Notes From the Underground: Biography: Fyodor Dostoevsky

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Biography

Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky was born in Moscow, Russia on October 30, 1821.  Growing up in a relatively happy home, he probably felt closest to his elder brother, Mikhail.  By the age of 18, both of his parents were dead, his father supposedly murdered by one of his serfs.  Soon Dostoevsky was sent to an engineering school in St. Petersburg, the setting of most of his future novels.  He graduated from the St. Petersburg Military Engineering Academy at the age of 22.  Soon afterwards, he became a government employee, working as a draftsman of sorts.  After a few months Dostoevsky grew disenchanted with his office work, however, turning increasingly towards his prospects as a writer.  He quickly joined the Petrashevsky circle, an illegal, anti-czarist, socialist organization.  His participation in the group led to his arrest in 1849.  Sentenced to death by firing squad, Dostoevsky firmly believed his life to be over, when at the last moment, his sentence was changed to four years at a Siberian prison followed by another four years of military service.  By 1858, Dostoevsky was finally released from service, and it was at this time that his most famous works, including Notes from the Underground and Crime and Punishment, were written.  Yet the famous Russian author's hardships were far from over, for he found himself in an incredible amount of family debt which eventually led to a gambling problem.  His first wife dead, Dostoevsky fell in love with and soon married the nineteen-year-old Anna Grigorevna Snitkina, a stenographer he hired to help him finish The Gambler.  Other deaths in the family also contributed to Dostoevsky's troubles.  Just before he died, however, Dostoevsky, probably for the first time in his life, finally experienced the material success he had earned over the years through his writing.  In 1879, he published perhaps his greatest work, The Brothers Karamazov.  Dostoevsky died in the winter of 1881, having been plagued his entire life by severe health problems.

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