The great Russian novelist Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky (1821-1881) was born on this day in Moscow, the second of seven children.
"The cleverest of all, in my opinion," Dostoevsky said, "is the man who calls himself a fool at least once a month."
Always spiritual and passionate about life, he became an advocate of creative freedom for the oppressed. He started an underground press in St. Petersburg, then was arrested and sent to Siberia in 1849. The new czar released him from exile ten years later.
His time in prison made him celebrate life even more. "Life is a gift," he wrote. "Life is happiness, every minute will be an eternity of happiness."
Dostoevsky became a prolific writer. Notes from the Underground (1864) examined free will and the meaning of life. In 1866 he published Crime and Punishment, what many considered his masterpiece.
His unforgettable character Raskolnikov, on a journey to redemption, observed, "Power is given only to those who dare to lower themselves and pick it up. Only one thing matters, one thing; to be able to dare!"
Dostoevsky's massive and final novel, Brothers Karamazov (1880), celebrated 19th Century Russian culture and reflected upon his remarkable life.
In the novel's epilogue, he wrote: "You are told a lot about your education, but some beautiful, sacred memory, preserved since childhood, is perhaps the best education of all. If a man carries many such memories into life with him, he is saved for the rest of his days. And even if only one good memory is left in our hearts, it may also be the instrument of our salvation one day."
More Fyodor Dostoevsky Quotations
The Chief Thing Is to Love.