Fyodor Dostoevsky, one of the finest psychologists in world literature, was born in Moscow in 1821. Introduced to literature from the age of three, he was very close to his parents and ‘nanny’. His literary upbringing was influenced by Alena Frolovna, his nanny, who would read to him fairy tales, heroic sagas, and legends. As a student too, he was drawn to Romantic and Gothic fiction, especially the works of Sir Walter Scott, Nikolay Karamzin, Ann Radcliffe, Alexander Pushkin, and Friedrich Schiller among others. Unlike his contemporary writers, Dostoevsky was not born into the landed gentry. Therefore, his literary works foregrounded the lives of “accidental families” and of “the insulted and the humiliated”. His stories explored human psychology in the turbulent socio political atmosphere of 19th-century Russia.
His first novel, Poor Folk, was published in 1846 when he was 25. This gained him entry into St. Petersburg’s literary circles. In 1849, he was arrested for being part of a literary group that discussed ‘banned’ books of Tsarist Russia. His most acclaimed works include Crime and Punishment (1866), The Idiot (1869), Demons (1872) and The Brothers Karamazov (1880). Notes from Underground (1864), his novella, is considered one of the earliest works of existentialist literature.