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About Fyodor Dostoyevsky
He began writing in his 20s, and his first novel, Poor Folk, was published in 1846 when he was 25. His major works include Crime and Punishment (1866), The Idiot (1869), Demons (1872) and The Brothers Karamazov (1880). His output consists of 11 novels, three novellas, 17 short novels and numerous other works. Many literary critics rate him as one of the greatest psychologists in world literature. His 1864 novella Notes from Underground is considered to be one of the first works of existentialist literature.
Born in Moscow in 1821, Dostoyevsky was introduced to literature at an early age through fairy tales and legends, and through books by Russian and foreign authors. His mother died in 1837, when he was 15, and around the same time he left school to enter the Nikolayev Military Engineering Institute. After graduating, he worked as an engineer and briefly enjoyed a lavish lifestyle, translating books to earn extra money. In the mid-1840s he wrote his first novel, Poor Folk, which gained him entry into St. Petersburg's literary circles.
In the following years, Dostoyevsky worked as a journalist, publishing and editing several magazines of his own and later A Writer's Diary, a collection of his writings. He began to travel around western Europe and developed a gambling addiction, which led to financial hardship. For a time, he had to beg for money, but he eventually became one of the most widely read and highly regarded Russian writers. His books have been translated into more than 170 languages. Dostoyevsky influenced a multitude of writers and philosophers, from Anton Chekhov and Ernest Hemingway to Friedrich Nietzsche and Jean-Paul Sartre.
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Winner of the Pen/Book-of-the-Month Club Translation Prize
The Brothers Karamasov is a murder mystery, a courtroom drama, and an exploration of erotic rivalry in a series of triangular love affairs involving the “wicked and sentimental” Fyodor Pavlovich Karamazov and his three sons—the impulsive and sensual Dmitri; the coldly rational Ivan; and the healthy, red-cheeked young novice Alyosha. Through the gripping events of their story, Dostoevsky portrays the whole of Russian life, is social and spiritual striving, in what was both the golden age and a tragic turning point in Russian culture.
This award-winning translation by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky remains true to the verbal
inventiveness of Dostoevsky’s prose, preserving the multiple voices, the humor, and the surprising modernity of the original. It is an achievement worthy of Dostoevsky’s last and greatest novel.
The poverty-stricken Raskolnikov, a talented student, devises a theory about extraordinary men being above the law, since in their brilliance they think “new thoughts” and so contribute to society. He then sets out to prove his theory by murdering a vile, cynical old pawnbroker and her sister. The act brings Raskolnikov into contact with his own buried conscience and with two characters — the deeply religious Sonia, who has endured great suffering, and Porfiry, the intelligent and discerning official who is charged with investigating the murder — both of whom compel Raskolnikov to feel the split in his nature. Dostoyevsky provides readers with a suspenseful, penetrating psychological analysis that goes beyond the crime — which in the course of the novel demands drastic punishment — to reveal something about the human condition: The more we intellectualize, the more imprisoned we become.
With the same suppleness, energy, and range of voices that won their translation of The Brothers Karamazov the PEN/Book-of-the-Month Club Prize, Pevear and Volokhonsky offer a brilliant translation of Dostoevsky's classic novel that presents a clear insight into this astounding psychological thriller. "The best (translation) currently available"--Washington Post Book World.
After his great portrayal of a guilty man in Crime and Punishment, Dostoevsky set out in The Idiot to portray a man of pure innocence. The twenty-six-year-old Prince Myshkin, following a stay of several years in a Swiss sanatorium, returns to Russia to collect an inheritance and “be among people.” Even before he reaches home he meets the dark Rogozhin, a rich merchant’s son whose obsession with the beautiful Nastasya Filippovna eventually draws all three of them into a tragic denouement. In Petersburg the prince finds himself a stranger in a society obsessed with money, power, and manipulation. Scandal escalates to murder as Dostoevsky traces the surprising effect of this “positively beautiful man” on the people around him, leading to a final scene that is one of the most powerful in all of world literature.
- Poor Folk
- The Double
- Netochka Nezvanova
- The Village of Stepanchikovo
- Uncle's Dream
- The Insulted and the Injured
- The House of the Dead
- Notes from Underground
- Crime and Punishment
- The Gambler
- The Idiot
- The Eternal Husband
- The Adolescent
- The Brothers Karamazov
After several years in a Swiss sanatorium, twenty-six-year-old Prince Myshkin returns to Russian society to collect his rightful inheritance. But he soon crosses paths with the dark Rogozhin, a rich merchant’s son whose desire for Nastasya Filippovna will set the three of them on a tragic course. As author Fyodor Dostoevsky traces the effect of Myshkin’s innocence on the people around him in St. Petersburg, scandal escalates to murder . . .
“I think The Idiot to be a masterpiece—flawed, occasionally tedious or overwrought, like many masterpieces—but a fact of world literature just as important as the densely dramatic Brothers Karamazov or the brilliantly subtle and terrifying Devils. In those two novels, as in the simpler Crime and Punishment, Dostoevsky had plots and political and religious ideas working together. In The Idiot he is straining to grasp a story and a character converting themselves from Gothic to Saint’s Life on the run. What makes the greatness is double—the character of the prince, and a powerful series of confrontations with death. The true subject of The Idiot is the imminence and immanence of death.” —A. S. Byatt, The Guardian
“Nothing is outside Dostoevsky’s province. . . . Out of Shakespeare there is no more exciting reading.” —Virginia Woolf
'A truly great translation . . . This English version really is better' - A. N. Wilson, The Spectator
TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT BOOKS OF THE YEAR 2014
This acclaimed new translation of Dostoyevsky's 'psychological record of a crime' gives his dark masterpiece of murder and pursuit a renewed vitality, expressing its jagged, staccato urgency and fevered atmosphere as never before. Raskolnikov, a destitute and desperate former student, wanders alone through the slums of St. Petersburg, deliriously imagining himself above society's laws. But when he commits a random murder, only suffering ensues. Embarking on a dangerous game of cat and mouse with a suspicious police investigator, Raskolnikov finds the noose of his own guilt tightening around his neck. Only Sonya, a downtrodden prostitute, can offer the chance of redemption.
Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821-1881) was born in Moscow and made his name in 1846 with the novella Poor Folk. He spent several years in prison in Siberia as a result of his political activities, an experience which formed the basis of The House of the Dead. In later life, he fell in love with a much younger woman and developed a ruinous passion for roulette. His subsequent great novels include Notes from Underground, Crime and Punishment, The Idiot, Demons and The Brothers Karamazov.
Oliver Ready is Research Fellow in Russian Society and Culture at St Antony's College, Oxford. He is general editor of the anthology, The Ties of Blood: Russian Literature from the 21st Century (2008), and Consultant Editor for Russia, Central and Eastern Europe at the Times Literary Supplement.
•A detailed biography has been included by the publisher.
•This edition has been corrected for spelling and grammatical errors.
Exploring themes of free will versus determinism, Dostoyevsky’s existential exploration was written to challenge increasingly popular Western egoist philosophies. In the Underground Man, he found the embodiment of the antihero, whose behavior—like all human behavior—defies rationalization.