Fyodor Dostoevsky, a Russian writer, born in Moscow on October 30, 1821 wrote fictional stories mostly concerning the issues of man’s tendencies toward good or evil as well as the struggle between reason and faith. Some of his most famous works include “The Idiot,” “The Brothers Karamazov,” and “Notes From Underground.” In his late twenties Dostoevsky was arrested by the current Czar of Russia for being involved with a progressive group called the Petrashevsky Circle headed by a socialist named Mikhail Petrashevsky. He and the other members of the Circle were kept in solitary confinement for eight months while the government investigated the charges. At the end of the eight months they were all sentenced to death by firing squad, however at the last minute it was changed to four years of exile in Siberia as well as two years service in the Russian Army. During his time in prison the only book that he has is a Bible, and by the end of his four-year sentence in Siberia is a changed man with much deeper and more Orthodox view of Christianity. This near death experience and exile influence much of his later writings. In 1864 Dostoevsky loses both his brother Mikhail as well as his wife Maria Dmitrievna Isaeva. Over the next few years he travels Europe including France, England, Germany, and Italy where he not only gains his detest for European culture but also incurs a large debt. He continues writing, and even starts a few journals where he begins work on pieces including “Crime and Punishment” and “Notes From Underground,” however is unable to finish these pieces till later because of a contract deadline for his book “The Gambler.” While writing “The Gambler” he meets a stenographer by the name of Anna Grigorievna Snitkina who he marries in 1867. That same year he is forced to flee the country with Anna to avoid being thrown into debtor’s prison. In the past Dostoevsky had had bouts of epileptic seizures, however during the next few years they worsen. Also during this time he begins work on his book “The Idiot” who’s main character happens to be an epileptic. Dostoevsky returns to St. Petersburg in 1871 where he spends the rest of his life finishing such works as “War and Peace,” “The Meek One,” and arguably his best work (which I am currently in the process of reading) “ The Brothers Karamozov.” Ten years later on January 28, 1881 Dostoevsky dies of a lung hemorrhage. The two books that I have read by Dostoevsky are “The Idiot,” “Notes From Underground,” and the one that I am currently reading is the novel “The Brothers Karamozov.” “The Idiot” is about a man who has come back from treatments after having a severe epileptic seizure where he loses his mind temporarily. Once regaining his consciousness he has what is described as a “Christ like” personality. The book is of his effect upon others and that how a saintly personality cannot survive in the sinful and lustful world. “Notes From Underground” is partially a biography of Dostoevsky, the protagonist being a man who has locked himself “underground” to discover what is real and who he is. It begins with his ranting of philosophical thoughts and meanings of what it is to be human, and his thoughts of humanity. He then goes on to tell his story of his downward spiral that has lead him into his hiding “underground” and how he has come to detest himself so much that he must cast himself away from humanity. The last book, which I am currently reading, is the journey of a man named Alyosha, who at the beginning of the story is training to become a monk. However with the murder of his contemptuous father he is forced to leave the sanctuary and must help his two older brothers Dimitri and Ivan. In this book there are three vary famous works called the “Rebellion” and “The Grand Inquisitor” which are Ivan’s arguments to Alyosha denying the existence of God. The third book is a rebuttal called “The Devil.” With in all of Dostoevsky’s works he takes a deep look at the dualities of man and his tendencies toward good and evil. He uses a mix of philosophy, personal stories, and vivid stories to paint a picture of the human soul looking at religion and the purpose of life. With all of this, and through many of his dark tails he comes to the conclusion that all though man has a disturbing and dark side, man is not and cannot be inherently evil.
The Brothers Karamozov, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Constance Garnet(Translation), Maire Jaanus(Notes and Intro), Barnes and Nobles, 122 Fifth Avenue New York, NY 10011, 2004
The Idiot, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Constance Garnet(Translation), Elena Yuffa(Intro), Barnes and Nobles, 122 Fifth Avenue New York, NY 10011, 2004
Notes Form Underground, The Double Tree, and Other Stories, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Constance Garnet(Translation), Deborah A. Martinsen(Intro), Barnes and Nobles, 122 Fifth Avenue New York, NY 10011, 2003