Fyodor Mikhajlovich Dostoevsky (1821) was a Russian novelist, philosopher, essayist, journalist and short story writer. He is one of the most important authors of Russian literature. His books explore human psychology in the troubled political, social and spiritual atmosphere in 19th century in Russia. Many literary critics rate him as one of the greatest psychologists in the world literature.
Dostoevsky’s work contains 11 novels, 3 novellas, 17 short stories and numerous other works. His books were translated into more than 171 languages. He was influenced by many authors including William Shakespeare, Alexandr Pushkin, Nikolai Gogol, Victor Hugo, Plato and many others.
Notes from Underground (1864)
Notes from Underground is one of the first existentialist novels. `Underground man` is actually a 40-year-old former civil servant, an unreliable narrator living in St. Petersburg.
The novel`s first section is actually his diary, a monologue set from his basement in St. Petersburg. In his diary his intellectual views fall pretty low, he attacks western contemporary philosophy about rationalism and free will. He mentioned that utopian society removes suffering and pain but man desires both things and need them to be happy.
The novel`s second section is called `Apropos on the wet snow`. Here he describes certain events which appears to destroy and sometimes renew the underground man. He acts as a first person unreliable narrator and anti-hero.
Link to purchase: Notes from Underground
Crime and Punishment (1866)
This Dostoevsky novel is a master piece, it`s his most famous book and still nowadays one of the best books of Russian literature worldwide. It is the story about a human murder and its consequences, the drama about sin and guilt. Crime and Punishment is set in time of the midst of 19th century Russia`s troubled transition to modern age. Actually this novel is one of the finest psychopathology studies of human guilt written in any language.
The main character in novel is Rodion Raskolnikov, an impoverished, sicky, but also handsome and intelligent student who lives in periphery of czarist St. Petersburg. He formulates a plan to kill pawn broker for her money. Before he commits a crime, he believes that with money he can liberate himself of poverty and also that with a murder of such an unscrupulous pawn broker will do something good. But when he actually does the crime which he planned, things become complicated. He is suffering of guilt, paranoia and disgust to what he has done.
Link to purchase: Crime and Punishment
According to Joseph Frank the story Idiot is one the most personal of all Dostoevsky`s books. It includes descriptions of his personal ordeals such as epilepsy and mock execution and explores moral and philosophical themes consequent upon them. He wanted to show his own highest ideal, the true of Christian love to the crucible of contemporary Russian society. The tittle of the story is very ironically set as a name for the main character prince Lev Nikolayevich Myshkin who is a young, handsome man with good and open-heart. The novel explores the consequences of placing such pure innocent man to the center of conflicts, desire, passion and egoism of world societies.
After several years spent in sanitarium in Switzerland because of epilepsy, Prince Myshkin returns home to Russia. There he finds himself caught in love triangle between two women. One woman is Aglaia, beautiful, honest and naive woman, the other is Nastasya passioned, eccentric and suffering. Things became very complicated then and till the end of a story isn’t clear what will happen. In St. Petersburg prince finds himself a stranger in society obsessed with money, power and manipulation. The final scene in the novel is very strong and unexpected.
Link to purchase: Idiot
In novel Devils we are able to see into underground politics in Czarist Russia. It is a social and political satire, a psychological drama and a large scale tragedy. Demons is an allegory of potentially disastrous consequences of the political and moral nihilism which prevailed in Russia in the 1860s.
A fictional town descends into chaos when it becomes a main point of an attempted revolution whose leader is conspirator Pyotr Verkhovensky inspired by Nikolai Stavrogin. The revolutionists plan to spread destruction and anarchy throughout the country. They are morally bankrupt and prepare to achieve their goals at whatever cost including murders or incitement to suicide. At some moment they are forced to test limits of their destructive philosophy and kill one of their own to secure their mission. At that point their rage group breaks up in reciprocal recrimination.
Link to purchase: Devils
Brothers Karamazov (1880)
The novel Brothers Karamazov was Dostoevsky final masterpiece. This extraordinary novel is a passionate philosophical novel set in 19th century in Russia that enters deeply in ethical debates about God, free will and morality. It is a spiritual drama of moral struggles to concern faith, doubt, judgment and reason, set against modernizing Russia.
The story plot is about father Karamazov and his three sons; Dmitry – impulsive and sensual, Ivan – coldly and rational, Alyosha – healthy and young. It is about erotic rivalry in a series of triangle love affairs and discovering about murder which happens later in the story. Through all ripping events Dostoevsky portrays the whole Russian life, a social and spiritual striving.
Link to purchase: Brothers Karamazov
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