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Definition: Dostoevsky, Fyodor Mikhailovich from Philip's Encyclopedia

Russian novelist, one of the greatest 19th-century writers. After completing Poor Folk and The Double (both 1846), he joined a revolutionary group, was arrested, and sentenced to death (1849). He was reprieved at the eleventh hour, and his sentence was commuted to four years' hard labour. He returned to St Petersburg in 1859, where he wrote Notes from the Underground (1864). After his classic work on sin and redemption Crime and Punishment (1866), he left Russia, partly to escape creditors. While abroad, he wrote The Idiot (1868-69) and The Devils (or The Possessed) (1872). His last major work was his masterpiece The Brothers Karamazov (1879-80).


Summary Article: Dostoevsky, Fyodor Mihailovich from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Russian novelist. Remarkable for their profound psychological insight, Dostoevsky's novels have greatly influenced Russian writers, and since the beginning of the 20th century have been increasingly influential abroad. In 1849 he was sentenced to four years' hard labour in Siberia, followed by army service, for printing socialist propaganda. The House of the Dead (1861) recalls his prison experiences, followed by his major works Crime and Punishment (1866), The Idiot (1868–69), and The Brothers Karamazov (1879–80).

Born in Moscow, the son of a physician, Dostoevsky was for a short time an army officer. His first novel, Poor Folk, appeared in 1846. In 1849, during a period of intense tsarist censorship, he was arrested as a member of a free-thinking literary circle and sentenced to death. After a last-minute reprieve he was sent to the penal settlement at Omsk for four years, where the terrible conditions increased his epileptic tendency. Finally pardoned in 1859, he published the humorous Village of Stepanchikovo, The House of the Dead, and The Insulted and the Injured (1862). Meanwhile he had launched two unsuccessful liberal periodicals, in the second of which his Letters from the Underworld (1864) appeared. Compelled to work by pressure of debt, he quickly produced Crime and Punishment (1866) and The Gambler (1867), before fleeing the country to escape from his creditors. He then wrote The Idiot (in which the hero is an epileptic like himself), The Eternal Husband (1870), and The Possessed (1871–72). Returning to Russia in 1871, he again entered journalism and issued the personal miscellany Journal of an Author, in which he discussed contemporary problems. In 1875 he published A Raw Youth, but the great work of his last years is The Brothers Karamazov.

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