Fyodor Dostoevsky

 

 


Dostoevsky's Timeline

 

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Written by Peter Imialek

 

1821 (birth) - On November 21st, Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky is born in Moscow, Russia to Mikhail, a retired military surgeon who serves as a doctor at the Moscow Mariinsky Hospital for the Poor, and Maria Dostoevsky.

1830 (age 9) - Dostoevsky has his first epileptic seizure.

1837 (age 16) - Dostoevsky's mother dies of tuberculosis and he and his brother are enrolled in the prestigious Military Engineering Academy in St. Petersburg.

1838 (age 17) - In a letter to his brother Dostoevsky writes that he has read all of Shakespeare and Pascal, most of Balzac, Goethe's Faust and shorter poems, most of Victor Hugo's novels, and all (in both German and Russian) the novels of E.T.A. Hoffman.

1839 (age 18) - Dostoevsky's father dies. There is speculation that he was murdered by his serfs.

1841 (age 20) - Inspired by Friedrich Schiller, Dostoevsky begins his literary pursuits by writing two romantic plays: Mary Stuart and Boris Godunov (now lost). In the meantime, he passes his exams and obtains a commission.

1842 (age 21) - Dostoevsky is promoted to lieutenant.

1843 (age 22) - Dostoevsky's first work - a translation of Honore de Balzac's Eugenie Grandet - is published and goes unnoticed.

1844 (age 23) - Undeterred by the failure of his translation, Dostoevsky resigns his commission in the army despite being almost penniless and begins writing Poor Folk.

1845 (age 24) - Poor Folk is published to great critical acclaim, making a literary celebrity of the young Dostoevsky.

1846 (age 25) - The Double, today considered one of Dostoevsky's finest pieces of psychological fiction, is published and received negatively by literary critics.

1847 (age 26) - Dostoevsky earns a living by writing for the St Petersburg Gazette. Between 1847 and 1848 he writes The Landlady, A Christmas Tree Party and a Wedding, and The Jealous Husband.

1848 (age 27) - Dostoevsky writes A Weak Heart, The Honest Thief, and White Nights.

1849 (age 28) - Dostoevsky is arrested and imprisoned on April 23rd for being a member of the Petrashevsky Circle - a socialist group of thinkers with revolutionary tendencies. While in prison he writes the children's story A Little Hero. On December 22nd he and the other members of the group are taken out to be executed by firing squad. At the last minute, his sentence is commuted to four years hard labour in Siberia, followed by five years military service in exile.

Dostoevsky's own description: "Today, December 22nd, we were all taken to Semyonovsky Square. There the sentence of death was read out to us, we were all made to kiss the cross, a sword was broken over our heads, and we were told to put on our white execution shirts. Then three of us were tied to the posts to be executed. I was the sixth, and therefore in the second group of those to be executed. [...] Then the retreat was sounded on the drums, those tied to the posts were taken back, and an order from His Imperial Majesty was read to us granting us our lives. Afterwards our sentences were read out to us."

1850 (age 29) - Dostoevksy arrives at the prison in Omsk, Siberia.

Dostoevsky's own description: "In summer, intolerable closeness; in winter, unendurable cold. All the floors were rotten. Filth on the floors an inch thick; one could slip and fall...We were packed like herrings in a barrel...There was no room to turn around. From dusk to dawn it was impossible not to behave like pigs...Fleas, lice, and black beetles by the bushel..."

1854 (age 33) - Dostoevsky is released from prison and made a private in the Seventh Line Battalion at Semipalatinsk (present-day Kazakhstan). While there he begins a friendship with Maria Dmitrievna Isaeva, the wife of his friend Baron Vrangel.

1856 (age 35) - In January Dostoevsky is promoted to rank of non-commissioned officer. Later that year in October he is promoted to lieutenant, but is still officially exiled and forbidden to return to Russia.

1857 (age 36) - Dostoevsky marries Maria Isaeva, who at the time is 29 years old, after her husband's death.

1859 (age 38) - After nearly ten years in exile, Dostoevsky's returns with his wife to St. Petersburg. Uncle's Dream and Village of Stepanchikovo are published, once again to poor critical reviews.

1861 (age 40) - Two works are published: The Insulted and the Injured and The House of the Dead

1862 (age 41) - Dostoevsky goes abroad for the first time and visits several countries, including England and France. In London he meets the "father of Russian socialism" Alexander Herzen.

1863 (age 42) - Dostoevsky's magazine Vremya (Time) is banned by authorities due to its publication of a pro-Polish article on the Polish Uprising of 1863. After this setback, he decides to travel abroad once again. He begins to visit gambling casinos and meets Apollinaria Suslova, the model for the "proud women" found in his future novels.

1864 (age 43) - Dostoevsky and his brother Mikhail launch a new magazine entitled Epokha (Epoch), which would go on to fail after just a few months in publication. He is then devasted by the death of his wife on April 15th, followed by Mikhail's death in July. Heavily in debt and in a desperate state of mind, he writes Notes from Underground.

1865 (age 44) - Dostoevsky publishes the first part of The Crocodile under the name A.Y. Poretsky. He then leaves Russia for Wiesbaden in a desperate attempt to escape his significant debts. There he plays roulette and loses. Devastated once again and even more destitute than before, he returns home and begins to write Crime and Punishment.

1866 (age 45) - Crime and Punishment is published. Dostoevsky hires Anna Grigoryevna Snitkina as a stenographer for his next work, The Gambler, which is written in great haste to meet strict contractual obligations.

1867 (age 46) - Dostoevsky and Snitkina, aged 21, marry in February. At the wedding reception Dostoevsky has a horrible epileptic seizure. Shortly after their wedding, the Dostoevskys decide to escape their hounding creditors by going abroad, this time for four years.

1868 (age 47) - Dostoevsky frequents casinos, often losing everything and being forced to pawn his wife's belongings. Depressed, destitute and disappointed with Western Europe, Dostoevsky is given inspiration when Anna gives birth to Sophia, his daughter. Five months later, Sophia dies. After Sophia's death, the Dostoevskys decide to temporarily move to Italy, where Dostoevsky writes The Idiot.

1869 (age 48) - The Dostoevskys move back to Dresden, where Anna gives birth to Lyubov, a daughter.

1870 (age 49) - The Franco-Prussian War begins. A homesick Dostoevsky writes The Devils and The Eternal Husband.

1871 (age 50) - Dostoevsky stops gambling and the family finally manages to scrape up enough funds to return to Russia, settling in St. Petersburg. Anna gives birth to a son, Fyodor, in July.

1873 (age 52) - Dostoevsky becomes the editor of The Citizen, a conservative weekly.

1874 (age 53) - Dostoevsky resigns as editor of The Citizen and writes A Raw Youth. The family moves to Staraya Russa.

1875 (age 54) - Anna gives birth to a second son, Aleksey.

1876 (age 55) - Dostoevsky launches A Writer's Diary, a monthly journal comprised of short stories, sketches, and articles. For it he writes The Peasant Marey and A Gentle Creature.

1877 (age 56) - Dostoevsky writes The Dream of a Ridiculous Man.

1878 (age 57) - Dostoevsky begins working on The Brothers Karamazov, his magnum opus. Dostoevsky's second son dies at the age of three of epilepsy, which he had inherited from his father.

1879 (age 58) - The first parts of The Brothers Karamazov are published.

1880 (age 59) - Dostoevsky finishes The Brothers Karamazov. He gives a famous speech in Moscow at the unveiling of the Pushkin monument to a very emotional and positive response from a massive crowd.

1881 (age 59) - Dostoevsky dies in St. Petersburg on February 9th of a burst blood vessel in his lungs, aggravated by an epileptic seizure.

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