Translated by Richard Pevear & Larissa Volokhonsky
You read every shimmering, tormented word, mesmerised. This is Dostoevsky in distillation, a prelude not just to his leading works, but to the entire 20th century... How is it possible to have a character who evokes aspects of Hitler and Pooter, who is hilarious yet disturbing, and both villain and victim? Because Dostoevsky was a genius, and the narrator of Notes From Underground his most protean character, with whom you never quite know how you stand * Sunday Times * Dostoevsky's is a genuinely disembodied voice, speaking for all sufferers and victims * Guardian *
Fyodor Dostoevsky was born in Moscow on 11th November 1821. He had six siblings and his mother died in 1837 and his father in 1839. He graduated from the St Petersburg Academy of Military Engineering in 1846 but decided to change careers and become a writer. His first book, Poor Folk, did very well but on 23rd April 1849 he was arrested for subversion and sentenced to death. After a mock-execution his sentence was commuted to hard labour in Siberia where he developed epilepsy.He was released in 1854. His 1860 book, The House of the Dead was based on these experiences. In 1857 he married Maria Dmitrievna Isaeva. After his release he adopted more conservative and traditional values and rejected his previous socialist position. In the following years he spent a lot of time abroad, struggled with an addiction to gambling and fell deeply in debt. His wife died in 1864 and he married Anna Grigoryeva Snitkina. In the following years he published his most enduring and successful books, including Crime and Punishment (1865). He died on 9th February 1881.