Chained to wheelbarrows. Danube prison. Sakhalin about 1890
Hard labor in XIX century Russia
Photo from A.K. Kuznetsov’s album “Nerchinskaya Katorga”, 1891
Shackling
Checking of convicts
Carriage of goods by convicts
Chained to a wheelbarrow
Penalty cell
Convicts on vacation
Svetlana Geier
Conversation with Svetlana Geier
Svetlana Geier (Svetlana Mikhailovna Ivanova, 1923-2010) was a famous translator of Russian classics into German and a promoter of Russian culture in Germany.

In 1943, after the occupation of Ukraine by Nazi troops, she was deported to Germany to work. After the war she taught Russian language and literature at various German universities. She translated into German five major novels by Dostoevsky. (These translations are the subject of the video). Her translations are considered exemplary in Germany.

The meeting with Svetlana Geier took place at the Dostoevsky Museum in St. Petersburg on May 19, 1998. The writer’s great-grandson A. D. Dostoevsky took part in the conversation.

Conversation with Svetlana Geier
Scene from Leos Janacek's opera based on the story by F.M.
How Dostoevsky was staged in European theaters in the 1920s
Photos of a Soviet diplomat
Ethnographer and translator Pyotr Bogatyrev, an official of the Soviet embassy in Czechoslovakia in the 1920s.
Published for the first time.
“The Brothers Karamazov. Théâtre des Arts, Paris, 1911”
“The Imp. Prague National Theater, Prague, 1930”
Otakar Eremias's opera The Brothers Karamazov. Prague National Theater, Prague, 1928
Otakar Eremias’s opera The Brothers Karamazov. Prague National Theater, Prague, 1928
“The Idiot. The Prague National Theater, Prague, 1928”
“Crime and Punishment. Polish Theatre, Warsaw, 1934”
Roulette
“I lost it all…”
During the wedding journey Dostoevsky’s passion for playing roulette unfolded in full force. It originated during his first travels, but this time gambling addiction reached a critical phase.
“The Gambling House”. Jean Eugène Bouland, 1883.
“The Gambling House”. Jean Eugène Bouland, 1883.
Anya, my darling, my friend, my wife, forgive me, don’t call me a scoundrel! I committed a crime, I lost everything you sent me, everything, every last kreutzer, yesterday I got it and yesterday I lost it. Anna, how will I look at you now, what will you say of me now!
From Dostoevsky’s letter to his wife, May 1867
In 1871, after another loss in Wiesbaden, Dostoevsky promised his wife that he would not play anymore. He kept his promise.
Of course, I could not immediately believe such a tremendous happiness as Fyodor Mikhailovich’s cooling down to the roulette game. After all, he had promised me many times not to play and was unable to keep his word. However, my happiness came true, and it was really the last time…
From the memoirs of A.G. Dostoyevsky
Wiesbaden, Casino, 1880s.
Wiesbaden, Casino, 1880s.
Edward Munch.
Edward Munch. “At the Roulette Table in Monte Carlo.” 1892
Dostoevsky was a favorite writer of the famous Norwegian artist Edvard Munch. They were also related by their passion for roulette. Like Dostoevsky, Munch tried to devise a system to always win at the casino, but like the Russian writer, failed. Once, while traveling in the south of France, Munch lost his entire fortune at roulette and had to borrow money for a return ticket to Norway.

The project was worked on by

Author, Producer and Project Manager

Georgy Avanyan

editor

Vladislav Kulakov

manager

Elena Kuklina

author group

  • Viktor Kamenchenko
  • Dmitry Lipkin
  • Elena Matza
  • Sergey Shaulov

Researching

  • Alexandra Tertitskaya
  • Alsu Guzairova
  • Julia Baklanova

Scientific leader of the project
“How Dostoevsky Conquered the World”

Pavel Fokin

Film crew leader

Natalia Makarova

design and development

Pixeljam Studio

Art director

Alexander Grigoriev

development
Dmitry Udovichenko
Dmitry Orlov

Animation

Video “Man Marey” based on the story of the same name by F.M. Dostoevsky

reads

Roman Chaliapin

director

Alexander Hunt

Filmed at F.M. Dostoyevsky’s memorial estate “Darovoye”.

Photographer

Valeria Konyukhova

Dmitry Lvov was interviewed by

Petr Kamenchenko

The work on the project involved

Varvara Romanenko, Alexei Taranin, Viktor Koreshev, Georgy Kulikov, Natalia Bogoyavlenskaya, Anna Kravtsova, Maxim Makarov, Maxim Mikheev, Yuri Orlov, Elena Vasyova, Vladimir Derevyanko, Konstantin Batrakov, Vladimir Morozov, Yuri Podgorbunsky, Maxim Samborsky, Roman Malyshev, Andrei Sosnovsky, Andrei Tavolzhansky, Elena Fokina, Valeria Borscheva, Alexei Igoshev, Ilya Maskileyson, Egor Lisovoy, Nikolai Pigarev, Maxim Smirnov, Vladislav Ikonnikov, Vladimir Borisov, Yuri Grishin, Arthur Salihov, Mikhail Tatyanin

We thank Russian Copper Company for the filming possibility at Kyshtym Copper Electrolyte Plant, Karabash Copper Smelting Plant and Mikheevsky GOK

Illustrations have been provided:

  • Russian State Archives of Film and Photo Documents
  • State Museum of the History of Russian Literature. V.I. Dal
  • Russian Copper Company
  • Shutterstock

How Dostoevsky Conquered the World

F.M. Dostoevsky
200 years
since the birth of
F.M. Dostoevsky
Everyone knows Dostoevsky — as the author of famous works, and as a man who experienced a huge number of hardships and deprivations, but managed to overcome them and leave us a great literary and philosophical heritage

To say that his live was hard is to say nothing

F.M. Dostoevsky, 1861
F.M. Dostoevsky, 1861

None of the Russian writers of the 19th century experienced as many dramatic turns in life as Dostoevsky. Early fame and the collapse of all his hopes, the shooting at Semenovsky Platz, which turned out to be staged, hard labor, a passion for roulette…

Dostoyevsky was familiar not only with the feelings of the condemned to death from the Semenovsky Platz. Epilepsy, which fully developed in his penal colony, was a fatal disease at the time — for 25 years the writer lived with the understanding that the next seizure could be his last. But, “twice condemned,” he lived a supersaturated life.

Dostoevsky died at the height of his fame, a few months after the publication of The Brothers Karamazov and the famous Pushkin Speech he delivered in Moscow in June 1880 during celebrations to mark the unveiling of the Pushkin monument. He left one of the largest collections of works in Russian literature.

Dostoevsky’s worldwide fame began a few years after his death.

“I come from a Russian and pious family…”

The writer’s father, Mikhail Andreevich Dostoevsky, was a military doctor. From 1821 he served in the Moscow hospital for the poor on Bozhedomka. The family lived at the hospital.

Fyodor Dostoevsky had three brothers and three sisters. The family lived poorly, but the father managed to educate his children decently and give them a good education: Mikhail Dostoevsky became a journalist and publisher, Andrew — a well-known architect.
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Pavel Fokin, Head of the Dostoevsky Memorial Museum in Moscow
A French field hospital in 1812. Drawing of the <no-wrap>mid-19th</no-wrap> century
A French field hospital in 1812. Drawing of the mid-19th century
Mikhail Andreevich Dostoevsky, the writer's father
Mikhail Andreevich Dostoevsky, the writer’s father
Excerpt from the biography
An infant was born in the house of the Hospital of the Poor to the staff physician Mikhail Andreevich Dostoevsky, — son Feodor. The priest Vasily Ilyin prayed, and the sexton Gerasim Ivanov was with him.
The Book for the Record of Births, Marriages, and Deaths of the Sretensky Forty of the Church of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul
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Ever since I can remember myself, I remember my parents' love for me. … I was only ten years old when I already knew almost all the major episodes of Russian history from Karamzin, which my father read aloud to us in the evenings. Every visit to the Kremlin and the cathedrals of Moscow was something solemn for me.
“The Writer’s Diary, 1873
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“Father Reading to Children.” Drawing from the 1850s
“Father Reading to Children.” Drawing from the 1850s
Maria Fyodorovna Dostoyevskaya, the writer's mother
Maria Fyodorovna Dostoyevskaya, the writer’s mother
View of the Kremlin from Zamoskvorechye. Drawing of 1830s
View of the Kremlin from Zamoskvorechye. Drawing of 1830s
From my parents' house I have taken only precious memories, for there are no more precious memories for a man than his first childhood in his parents' house…
“The Brothers Karamazov”
His mother’s death in 1837 and his move to St. Petersburg, where Dostoevsky was to enter the Main Engineering School, marked the end of his happy childhood and adolescence.
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Boris Tikhomirov, Deputy Director of the F.M. Dostoevsky Memorial Museum in St. Petersburg

Darovoe

An outbuilding of the manor house in Darovoye in the early twentieth century
An outbuilding of the manor house in Darovoye in the early twentieth century
Mikhail Dostoevsky bought the small estate of Darovoye in Tula Province in 1831. Since then, the family moved there for the summer.

Dostoevsky’s father died in Darovoye in 1839 of apoplexy. The gossip of an estate neighbor, with whom Mikhail Dostoevsky had a land dispute, was the source of the legend of the violent death of the owner of Darovoye — the lord was allegedly killed by peasants during a quarrel. The story turned out to be fictitious, but for a long time was considered quite probable. The Dostoevsky family was aware of this version, but had no reliable information about how things really happened. The death of his father and the rumors of his murder made a heavy impression on his children, and could probably influence the plot of The Brothers Karamazov later on.

During his parents' lifetime, Dostoevsky visited Darovoye for the last time in the summer of 1836. The next time he visited the place of his childhood 40 years later, in 1877. Despite the story with his father, Darovoye in his mind has always been an image of earthly paradise, a place of “initiation” into Russia.

All the peasants… loved us very much… For our part, we also tried to please them in every possible way. So, one day my brother Fedya, when he saw a peasant woman who spilled her reserve water and could not give her a drink to her child, immediately ran two miles away home and brought water, thus earning the poor mother a great thank-you.
From the memoirs of A.M. Dostoevsky, the writer’s brother
Darovoe

Petrashevets

Dostoevsky met Mikhail Petrashevsky in the spring of 1846, and from 1847 he began to attend “Fridays” at his house. By this time Dostoevsky was already known as a young and even “fashionable” writer, the author of the very successful novel Poor People.
Petrashevsky’s circle brought together young people who dreamed of a peaceful reorganization of society — their political views were based on the socialist utopias of Fourier, Saint-Simon, and others. The society was not secret, and assumptions of political conspiracies connected with it were never confirmed. The circle of N.A. Speshnev (with whom Dostoevsky was friends), formed from the most “determined” participants in the meetings at Petrashevsky’s, was also a debating group, not a political one.
Dostoevsky in 1847. Drawing by K.A. Trutovsky
Dostoevsky in 1847. Drawing by K.A. Trutovsky
M.V. Petrashevsky, drawing of the late 1830s
M.V. Petrashevsky, drawing of the late 1830s

Dostoyevsky was arrested On April 23, 1849

…They demanded all the books and began to rummage; they did not find much, but they dug through everything. My papers and letters were neatly tied up with string. The bailiff showed a lot of foresight in doing this: he went into the stove and rummaged in the old ashes with my chub. The gendarme noncommissioned officer, at his invitation, stood on a chair and climbed up the stove, but broke off the ledge and fell loudly on the chair, and then with the chair to the floor. Then the shrewd gentlemen made sure that there was nothing on the stove. … A carriage stood by the doorway; a soldier, myself, the usher and the colonel sat in it; we drove to the Fontanka, to the Chain Bridge at the Summer Garden.
Dostoevsky’s record in the album of O.A. Milyukova, 1860.
At the time of the investigation Dostoevsky was placed in the Alekseevsky Ravelin of the Peter and Paul Fortress.
Alexeevsky Ravelin of the Peter and Paul Fortress in the early 1870s
Alexeevsky Ravelin of the Peter and Paul Fortress in the early 1870s
Camera in the Peter and Paul Fortress, 1960s engraving
Camera in the Peter and Paul Fortress, 1960s engraving
It’s like I’m all under an air pump with air being pulled out of me.
From Dostoevsky’s letter to his brother Mikhail, September 14, 1849
What was Dostoevsky’s fault
Read and didn’t report
Heard others reading and didn’t report in either
The Court Martial finds the defendant Dostoevsky guilty of having received in March of this year from Moscow from the nobleman Pleshcheyev… a copy of the criminal letter of the literary man Belinsky — read this letter in assemblies… and passed it on to be copied…
Dostoevsky was with the defendant Speshnev during the reading of Lieutenant Grigoriev’s outrageous essay entitled “Soldier’s Conversation.”
From the Verdict of the Military Court Commission on the case of Fyodor Dostoevsky, November 1849
A still from the animation about the trial of Dostoyevsky

Immediately after the trial, by order of the Emperor, a special “Draft for the execution of the convicted malefactors” was drawn up, which prescribed the announcement of a change of sentence only at the time of execution.

On December 22, 1849 at 7 a.m. Dostoevsky, together with other Petrashevites, was sent from the Petropavlovskaya Fortress to the Semyonovsky Platz in a closed carriage. Upon arrival, the Petrashevites were read the sentence of “death by firing squad” and had their swords broken over their heads as a sign of deprivation of their rights to nobility status.

Petrashevsky, Mombelli, and Grigoriev were taken, tied to poles, and blindfolded.
F.I. Lvov. M. V. Butashevich-Petrashevsky. A note on the Petrashevites' case.
Today, December 22, we were taken to the Semenovsky Platz. There we all received the death sentence, were given a cross to lay on, our swords were broken over our heads, and they arranged our death toilet (white shirts). Then three of us were put up against a pillar to be executed. I was the sixth, they called three by three, consequently I was in the second line and I had not more than a minute to live… At last the roll was called off, the men tied to the pillar were brought back, and we were told that His Imperial Majesty would grant us life. Then the real sentences followed.
From a letter from Dostoevsky to his brother Michael, December 22, 1849 — the day of the execution, immediately afterwards

Semyonovsky Platz.
The moment of execution

Semenovsky Platz. The moment of execution
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We Petrashevites stood on the scaffold and listened to our sentence without the slightest remorse… at least, the vast majority of us would have considered it dishonorable to renounce our convictions. … the deed for which we were condemned, the thoughts, the concepts that possessed our spirit, seemed to us not only unrepentant, but even something purifying, a martyrdom for which we would be forgiven much!
From The Writer’s Diary, 1873
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Hard labor

Dostoyevsky was sent to hard labor from the Peter and Paul Fortress at midnight on December 24, 1849 in chains and in an open sleigh. Before this he was allowed to bid farewell to his brother.

The Road to Hard Labor

The Road to Hard Labor

On arrival at the prison, the convicts had their hair shaved (half of their heads were removed), they were placed in fetters (if they had none yet) and had their clothes changed or the identification marks ascribed to the convicts.

Dostoyevsky was a second-class convict, that is, he was to do the so-called “serf” work, which was officially considered easier than the “mine” work.

In the Omsk fortress hard labor was considered harder than in the mines of Nerchinsk. Dostoyevsky enjoyed the patronage of the commandant of the fortress and the priest and had the opportunity to be treated periodically in the infirmary.

Guardhouse (cordegaria) in Omsk, where Dostoevsky was accommodated upon his arrival to the penal colony
Guardhouse (cordegaria) in Omsk, where Dostoevsky was accommodated upon his arrival to the penal colony
Hard labor in XIX century Russia
explore
explore
Convicts chained to wheelbarrows

The convicts lived all together, without class distinctions. Shackles were worn all the time. In 1852 the Commandant of the Omsk fortress A. F. de Grafe attempted to transfer Dostoevsky and Durov into the class of “enlisted men” which would have made it possible to cast off their irons, but no “Monarchal permission for this representation followed”.

The prison was situated inside the Omsk fortress, and the convicts were taken through the town under escort to work (usually on the bank of the Irtysh River). They were also taken to the Resurrection War Church (the church was restored in 2016). Convicts of the nobility, including political prisoners, were received by A.F. de Grafe.

He came back a changed man

Dostoevsky returned to St. Petersburg ten years after the events at Semenovsky Platz. Many who had known him before his imprisonment noted that he had not only changed, but had undergone a profound inner reincarnation.
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… Nothing broke us, and our convictions only sustained our spirits with the consciousness of duty fulfilled. … Something else changed our view, our convictions and our hearts… It… was the direct contact with the people, the fraternal connection with them in a common misfortune, the notion that we ourselves had become like them, compared to them and even equated to the lowest level of them.
From The Writer’s Diary, 1873
Title page of the first edition of Notes from the Dead House
Title page of the first edition of Notes from the Dead House

On September 1, 1860 the newspaper Russky Mir published the first chapter of Notes from the Dead House, based entirely on Dostoyevsky’s personal prison experience. They were the first major work written after hard labor and the most successful during the writer’s lifetime.

“Notes from the Dead House” is Dostoevsky’s most “suffered” work. It is not only the first experience of the description of the penal hell, but also the experience of moral development. Above the “Notes” writer had been working longest: the first entries appeared in the “Siberian notebook,” which he secretly started still in prison.
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… When you read the work “Notes from the Dead House”, you have a complete and indelible picture… He knew how to illuminate it with such a high-human light, warm with such a warm feeling, which can be found only in the work, deeply and long matured in the soul, full of love and compassion for people.
A. P. Milyukov. Critical Review. “Notes from the Dead House” by F. Dostoevsky
Europe

Europe

1862 — 1865
Three brief trips of Dostoevsky to Europe
1867 — 1871
A wedding trip to Europe after marrying Anna Grigorievna Snitkina (unexpectedly for the newlyweds it lasted four years and three months)
1871 — 1881
Several trips Dostoevsky made to Europe for treatment for advanced pulmonary emphysema
“I lost it all…”
explore
explore
Roulette
During the wedding trip, Dostoevsky’s passion for the game of roulette unfolded in full force.
Map of Switzerland
Swiss flag Switzerland
Basel
On our way to Geneva, we stopped for a day in Basel, in order to view a painting that my husband had heard about in a museum there. This painting, by Hans Holbein, depicts Jesus Christ enduring inhuman torture after being taken down from the cross… The picture made an overwhelming impression on Feodor Mikhailovich, and he paused in front of it, as if stunned. … When I returned fifteen or twenty minutes later, I found Fyodor Mikhailovich still standing as chained before the painting. There was that expression in his troubled face, as if frightened, which I had more than once seen in the first minutes of an epileptic attack. I quietly took my husband by the arm, led him into another room, and seated him on a bench, expecting a fit any minute now. Fortunately, it didn’t happen…
From the memoirs of A. G. Dostoyevskaya
“The Dead Christ in the Coffin.” Hans Holbein the Younger, 1521-1522
Geneva
In all my life I have never seen anything more depressing, more sullen, more absurd than this gloomy Protestant city. Here they do not live: here they serve hard labor.
From Dostoevsky’s letter to S.D. Yanovsky, 1868
Daughter Sonya — first child of Fyodor Mikhailovich and Anna Grigorievna Dostoevsky — was born in Geneva on February 22, 1868 and there in two and a half months died of pneumonia.
The house in Geneva where Dostoevsky's family lived in 1868. Photo from the album of A.G. Dostoevskaya
The house in Geneva where Dostoevsky’s family lived in 1868. Photo from the album of A.G. Dostoevskaya
Switzerland, Vevey, Lake Geneva. Photo from the album of A.G. Dostoevskaya
Switzerland, Vevey, Lake Geneva. Photo from the album of A.G. Dostoevskaya
I shall never forget that eternally sad day when, having sent our belongings to the steamer, we went to bid farewell to the grave of our dear girl for the last time and laid a parting wreath for her. We sat for an hour at the foot of the monument and wept, remembering Sonya, and, orphaned, we left, often looking back at her last refuge.
From the memoirs of A.G. Dostoyevskaya
Geneva, view from the Berg Bridge, <no-wrap>mid-19th</no-wrap> century gouache
Geneva, view from the Berg Bridge, mid-19th century gouache
Under the influence of bidding farewell to Sonyechka’s grave, Fyodor Mikhailovich was extremely moved and shaken, and here, for the first time in his life (he rarely grumbled), I heard him complain bitterly about the fate that had pursued him all his life. As he recounted, he told me of his sad and lonely youth after the death of his beloved mother; he recalled the mockery of his literary comrades, who had first recognized his talent and then brutally abused him. Remembered the hard labor and how much he suffered for four years in it. … And now, when this “great and only human happiness — to have a child of his own” had visited him…, an evil fate had not spared him and taken away from him so dear to him! Never, neither before, nor later, has he recounted with such minor, and sometimes touching details, those bitter insults he had to bear in his life from the near and dear to him people.
From the memoirs of A.G. Dostoyevskaya
F.M. Dostoevsky, 1879
F.M. Dostoevsky, 1879
Map of Italy
Map of Italy Italy
Rome
Arrived on the third day at night. Inspected St. Peter’s yesterday morning. Made a strong impression…with a chill down my spine. Today saw the Forum and all its ruins. Then the Colosseum!
From Dostoevsky’s letter to N.N. Strakhov, September 18, 1863
Colosseum, 1870s
Colosseum, 1870s
Venice
We spent several days in Venice, and Fyodor Mikhailovich was absolutely delighted with the architecture of St. Mark’s Church and spent hours looking at the mosaics adorning the walls; we also went together to the Palazzo Ducale, and my husband marveled at its wonderful architecture; he also marvelled at the strikingly beautiful ceilings of the Doge’s Palace, painted by the best artists of the XV century. We may say that all four days we did not leave Piazza San Marco, for it made a charming impression on us, both by day and in the evening.
From the memoirs of A. G. Dostoyevskaya
Venice, Piazzetta San Marco. Photo from the album of A.G. Dostoevskaya
Venice, Piazzetta San Marco. Photo from the album of A.G. Dostoevskaya
Mosaics of St. Mark's Cathedral in Venice. Modern photo
Mosaics of St. Mark’s Cathedral in Venice. Modern photo
St. Mark's Square in front of the Doge's Palace in Venice. Photo from the album of A.G. Dostoevskaya
St. Mark’s Square in front of the Doge’s Palace in Venice. Photo from the album of A.G. Dostoevskaya
Milan
The autumn of 1868 in Milan was rainy and cold, and it was impossible to take long walks (which my husband loved so much). There were no Russian newspapers or books in the libraries there, and Fyodor Mikhailovich was very bored without news from his native land.
From the memoirs of A. G. Dostoyevskaya
Milan Cathedral. Photo from the album of A.G. Dostoevskaya
Milan Cathedral. Photo from the album of A.G. Dostoevskaya
Florence

I remember Fyodor Mikhailovich’s admiration for the Cathedrale, the church of Santa Maria del fiore, and the little chapel of the Battistero, in which infants are usually baptized. The bronze doors of the Battistero, the work of the famous Ghiberti, fascinated Fyodor Mikhailovich, and he, often passing the chapel, always stopped and looked at them…

Often my husband and I would go to the Palazzo Pitti and he would come to admire Raphael’s painting “Madonna in Chairs”. Another painting by the same artist, “John the Baptist in the Wilderness”, which is in the Uffizi Gallery, also fascinated Fyodor Mikhailovich and he always stood in front of it for a long time. After visiting the picture gallery, he always went to see the statue of Venus of Medicea, by the famous Greek sculptor Cleomenes, in the same building. This statue my husband recognized a work of genius.
From the memoirs of A.G. Dostoyevskaya
Florence, the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. Photo from the album of A.G. Dostoyevskaya
Florence, the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. Photo from the album of A.G. Dostoyevskaya
East Gate of the Baptistery of San Giovanni. Lorenzo Ghiberti, 1425-1452
East Gate of the Baptistery of San Giovanni. Lorenzo Ghiberti, 1425-1452
“Saint John the Baptist in the Desert.” Raphael Santi, 1516
Florence is nice, but very wet. But the roses are still blooming outdoors in Boboli’s garden. And what jewels in the galleries! Gosh, I looked at “Madonna in Chairs” in '63, watched it for a week and have only now seen it. But there are so many divine things besides her as well.
From Dostoevsky’s letter to A.N. Maykov, December 23, 1868
“Madonna in an Armchair.” Raphael Santi, c. 1513-1514
Florence, Hall Tribune in the Uffizi Gallery. Photo from the album of A.G. Dostoevskaya
Florence, Hall Tribune in the Uffizi Gallery. Photo from the album of A.G. Dostoevskaya
Map of Germany
German flag Germany
Dresden
Fyodor Mikhailovich was very fond of Dresden, mainly for its famous picture gallery and the beautiful gardens around it, and during his travels he was sure to stop there.
From the memoirs of A. G. Dostoyevskaya
The house in Dresden where Dostoevsky's daughter Lyubov was born. Photo from the album of A.G. Dostoevskaya
The house in Dresden where Dostoevsky’s daughter Lyubov was born. Photo from the album of A.G. Dostoevskaya
Fedya can never get a good look at the Sistine Madonna, because he can’t see that far away, and he has no lorgnette. So today he had the idea of standing on a chair in front of the Madonna in order to get a closer look at her… Some gallery attendant came up to Fedya and told him it was forbidden. The footman had just left the room when Fedya told me that he was to be taken out, but that he would certainly stand on the chair again and look at the Madonna…
A.G. Dostoyevskaya, Diary of 1867
“Sistine Madonna.” Raphael Santi, 1513-1514
F.M. Dostoevsky, 1876
F.M. Dostoevsky, 1876
Oh, the peoples of Europe and do not know how dear they are to us! And subsequently, I believe in this, …future Russian people will understand every single one of them, that to become a true Russian and will precisely mean: To strive to bring reconciliation to the European contradictions…, to indicate the outcome of the European longing in their Russian soul, all-human and reunifying, to accommodate in it with the brotherly love of all our brothers, and in the end, perhaps, to utter the final word of great, common harmony, the brotherly final accord of all tribes according to Christ the Gospel law!
From Dostoevsky’s Pushkin Speech, 1880

Five Great Books

In 1866 the novel Crime and Punishment was published in the journal Russian Herald. It was followed by The Idiot (1868), The Possessed (1871), Teenager (1875), and The Brothers Karamazov (1880). In the twentieth century, these five novels became the main legacy of Dostoevsky, making him one of the most famous writers in the world.
Title page of the first edition of Crime and Punishment
Title page of the first edition of Crime and Punishment
Title page of the first edition of The Idiot
Title page of the first edition of The Idiot
Title page of the first edition of
Title page of the first edition of “The Possessed”
Title page of the first edition of A Teenager
Title page of the first edition of A Teenager
Title page of the first edition of The Brothers Karamazov
Title page of the first edition of The Brothers Karamazov
Hermann Hesse
Books like The Idiot, Raskolnikov and The Brothers Karamazov will in the future… be perceived by mankind… as we now perceive Dante, hardly understood in a hundred individual details, but eternally alive and stunning us, for it captures the poetic image of an entire era of world history.
Hermann Hesse, German writer, winner of the 1946 Nobel Prize for Literature

Conquering the world

Dostoevsky is one of the best-known and best-loved Russian classics abroad. His European fame began at the end of his life and reached its peak after his death: in the first quarter of the twentieth century Dostoevsky’s books were mostly translated into all major European languages. Since then Dostoevsky’s worldwide popularity has been consistently high: in some countries at different periods — in Germany in the 1920s, in postwar France, in Japan and Latin America in the mid-twentieth century, in modern China — he has become one of the most widely read authors.
F.M. Dostoevsky, late 1870s
F.M. Dostoevsky, late 1870s
Study of F.M. Dostoevsky, 1881
Study of F.M. Dostoevsky, 1881
Conversation with Svetlana Geier
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Svetlana Geier
Svetlana Geier — famous translator of Russian classics into German

What languages Dostoevsky had been translated into by 1906

In 1906 Anna Grigorievna Dostoyevskaya, the writer’s widow, published a pamphlet listing all the translations of Dostoyevsky’s works into foreign languages known at the time.

In the 25 years following Dostoevsky’s death his major works were translated into foreign languages:

  • English
  • Hungarian
  • Danish
  • Spanish
  • Italian
  • Latvian
  • German
  • Polish
  • Finnish
  • French
  • Croatian
  • Swedish
  • Dutch
  • Greek
  • Norwegian
  • Serbian
  • Czech
  • Estonian
  • Bulgarian
In some languages, translations of Dostoevsky’s major novels existed in several versions at once. Many translations have been republished many times.
A Star of World Literature
A peculiar cult of Dostoevsky took shape at the end of the nineteenth century, not only among ordinary readers, but also among the world’s prominent writers and thinkers. It continues today.
Sigmund Freud, Austrian psychiatrist
[His] place in line with Shakespeare, The Brothers Karamazov is the greatest novel ever written…
Sigmund Freud, Austrian psychiatrist
Friedrich Nietzsche, German philosopher
…the type of a strong man under adverse circumstances, a strong man who has been made sick by society. … For the problem hidden here the testimony of Dostoevsky… the only psychologist from whom I had much to learn: acquaintance with him belongs to the happiest accidents of my life…
Friedrich Nietzsche, German philosopher
Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Colombian writer
I read Dostoevsky, even in very bad translations. Later I read it in French; it was translated into French by Russians, and their translations were much better than the Spanish ones. I think that for any writer in the world, Russian novelists are the foundation of the basics…
Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Colombian writer
Akira Kurosawa, Japanese filmmaker
No one expressed complicity and kindness as he did. The immeasurable compassion for other people’s grief of which he was capable transcended the boundaries available to the common man. < > Dostoevsky suffered with those who suffer. From this point of view he transcended the limits of the human.
Akira Kurosawa, Japanese filmmaker
Antoine de Saint-Exupery, French writer
When I was fifteen, I attacked Dostoevsky, and it was a true revelation for me: I immediately felt that I had touched something huge, and I rushed to read everything he wrote, book after book…
Antoine de Saint-Exupery, French writer
Jorge Luis Borges, Argentine writer

Like the first meeting with love, like the first meeting with the sea, the first meeting with Dostoevsky is a memorable date in everyone’s life…

To pick up a book by Dostoevsky means to find myself in a vast unknown city or in the thick of a battle. “Crime and Punishment” opened to me a completely unknown world. I began to read “The Possessed,” and… I felt like I had returned to my homeland.

Jorge Luis Borges, Argentine writer
Orhan Pamuk, Turkish writer
I well remember reading The Brothers Karamazov. I was 18 at the time, sitting alone in a room with windows overlooking the Bosphorus. It was my first book by Dostoevsky. From the very first pages it evoked a double feeling in me. I understood that I was not alone in this world, but I felt detached from it and helpless. The reflections of the characters seemed to be my thoughts; the scenes and events that shook me felt as if I were experiencing them myself. Reading the novel, I felt lonely, as if I were the first reader of this book.
Orhan Pamuk, Turkish writer
Poster for the film based on the novel by Dostoevsky
Poster for the film based on the novel by Dostoevsky
Poster for the film based on the novel by Dostoevsky
Poster for the film based on the novel by Dostoevsky
Poster for the film based on the novel by Dostoevsky
Poster for the film based on the novel by Dostoevsky
Poster for the film based on the novel by Dostoevsky
Poster for the film based on the novel by Dostoevsky

“BRATIA KARAMAZOFF”

DOSTOYEVSKY MOVIES

The first films based on the works of Dostoevsky appeared in Russia at the dawn of cinema

1909
“Crime and Punishment”
1910
“The Idiot”
1931
Another Crime and Punishment
1915
“The Brothers Karamazov”
1915
“The Humiliated and Despised”
In the following years, the following films (not counting Soviet and Russian films and those that didn’t make it into reference books and dictionaries) were made in the world
88
Full-length feature films and series based on Dostoevsky’s novels, novellas, and stories.
Films “based on Dostoyevsky” were made
Joseph von Sternberg
Robert Bresson
Georges Lampen
Andrzej Wajda
Richard Brooks
Tony Richardson
Bernardo Bertolucci
Akira Kurosawa
Andrzej Żulawski
Aki Kaurismäki
Luchino Visconti
and other leading world directors
In addition to the classic ones, there are many free film interpretations of Dostoevsky, including:
“Idiot Prince”
Eugenio Perego’s film based on the novel The Idiot (Italy, 1920)
“Horns under the bed”
Ismael Rodriguez’s film based on the story “A Stranger’s Wife and Her Husband Under the Bed” (Mexico, 1969)
“The Fool Landlord”
A film by Eija-Elina Bergholm based on the story “The Village of Stepanchikovo and its Inhabitants” (Finland, 1974)

Jubilee evening in Beijing on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the death of F.M. Dostoyevsky

Jubilee evening in Beijing on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the death of F.M. Dostoyevsky
How Dostoyevsky was staged in European theaters in the 1920s
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Stage in the theatre
Photos of a Soviet diplomat
A Brazilian fan at the Dostoyevsky Museum in Moscow during the World Cup. June, 2018.
A Brazilian fan at the Dostoyevsky Museum in Moscow during the World Cup. June, 2018.
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