Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821-81) was a Russian novelist well-known for his deep understanding of human psychology, morality, and conscience and for presenting the same in his works. Dostoevsky paints a picture of 19th-century Russia from the point of view of ordinary men, whom authors of this era have forgotten about. In this aspect, he distinguishes himself from other novelists and also creates memorable and complex characters in the process. He is among the best writers whose work you may want to read more on.
Although Dostoevsky had successfully showcased the human mind, he also had a fair share of controversy, for his liberal teachings. Nevertheless, it cannot be denied that he has greatly influenced literature, philosophy, and existentialism. So, if you want to dive deep into Dostoevsky’s works, here is a list that will be helpful.
1. Crime and Punishment (1866)
Regarded as the most popular work of Dostoevsky and includes a deeper inspection of human psychology. The story is set in St. Petersburg, with a man named Raskolnikov, who is extremely poor and is desperate to do anything to improve his situation. In the process, he commits a crime and has to bear a severe punishment for it- Guilt. The story not only deals with the life of the protagonist but also with other poor people from that area. If you are new to Dostoevsky, then this book should be your starting point.
2. The Idiot (1868)
Contrary to the previous book, where the protagonist was overburdened with guilt, the protagonist here Myshkin is overwhelmingly kind. He returns from a Swiss mental institution and finds himself tangled in a love affair. He faces serious judgments from those around him due to this and returns to the place that he came from, the mental institution. This book is best known for its moving poses, and if read with Crime and Punishment, then you get to know the two sides of society.
3. Poor Folk (1846)
This novel reflects on the age-old question of love or money. The story revolves around two people Makar Devushkin and Varvara Dobroselova, who are in love but also poor, set in St. Petersburg. While Makar searches for ways to make money to marry his beloved Varvara, she on the other hand receives a proposal for marrying from a rich man and has to make a difficult choice between love and money.
4. Demons (1871)
One of Dostoevesky’s later works reflects his political inclination. The novel is about the murder of a student named Ivan Ivanov, allegedly by a revolutionary group. Since Dostoevsky was a free thinker, and often considered a revolutionary this novel perfectly captures it with irony mixed in its texts.
5. The Gambler (1866)
This novel is almost like an autobiography of Dostoevesky, since at that time he was also going through a gambling addiction along with his friends, and wrote this piece to gain money from it. The novel is based on the psychology of a gambler and how it takes over their player, as if hypnotizing its players to keep playing
In his lifetime, Dostoevsky has written a total of 11 books including Notes from a Dead House, The Brothers of Karamazov, Notes from Underground, and many more which are equally interesting and dive deep into human psychology. In a way, Fyodor Dostoevsky was not simply just a novelist but way more than that.