Introduction to Dostoevsky Dostoevsky (in translation)
Dr. Rimma Volynska
1825-1835: Tsar Nicholas I emperor of Russia.
• December 1825: Decembrist uprising in response to Nicholas I’s assumption of
A utocracy AON: doctrine of Nicholas I.
O rthodoxy • Enforced during
N ationalism Dostoevsky’s university
years, prompted his
involvement in illegal
societies, some of which
were socialist in nature.
Intelligentsia: young, forward-thinking group who believe the social environment is
flawed and use writing to bring about change.
• Popular notion in revolutionary-driven youth at the time.
Petrashevsky Circle: one of the many secret socialist groups comprised of young people
opposed to AON policies.f
• Actuely aware of social inequality in Russia.
• Many of these such groups set up secret publishing houses.
Mikhail Petrashevsky interested in writings of Charles Fourrier.
• Fourrier a French utopian-socialist thinker looking for complete reconstruction of
Nicholas I used secret police, heavy spying to track secret groups like Petrashevsky’s.
• No trials were held for arrests, many executions ordered.
Physiology of St. Petersburg.
• St. Petersburg built artificially by Peter the Great in an attempt to connect Russia
to Europe/Western society.
o Structured/influenced by neo-Classicism.
o Built over bones of 200 000 dead serfs.
• St. Petersburg originally built as a fortress, then used as a prison by Nicholas I.
Alexander II succeeds Nicholas I.
• 1863: Alexander II frees serfs.
Dostoevsky’s family part of well-to-do gentry. 2
Dostoevsky’s mother, Maria, died whi