Fyodor Dostoyevsky Quotes

Fyodor Mikhaylovich Dostoyevsky, 1821 – 1881

Born: 11 November 1821, Moscow, Russian Empire
Died: 9 February 1881, Saint Petersburg, Russian Empire

Dostoyevsky was born at the Mariinsky Hospital for the poor, where his despotic alcoholic father was a surgeon. Despite his parents, Dostoyevsky enjoyed talking to the patients in the hospital garden. His early education was provided by his mother, when she died of tuberculosis in 1837 Odor and his brother were sent to the Military Engineering Academy at St Petersburg. In 1839 his father died, by some accounts killed by his own serfs. No good documentation exists, but the story is that the serfs grabbed him in one of his drunken rages and poured vodka into his mouth until he drowned. After graduation, Dostoyevsky soon lost interest in his trade and resigned his commission to write. One of his publishing ventures attracted the anger of Tsar Nicholas I and he was sentenced to death. After the firing squad was assembled, a messenger rushed in with word that the sentence was commuted to four years at hard labor. After he served his term he was conscripted into the Siberian Regiment for five years. Between fits of epilepsy and a gambling problem his life was rocky until forced to deliver a novel or surrender all his copyrights to the publisher. A month before the deadline he hired a young stenographer, Anna Grigorevna Snitkina; working long hours they got the novel done on the day of the deadline, falling in love in the process. They married in 1867 and Anna managed to keep the rest of his life productive. Dostoyevsky died of a lung hemorrhage related to emphysema and complicated by an epileptic seizure.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky quotes:

A fool with a heart and no sense is just as unhappy as a fool with sense and no heart.
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

A man who lies to himself, and believes his own lies, becomes unable to recognize truth, either in himself or in anyone else, and he ends up losing respect for himself and for others.
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

A real gentleman, even if he loses everything he owns, must show no emotion. Money must be so far beneath a gentleman that it is hardly worth troubling about.
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

A widow, the mother of a family, and from her heart she produces chords to which my whole being responds.
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Beauty is a terrible and awful thing! It is terrible because it has not been fathomed, for God sets us nothing but riddles. Here the boundaries meet and all contradictions exist side by side.
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Deprived of meaningful work, men and women lose their reason for existence; they go stark, raving mad.
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Do a man dirt, yourself you hurt.
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Every man has some reminiscences which he would not tell to everyone, but only to his friends. He has others which he would not reveal even to his friends, but only to himself, and that in secret. But finally there are still others which a man is even afraid to tell himself, and every decent man has a considerable number of such things stored away. That is, one can even say that the more decent he is, the greater the number of such things in his mind.
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Everywhere I am the object of an unbelievable esteem, the interest in me is, quite simply, tremendous.
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky – letter to his brother

Fathers and teachers, I ponder, “What is hell?” I maintain that it is the suffering of being unable to love.
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Granted I am a babbler, a harmless vexatious babbler, like all of us. But what is to be done if the direct and sole vocation of every intelligent man is babble, that is, the intentional pouring of water through a sieve?
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Happiness does not lie in happiness, but in the achievement of it.
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

How many ideas have there been in the history of man which were unthinkable ten years before they appeared?
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Humiliate the reason and distort the soul.
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

I am a sick man…. I am a spiteful man. I am an unpleasant man. I think my liver is diseased.
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

I gave up caring about anything, and all the problems disappeared.
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

I think the devil doesn’t exist, but man has created him, he has created him in his own image and likeness.
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

If they drive God from the earth, we shall shelter Him underground.
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

If you can put the question, ‘Am I or am I not responsible for my acts?’ then you are responsible.
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

If you want to be respected by others the great thing is to respect yourself.
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

If you want to be respected by others the great thing is to respect yourself. Only by that, only by self-respect will you compel others to respect you.
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

If you were to destroy in mankind the belief in immortality, not only love but every living force maintaining the life of the world would at once be dried up.
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

In despair there are the most intense enjoyments, especially when one is very acutely conscious of the hopelessness of one’s position.
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

In most cases, people, even the most vicious, are much more naive and simple-minded than we assume them to be. And this is true of ourselves too.
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Inventors and geniuses have almost always been looked on as no better than fools at the beginning of their career, and very frequently at the end of it also.
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Is there in the whole world a being who would have the right to forgive and could forgive?
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

It seems, in fact, as though the second half of a man’s life is made up of nothing but the habits he has accumulated during the first half.
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

It’s the great mystery of human life that old grief passes gradually into quiet tender joy.
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Lack of originality, everywhere, all over the world, from time immemorial, has always been considered the foremost quality and the recommendation of the active, efficient and practical man.
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Let us first fulfill Christ’s injunction ourselves and only then venture to expect it of our children. Otherwise we are not fathers, but enemies of our children, and they are not our children, but our enemies, and we have made them our enemies ourselves.
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Lying to ourselves is more deeply ingrained than lying to others.
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Man grows used to everything, the scoundrel.
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Man is fond of counting his troubles, but he does not count his joys. If he counted them up as he ought to, he would see that every lot has enough happiness provided for it.
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Man is sometimes extraordinarily, passionately, in love with suffering.
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Man is unhappy because he doesn’t know he’s happy. It’s only that.
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Men reject their prophets and slay them, but they love their martyrs and honor those they have slain.
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Much unhappiness has come into the world because of bewilderment and things left unsaid.
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Neither man nor nation can exist without a sublime idea.
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Never abandon hope.
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky – The Brothers Karamazov (1880)

Nothing in this world is harder than speaking the truth, nothing easier than flattery.
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Nothing is easier than to denounce the evildoer; nothing is more difficult than to understand him.
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Oh, if only I did nothing simply as a result of laziness.
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

One can know a man from his laugh, and if you like a man’s laugh before you know anything of him, you may confidently say that he is a good man.
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Only the heart knows how to find what is precious.
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Pain and suffering are always inevitable for a large intelligence and a deep heart. The really great men must, I think, have great sadness on Earth.
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

People talk sometimes of a bestial cruelty, but that’s a great injustice and insult to the beasts; a beast can never be so cruel as a man, so artistically cruel. The tiger only tears and gnaws, that’s all he can do. He would never think of nailing people by the ears, even if he were able to do it.
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

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!
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Realists do not fear the results of their study.
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Remember that you must never sell your soul. Never accept payment in advance…. Never give a work to the printer before it is finished. This is the worst thing you can do…. It constitutes the murder of your own ideas.
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky – A Writer’s Diary

Russia was a slave in Europe but would be a master in Asia.
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Sarcasm: the last refuge of modest and chaste-souled people when the privacy of their soul is coarsely and intrusively invaded.
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

So long as man remains free he strives for nothing so incessantly and so painfully as to find some one to worship.
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Taking a new step, uttering a new word, is what people fear most.
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Talking nonsense is man’s only privilege that distinguishes him from all other organisms.
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

The awful thing is that beauty is mysterious as well as terrible. God and the devil are fighting there and the battlefield is the heart of man.
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

The best definition of man is: a being that goes on two legs and is ungrateful.
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

The cleverest of all, in my opinion, is the man who calls himself a fool at least once a month.
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons.
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

The formula ‘two plus two equals five’ is not without its attractions.
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

The greatest happiness is to know the source of unhappiness.
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

The more I detest men individually the more ardent becomes my love for humanity.
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

The second half of a man’s life is made up of nothing but the habits he has acquired during the first half.
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

The secret of man’s being is not only to live but to have something to live for.
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

The soul is healed by being with children.
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

The stupider one is, the closer one is to reality. The stupider one is, the clearer one is. Stupidity is brief and artless, while intelligence wriggles and hides itself. Intelligence is a knave, but stupidity is honest and straightforward.
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

There is no subject so old that something new cannot be said about it.
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

There is nothing easier than lopping off heads and nothing harder than developing ideas.
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

There were moments when I hated everybody I came across, innocent or guilty, and looked at them as thieves who were robbing me of my life with impunity. The most unbearable misfortune is when you yourself become unjust, malignant, vile; you realize it, you even reproach yourself — but you just can’t help it.
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky – letter from Siberian prison camp

To achieve perfection, one must first begin by not understanding many things! And if we understand too quickly, we may not understand well.
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

To be acutely conscious is a disease, a real, honest-to-goodness disease.
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

To be in love is not the same as loving. You can be in love with a woman and still hate her.
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

To care only for well-being seems to me positively ill-bred. Whether it’s good or bad, it is sometimes very pleasant, too, to smash things.
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

To go wrong in one’s own way is better than to go right in someone else’s.
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

To kill someone for committing murder is a punishment incomparably worse than the crime itself. Murder by legal sentence is immeasurably more terrible than murder by brigands.
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

To love someone means to see him as God intended him.
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

We sometimes encounter people, even perfect strangers, who begin to interest us at first sight, somehow suddenly, all at once, before a word has been spoken.
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

What man wants is simply independent choice, whatever that independence may cost and wherever it may lead
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

What terrible tragedies realism inflicts on people.
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

When … in the course of all these thousands of years has man ever acted in accordance with his own interests?
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Without some goal and some efforts to reach it, no man can live.
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

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