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MonkeyNotes-The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky
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BACKGROUND INFORMATION

Author Information

Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky (Dostoyevsky) was born on October 30, 1821 in Moscow. His father belonged to the nobility but worked as an army doctor in a public hospital. He was a strict disciplinarian, while his wife was kind and forgiving.

As a child Dostoevsky attended a military school of engineering for four years in St. Petersburg. Studies didnít interest him but he read books written by reputed authors. During this period, serfs killed his father in his estate. This tragedy moved young Dostoevsky so much that he dealt with death in almost all his novels.

Dostoevsky took commission in the army and worked for two years. In 1844, he resigned from his job to devote his time to reading and writing. Thus, he wrote his first novel PoorFolk in 1846 and won acclaim for his psychological portrayal of his characters in the book. He kept writing short stories and published his novel Double soon afterwards.

By this time, Dostoevsky had got involved in revolutionary activities and published articles voicing his views. His work shocked the government and they arrested him for libel in 1848. He was tried and condemned to death. However, he was pardoned at the last moment and sent to a prison in Siberia. This encounter with death remained etched in his memory and he recounted such an experience in his novels.

After spending four years in a Penal settlement in Omsk, he joined the army. The harsh experiences of his life broke down both his physical and mental resistance. He succumbed to an attack of epilepsy and became mellow in nature. He developed a patriotic fervor and visualized Russia as a model country. Around this time, he fell in love with a young widow named Marie Isaeva and married her soon afterwards. In 1859, after his release from prison, he started voicing his ideas in his writings. The same year he wrote The Friend of the Family. In 1862, he released The Insulted and the Injured and in 1864 Notes from Underground was published. The last mentioned book echoed his philosophy of gaining salvation through suffering.


After a glorious period of creative writing, his life came under a shadow. His wife died and he was plagued with physical ailments and financial commitments. However, he went on to write his masterpiece Crime and Punishment and got it published in 1866. Shortly afterwards, he married eighteen year old Anna Grigorievna Snitkina who had helped him to write Gambler.

In search of peace, he traveled to Europe but found little satisfaction. Restless in mind, he took to gambling. When that gave him no solace, he relieved his tension through writing. Thus, between 1868 and 1869 he wrote Idiot, about a noble character endowed with goodness. This was followed by other writings. In 1870 The Eternal Husband was published. Two years after, The Possessed was released. A Raw Youth appeared in 1875, The Dream of a Ridiculous Man in 1877 and A Diary of a Writer a few years later. The Brothers Karamazov, published a year before his death, was recognized as a masterpiece of Western literature. On January 28, 1881, Dostoevsky died leaving behind a series of classics that placed him in the ranks of the best writers of Russia.

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