Fyodor Dostoevsky


Fyodor Dostoevsky born on this day in 1821.

Of all of the tragedies to bear in life, years in a brutal prison camp would seem about as low as one could go. Dostoevsky bore them with gratitude for teaching him the preciousness of life and, in effect, Seth’s strategy for getting unstuck. The end result was a collection of literary masterpieces for which the rest of the world should be grateful. His ordeal is recounted in Robert Greene’s ’33 Strategies of War’ illustrating the “Death-Ground Strategy”…

  • “Dostoyevsky was told his new sentence: four years hard labor in Siberia, to be followed by a stint in the army. Barely affected, he wrote that day to his brother, ‘When I look back at the past and think of all the time I squandered in error and idleness,…then my heart bleeds. Life is a gift…every minute could have been an eternity of happiness! If youth only knew! Now my life will change; now I will be reborn.’ A few days later, ten-pound shackles were put on Dostoyevsky’s arms and legs–they would stay there for the length of his prison term–and he was carted off to Siberia. For the next four years, he endured the most abysmal prison conditions. Granted no writing privileges, he wrote novels in his head, memorized them. Finally, in 1857, still serving the army period of his sentence, he was allowed to start publishing his work. Where before he would torture himself over a page, spend half a day idling it away in thought, now he wrote and wrote. Friends would see him walking the streets of St. Petersburg mumbling bits of dialogue to himself, lost in his characters and plots. His new motto was ‘Try to get as much done as possible in the shortest time.’ Some pitied Dostoyevsky his time in prison. That made him angry; he was grateful for the experience and felt no bitterness. But for that December day in1849, he felt, he would have wasted his life. Right up until his death, in 1881, he continued writing at a frantic pace, churning out novel after novel—Crime and Punishment, The Possessed, The Brothers Karamazov –as if each one were his last.”

I guess you could call 14 February, the day he was released after 5 years incarceration, his second birthday.