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Fyodor Dostoevsky - his life

The Russian writer Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky was born in the Hospital for the poor in Moscow on October 30, 1821. He was to be the second of seven children. His childhood has been described by himself as happy and peaceful where he held particular warm feelings towards his two older siblings Misya and Varenka. Other sources put weight on the despotic father. It is said that the father, a physicist who had retired to his estate in the province of Tula, was murdered by his own serfs in 1839 because of his hot temperedness and irritable state of mind. The mother, on the other hand, is described as tender and sensitive with a literary and musical talent. She died in 1837 when young Fyodor was only fifteen years old.
   In 1831 Fyodor and his brother Mikhail (1820-1864) were sent to boarding schools in Moscow. After the death of their mother in 1837 they started preparatory school in St. Petersburg. Then, in 1838, Fyodor was admitted to St. Petersburg's Academy of Military Engineers, leaving Misya behind. Our hero graduated in 1843 from the Academy as lieutenant, and was assigned to a military department in St. Petersburg where he worked for a year.
   Dostoevsky soon realized that working in a department gave no creative satisfaction. He wanted to write and work as an author. His new career started by translating Honore de Balzac's Eugenie Grandet in 1843 and George Sand's La derniere Aldini in 1844. Now he also started on his first novel, Poor Folk, which was published in 1846. Up to the point of his arrest in 1849, Dostoevsky published amongst other works, The Double, A Strange Wife, A Faint Heart and The Jealous Husband. At this time he was also acquainted with the utopian socialist M. V. Butashevich-Petrashevsky and Dostoevsky seems to have been one of the strongmen in the Petrashevsky group. This association got him four years in Siberian prison.
   By 1857 things started to look better. February 6 Dostoevsky married the widow Maria Dmitrievna Isaeva and two months later regained his rights of a nobleman. In August The Small Hero was published, he was released from army service in March 1858 and was alowed to return to St. Petersburg in December. In 1862 he made his first trip abroad to Germany, England, Switzerland, and Italy. He started an affair with the young student Apollinaria Suslova which he regarded as his intellectual equal - apart from being a good looking woman who followed her passions... Dostoevsky also started the review Time which published The Insulted and the Injured and A Silly Story in 1861.
   The period of relative prosperity and happiness stopped abruptly in 1864 when first Dostoevsky's wife Maria Dmitrievna, and then brother Mikhail, died. A further blow was when Apollinaria Suslova declined his marriage proposal in 1865. Dostoevsky was all alone, left with his brother's debts. He now resorted to gambling as a way out from his economical difficulties, but to no avail of course. He also signed a slave contract with a publisher for a new novel. As time went by, and running out, he had to hire a stenographer in order to get the novel ready in time. That stenographer was the nineteen year old Anna Grigorievna Snitkina. Together they worked hard for a month and the same day the contract expired out Dostoevsky delivered the manuscript for The Gambler to the publisher. Had he not done so, the publisher would have gained the rights to Dostoevsky's work. Intense work then transformed into intense love and Fyodor asked Anna to marry him. She accepted and the wedding stod in February 15 1867.
   Except for the last ten years, the Dostoevsky family suffered from economical difficulties caused by brother Mikhail's debts, the always begging step-son Pavel (from the marriage with Isaeva) and Fyodor's gambling spree. But they always seemed to manage and things got better after the publishing of The Devils in 1871-1872. They also was extremely unlucky regarding their three children. Sofia was born in Geneva in 1868, but lived for only three months. The next year, in Dresden, the daughter Lyubov was born. She had a nervous breakdown when her father died and never recovered. The relation between her and Anna was thereafter tense. In 1875 Aleksey was born, but met death three years later in fever. Dostoevsky was supposedly a good father, a modern husband for his time; a house rule was that at dinner they never talked about things that the children wouldn't understand.
   The last years of his life, Dostoevsky finally saw both artistic and economical success coming his way. In 1879 he began publishing The Brothers Karamazov in The Russian Messenger which recieved great reviews, and Anna started to sell books in the countryside. Dostoevsky also gained reputation as a speaker and gave lectures which the listeners enjoyed greatly. But his health was never good and deteriorated even further in 1880. Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky died in the evening of January 28 1881. He was buried in the cemetary of Alexander Nevsky Monastery.



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