work. Fyodor is his son Dmitry’s rival for the love of Grushenka, the local beauty, and when the father is murdered, the son is suspected of having done the deed. Ivan, another son, is portrayed as an agonized intellectual who eventually acknowledges his own secret wish for his father’s murder, which he fears he has projected onto the feelings of Smerdyakov, Fyodor’s bastard son. Alyosha, the youngest son, is a religious figure mediating between Dmitry’s emotionalism and Ivan’s rationality. Only in the hands of a great novelist could these complicated character relationships and intricacies of plot succeed. As a thoroughly honest writer, Dostoevski gave both his religious faith and his religious doubts full voice while providing a detailed, fascinating look at nineteenth century Russian society.

What makes The Brothers Karamazov a great work of world literature is its author’s ability to integrate his religious, social, and ethical concerns into the moving story of a family, making that family emblematic of humankind. No other modern writer has surpassed Dostoevski in suffusing psychology with philosophy and religion with reason while respecting the integrity of individual human beings and heightening awareness of the inescapable conflicts in the human heart.

BibliographyAdelman, 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 in various genres.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 Dostoevski. The categories that form the subheadings range from “Time and Space in the World of the Novels” to ones such as “Money.” Catteau provides a thematic overview of the pressures and inspirations that motivated Dostoevski. The volume includes ninety-five pages of notes and bibliography, as well as an index.Frank, Joseph. Dostoevsky: The Seeds of Revolt, 1821-1849. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1976. The first volume of Frank’s monumental five-volume biography, the best available source on Dostoevski’s life and art in English. Includes an appendix on neurologist Sigmund Freud’s case history of Dostoevsky.Frank, Joseph. Dostoevsky: The Years of Ordeal, 1850-1859. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1983. Reiterates Frank’s effort to subordinate the writer’s private life in favor of tracing his connection to the social-cultural history of his time.Frank, Joseph. Dostoevsky: The Stir of Liberation, 1860-1865. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1986. Continues Frank’s study.Frank, Joseph. Dostoevsky: The Miraculous Years, 1865-1871. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1995. The fourth volume in Frank’s series on the life and works of Dostoevksi. Includes an extended discussion of Dostoeski’s novella The Gambler from an ethnic-psychological perspective as a commentary on the Russian national character and an extended discussion of the classical construction of the novella The Eternal Husband, which Frank sees as Dostoeski’s most perfect shorter work.Frank, Joseph. Dostoevsky: The Mantle of the Prophet. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2002. Volume 5, concluding Frank’s biography.Grossman, Leonid. Dostoevsky: A Biography. Translated by Mary Mackler. New York: Bobbs-Merrill, 1975. Covers Dostoevski’s life and works, creative product, and critical reception. Includes detailed notes and an index.Jackson, Robert Louis, ed. Dialogues with Dostoevsky: The Overwhelming Questions. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1993. Chapters on the writer’s relationships with Ivan Turgenev, Leo Tolstoy, Anton Chekhov, Maxim Gorky, Nikolai Gogol, William Shakespeare, and Friedrich Nietzsche.Kjetsaa, Geir. Fyodor Dostoevsky: A Writer’s Life. Translated by Siri Hustvedt and David McDuff. New York: Viking, 1987. A thorough and compelling work on Dostoevski’s life that seeks to shed light on the creation of Dostoevski’s fiction, citing letters and notes as artistic points of departure for Dostoevski.Miller, Robin Feuer. Dostoevsky’s Unfinished Journey. New Haven: Yale, 2007. This volume examines Doetoevsky’s literary influences, including the ways in which other authors impacted him, and the role that his religious conversion played in his own writing. Includes lucid, insightful interpretations of his novels.Mochulsky, K. V. Dostoevsky: His Life and Work. Translated by Michael Minihan. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1967. This book’s title may slightly mislead the reader into thinking that the author is somehow isolating Dostoevski’s life from his work. Mochulsky, however, informs the reader in his preface that “the life and work of Dostoevsky are inseparable. He lived in literature.” Thus, rather than making a large work consisting of two major parts, Mochulsky interweaves biography and literary analysis brilliantly. His style is engaging and very accessible. This book is regularly recommended for undergraduates by many teachers of courses on Dostoevski.Peace, Richard, ed. Fyodor Dostoevsky’s “Crime and Punishment”: A Casebook. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005. Collection of essays examining the history and meaning of Dostoevski’s most famous and influential novel.Rosenshield, Gary. Western Law, Russian Justice: Dostoevsky, the Jury Trial, and the Law. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2005. A careful study of Dostoevski’s personal experiences, as well as his detached observations of the Russian justice system.Scanlan, James P. Dostoevsky the Thinker. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2002. Scanlan examines Dostoevsky in the role of philosopher, a central issue in understanding his contribution to literary crime fiction.Straus, Nina Pelikan. Dostoevsky and the Woman Question: Rereadings at the End of a Century. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1994. Although, like most books on Dostoeski, this study centers on the novels, it is helpful in understanding his work generally; it argues that Dostoeski’s compulsion to depict men’s cruelties to women is a constitutive part of his vision and his metaphysics. Claims that Dostoeski attacks masculine notions of autonomy and that his works evolve toward “the death of the patriarchy.”Wasiolek, Edward. Dostoevsky: The Major Fiction. Cambridge: Massachussetts Institute of Technology Press, 1964. In this interesting and comprehensive work, Wasiolek not only addresses virtually all Dostoevski’s fiction but also introduces much of the contemporary political polemics. He also includes a well-balanced assessment of many important subsequent literary critical opinions, which is interwoven in his analysis of the individual works. Includes notes about the first publication of Dostoevski’s works as well as a detailed bibliography presenting both general subject headings (for example, a work’s reception in the West) and writing apropos an individual work.
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