10 Best Books by Fyodor Dostoevsky | TheReviewGeek Recommends

Fyodor Dostoevsky, a renowned Russian novelist and philosopher, was born in Moscow in 1821. He is widely regarded as one of the most profound and influential literary figures in the world. His works are characterized by relentless exploration of the human psyche, morality, and a unique fusion of psychological depth and philosophical inquiry.

In 1849, Dostoevsky was arrested for his involvement with a group of intellectual revolutionaries and sentenced to death. However, his sentence was commuted to four years of hard labour in Siberia, followed by several years of military service in a remote outpost. During this period, Fyodor faced numerous challenges, and his experiences of imprisonment and exile profoundly influenced his writing.

Here are the 10 best pieces written Fyodor Dostoevsky. As usual, your comments are welcome. 

Best Books by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Crime and Punishment (1866)

One of the greatest psychological novels “Crime and Punishment”, delves deeply into feelings of alienation, guilt, justice, redemption and salvation. The novel thoroughly explores human psychology, morality and society’s impact on individual conscience and actions.

The plot centres on the protagonist, Rodion Raskolnikov, an impoverished ex-student who becomes fixated on the idea that committing a murder would establish his superiority. However, after carrying out the act, he is plagued by feelings of remorse and paranoia. He’s pursued by a persistent, detective Porfiry Petrovich and his redemption journey intertwines with Sonia’s, a young woman forced into prostitution to support her family. Dostoevsky portrays Raskolnikov’s internal struggles and personal transformation with deep psychological insight.

Best Books by Fyodor Dostoevsky

The Brothers Karamazov (1880)

“The Brothers Karamazov” is the final novel by the Russian author, often viewed as the pinnacle of his literary achievements and a summation of his philosophical beliefs. The novel explores complex themes such as morality, spirituality, free will and the interplay of faith and doubt.

Set against the backdrop of 19th-century Russia, the story revolves around the Karamazov family, particularly the three brothers: Dmitri, Ivan, and Alexei (Alyosha) Karamazov. The father of the family, Fyodor Pavlovich Karamazov, is murdered and the ensuing investigation implicates Dmitri. The intricate relationships, conflicting beliefs, and individual challenges of the brothers are unveiled as they navigate through themes of love, faith, and the duality of human nature. The tale delves into the search for meaning in a world marked by human imperfections and moral dilemmas.

Best Books by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Notes from Underground (1864)

“Notes from Underground” is a novella that explores themes such as existentialism, free will, alienation, human nature, and the conflict between individual desires and societal norms. These themes are presented through the lens of the Underground Man’s introspections and interactions.

The novella is divided into two parts. The first part is a monologue written in the first-person perspective by an unnamed narrator, often referred to as the “Underground Man”. He is a retired civil servant who lives in St. Petersburg and disdains rationalism. The second part is a fictional narrative that provides context for the Underground Man’s thoughts. This part recounts a series of events from his past involving his interactions with others, particularly with a woman named Liza. These interactions highlight his inability to form genuine connections due to his self-imposed isolation.

“Notes from Underground” delves into the darkest corners of human consciousness and explores the complexities of the human psyche.

   Best Books by Fyodor Dostoevsky

The Idiot (1869)

“The Idiot” is a complex and introspective novel that delves into the psychological and emotional depths of its characters while also providing a critique of the society in which they live.

The story revolves around the character of Prince Lev Nikolayevich Myshkin, a kind and compassionate man who returns to Russia after treatment for epilepsy. He is often referred to as “the idiot” due to his childlike innocence and lack of social awareness. As the plot unfolds, Myshkin finds himself caught in a complicated love triangle involving two women, Nastasya Filippovna and Aglaya Epanchina, who are both struggling with their emotional battles and societal expectations.

Through the novel, Dostoevsky addresses themes such as the corrupting influence of wealth and power, the struggle between authenticity and conformity, and the paradoxes of human nature.

Best Books by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Demons (1872)

“Demons” (also known as “The Devils” or “The Possessed”) was inspired by the real-life events of the author. The novel delves into various themes, including the destructive power of radical ideologies, the nature of evil, the complexities of human psychology and the impact of societal changes on individuals.

Set in a provincial Russian town, the story revolves around Pyotr Stepanovich, a charismatic nihilist who manipulates a group of intellectuals to incite a revolution. He envisions himself as a “demon” or “possessed” individual who will bring about upheaval and change. He believes that only through destruction and chaos can a new and better world emerge.

The novel explores the clash between traditional values and modern extremism, unravelling the lives of characters grappling with their beliefs. It also foreshadows the events that will unfold as Pyotr’s plans are put into motion, leading to an eruption of turmoil in the town.

Best Books by Fyodor Dostoevsky

The Gambler (1867)

Fyodor Dostoevsky wrote “The Gambler” within a month to pay off his gambling debts. The novella was heavily influenced by his struggles with gambling addiction. It is one of his shorter works. The story explores themes of love, obsession and the complexities of human nature.

As the title suggests, gambling plays a significant role in the novella. It begins with Alexei Ivanovich, a young tutor working for a Russian family travelling through Europe. The family, including the General, is in financial ruin due to gambling. Alexei becomes infatuated with Polina Alexandrovna, the stepdaughter of the General. His love for Polina leads him into the world of gambling, hoping to win and impress her. The General’s reckless gambling escalates, causing further chaos, and Alexei’s obsession grows.

As the story unfolds, Alexei grapples with his own impulsive decisions and seeks redemption amid the turmoil.

Best Books by Fyodor Dostoevsky

White Nights (1848)

“White Nights” is a short story that was published as part of a collection titled “A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy”. Some of the prominent themes in the story include loneliness, unrequited love, idealism, the fleeting nature of happiness, and the contrast between romantic dreams and harsh realities.

The story follows a lonely dreamer, who frequents the streets of St. Petersburg during its white nights, encountering Nastenka, a young woman. Over several nights, they share their innermost feelings of isolation and loneliness, forming a deep bond. Nastenka reveals her love for a man who abandoned her. As they grow closer, the dreamer falls deeply in love with Nastenka however her heart remains tied to the man from her past who has returned. The dreamer comes to terms with his unrequited love, highlighting the theme of romantic longing.

Best Books by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Poor Folk (1846)

“Poor Folk” was Fyodor’s first published work and was written in the form of an epistolary story. The book was praised for its portrayal of genuine human emotions and for shedding light on the plight of the poor. It explores themes of dignity, human connection, and the impact of socioeconomic conditions on individuals’ lives.

The novel depicts the exchange of letters between Makar Devushkin, a low-ranking civil servant and Varvara Dobroselova, a young woman of modest means. They share their hardships with loneliness, affection and emotions while grappling with poverty in 19th-century St. Petersburg. The letters reveal their evolving relationship, the challenges of their social status, and their yearning for connection amidst the harsh realities of their lives.

Best Books by Fyodor Dostoevsky

The Double (1846)

“The Double” was first published in the journal “Notes of the Fatherland”. It is a short story that is often interpreted as a reflection of Dostoevsky’s struggles with identity and his exploration of the human psyche. It delves into the themes of alienation, social anxiety, and the fractured nature of the self.

The story revolves around the life of Yakov Petrovich Golyadkin, a government clerk in St. Petersburg. He is a socially awkward man who becomes increasingly unhinged as he begins to believe that a doppelganger, a double of himself, has taken over his life. The double is everything Yakov is not- confident, charismatic and socially skilled. As the double takes over his life and social standing, Yakov’s mental state deteriorates, leading to a dramatic confrontation between the two selves.

“The Double” serves as a psychological exploration of the human mind and its internal conflicts.

      Best Books by Fyodor Dostoevsky

The House of the Dead (1860)

“The House of the Dead” is a semi-autobiographical account of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s experiences during his time as a prisoner in a Siberian labour camp. The book was initially published in instalments in the journal “Vremya” (Time) from 1860 to 1862. It was later released as a complete volume.

The narrative follows Aleksandr Petrovich Goryanchikov who has been sentenced to ten years of hard labour in Siberia for murdering his wife. The work explores various themes including the brutal living conditions in the labour camp, the dehumanizing effects of imprisonment, the psychology of the prisoners and guards, the concept of punishment and justice, and the resilience of the human spirit in the face of adversity. It serves as a valuable historical and literary document about the realities of the Russian penal system during the 19th century.

There we have it, our list of 10 best books by Fyodor Dostoevsky. What do you think about our picks? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below:

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