108 Fyodor Dostoevsky Quotes
Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky (1821 – 1881), sometimes transliterated Dostoevsky, was a Russian novelist, essayist, short story writer, journalist and philosopher. Dostoyevsky was introduced to literature at an early age through fairy tales and legends, and through books by Russian and foreign authors. He lost both his parents during his teen years and this affected him greatly. After graduating, he worked as an engineer and briefly enjoyed a lavish lifestyle, translating books to earn extra money. In the mid-1840s he wrote his first novel, Poor Folk, which gained him entry into St. Petersburg’s literary circles.
Many of his works contain a strong emphasis on Christianity, and its message of absolute love, forgiveness, and charity, explored within the realm of the individual, confronted with all of the life’s hardships and beauty. His most acclaimed works include “Crime and Punishment” (1866), “The Idiot” (1869), ”Demons” (1872) and “The Brothers Karamazov” (1880). Dostoyevsky’s oeuvre consists of 11 novels, three novellas, 17 short stories and numerous other works. Many literary critics rate him as one of the greatest psychologists in world literature. His 1864 novella Notes from Underground is considered to be one of the first works of existentialist literature. His writings influenced a great number of writers including Russians like Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and Anton Chekhov as well as philosophers such as Friedrich Nietzsche and Jean-Paul Sartre.
Short Fyodor Dostoyevsky Quotes
- Beauty will save the world.
- The soul is healed by being with children.
- I am alone, I thought, and they are everybody.
- Without God all things are permitted.
- I want to suffer so that I may love.
- Be the sun and all will see you.
- When reason fails, the devil helps.
- Taking a new step, uttering a new word, is what people fear most.
- I did not bow down to you, I bowed down to all the suffering of humanity.
- A hundred suspicions don’t make a proof.
- I will not and cannot believe that evil is the normal condition of mankind.
- The fear of appearances is the first symptom of impotence.
- It’s the great mystery of human life that old grief passes gradually into quiet tender joy.
- Compassion is the chief law of human existence.
- I utter what you would not dare think.
- Love life more than the meaning of it.
- I don’t know how to be silent when my heart is speaking.
Photo by Fabrizio Conti
Funny Fyodor Dostoyevsky Quotes
- I say let the world go to hell, but I should always have my tea.
- Right or wrong, it’s very pleasant to break something from time to time.
- I believe the best definition of man is the ungrateful biped.
- The whole work of man really seems to consist in nothing but proving to himself every minute that he is a man and not a piano key.
- You can be sincere and still be stupid.
- It’s not God that I don’t accept, Alyosha, only I most respectfully return him the ticket.
- The cleverest of all, in my opinion, is the man who calls himself a fool at least once a month.
- Man grows used to everything, the scoundrel!
- Of course my jokes are in poor taste, inappropriate, and confused; they reveal my lack of security. But that is because I have no respect for myself.
Inspirational Fyodor Dostoyevsky Quotes
- If you want to overcome the whole world, overcome yourself.
- To go wrong in one’s own way is better than to go right in someone else’s.
- Love children especially, for they too are sinless like the angels; they live to soften and purify our hearts and, as it were, to guide us.
- One must have the courage to dare.
- 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.
- Power is given only to him who dares to stoop and take it.
- Only to live, to live and live! Life, whatever it may be!
- This is my last message to you: in sorrow, seek happiness.
- But how could you live and have no story to tell?
- It is not the brains that matter most, but that which guides them — the character, the heart, generous qualities, progressive ideas.
- Nothing is easier than to denounce the evildoer; nothing is more difficult than to understand him.
- It is amazing what one ray of sunshine can do for a man.
- You will burn and you will burn out; you will be healed and come back again.
- Love a man, even in his sin, for that love is a likeness of the divine love, and is the summit of love on earth.
- Break what must be broken, once for all, that’s all, and take the suffering on oneself.
- Life is paradise, and we are all in paradise, but we refuse to see it.
- Be not forgetful of prayer. Every time you pray, if your prayer is sincere, there will be new feeling and new meaning in it, which will give you fresh courage, and you will understand that prayer is an education.
Cynical Fyodor Dostoyevsky Quotes
- Man only likes to count his troubles; he doesn’t calculate his happiness.
- Talking nonsense is the sole privilege mankind possesses over the other organisms. It’s by talking nonsense that one gets to the truth. I talk nonsense, therefore I’m human.
- I love mankind, he said, but I find to my amazement that the more I love mankind as a whole, the less I love man in particular.
- To love is to suffer and there can be no love otherwise.
- Pain and suffering are always inevitable for a large intelligence and a deep heart.
- A beast can never be as cruel as a human being, so artistically, so picturesquely cruel.
- I used to imagine adventures for myself, I invented a life, so that I could at least exist somehow.
- 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.
- The more I drink the more I feel it. That’s why I drink too. I try to find sympathy and feeling in drink. I drink so that I may suffer twice as much!
- I swear to you gentlemen, that to be overly conscious is a sickness, a real, thorough sickness.
- Man is sometimes extraordinarily, passionately, in love with suffering.
- It is better to be unhappy and know the worst, than to be happy in a fool’s paradise.
- Love in action is a harsh and dreadful thing compared to love in dreams.
- Destroy my desires, eradicate my ideals, show me something better, and I will follow you.
- I think the devil doesn’t exist, but man has created him, he has created him in his own image and likeness.
- Killing myself was a matter of such indifference to me that I felt like waiting for a moment when it would make some difference.
- Truly great men must, I think, experience great sorrow on the earth.
- Nothing has ever been more insupportable for a man and a human society than freedom.
- If he’s honest, he’ll steal; if he’s human, he’ll murder; if he’s faithful, he’ll deceive.
- There is only one thing that I dread: not to be worthy of my sufferings.
- Nature doesn’t ask your permission; it doesn’t care about your wishes, or whether you like its laws or not. You’re obliged to accept it as it is, and consequently all its results as well.
Photo by Jakob Owens
Insightful Fyodor Dostoyevsky Quotes
- The greatest happiness is to know the source of unhappiness.
- It takes something more than intelligence to act intelligently.
- 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.
- The mystery of human existence lies not in just staying alive, but in finding something to live for.
- Lying to ourselves is more deeply ingrained than lying to others.
- Sarcasm: the last refuge of modest and chaste-souled people when the privacy of their soul is coarsely and intrusively invaded.
- Much unhappiness has come into the world because of bewilderment and things left unsaid.
- The man who has a conscience suffers whilst acknowledging his sin. That is his punishment.
- It’s life that matters, nothing but life—the process of discovering, the everlasting and perpetual process, not the discovery itself, at all.
- Nothing in this world is harder than speaking the truth, nothing easier than flattery.
- The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons.
- Man is a mystery. It needs to be unravelled, and if you spend your whole life unravelling it, don’t say that you’ve wasted time. I am studying that mystery because I want to be a human being.
- Grown-up people do not know that a child can give exceedingly good advice even in the most difficult case.
- Man has it all in his hands, and it all slips through his fingers from sheer cowardice.
- Don’t let us forget that the causes of human actions are usually immeasurably more complex and varied than our subsequent explanations of them.
- Nowadays, almost all capable people are terribly afraid of being ridiculous, and are miserable because of it.
- Existentialism isn’t so atheistic that it wears itself out showing that God doesn’t exist. Rather, it declares that even if God did exist, that would change nothing.
- I am a fool with a heart but no brains, and you are a fool with brains but no heart; and we’re both unhappy, and we both suffer.
- What do you think, would not one tiny crime be wiped out by thousands of good deeds?
- People with new ideas, people with the faintest capacity for saying something new, are extremely few in number, extraordinarily so, in fact.
- To fall in love does not mean to love. One can fall in love and still hate.
- Man is a fickle and disreputable creature and perhaps, like a chess-player, is interested in the process of attaining his goal rather than the goal itself.
Romantic Fyodor Dostoyevsky Quotes
- 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.
- Forgive me… for my love ― for ruining you with my love.
- To love someone means to see them as God intended them.
- For a woman, all resurrection, all salvation, from whatever perdition, lies in love; in fact, it is her only way to it.
- Love is such a priceless treasure that you can buy the whole world with it, and redeem not only your own but other people’s sins.
Poetic Fyodor Dostoyevsky Quotes
- The darker the night, the brighter the stars, the deeper the grief, the closer is God!
- They were like two enemies in love with one another.
- My God, a moment of bliss. Why, isn’t that enough for a whole lifetime?
- 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.
- A fool with a heart and no sense is just as unhappy as a fool with sense and no heart.
- What’s strange, what would be marvelous, is not that God should really exist; the marvel is that such an idea, the idea of the necessity of God, could enter the head of such a savage, vicious beast as man.
- What is hell? I maintain that it is the suffering of being unable to love.
Photo by Sweet Ice Cream Photography
- Don’t be overwise; fling yourself straight into life, without deliberation; don’t be afraid – the flood will bear you to the bank and set you safe on your feet again.
- But I always liked side-paths, little dark back-alleys behind the main road ― there one finds adventures and surprises, and precious metal in the dirt.
- I can see the sun, but even if I cannot see the sun, I know that it exists. And to know that the sun is there – that is living.
Long Fyodor Dostoyevsky Quotes
- If you wish to glimpse inside a human soul and get to know a man, don’t bother analyzing his ways of being silent, of talking, of weeping, of seeing how much he is moved by noble ideas; you will get better results if you just watch him laugh. If he laughs well, he’s a good man.
- Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love, and in order to occupy and distract himself without love he gives way to passions and coarse pleasures, and sinks to bestiality in his vices, all from continual lying to other men and to himself.
- The more stupid one is, the closer one is to reality. The more stupid one is, the clearer one is. Stupidity is brief and artless, while intelligence squirms and hides itself. Intelligence is unprincipled, but stupidity is honest and straightforward.
- We’re always thinking of eternity as an idea that cannot be understood, something immense. But why must it be? What if, instead of all this, you suddenly find just a little room there, something like a village bath-house, grimy, and spiders in every corner, and that’s all eternity is. Sometimes, you know, I can’t help feeling that that’s what it is.
- It was a marvelous night, the sort of night one only experiences when one is young. The sky was so bright, and there were so many stars that, gazing upward, one couldn’t help wondering how so many whimsical, wicked people could live under such a sky.
- One can’t understand everything at once, we can’t begin with perfection all at once! In order to reach perfection one must begin by being ignorant of a great deal. And if we understand things too quickly, perhaps we shan’t understand them thoroughly.
- There is something at the bottom of every new human thought, every thought of genius, or even every earnest thought that springs up in any brain, which can never be communicated to others, even if one were to write volumes about it and were explaining one’s idea for thirty-five years; there’s something left which cannot be induced to emerge from your brain, and remains with you forever; and with it you will die, without communicating to anyone perhaps the most important of your ideas.