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1849- Fyodor Dostoyevsky is spared from the firing squad at the last minute

December 22, 2022

Fyodor Dostoyevsky is often considered one of the world's greatest authors. However, his life was not always fame and fortune. In fact, his life was far from comfortable. From begging for money to facing a firing squad, here's the story of Fyodor Dostoyevsky.

Dostoyevsky's Early Life

Fyodor Dostoyevsky was born on November 11, 1821 in Moscow, Russia. His father was a well-known doctor that lived on the grounds of the Mariinsky Hospital for the Poor. Fyodor grew up surrounded by low-income patients and books, which sparked a passion for both.

After his mother died, 15-year-old Fyodor joined the Nikolajev Military Engineering Institute. After training, he enjoyed an affluent lifestyle translating books to earn extra money. In 1849, Fyodor Dostoyevsky was arrested for belonging to the Petrashevsky Circle, a literary group that discussed books that were critical of the Tsar.

A Narrow Escape

On December 22, 1849, while serving his sentence, guards whisked Fyodor Dostoyevsky to a spot in the range of a firing squad. However, right before the execution, a cart arrived with a letter from the Tsar. The sentence was commuted, and the men were transferred to Katorga Prison in Siberia, where Dostoyevsky spent four years doing hard labor. Following his release, he also served six years of compulsory military service.

While serving the remainder of his sentence, other inmates described Dostoyevsky as kind. His encouragement even stopped a fellow inmate from killing himself.

Dostoyevsky's Literary Career

Many of Fyodor Dostoyevsky's works were centered on the human condition in troubled 19th-century Russia. He often wrote on religious and philosophical themes.

His most famous works include Crime and Punishment, Demons, Notes from the Underground, and The Idiot, where he recounts his experience in front of the firing squad.

Altogether, Dostoyevsky authored three novellas, thirteen novels, and seventeen short stories. His stories have been translated into over 170 different languages and inspired many films.




1 Comment

  1. James Tiffany Edwards

    Very informative. You left out one of his best books, “The Brothers Karamazov.” Also, as a Christian, his favorite parable was about the prodigal son found in Luke 15. I always have to write the names of his characters down and a brief description to remember all his characters.


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