Fyodor Dostoyevsky 1821-1881
Dostoyevsky gave up an engineering career early in order to write. In 1849 he was arrested for belonging to a radical discussion group; sentenced to be shot, he was reprieved at the last moment and spent four years at hard labour in Siberia, where he developed epilepsy and experienced a deepening of his religious faith. Later he published and wrote for several periodicals while producing his best novels. His novels are concerned especially with faith, suffering, and the meaning of life; they are famous for their psychological depth and insight and their near-prophetic treatment of issues in philosophy and politics. His first, Poor Folk (1846), was followed the same year by The Double. The House of the Dead (1862) is based on his imprisonment and The Gambler (1866) on his own gambling addiction. Best known are the novella Notes from the Underground (1864) and the great novels Crime and Punishment (1866), The Idiot (1869), The Possessed (1872), and The Brothers Karamazov (1880), which focuses on the problem of evil, the nature of freedom, and the characters' craving for some kind of faith. By the end of his life, he had been acclaimed one of his country's greatest writers, and his works had a profound influence on 20th-century literature.
Courtesy of Britannica Concise Encyclopedia. 2003.