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FYODOR MIKHAILOVITCH DOSTOEVSKY was born at Moscow on October 30 1821 the son of a military surgeon He was educated in his native city and at the School of Military Engineering at St Petersburg from which he graduated in 1843 with the grade of sublieutenant The attraction of literature led him to give up the career that lay open to him and he entered instead upon a long struggle with poverty 1 His first book Poor Folks 1846 though obviously influenced by Gogol was recognized by the critics as the work of an original genius and he became a regular contributor to a monthly magazine Annals of the Country He is said to have undertaken ten new novels at once and was certainly working at a terrific pace when a sudden halt was called He had joined the circle of a political agitator Petrachevski and had been taking part in its rather harmless discussions on political economy when the suspicions of the police were aroused and he with his brother and thirty comrades was arrested in April 1849 and thrown into the fortress of St Peter and St Paul in St Petersburg where he wrote his story A Little Hero On December 22d he and twenty-one others were conducted to the foot of a scaffold in the Simonovsky Square and told to prepare for death But before the sentence was executed as they stood in their shirts in the bitter December weather it was announced that their penalty was commuted to exile in Siberia On Christmas Eve he started on his journey and the next four years were spent among convicts in a prison at Omsk He has described his experiences there in his Memories of the House of the Dead 18538212experiences which though frightful in the extreme seem to have strengthened rather than injured him in body and mind though they may have embittered his temper His imprisonment was followed by three years
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