Fyodor Dostoyevsky was born in Moscow
on October 30, 1821 into a lower middle class family. He studied at the School of Military Engineers
in St. Petersburg. In 1844, he resigned from the army in order to devote himself to writing. His first
published work was Poor Folk, which won him literary acclaim. At this time in his life, he was influenced
by certain liberal movements that were entering Russia and in 1849, he was arrested for belonging to
a young socialist group.
was tried and condemned to death, but his sentence was changed to prison in Siberia, where he remained
for four years. During this time, he had his first epileptic seizure and began to examine his life.
He became ardently devoted to the idea that Russia would eventually rise to become a world power and
would bring political salvation to the world. He also firmly held that suffering led to purification
of the soul, a theme which is prominent in his greatest works. When he was released from prison, he
continued his literary career.
He had written several full-length novels by 1864, when Notes from Underground was published. Afflicted
by epilepsy and in debt, he was compelled to write constantly to avoid financial ruin. He wrote his
greatest works during the final fourteen years of his life, including Crime and Punishment, The Idiot,
The Possessed and The Brothers Karamazov. He died on January 28, 1881. At his death, he was considered
Russia's leading novelist and remains one of the world's most important writers.