Fyodor Mikhaylovich Dostoyevsky, 1821 - 1881
Oil on canvas by Vassilly Grigorovich Perov (1872)
Born: 11 November 1821, Moscow, Russian Empire
Died: 9 February 1881, Saint Petersburg, Russian Empire
Dostoyevsky was born at the Mariinsky Hospital for the poor, where his despotic alcoholic father was a surgeon. Despite his parents, Dostoyevsky enjoyed talking to the patients in the hospital garden. His early education was provided by his mother, when she died of tuberculosis in 1837 Odor and his brother were sent to the Military Engineering Academy at St Petersburg. In 1839 his father died, by some accounts killed by his own serfs. No good documentation exists, but the story is that the serfs grabbed him in one of his drunken rages and poured vodka into his mouth until he drowned. After graduation, Dostoyevsky soon lost interest in his trade and resigned his commission to write. One of his publishing ventures attracted the anger of Tsar Nicholas I and he was sentenced to death. After the firing squad was assembled, a messenger rushed in with word that the sentence was commuted to four years at hard labor. After he served his term he was conscripted into the Siberian Regiment for five years. Between fits of epilepsy and a gambling problem his life was rocky until forced to deliver a novel or surrender all his copyrights to the publisher. A month before the deadline he hired a young stenographer, Anna Grigorevna Snitkina; working long hours they got the novel done on the day of the deadline, falling in love in the process. They married in 1867 and Anna managed to keep the rest of his life productive. Dostoyevsky died of a lung hemorrhage related to emphysema and complicated by an epileptic seizure.
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Fyodor Dostoyevsky quotes:
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- A fool with a heart and no sense is just as unhappy as a fool with sense and no heart. permalink
- A man who lies to himself, and believes his own lies, becomes unable to recognize truth, either in himself or in anyone else, and he ends up losing respect for himself and for others. permalink
- 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. permalink
- A widow, the mother of a family, and from her heart she produces chords to which my whole being responds. permalink
- Anyone who can appease a man's conscience can take his freedom away from him. permalink
The Brothers Karamazov (1880)
- Beauty is a terrible and awful thing! It is terrible because it has not been fathomed, for God sets us nothing but riddles. Here the boundaries meet and all contradictions exist side by side. permalink
- Deprived of meaningful work, men and women lose their reason for existence; they go stark, raving mad. permalink
- Do a man dirt, yourself you hurt. permalink
- Every man has some reminiscences which he would not tell to everyone, but only to his friends. He has others which he would not reveal even to his friends, but only to himself, and that in secret. But finally there are still others which a man is even afraid to tell himself, and every decent man has a considerable number of such things stored away. That is, one can even say that the more decent he is, the greater the number of such things in his mind. permalink
- Everywhere I am the object of an unbelievable esteem, the interest in me is, quite simply, tremendous. permalink
letter to his brother
- Fathers and teachers, I ponder, "What is hell?" I maintain that it is the suffering of being unable to love. permalink
- Granted I am a babbler, a harmless vexatious babbler, like all of us. But what is to be done if the direct and sole vocation of every intelligent man is babble, that is, the intentional pouring of water through a sieve? permalink
- Happiness does not lie in happiness, but in the achievement of it. permalink
- How many ideas have there been in the history of man which were unthinkable ten years before they appeared? permalink
- Humiliate the reason and distort the soul. permalink
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