Fyodor Mikhaylovich Dostoyevsky was a Russian writer, essayist and philosopher, perhaps most recognized today for his novels Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov. Dostoyevsky is considered one of Europe’s major novelists. His literary output explores human psychology in the troubled political, social and spiritual context of 19th-century Russian society. Considered by many as a founder, or precursor of 20th-century existentialism, his Notes from Underground, written in the embittered voice of the anonymous “underground man”, was called by Walter Kaufmann the “best overture for existentialism ever written.”
In 1844, after serving five years in the army, Dostoyevsky started to write his own fiction and in 1845 his first work, the epistolary short novel, Poor Folk, was met with great acclaim. As legend has it, the editor of the magazine, poet Nikolai Nekrasov, walked into the office of liberal critic Vissarion Belinsky and announced, “a new Gogol has arisen!” Belinsky, his followers, and many others agreed. After the novel was fully published in book form at the beginning of the next year, Dostoyevsky became a literary celebrity at the age of 24.