Fyodor Dostoyevsky

November 11, 1821 – February 9, 1881

“There is no other author who has influenced European thinking as Dostoyevsky,” says Jurgen Spiess, PhD, founder and director of the Institute of Science and Faith in Marburg, Germany and member of the German Dostoyevsky Society. “Friedrich Nietzsche and Karl Barth, Sigmund Freud and Alfred Adler, Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus, among many others, were deeply influenced by him. Dostoyevsky is still very modern. He asks all the important questions: the possibility of human freedom, of knowledge of good and evil, the character of beauty, the possibility of faith. He writes about man in his need who is seeking himself and does not know who he is.”

His most famous novels are Crime and Punishment, The Idiot, The Possessed, and The Brothers Karamazov, all written between 1865 and 1881. In his March 18, 2010 newsletter, Chuck Colson acknowledged that Dostoyevsky’s novel, The Brothers Karamazov, was his personal favorite and noted that it was this novel that led Louise Cowan, PhD, Vanderbilt, to explore Christianity further, eventually resulting in her conversion. “Not until a literary work of art awakened my imaginative faculties,” she writes, “could the possibility of a larger context than reason alone engage my mind….I had to be transformed in the way that literature transforms – by story, image, symbol – before I could see the simple truths of the gospel.” The works of Shakespeare and Dostoyevsky led Cowan back to Christian faith after she had lost it.

Who was Dostoyevsky, and how did he come to faith? If you are interested in his story, we happily invite you to read F.W. Boreham’s Essay on Dostoyevsky. Boreham’s essay is a compelling five-page introduction to a man whose experience facing a firing squad and ten-year sentence in Siberia led to his conversion and subsequent influence around the world. As Boreham realized, “the candle that, in that Siberian prison, was lit in Dostoyevsky’s soul, grew taller the longer it burned….It flung its radiance right around the world; it found a reflection in the glowing lives of thousands.” Who was this man that moved forty-thousand people to follow his coffin to his grave?

Download a PDF of this essay.

Return to John’s Essays