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Feodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky

Mature Works

Notes from the Underground (1864), a detailed study of neurotic suffering, began the greatest period of Dostoyevsky's literary career. Crime and Punishment, a brilliant portrait of sin, remorse, and redemption through sacrifice, followed in 1866. His next novel, The Idiot (1868), concerns a Christ figure, a meek, human epileptic whose effect on those around him is tragic.

The Possessed (1871–72) is a violent denunciation of the leftists and revolutionaries that Dostoyevsky had previously admired. In A Raw Youth (1875) he described decay within family relationships and the inability of science to deal with the primary need of human beings: a purpose for living beyond the mere struggle for sustenance. Both of these themes are central to the enormously complex plot and character development of his masterpiece, The Brothers Karamazov (1879–80), generally thought to be one of the finest novels ever written.

A profound psychologist and philosopher, Dostoyevsky depicted with remarkable insight the depth and complexity of the human soul. His powerful though generally humorless narrative style, his understanding of the intricacies of character, especially the pathological conscience, and his amplification of sin and redemption made him a giant among novelists and, in the realm of ideas, a precursor of Freudian psychological analysis. Dostoyevsky died of a lung hemorrhage complicated by an attack of epilepsy.

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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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