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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Fyodor Dostoevsky

Dostoevsky (1821-1881) was the son of a former army surgeon, who was murdered by his own serfs for his brutality. He received a military education but never pursued such a career and turned to writing instead, publishing his first novel Poor Folk in 1846. His writing career was halted in 1849, following his arrest for alleged subversion against Tsar Nicholas I.

After a lenghty sentence, which included four years of forced labor in Siberia, Dostoevsky went on to write four major novels between 1866 and and 1880 (Crime and Punishment, The Idiot, The Possessed, and The Brothers Karamazov). Part of the motivation behind his prolific output was his huge gambling debts.

The Idiot was Dostoevsky second major novel. In it, he sought to portray a saintly man devoid of ulterior motives in his desire to help people. His protagonist is an epileptic, a condition Dostoevsky himself developed during his time in Siberia. Also, during the writing of the novel, Dostoevsky was devastated by the loss of his infant daughter Sonya.

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