Fyodor Dostoevsky

Here you will find a concise collection of information, and resources on the life and works of Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky. An attempt has been made to provide both a resource for those already familiar with the great Russian master, as well as visitors who have the privilege of learning about him for the first time.



Fyodor Dostoevsky, a literary giant, was born in 1821 in Moscow, Russia, into a middle-class family. Born into a very religious household, to hard-working parents, Dostoevsky pursued his education in engineering, and came out third in the final examination of the Petersburg School of Engineering.

Dostoevsky's education had begun early, as his parents spent a lot of time reading to their children, usually from books of weight and importance. His academic career led into his literary one, as he had started work on his first novel, ‘Poor Folks',while still attending school. Its publication in 1846 met with widespread critical and public acclaim. His career, however, suffered a sizable interruption when he spent ten years in labor camps and Siberian exile as a political prisoner.

Dostoevsky was arrested and imprisoned in 1849 for involvement in revolutionary activities against Tsar Nicholas I. He was sentenced to death for anti-government activities linked to a radical intellectual group, the Petrashevsky Circle; however, after a mock execution in which he faced a staged firing squad, Dostoevsky's sentence was commuted to some years of exile performing hard labor at a katorga prison camp in Siberia. He was released from prison in 1854, and was required to serve in the Siberian Regiment. Dostoevsky spent the following five years as a corporal (and latterly lieutenant) in the Regiment's Seventh Line Battalion stationed at the fortress of Semipalatinsk in Kazakhstan.

His life was not only of strife. In 1855 he met and fell in love with Maria Dmitrievna Isaev, who would later become his wife. Isaev, though unhappily, was married to an abusive alcoholic. Dostoevsky and Isaev's love affair lasted through many trials, and they were eventually married in February of 1857, while Dostoevsky was still in exile. Their life together lasted until April 15, 1864 when Maria lost her battle with consumption, which she had been suffering from for years. Dostoevsky wold marry again.

His second wife was Anna Grigoryevna Snitkina, whom he met as the stenographer he had hired to speed up the process of completing a novel which he was contracted to deliver on a deadline. Despite their age difference (she was twenty, he was forty four) they fell in love and were marriedin in February of 1867.

In April, 1867, the Dostoevskys left Russia for Europe. The move was financed by Anna's financial savvy, and by her using the money from her dowery and by pawning everything she owned. They would stay in Europe for four years instead of the few months that was originally planned. They finally returned to Russia in the spring of 1871, after suffering the loss of an infant daughter, the birth of a second one (Lyubov), and before the birth of their second child, Fyodor.

By the 1870s, Dostoevsky had become a famous writer. Oddly, his fame was balanced by a quiet domestic life. Dostoevsky was a tender and tranquil husband and a playful father, fond of reading to his children. Even his happy years were not free of tribulations.

Weakened by age, it was increasingly more difficult for him to recover from his bouts of epilepsy. He died on January 2 at 11:38 p.m.


  1. The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons.
  2. Realists do not fear the results of their study.
  3. Happiness does not lie in happiness, but in the achievement of it.
  4. The secret of man's being is not only to live but to have something to live for.
  5. There is no subject so old that something new cannot be said about it.
  6. If God does not exist, then everything is permitted.
  7. One can know a man from his laugh, and if you like a man's laugh before you know anything of him, you may confidently say that he is a good man.
  8. There are things which a man is afraid to tell even to himself, and every decent man has a number of such things stored away in his mind.
  9. To live without Hope is to Cease to live.
  10. A real gentleman, even if he loses everything he owns, must show no emotion. Money must be so far beneath a gentleman that it is hardly worth troubling about.
  11. The awful thing is that beauty is mysterious as well as terrible. God and the devil are fighting there and the battlefield is the heart of man.
  12. Men do not accept their prophets and slay them, but they love their martyrs and worship those whom they have tortured to death.
  13. Sarcasm: the last refuge of modest and chaste-souled people when the PRIVACY of their soul is coarsely and intrusively invaded.
  14. The greatest happiness is to know the source of unhappiness.
  15. The cleverest of all, in my opinion, is the man who calls himself a fool at least once a month.
  16. If the devil doesn’t exist and, therefore, man has created him, he has created him in his own image and likeness.