Talk:Fyodor Dostoyevsky

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These can be moved to the main page if needed.

  • There is nothing easier than lopping off heads and nothing harder than developing ideas.
    • The Devils, part 2, chapter 2, in the 1962 translation by Andrew R. MacAndrew (titled The Possessed).
  • I say let the world go to hell, but I should always have my tea.
    • Notes from Underground, part 2, chapter 9, in the 1993 translation by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky.
  • Man needs the unfathomable and the infinite just as much as he does the small planet which he inhabits.
    • The Devils, part 3, chapter 7. Constance Garnett: "The Infinite and the Eternal are as essential for man as the little planet on which he dwells." The version with "unfathomable" seems to originate with Theodosius Dobzhansky (1962), Mankind Evolving, p. 319; presumably it is Dobzhansky's own translation.
  • The second half of a man’s life is usually made up of nothing but the habits he has accumulated during the first half.
    • The Devils, part 2, chapter 2, in the 1916 Constance Garnett translation. Often quoted without the "usually".
  • A fool who has admitted he is a fool is no longer a fool.
    • The Insulted and Injured, part 3, chapter 2.Constance Garnett: "The fool who recognises that he is a fool is no longer a fool." The version with "admitted" seems to originate with an essay by Mikhail Bahktin in Robin Feuer Miller, ed. (1986), Critical Essays on Dostoevsky, p. 258.

Mistakenly attributed to Dostoevsky[edit]

  • There are only two books written: Someone goes on a journey, or a stranger comes to town.
    • Quote Investigator traces this to an exercise in John Gardner (1984), The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers, p. 103.
  • The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons.
  • In an age of equality, the masses desire security above all else, and they will gladly accept despotism in order to escape the burdens that accompany the benefits of freedom.
    • This is a summary by Thomas M. Magstadt (in Understanding Politics: Ideas, Institutions, and Issues) of a long passage in The Brothers Karamazov, book 5, chapter 5. Constance Garnett: "In the end they will lay their freedom at our feet, and say to us, Make us your slaves, but feed us."


Wikiquote no longer allows unsourced quotations, and they are in process of being removed from our pages (see Wikiquote:Limits on quotations); but if you can provide a reliable and precise source for any quote on this list please move it to Fyodor Dostoevsky. --Antiquary 12:57, 28 February 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

  • At first, art imitates life. Then life imitates art. Then life takes its very existence from art.
    • In some form, it seems often quoted and attribute to Dostoevsky, but I can't find anything more about it online. Perhaps it is a misattribution? (the version above comes from an episode of "Father Brown") LookingGlass (talk) 16:01, 18 July 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

"Furnace of Doubt" Quote[edit]

I am moving this quote from "The Brothers Karamazov" into "Unsourced" since is is not in The Brothers Karamazov (you can search for it here [1]). It appears to come from Dostoevsky talking about The Brothers Karamazov (the Devil uses the phrase "crucible of doubt" in Ivan's dream). It is cited all over the internet as from The Brothers Karamazov but the only two places I've seen what appear to be good references to the quote are here: [2] and [3]. Both of those have the same quote but with some differences in translation (ie. "crucible"). I can't seem to find any more information on the "notebook" so I leave it as unsourced, hoping someone else knows more about it.KyleT

"There is only one thing that I dread: not to be worthy of my sufferings"[edit]

This is a misquote resulting from the following chain of translations (see Literature Stack Exchange):

  • A line in The Idiot, part 4, chapter 5: Нет, а за то, что недостоин своего страдания.
  • Eugène-Melchior de Vogüé (1886), Le roman russe, p. 259: Je crains de n’être pas digne de ma souffrance.
  • Georg Brandes (1900), Menschen und Werke, p. 343: Ich fürchte nur, meiner Qual nicht würdig zu sein.
  • Viktor Frankl (1946), Ein Psycholog erlebt das Konzentrationslager: Ich fürchte nur eines: meiner Qual nicht würdig zu sein.
  • Viktor Frankl trans. Ilse Lasch (1959), Man's Search for Meaning, p. 66: There is only one thing that I dread: not to be worthy of my sufferings.