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At Writers Theatre: Crime and Punishment ('03), Crime and Punishment ('07)
Fyodor Mikhailevich Dostoevsky (1821-1881) was born on October 30, 1821, in one of the worst neighborhoods of Moscow. His childhood home was flanked by filthy streets, which also housed a criminal cemetery, an insane asylum, and an orphanage for unwanted children. Dostoevsky's father taught the child that these economic hardships were laden onto him by God. As he studied his Bible, it was the story of Job that was most resonant for young Fyodor. As he of a man who endured tribulations to demonstrate his faith in God, Fyodor saw his own father's teachings reflected.
His fist novel, Poor Folk, was published in 1845 and very enthusiastically recieved. Dostoevsky soon fell in with the literary and political circles of Petersburg. The group believes that culture was the key to mass social reform, and they quickly caught the attention of Tsar Nicholas. Fearing that the more radical elements of the group would call for the overthrow of his government, Nicholas had all members of the circle arrested. On April 22, 1849, an officer pulled Dostoevsky from his bed and took him to be confined in the Peter and Paul Fortress. They were later transported to the Omsk Fortress in Siberia.
Dostoevsky was released from prison in February 1854. Still in exile from St. Petersburg, he believed that he would only be allowed to return if he proved his spiritual rebirth through repentance. After the death of Nicholas I, Dostoevsky composed a eulogy to his former captor and mailed it to the Tsar's widow.
In 1859, Dostoevsky was finally allowed to return to St. Petersburg. Together with his brother Mikhail, he started a new magazine, Vremya. The magazine supported the belief that there should be no class warfare and that all members of rusian society could come together to govern the country. The unification of Russia became Dostoevsky's chief concern.
1864 would be one of the most significant years of Dostoevsky's life. Vremya and another magazine effort failed, and he also lost both his wife and brother to illness. Surrounded by despair, Dostoevsky began working on a project for which he had the idea while in Siberia: a novel about a murderer. Concerns for the poor and destitute had possessed the writer from a young age. Crime and poverty were intricately linked in his mind, and he would pour these feelings into this great work. After working on the project for three years, going through three vastly different drafts of the work, Dostoevsky published Crime and Punishment in 1866.
Following the publication of Crime and Punishment, Dostoevsky married a second time, and soon left Russia for Europe. While living in Europe, Dostoevsky wrote and published The Idiot. In 1871, the family returned to St. Petersburg, where he published regularly for the next several years. In 1880, he finished working on his final novel, The Brothers Karamazov. On January 28, 1881, surrounded by his wife and children, Dostoevsky passed away, leaving behind a body of work that would echo strongly for generations to come.
[Bio as of July 2003]
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