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Ricardo San Vicente

Dostoyevski and his times URL: http://www.march.es/conferencias/anteriores/voz.aspx?p1=22646&l=2

Along with the land, water, air, and fire, money is the fifth element that, in any case, man needs to consider most often. In this fact lies the causes, if not the main reason, for which today, one hundred years after his death, the works of Dostoyevsky still keep a modern character. -Joseph Brodsky, Regarding Dostoyevsky (1980)-. 

The life of Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky is marked by several happenings and circumstances. Regarding the events that gave shape to his life and vision of the world, the most striking comes from his detention, sentence to death, execution simulation, and the long years of forced labour in Siberia. This way, the life of the writer is deeply divided into three parts: before his detention (1821-1849); forced labour and deportation (1849-1859), and his period of maturity and greatest works (1859-1881).

The first period is characterized by a prose where the characteristic lines of the writer begin to be drafted: the small man as a great protagonist, the overwhelmed world of this being within an environment marked by the autocratic and bureaucratic order of the Imperial Russia. Following the steps of Balzac, Dickens, or Sue, the author goes into the soul of the man in the street, which are at the end of the day his readers. Dostoyevsky will become very early  the narrator of the soul's movements.

After a childhood marked by the grayness of the public hospital in which his father worked as a medic and engineering studies that are completely away from his interests, the literary success reached the author quite early. But the push of this success made him land in the Peter and Paul prison-fortress. But before arriving to this dramatic event, it would make sense to refer in our conference to his infancy and adolescence, and the relationship with his father that we have mentioned.

Regardless of the pain and inevitable deprivation -or who knows, maybe precisely due to the suffering experienced- the imprisonment period became a time of harvest. Even the author himself will confess to his brother Mikhail that the “House of the Dead” compiles more stories than the ones he would be able to tell along the rest of his life.

Again, after the years in prison, success would arrive, only stained by the facility with which he loss money in gambling and due to his many obligations with his relatives. As a matter of fact, we could say that thanks to all his deprivations, and to the only way he could face them: writing, we have received a very extensive and profound set of works.

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