The Brothers Karamazov

The Brothers Karamazov

The Brothers Karamazov

The Brothers Karamazov

Excerpt

FYODOR MIKHAILOVICH DOSTOEVSKY was born on October 30, 1821, in an apartment attached to the Hospital of the Poor in Moscow, where his father was an attending physician. Following the death of his mother in 1837, he moved to St. Petersburg and was accepted into the School of Military Engineers. A classmate reported that he “always held himself aloof, never took part in his comrades’ amusements, and usually sat in a corner with a book.” His morbid self-consciousness was further aggravated by his father, who had retired to a disorderly life on his estate and refused to provide his son with a regular allowance. On one occasion, Dostoevsky sent his father a letter reviling him for his neglect; before the elder Dostoevsky was able to reply he was murdered by his serfs. It is a family tradition that the first of the epileptic seizures, from which Fyodor was to suffer throughout his life, occurred at this time.

Following his examinations at the Engineering School, Dostoevsky was made a second lieutenant. In 1844, however, without “money to buy civilian clothes,” he resigned his commission to devote himself to literature. With the appearance of his first novel, Poor Folk, in 1846, he came to be regarded as the most promising of the younger novelists. Through the critic, Belinsky, he met “a lot of important people” and received a “comprehensive lesson on how to live in the literary world.” His success, however, was short-lived. The few novels following Poor Folk were badly reviewed, and Dostoevsky began to avoid Belinsky’s salon, where he was subjected to systematic ridicule, particularly from Turgenev who, on previous occasions, had been “more than friendly.”

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