Fyodor Dostoevsky

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Fyodor Dostoevsky

Fyodor Dostoevsky (Фёдор Михайлович Достоевский) (November 11, 1821 – February 9, 1881) is a Russian author famous for his lengthy novels about society, social mores, and morality in Tzarist Russia. In his novels he explores human psychology in the troubled political, social and spiritual-Christian context of his contemporary Russian society. He is generally considered one of the greatest novelists in history.[1] The popular IMDb site rates Dostoyevsky as the #1 author of all time,[2] and Alfred Einstein declared that “Dostoevsky gives me more than any other thinker.”[3]

Dostoevsky cited the Bible in his novels more than famous British authors did. His "Grand Inquisitor" chapter in The Brothers Karamazov is one of the finest chapters ever written, and includes a dialog about the Three Temptations of Christ.[4] Also in that novel a friend of Father Zosima states, “The sign of the Son of Man will be seen in the heavens” (Part II, Book VI, chap 2), mirroring Matt 24:30 .[3] In Crime and Punishment a character named Marmeladov, who was an alcoholic father, refers to drunkards “made in the image of the beast and his mark” (Part I, chap 2) in an allusion to Rev 13:15-17 . Dostoevsky refers to "angel" 93 times in The Brothers Karamazov.

Dostoevsky's major works include The Brothers Karamazov and Crime and Punishment, and he is also known for his novella Notes from the Underground and his novels The Idiot and The Demons and The Devils (misnamed The Possessed). Though his works are not truly existentialist, they are dark and daunting as the main characters frequently search for an illusive meaning of life. The fact that a writer of such brilliance was able to be simultaneously pre-existentialist and Christian may suggest that the atheistic claims of today's existentialists are disingenuous, although it may not. Noted scholar Walter Kaufmann called Part One of Dostoevsky's short novel Notes From Underground "the best overture for existentialism ever written." [5] Conservative readers would do well to reflect on the way many of his characters not only fail, but are denied opportunities, to redeem themselves spiritually.

Like many intellectuals of his day who challenged the power and rights of the Tzar, Dostoevsky was exiled to Siberia. This 10 year experience would frame his views of the world, and change his writings from those of a young naive intellectual to the questing, challenging author he became. Despite his revolutionary credentials, he was viewed with suspicion by the Soviet intelligentsia, who considered him a defeatist.

Fyodor Dostoevsky.jpg

His final work before his death, The Brothers Karamazov is considered one of the greatest novels ever written, even from distant secularists like Friedrich Nietzsche and Sigmund Freud. In it, the character Ivan Karamazov states, "If there is no immortality, there is no virtue." Due mostly to this novel and Crime and Punishment, Dostoevsky is often considered one of the greatest defenders of theism in all of literature. However, an alternative view exists of him as a nihilist.


  • Poor Folk 1846
  • The Double: A Petersburg Poem 1846
  • Netochka Nezvanova 1849
  • The Village of Stepanchikovo 1859
  • The House of the Dead 1860
  • The Insulted and Humiliated 1861
  • A Nasty Story 1862
  • Notes from Underground 1864
  • Crime and Punishment 1866
  • The Gambler 1867
  • The Idiot 1869
  • The Possessed 1872
  • The Raw Youth 1875
  • The Brothers Karamazov 1880
  • A Writer's Diary (1873-1881)


  1. http://thisrecording.com/today/2009/8/3/in-which-these-are-the-100-greatest-writers-of-all-time.html
  2. https://www.imdb.com/list/ls005774742/
  3. 3.0 3.1 https://faithalone.org/journal-articles/dostoevsky-and-his-theology/
  4. https://warriorsoulagoge.com/the-grand-inquisitor-and-the-three-temptations-of-christ/
  5. http://www.tameri.com/csw/exist/exist.html

See also

External links

Further reading

  • Frank, Joseph. Dostoevsky: The Years of Ordeal, 1850-1859. (1983). 325 pp.
  • Frank, Joseph. Dostoevsky: The Stir of Liberation: 1860-1865. (1986). 395 pp.
  • Frank, Joseph. Dostoevsky: The Miraculous Years, 1865-1871. (1995). 528 pp.
  • Griffiths, Frederick T. and Rabinowitz, Stanley J. Novel Epics: Gogol, Dostoevsky, and National Narrative. (1990). 184 pp.
  • Leatherbarrow, W. J. Fedor Dostoevsky: A Reference Guide. (317) pp.

Primary sources

  • Frank, Joseph and Goldstein, David I., eds. Selected Letters of Fyodor Dostoevsky. (1987). 545 pp