DOSTOEVSKII, Fedor (Mikhailovich) (LITERATURE)

Also known as Fyodor Dostoevsky. Born: Moscow, Russia, 30 October 1821. Education: Educated at home to age 12; Chermak’s School, Moscow; Army Chief Engineering Academy, St. Petersburg, 1838-43: commissioned as ensign, 1839, as 2nd lieutenant, 1842, graduated 1843 as War Ministry draftsman; resigned 1844. Family: Married 1) Maria Dmitrievna Isaeva in 1857 (died 1864), one stepson; 2) Anna Grigorievna Snitkina in 1867, two daughters and two sons. Career: Writer; political involvement caused his arrest,1849: sentenced to death, but sentence commuted at the last moment to penal servitude, in Omsk, Siberia, 1850-54; exiled as soldier at Semipalatinsk, 1854: corporal, 1855, ensign, 1856, resigned as 2nd lieutenant for health reasons, and exile ended, 1859; editor, Vremia [Time], 1861-63; took over Epokha [Epoch] on his brother’s death, 1864-65; in Western Europe, 1867-71; editor, Grazhdanin [Citizen], 1873-74. Died: 28 January 1881.



Novels, translated by Constance Garnett. 12 vols., 1912-20.

Polnoe sobraniekhudozhestvennykhproizvedenii [Complete Works]. 3 vols., 1933.

Sobranie sochinenii [Collected Works], edited by Leonid Grossman.10 vols., 1956-58.

Polnoe sobranie sochinenii [Complete Works], edited by G.M. Fridlender and others. 30 vols., 1972-90.

Sochineniia [Works]. 2 vols., 1987-. Sobranie sochinenii [Collected Works]. 15 vols., 1988.

Izbrannye sochineniia [Selected Works], edited by N.I. Iakushin. 1990.

White Nights; A Gentle Creature; The Dream of a Ridiculous Man, translated by Alan Myers. 1995.


Bednye liudi. 1846; as Poor Folk, 1887; also translated by L. Milman, 1894; C.J. Hogarth, with The Gambler, 1916; Constance Garnett, in Novels, 1917; L. Nazrozov, 1956; Robert Dessaix, 1982; David McDuff, 1988.

Dvoinik. 1846; as The Double, translated by Constance Garnett, in Novels, 1917; also translated by Jessie Coulson, 1972; as The Double: A Poem of St. Petersburg, translated by George Bird, 1956; as The Double: Two Versions, translated by Evelyn Harden, 1985.

Belye nochi. 1848; as White Nights, translated by Constance Garnett,in Novels, 1918; also translated by Olga Shartse, 1958.

Netochka Nezvanova. 1849; as Netochka Nezvanova, translated by Constance Garnett, in Novels, 1920; also translated by Ann Dunnigan, 1970; Jane Kentish, 1985. Selo Stepanchikogo i ego obitateli [The Village Stepanchikogo and Its Inhabitants]. 1859; as The Village of Stepanchikovo and Its Inhabitants: From the Notes of an Unknown, translated with introduction by Ignat Avsey, 1995.

Zapiski izpodpol’ia. 1864; edited by A.D.P. Briggs, 1994; as Letters from the Underworld, translated by C.J. Hogarth, 1913; as Notes from the Underground, translated by Jessie Coulson, 1972; as Notes from Underground, translated by Constance Garnett, in Novels, 1918; also translated by Mirra Ginsburg, 1974; Michael R. Katz, 1989; Jane Kentish, with The Gambler, 1991; Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, 1992.

Igrok. 1866; as The Gambler, translated by F. Whishaw, with The Friend of the Family, 1887; also translated by C.J. Hogarth, with Poor Folk, 1916; Jessie Coulson, 1966; Victor Terras, with Diary, by Polina Suslova, 1973; Jane Kentish, with Notes from the Underground, 1991.

Prestuplenie i nakazanie. 1867; as Crime and Punishment, translated by Frederick Whishaw, 1886; also translated by Constance Garnett,1881; David Magarshack, 1951; Jessie Coulson, 1953 (this translation edited by George Gibian, 1989; with an introduction by Richard Peace, 1995); Sidney Monas, 1968; J. Katzer, 1985; David McDuff, 1991; Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky,1993.

Idiot. 1869; as The Idiot, translated by Frederick Whishaw, 1887; also translated by Constance Garnett, in Novels, 1913; E. Martin, 1914; David Magarshack, 1954; Henry and Olga Carlisle, 1969; J. Katzer, 1978; Alan Myers, 1992; Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, 1993.

Vechnyi muzh. 1870; as The Permanent Husband, translated by Frederick Whishaw, with Uncle’s Dream, 1888; as The Eternal Husband, translated by Constance Garnett, in Novels, 1917.

Besy. 1872; as The Possessed, translated by Constance Garnett, in Novels, 1913; as The Devils, translated by David Magarshack, 1953; as Devils, translated by Michael R. Katz, 1992; as Demons: A Novel in Three Parts, translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, 1994.

Podrostok. 1875; as A Raw Youth, translated by Constance Garnett, in Novels, 1916.

Brat’ia Karamazovy. 1880; as The Brothers Karamazov, translated by Constance Garnett, in Novels, 1912; also translated by A. Kropotkin, 1953; David Magarshack, 1958; Andrew R. MacAndrew, 1970; Julius Katzer, 1980; W.J. Leatherbarrow, 1990; Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, 1990; David McDuff, 1993.

Injury and Insult, translated by Frederick Whishaw. 1886; as The Insulted and Injured, translated by Constance Garnett, in Novels, 1915; also translated by Olga Shartse, 1977; as The Insulted and Humiliated, 1956.

The Friend of the Family and The Gambler, translated by Frederick Whishaw. 1887.

Uncle’s Dream, translated by Frederick Whishaw, with The Permanent Husband. 1888; also translated by Constance Garnett, in Novels, 1919; as My Uncle’s Dream, translated by Ivy Litvinova, 1956.

Letters from the Underworld and Other Stories, translated by C.J. Hogarth. 1913.

A Gentle Spirit, translated by Constance Garnett, in Novels. 1917; as A Gentle Creature and Other Stories, translated by David Magarshack, 1950.

Best Short Stories, translated by David Magarshack, 1954.

Winter Notes on Summer Impressions, translated by R. Renfield. 1954; as Summer Impressions, translated by Kyril FitzLyon, 1954; translated by David Patterson, 1997.

The Gambler; Bobok; A Nasty Story, translated by Jessie Coulson. 1966.

Notes from the Underground; The Double, translated by Jessie Coulson. 1972.

Poor Folk and Other Stories, translated by David McDuff. 1988.

Uncle’s Dream and Other Stories, translated by David McDuff. 1989.

An Accidental Family, edited and translated by Richard Freeborn.1994.


Zapiski iz mertvogo doma. 1861-62; as Buried Alive; or, Ten Years of Penal Servitude in Siberia, translated by M. Von Thilo, 1881; as Prison Life in Siberia, translated by H. Edwards, 1881; as The House of the Dead, 1911; also translated by Constance Garnett, in Novels, 1915; David McDuff, 1985; as Memoirs from the House of the Dead, translated by Jessie Coulson, 1955; as Notes from a Dead House, translated by L. Nazrozov and J. Guralsky, 1958.

Dnevnik pisatelia. 1876-81; as The Diary of a Writer, translated by Boris Leo Brasol, 2 vols., 1949; as A Writer’s Diary 1873-1876, translated by Brasol, 2 vols., 1949; also translated by Kenneth Lantz, 1993.

Letters of Fyodor Michailovitch Dostoevsky to His Family and Friends, translated by E. Mayne. 1914.

Pages from the Journal of an Author, translated by S.S. Kotelianskii and J.M. Murry. 1916.

Letters and Reminiscences, translated by S.S. Kotelianskii and J.M. Murry. 1923.

Pis’ma k zhene, edited by V.F. Pereverzev. 1926; as Letters to His Wife, translated by E. Hill and D. Mudie, 1930.

New Dostoevsky Letters, translated by S.S. Kotelianskii. 1929.

Zapisnye tetradi [Notebooks]. 4 vols., 1935.

The Grand Inquisitor, translated by S.S. Kotelianskii. 1935; also translated by Constance Garnett, 1948. Pis’ma [Letters]. 4 vols., 1959.

Occasional Writings, edited and translated by David Magarshack. 1961.

The Notebooks for The Idiot [Crime and Punishment, The Possessed, A Raw Youth, The Brothers Karamazov], edited by Edward Wasiolek, translated by Wasiolek, Victor Terras, and Katharine Strelsky. 5 vols., 1967-71.

Neizdannyi Dostoevskii. Zapisnye knizhki i tetradi 1860-1881. 1971; as The Unpublished Dostoevsky: Diaries and Notebooks, 1860-81, edited by Carl R. Proffer, 3 vols., 1973-76.

Self Portrait, edited by Jessie Coulson. 1976.

Selected Letters, edited by Joseph Frank and David I. Goldstein, translated by Andrew R. MacAndrew. 1987.

Complete Letters (Vol. 1, 1832-59; Vol. 2, 1860-67; Vol. 3, (1868-71); Vol. 4 (1872-77); Vol. 5, 1878-81), edited and translated by David Lowe and Ronald Meyer. 1988-91.

Vozvrashchenie cheloveka [The Return of Man], edited by M.M. Stakhanova. 1989.

Critical Studies:

Fyodor Dostoevsky: A Study by Aimee Dostoevskii, 1922; Dostoevsky: The Man and His Work by Julius Meier Graefe, 1928; The Mighty Three: Pushkin, Gogol, Dostoevsky by Boris Leo Brasol, 1934; Dostoevsky in Russian Literary Criticism 1846-1954, 1957, Dostoevskii’s Image in Russia Today, 1975, and Dostoevskii in Russian and World Theatre, 1977, all by Vladimir Seduro; Dostoevsky: His Life and Art by Avrahm Yarmolinsky, 1957;Dostoevsky by David Magarshack, 1961; The Undiscovered Dostoevsky, 1962, and Dostoevsky: His Life and Work, 1978, both by Ronald Hingley; Dostoevsky: A Collection of Critical Essays edited by Rene Wellek, 1962; Notes on Dostoevsky’s ”Crime and Punishment,” 1963, and Notes on Dostoevsky’s ”Notes from the Underground," 1970, both by James L. Roberts, and Notes on Dostoevsky’s ”BrothersKaramazov" by Roberts and Gary Carey, 1967; Dostoevsky: The Major Fiction by Edward Wasiolek, 1964; Dostoevsky’s Quest for Form, 1966, The Art of Dostoevsky, 1981, and Dostoevsky’s Underground Man in Russian Literature, 1982, all by Robert Louis Jackson; Dostoevsky and Romantic Realism by Donald Fangler, 1967; Dostoevsky: His Life and Work by Konstantin Mochulskii, 1967; Dostoevsky: An Examination of the Major Novels by Richard Peace, 1971; Political Apocalypse: A Study of Dostoevsky’s Grand Inquisitor by Ellis Sandoz, 1971; The Religion of Dostoevsky by A. Boyce Gibson, 1973; Dostoevsky and the Age of Intensity by Alex de Jong, 1975; Starets Zosima in the Brothers Karamazov: A Study in the Mimesis of Virtue by Sven Linner, 1975; Dostoevsky: The Novel of Discord, 1976, and Dostoevsky after Bakhtin: Readings in Dostoevsky’s Fantastic Realism, 1990, both by Malcolm V. Jones, 1976, and New Essays on Dostoevsky edited by Jones and Garth M. Terry, 1983; Dostoevsky: The Literary Artist by Erik Krag, 1976; Dostoevsky: The Seeds of Revolt 1821-1849, 1977, The Years of Ordeal 1850-1859, 1984, and The Stir of Liberation 1860-1865, 1987, all by Joseph Frank; Dostoevsky and the Novel by Michael Holquist, 1977; A "Handbook" to the Russian Text of Crime and Punishment by Edgar H. Lehrmann, 1977; Atheism and the Rejection of God: Contemporary Philosophy and the Brothers Karamazov by Stewart Sutherland, 1977; Dostoevsky and Christ: A Study of Dostoevsky’s Rebellion Against Belinsky by Ivan Dolenc, 1978; Ideology and Imagination: The Image of Society in Dostoevsky by Geoffrey C. Kabat, 1978; Dostoevsky and the Psychologists by Maria Kravchenko, 1978; Crime and Punishment: Murder as Philosophic Experiment by A.D. Nuttall, 1978; Crime and Punishment: The Techniques of the Omniscient Author by Gary Rosenshield, 1978; Unconscious Structure in The Idiot: A Study in Literature and Psychoanalysis by Elizabeth Dalton, 1979; Narrative Principles in Dostoevskij’s Besy: A Structural Analysis by Slobodanka B. Vladiv, 1979; Tolstoy or Dostoevsky: An Essay in Contrast by George Steiner, 1980; F.M. Dostoevsky (1821-1881): A Centenary Collection edited by Leo Burnett, 1981; Fedor Dostoevsky, 1981, and Fyodor Dostoevsky; ”The Brothers Karamazov," 1992, both by W.J. Leatherbarrow; Dostoevsky and The Idiot: Author, Narrator and Reader by Robin Feuer Miller, 1981; A Karamazov Companion: Commentary on the Genesis, Language and Style of Dostoevsky’s Novel by Victor Terras, 1981; The Underground Man and Raskolnikov: A Comparative Study by Preben Villadsen, 1981; Dostoevsky by Gerald Abraham, 1982; Fyodor Dostoevsky by John Arthur Thomas Lloyd, 1982; Dostoevsky by Stanislaw Mackiewicz, 1982; Dostoevsky by Dimitri Merejkowski, 1982; Character Names in Dostoevsky’s Fiction by Charles Passage, 1982; Dostoevsky by John Cowper Powys, 1982; Dostoevsky by C.M. Woodhouse, 1982; Dostoevsky by L.A. Zander, 1982; New Essays on Dostoevsky, 1983; A Dostoevsky Dictionary by Richard Chapple, 1983; Dostoevsky by John Jones, 1983; The Idiot: Dostoevsky’s Fantastic Prince: A Phenomenological Approach by Dennis Patrick Slattery, 1983; Problems of Dostoevsky’s Poetics by Mikhail M. Bakhtin, translated by Caryl Emerson, 1984; Tyrant and Victim in Dostoevsky by Gary Cox, 1984; Dostoevsky and His New Testament, 1984, and Dostoevsky: A Writer’s Life, 1988, both by Geir Kjetsaa;The Experience of Time in Crime and Punishment by Leslie A. Johnson, 1985; Varieties of Poetic Utterance: Quotation in The Brothers Karamazov by Nina Perlina, 1985; Dostoevsky and the Healing Art: An Essay in Literary and Medical History by James L. Rice, 1985; Dostoevsky: The Myths of Duality by Roger B. Anderson, 1986; Dostoevsky and the Human Condition after a Century edited by Alexej Ugrinsky, Frank S. Lambasa, and Valija K. Ozolins, 1986; Dostoyevsky’s Critique of the West: The Quest for the Earthly Paradise by Bruce K. Ward, 1986; Humor in the Novels of F.M. Dostoevsky by R.L. Busch, 1987; The Aesthetics of Dostoevsky by Nadezhda Kashina, 1987; Summer in Baden-Baden: From the Life of Dostoyevsky by Leonid Tsypkin, 1987; Fyodor Dostoevsky by Peter Conradi, 1988; Poverty and Power in the Early Works of Dostoevskij by S.K. Somerwil-Ayrton, 1988; Furnace of Doubt: Dostoevsky and The Brothers Karamazov by Arthur Trace, 1988; The Genesis of the Brothers Karamazov: The Aesthetics, Ideology and Psychology of Making a Text by Robert Belknap, 1989; Dostoevsky: The Author as Psychoanalyst by Louis Breger, 1989; Dostoevsky and the Process of Literary Creation by Jacques Catteau, 1989; Literary Portraits in the Novels of F.M. Dostoevskij by Edmund Heier, 1989; Dostoevsky: Dreamer and Prophet by Judith Gunn, 1990; The Political and Social Thought of F.M. Dostoevsky by Stephen Carter, 1991; The Brothers Karamazov and the Poetics of Memory by Diana Oenning Thompson, 1991; Fedor Dostoevsky by Alloa Amoia, 1993; Dostoevsky’s Notes from Underground by Richard Peace, 1993; Dostoevsky and the Twentieth Century: The Ljubljana Papers, edited by Malcolm V. Jones, 1993; Dostoevsky and the Woman Question: Rereadings at the End of a Century by Nina Pelikan Straus, 1994; Dostoevsky: The Miraculous Years by Joseph Frank, 1995; Dostoevskii and Britain, edited by W.J. Leatherbarrow, 1995; The Annihilation of Inertia: Dostoevsky and Metaphysics by Liza Knapp, 1996; Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment: An Aesthetic Interpretation by Henry Buchanan, 1996; The Perverted Ideal in Dostoevsky’s ”The Devils” by Nancy K. Anderson, 1997; Dostoevsky and Soloviev: The Art of Integral Vision by Marina Kostalevsky, 1997; Resurrection From the Underground: Feodor Dostoevsky by Rene Girard, translated and edited by James G. Williams, 1997; Reading Dostoevsky by Victor Terras, 1998; Dostoevsky’s The Idiot: A Critical Companion, edited by Liza Knapp, 1998; Dostoevsky and English Modernism, 1900-1930 by Peter Kaye, 1999; Dimensions of Laughter in Crime and Punishment by John (Janos) Spiegel, 2000; Dostoevsky and the Christian Tradition, edited by George Pattison and Diane Oenning Thompson, 2001; Retelling Dostoyevsky: Literary Responses and Other Observations by Gary Adelman, 2001.

The darkness of Fedor Dostoevskii’s life—a murdered father, epilepsy, near-execution and exile, debt, compulsive gambling, estrangement from friends, and a tormented sexuality—reflects the rapidly overheating Russian society of the later 19th century. So does his literature. His early work, including Bednye liudi (Poor Folk), Dvoinik (The Double), and Belye nochi (White Nights), surfaces in a post-Gogolian ”civic realism,” with a compassion for the little man, but this feature is quickly overshadowed by his characteristic and seminal perceptions of the paranoia, deception, emptiness, and illusion of modern urban life. In the score of years following his penal servitude and exile for ”socialist” activities (1849-59) Dostoevskii produced a series of works of lasting significance for 20th-century literature. The Underground Man (central character of Zapiski iz podpol’ia, translated as Notes from the Underground) is a determining forerunner to most of the later heroes: a frustrated modern man, adrift in a moral void. Estranged from the roots of land, tradition, and faith, he attempts to establish, if only negatively, his own identity and dignity against the palliatives and platitudes of authority on the one hand and the serious, but dangerous appeal of ”rationalism” on the other. Rationalism, in Dostoevskii’s view, came to embrace utilitarianism, materialism, socialism, and the temporal power of Roman Catholicism. Throughout his work Dostoevskii seeks to counteract rationalism by appeal to the intuitive Christian faith which he sees embodied, however imperfectly, in the beliefs of the Russian people.

The conflicting interplay between the rationalist analysis of existence and the natural response to life is pursued in stronger terms in the characters and plots of the major novels. In Prestuplenie i nakazanie (Crime and Punishment) Raskol’nikov’s espousal of a ”rational” superman morality results only in the squalid murder of a pawnbroker, followed by Raskol’nikov’s own self-torment which eventually leads him to an unconvincing ”salvation.” In Idiot (TheIdiot) Prince Myshkin’s passive beauty and his all too perceptive innocence stimulate, rather than reconcile, the perverse impulses of his society. In Besy (The Possessed or The Devils), a Messianic, anti-revolutionary novel, Stavrogin’s unique strength and individuality is sapped to suicide by disillusionment with ideologies, causes, and beliefs. Finally, in Brat’ia Karamazovy (The Brothers Karamazov) the Karamazov family, beset by jealousy, pride, and hatred, disintegrates into parricide, a crisis that tests the extremes of Christianity and atheism. It is only in this last novel that Dostoevskii’s attempt to give a positive depiction of active Christian love (in the persons of Father Zosima and Alesha Karamazov) is artistically successful, although even here it often fails to match the power of Ivan Karamazov’s reasoned objections to ”God’s world.”

Dostoevskii’s heroes are strong but divided personalities, engaged in intimate and frequently mortal debate with themselves, their ”doubles,” and the reader over the moral basis of their actions. His murder-centred plots are a visionary, fantastic, and mythically structured re-working of the sensational and extremist life observed in his journalism. The polarized themes of reason and unreason, faith and unbelief, moral freedom and moral slavery, frame the tension of modern man, a tension which finds a precarious resolution in the vision of Christ, Dostoevskii’s moral-aesthetic ideal. His journal chronicle Dnevnik pisatelia (The Diary of a Writer) portrays these issues in the form of justification of tradition, discussion of psychology and education, and nationalistic, reactionary vaunting of the Russian destiny over a corrupt Europe.

The essence of Dostoevskii’s work is dialogue. Vladimir Nabokov, a noted critic of Dostoevskii’s otherwise largely undisputed reputation, describes him as a writer who ”seems to have been chosen by the destiny of Russian letters to become Russia’s greatest playwright,” but who ”took the wrong turning and wrote novels” (Lectures on Russian Literature, 1982). Those novels are constantly destabilized by narrators, chroniclers, and a host of narrating characters who run amok through authorial corridors. Mikhail Bakhtin’s identification of this dialogic structure as ”polyphony” (in his Problems of Dostoevsky’s Poetics) has been revolutionary to the understanding of Dostoevskii and highly influential in the development of modern structuralism. Dostoevskii creates from his settings of fateful threshold and crowded room, grubby town and fantastic city the fragmented universe inherited by the 20th-century novel. Nothing in Dostoevskii’s work is single, whole, or certain, but his imperfective vision looks forward with a desperate hope for perfection.

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