Fyodor Dostoevsky  (1821 – 1881), one of the most renowned Russian writers, has been depicted in various images throughout history. Here are some of the most representative ones:

Best historical images

Photograph by Sergey Levitsky (1871): This is perhaps the most famous image of Dostoevsky. Taken in 1871, it shows the writer in his late 40s, with a full beard and a stern, contemplative expression. This photograph was taken during a productive period in Dostoevsky’s life, after he had published “Crime and Punishment” and “The Idiot”.

Portrait by Vasily Perov (1872): This is a well-known painting of Dostoevsky, created by the famous Russian artist Vasily Perov. The portrait captures Dostoevsky’s intense gaze and his distinctive facial features. It was painted in 1872, a year after the famous photograph by Levitsky.

Portrait by Vasily Perov

Photograph by Alexander Ostrovsky (1880): This is one of the last known photographs of Dostoevsky, taken just a year before his death. It shows the writer looking older and more frail, but still with the same intense gaze.

Also, Constantin Shapiro made in 1879 an iconic portrait of Dostoevsky, one of the most reproduced in books and on the Internet.

Life

Dostoevsky led a complex and often turbulent personal life. He was born in Moscow in 1821 and grew up in a family of modest means. His father, a former military surgeon, was known for his violent temper and was murdered by his own serfs when Dostoevsky was just 16 years old.

Dostoevsky studied at the Military Engineering Academy in St. Petersburg but left to pursue a literary career. His first novel, “Poor Folk”, was published in 1846 and brought him immediate success. However, his involvement in a radical political group led to his arrest and imprisonment in 1849. He was sentenced to death, but the sentence was commuted to hard labor in Siberia at the last moment.

Dostoevsky spent four years in a Siberian prison camp, an experience that had a profound impact on his life and his work. After his release, he returned to St. Petersburg and continued to write, producing some of his most famous works, including “Crime and Punishment”, “The Idiot”, and “The Brothers Karamazov”.

Addiction

Dostoevsky struggled with epilepsy and gambling addiction throughout his life.

This gambling addiction caused him significant financial problems and contributed to the turbulence in his personal life. Dostoevsky’s first experience with gambling was in 1863, during a trip to Wiesbaden, Germany. He became addicted to roulette and lost large sums of money, including the advance he had received for his novel “The Gambler”. The novel, which was written in a hurry to pay off his debts, is a semi-autobiographical work that explores the psychological and social aspects of gambling addiction.

at Paris in 1863

Dostoevsky’s gambling addiction continued to plague him throughout his life. He would often borrow money from friends and family, and even pawned his wife’s jewelry to fund his gambling habit. His addiction was so severe that it affected his health, causing him to have seizures and other physical symptoms.

Despite his struggles with gambling, Dostoevsky continued to write and produce some of his most famous works. His experiences with addiction and financial hardship are often reflected in his characters and themes, giving his works a depth and complexity that continue to resonate with readers today.

He was married twice and had several children. He died in 1881 at the age of 59. Despite the hardships he faced, Dostoevsky’s works have had a lasting impact on world literature, exploring deep philosophical and psychological themes.

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