Fyodor Dostoevsky

Fyodor Dostoevsky

Great Russian writer

"To love someone means to see them as God intended them"

History of Dostoevsky’s novel Poor People

“Poor People” is the first novel and the first published work by F.M. Dostoevsky. The idea of the work originated with the writer during his studies at the Engineering School.

First mention

The first mention of the novel “Poor People” is found in a letter from Dostoevsky addressed to his older brother. It was written on September 30 , 1844 . This year, F.M. Dostoevsky left the position of draftsman, deciding to try himself in literature. Contemporaries of the author recalled that while working on the work, he “spent whole days and part of the night at his desk.” Two editions of the novel are known. The first was completed in November 1844, the second in March 1845. Work on the novel was completed on May 4, 1845. Fyodor Mikhailovich handed over his creation to N. Nekrasov. He read the manuscript overnight and immediately accepted it for printing.

First publication

For the first time the work was published in the “Petersburg Collection”. Critics left positive reviews about him, and V. Belinsky welcomed Fyodor Mikhailovich as a new writer. It would seem that the work was completely finished, but Dostoevsky finished it three more times – in 1847, 1860 and 1865.The roots of the idea of “Poor People” should be sought in the personal experience of the author. Fyodor Mikhailovich, the son of a doctor, lived with his parents for a long time in the hospital building. Here he had the opportunity to observe poor people with difficult destinies. Young Dostoevsky rented an apartment near Fontanka during his student years, so he repeatedly visited the slums of St. Petersburg, where he saw people who had sunk to the bottom of life. The writer rented housing together with a doctor who told him about poor patients. Impressions from what they saw and heard became the impetus for the creation of a novel in which the life of the poor would be described realistically, without unnecessary decorations or concealment of facts.


The prototypes of the heroes of the work were acquaintances and relatives of the writer. The image of Varenka Dobroselova is copied from Dostoevsky’s sister Varvara Mikhailovna. Not only the names coincide, but also the events from the childhood of Fyodor Mikhailovich’s sister. Varenka’s father is very similar to the father of Fyodor and Varvara Dostoevsky. The village described in the work “Poor People” resembles the village of Darovo – the estate of Mikhail Dostoevsky.

In his student years , F. Dostoevsky was fond of the works of A.S. Pushkin and N.V. Gogol, which also influenced the features of the content and stylistic design of the novel “Poor People”. Just before writing it, Fyodor Mikhailovich, in need of money, translated Honore de Balzac’s novel “Eugenie Grande”. Researchers of Fyodor Mikhailovich’s creativity believe that the creation of a colleague from peru inspired him to create a socio-philosophical work. It is also worth noting that the novel “Poor People” is an example of realism, which is no coincidence: in Russian literature of the 1830s and 1840s. there was a transition from romanticism to realism.

Thus, the history of the creation of the novel by F. Dostoevsky’s “Poor People” will be complete only if we take into account both the biography of the writer and the peculiarities of the literary process of his era.