->''"[Dostoevsky is] the only psychologist from whom I have something to learn."''
-->-- '''Creator/FriedrichNietzsche'''

->''"What terrible tragedies realism inflicts on people."''
-->-- from ''Literature/TheBrothersKaramazov''

Fyodor [[{{Patronymic}} Mikhailovich]] Dostoevsky was a 19th century Russian author, famous for writing ''Literature/NotesFromUnderground'', ''Literature/CrimeAndPunishment'', ''Literature/TheIdiot'', and ''Literature/TheBrothersKaramazov''. A deeply philosophical writer with a nuanced understanding of human psychology, Dostoevsky is credited with being, depending on your view, either a forerunner or a founder of modern existentialism.

The funny thing about Dostoevsky is that he's really two different authors separated by a four year stretch of imprisonment and exile to Siberia in 1849. Pre-1849, Dostoevsky wrote two novels (''Poor Folk'' and the incomplete ''Netochka Nezvanova'') and several short stories, including the much filmed ''White Nights'' and novellas. His involvement with a circle of armchair revolutionaries and pamphleteers led him to be rounded up and imprisoned by the state and he was sentenced to be executed by firing squad. At the last moment, right when Dostoevsky was lining up to be killed with his friends, a message of pardon arrived and everyone was sent to prison instead. Biographers consider this a "mock execution", that is none of them were ever going to be killed in the first place but were put through the ringer of being on "Death Row" as a form of psychological torture. One of Dostoevsky's friends went insane as a result of this ordeal. This incident had a phenomenal influence on his life and worldview and the Dostoevsky who returned from prison was a changed man in every sense of the term. Formerly, a kind of liberal interested in applying Western ideas to Russia, he became an anti-Radical Orthodox Christian conservative whose works explored characters who are contradictory, divided and full of neurosis and trauma, much like the author himself.

He's really remembered for the work he turned out after he came back from exile. Having had a religious experience while in prison, he spent the rest of his life exploring themes such as free will, guilt, religious awakening, and the effects of nihilism. His most famous novels are all critically-acclaimed for being thought-provoking explorations of the human condition in the face of suffering and despair.

Dostoevsky is known as "the Mad Russian" for two reasons:
* Something that tends to throw some readers off is that Dostoevsky's characters are all mad. Not literally mad, but they are all motivated by ideas instead of normal human drives. Because of this, several of the characters across his oeuvre tend to fall into molds or archetypes based on the ideas they represent (Sonya from ''Literature/CrimeAndPunishment'' and Alyosha from ''Literature/TheBrothersKaramazov'' fall into a distinct category, as do Raskolnikov and Ivan Karamazov from the same books respectively), and his characters and their actions are symbolic of these ideas.
* As a reaction against the European philosophies that were becoming popular in Russia in his time, Dostoevsky wrote in a rural, slavophilic/Russian style, emphasizing national unity and what would be the equivalent of "family values" in 19th century Russia.

Or maybe he was called "the Mad Russian" because the mindgames in his plots are [[GambitPileup so mind-bendingly complex]] [[MindScrew one has to be mad to understand them.]] They devote [[WhatDoYouMeanItsNotDidactic university seminars]] to studying Dostoevsky's prose, and they can get away with it because the symbolism [[RuleOfSymbolism is real.]]

Dostoevsky is featured as a character in the novels ''Summer in Baden-Baden'' and ''The Master of Petersburg''.

!!Works by Fyodor Dostoevsky with their own trope pages include:
* ''Literature/CrimeAndPunishment''
* ''Literature/TheIdiot''
* ''Literature/TheBrothersKaramazov''
* ''Literature/NotesFromUnderground''
!!Other works by Fyodor Dostoevsky provide examples of:

* AuthorTract: Liable to appear at any given time in his books. However several critics note that what appears to be AuthorTract turns out to be different from Dostoevsky's own ideas.
* ByronicHero: Stavrogin from ''Demons'' is a particularly nasty deconstruction; it's lampshaded early in the book that this character type was common in Russian literature (and society) at the time.
* CharacterFilibuster: See AuthorTract above.
* ChristianityIsCatholic: Averted. Although he was a devout Christian, Dostoevsky ''loathed'' Catholicism (especially the Jesuits), and he saw the raw, innocent spirituality of Russian Orthodoxy as an antidote to it. An AuthorFilibuster in ''The Idiot'' is devoted to this.
** Depending on your point of view, that is either HilariousInHindsight or HarsherInHindsight, as Russian Orthodox Church is ''now'' mostly known for being [[CorruptChurch anything but innocent]].
* DeceasedFallGuyGambit: A important plot point in ''Demons''.
* {{Doorstopper}}: He wrote very thick novels.
** There is actually a very good reason for this: Dostoevsky, like most Russian (and European in general) novelists of the time, had his work published in installments by literary magazines which paid by the page or word; the longer the work, the more money you made.
** Also for most of Dostoevsky's career he wrote short stories and novellas -- ''Poor Folk, The Gambler, The Double, White Nights, The Eternal Husband, Notes From Underground'' -- he only wrote ''four'' major novel-length narratives, but [[TropesAreNotBad those are among the best ever written]].
* DownerEnding: [[spoiler: ''The Idiot'', to a certain degree ''Demons'' as well.]]
* DystopiaJustifiesTheMeans: "Shigalyovism", the philosophy of the terrorist group from ''Demons''.
* UsefulNotes/{{Epilepsy}}: Dostoevsky was a famous real-life epileptic who often suffered periodic fits. His family and friends noted that his fits came suddenly without warning and that he would describe his trance like state and visions in considerable detail. This eventually made its way into his books where many characters, notably Prince Myshkin and Smerdyakov are epileptics and a lot of MindScrew comes from their descriptions of their fits.
* TheGamblingAddict: Most of the characters in "The Gambler", as well as Dostoevsky himself. Some of his books were published to dodge angry book-keepers.
* HistoricalDomainCharacter: For an artist with such a colourful life, Dostoevsky has been fictionalized in books like ''Sumer in Baden Baden'' by Leonid Tsypkin and ''The Master of Petersburg'' by J. M. Coetzee.
* JekyllAndHyde: The early novella "The Double", as you might have guessed from the title.
* LonersAreFreaks: Dostoevsky's books feature characters who are loners, social rejects, the mentally ill and other freaks. His sympathetic portrayal of their alienation from society struck a chord with several modernist writers and made him highly popular among existential philosophers. What people often miss is that Dostoevsky doesn't romanticize this status at all, as seen in ''Notes from Underground''. His works show how poverty, breakdown of family relations, genuine social dissatisfaction and callous cruelty makes such figures easy to indoctrinate into radical politics or other kinds of dangerous abstract ideas. About the only response to such alienation Dostoevsky can find is either authentic religious belief, ThePowerOfLove, forgiveness and compassion.
* TheMasochismTango: The marriage in the short story "A Gentle Creature". (Alternately, the relationship between any given Dostoevsky character and any other given Dostoevsky character.)
* MisaimedFandom: [[invoked]] A posthumous example. Dostoevsky wrote about revolutionaries or aspiring radicals, social rejects, outsiders and featured characters who tend to scorn family values and religion. This made him influential on leftists, philosophers, freethinkers and young adolescents despite himself being a conservative Orthodox Christian Russian writer.
** One delicious irony for the Great Russian is the fact that his books influenced Creator/FranzKafka and UsefulNotes/SigmundFreud and several other Jewish writers like Isaac Bashevis Singer despite being, unfortunately, an anti-Semite like many Russians of his time.
* MindScrew: Of course!
* NiceGuysFinishLast: The protagonist in the story "White Nights".
* NietzscheWannabe: Many, including pretty much ''all'' the young radicals in ''Demons'' (although Stavrogin and Verkhovensky stand out), and Arkady in ''The Adolescent''.
* ReignOfTerror: Dostoevsky saw this as the inevitable outcome of radical movements, as he illustrates in ''Demons''.
* SchoolgirlLesbians: Eponymous protagonist of ''Netochka Nezvanova''. Probably the UrExample.
* SlidingScaleOfIdealismVersusCynicism: Dostoevsky's books tend to break the scale, as they have the entire range of behavior -- from the most idealistic to the most cynical, with everything in between -- existing ''at the same time'', while being inconclusive as to what wins out.
* ThroughTheEyesOfMadness: "The Double", though it's narrated through third-person.
* {{Tsundere}}/SourOutsideSadInside: Many of Dostoevsky's female characters fit into one of these types (see the pages for more details). As did Dostoevsky's RealLife mistress Apollinaria Suslova, [[AuthorAppeal which may explain some things]].
* WhatCouldHaveBeen: ''The Brothers Karamazov'' was intended to be the first part of a much longer series of books. [[AuthorExistenceFailure Dostoevsky died before he could write any of the others.]]
** Also, he never finished ''Netochka Nezvanova'', one of his first works.
* WifeHusbandry: Taken to a nasty extreme in the short story "A Christmas Tree and a Wedding".