On December 22, 1849 writer Fyodor Dostoevsky is led before a firing squad and prepared for execution. He had been convicted and sentenced to death on November 16 for allegedly taking part in antigovernment activities. However, at the last moment he was reprieved and sent into exile.
Dostoevsky’s father was a doctor at Moscow’s Hospital for the Poor, where he grew rich enough to buy land and serfs. After his father’s death, Dostoevsky, who suffered from epilepsy, studied military engineering and became a civil servant while secretly writing novels. His first, Poor People, and his second, The Double, were both published in 1846–the first was a hit, the second a failure.
On December 22, 1849, Dostoevsky was led before the firing squad but received a last-minute reprieve and was sent to a Siberian labor camp, where he worked for four years. He was released in 1854 and worked as a soldier on the Mongolian frontier. He married a widow and finally returned to Russia in 1859. The following year, he founded a magazine, and two years after that he journeyed to Europe for the first time.
In 1864 and 1865, his wife and his brother died, the magazine folded, and Dostoevsky found himself deeply in debt, which he exacerbated by gambling.
In 1866, he published Crime and Punishment, one of his most popular works. In 1867, he married a stenographer, and the couple fled to Europe to escape his creditors. His novel The Possessed (1872) was successful, and the couple returned to St. Petersburg. He published The Brothers Karamazov in 1880 to immediate success, but died a year later.
Biography of Fyodor Dostoevsky, Russian Novelist
Fyodor Dostoevsky (November 11, 1821 – February 9, 1881) was a Russian novelist. His works of prose deal heavily with philosophical, religious, and psychological themes and are influenced by the complicated social and political milieu of nineteenth-century Russia.
Fast Facts: Fyodor Dostoevsky
- Full Name: Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky
- Known For: Russian essayist and novelist
- Born: November 11, 1821 in Moscow, Russia
- Parents: Dr. Mikhail Andreevich and Maria (née Nechayeva) Dostoevsky
- Died: February 9, 1881 in St. Petersburg, Russia
- Education: Nikolayev Military Engineering Institute
- Selected Works:Notes from Underground (1864), Crime and Punishment (1866), The Idiot (1868–1869), Demons (1871–1872), The Brothers Karamazov (1879–1880)
- Spouses: Maria Dmitriyevna Isaeva (m. 1857–1864), Anna Grigoryevna Snitkina (m. 1867–1881)
- Children: Sonya Fyodorovna Dostoevsky (1868–1868), Lyubov Fyodorovna Dostoevsky (1869–1926), Fyodor Fyodorovich Dostoevsky (1871–1922), Alexey Fyodorovich Dostoevsky (1875–1878)
- Notable Quote: “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.”
Dostoevsky's tragic early life
It has been said that great writers are curious by nature, with great reserves of empathy and a need to understand the inner lives of the people around them. With Dostoevsky, this became evident at an early age. The psychologist and scholar Louis Breger notes Dostoevsky's unusual background. His strict, stern father, Mikhail, was a doctor, who lived with his wife, Maria, in a small apartment – which became extremely crowded due to the family's growing progeny – on the grounds of the Mariinsky Hospital for the Poor in a lower-class area of Moscow. Here, it is said that the young Dostoevsky, who played often in the gardens of the hospital with his older brother, also Mikhail, came into contact with a great number of the city's destitute and suffering citizens, prefiguring many of the characters who would come to populate his most famous novels. This aspect of Dostoevsky's writing differentiates him from many of the other great Russian authors of his day such as Leo Tolstoy and Ivan Turgenev, who predominantly crafted casts of characters who shared their own aristocratic backgrounds.
Dostoevsky spent some time at boarding school, where he indulged his passion for literature before his father sent him to military school in St. Petersburg at the age of 15 to study as an engineer. It was a subject the dreamy and imaginative boy hated, and his adolescence grew more intolerable when, in September 1837, his beloved mother passed away from tuberculosis.
Background and early life
The major events of Dostoyevsky’s life—mock execution, imprisonment in Siberia, and epileptic seizures—were so well known that, even apart from his work, Dostoyevsky achieved great celebrity in his own time. Indeed, he frequently capitalized on his legend by drawing on the highly dramatic incidents of his life in creating his greatest characters. Even so, some events in his life have remained clouded in mystery, and careless speculations have unfortunately gained the status of fact.
Unlike many other Russian writers of the first part of the 19th century, Dostoyevsky was not born into the landed gentry. He often stressed the difference between his own background and that of Leo Tolstoy or Ivan Turgenev and the effect of that difference on his work. First, Dostoyevsky was always in need of money and had to hurry his works into publication. Although he complained that writing against a deadline prevented him from achieving his full literary powers, it is equally possible that his frenzied style of composition lent his novels an energy that has remained part of their appeal. Second, Dostoyevsky often noted that, unlike writers from the nobility who described the family life of their own class, shaped by “beautiful forms” and stable traditions, he explored the lives of “accidental families” and of “the insulted and the humiliated.”
Dostoyevsky’s father, a retired military surgeon, served as a doctor at the Mariinsky Hospital for the Poor in Moscow, where he treated charity cases while also conducting a private practice. Though a devoted parent, Dostoyevsky’s father was a stern, suspicious, and rigid man. By contrast, his mother, a cultured woman from a merchant family, was kindly and indulgent. Dostoyevsky’s lifelong attachment to religion began with the old-fashioned piety of his family, so different from the fashionable skepticism of the gentry.
In 1828 Dostoyevsky’s father managed to earn the rank of a nobleman (the reforms of Peter I the Great had made such a change in status possible). He bought an estate in 1831, and so young Fyodor spent the summer months in the country. Until 1833 Dostoyevsky was educated at home, before being sent to a day school and then to a boarding school. Dostoyevsky’s mother died in 1837. Some 40 years after Dostoyevsky’s death it was revealed that his father, who had died suddenly in 1839, might have been murdered by his own serfs however, this account is now regarded by many scholars as a myth. At the time, Dostoyevsky was a student in the Academy of Military Engineering in St. Petersburg, a career as a military engineer having been marked out for him by his father.
Dostoyevsky was evidently unsuited for such an occupation. He and his older brother Mikhail, who remained his close friend and became his collaborator in publishing journals, were entranced with literature from a young age. As a child and as a student, Dostoyevsky was drawn to Romantic and Gothic fiction, especially the works of Sir Walter Scott, Ann Radcliffe, Nikolay Karamzin, Friedrich Schiller, and Aleksandr Pushkin. Not long after completing his degree (1843) and becoming a sublieutenant, Dostoyevsky resigned his commission to commence a hazardous career as a writer living off his pen.
He was once condemned to death.
In the 1840s, Dostoevsky took part in a literary circle whose eventual goal was social reform. They read banned books and discussed potential social change – getting rid of censorship and serfdom, for example – at a time when these ideas were particularly terrifying for those in power, given the political atmosphere in Europe. When they were caught, they were immediately sent into a high security prison and then sentenced to death. Right before the execution was scheduled to happen, a messenger arrived with a stay from the Tsar. Instead of losing his life, Dostoevsky was sent to Omsk, Siberia, for eight years of hard labor.
Prison Camps in Siberia
▼ Primary Sources ▼ In 1754 the Russian government decided to send petty criminals and political opponents to eastern…
Stephen King once wrote: ‘If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot’. Young Dostoevsky did neither. He spent his late twenties and early thirties shackled among the outcasts of Russia. He ate, slept, worked, and entertained himself among them. By the end of his sentence, he had grown to feel them as brothers.
Dostoevsky walked out of Siberia a changed man and a new understanding of human nature had dawned in him. In prison camp, he had seen kind and humble men who had committed terrible crimes. He had also seen evil men treat him with brotherly love. The wisdom he acquired was that the human spirit is more mysterious than anyone is willing to believe. He saw that good and evil not only coexist in the same heart, but often give rise to each other.
‘I can’t bear it that some man, even with a lofty heart and the highest mind, should start from the ideal of the Madonna [virtue] and end with the ideal of Sodom [sin]. It’s even more fearful when someone who already has the ideal of Sodom in his soul does not deny the ideal of the Madonna either […] No, man is broad, even too broad, I would narrow him down […] Here the devil is struggling with God, and the battlefield is the human heart.’
(The Brothers Karamazov)
While Nabokov criticized him for ‘his sensitive murderers and soulful prostitutes’, Dostoevsky understood that every person is part angel, part monster and that human nature is the dance between the two. His characters embody this duality to the extreme. Many of them are capable of selfless love in one moment, and ruthless evil in the next. One of his most intelligent and refined characters, Nikolai Stavrogin, rapes an eleven-year-old girl and later listens to her as she hangs herself.
Many critics have condemned Dostoevsky’s obsession with crises and extraordinary events. They have claimed he is incapable of portraying normal human life. His books are full of scandals, murders, conspiracies, affairs, hallucinations, suicides, etc. But the author’s depiction of the human condition in crises was deliberate. He believed that the exceptional reveals more about the true nature of the world than the ordinary.
Dostoevsky called himself ‘a realist in a higher sense’. He believed that a book which reveals something about the essence of reality is in a higher sense realistic than a book which simply contains commonplace characters in everyday circumstances. Indeed, the more grotesque his characters get, the deeper they probe the human spirit.
Dostoevsky’s characters do not only think their ideas, they act them out.
Plato, when setting the foundations of philosophy some two millennia ago, chose the dialogue form to test and communicate his ideas. Dostoevsky’s work is best understood within this dialectic tradition his characters embody ideas in the flesh. The drama of their lives depicts the real-life consequences and interactions of what would otherwise be abstract concepts.
If a character in a novel of Dostoevsky’s believes he is superior to human morality, he will act in disregard of it and suffer the consequences (Raskolnikov’s murder). If a character disdains the fear of death, he would kill himself to overcome it (Kirilov’s suicide). If a character believes that ‘if there is no God everything is permitted,’ he would put his very sanity on the line by acting accordingly (Ivan Karamazov). Philosophy in Dostoevsky’s works is anything but dry or abstract. It creates conflict and drives the plot. It makes the reader devour page after page, excited not only for the fate of characters, but for what happens to their beliefs as well.
Dostoevsky’s characters explore the destructive power of pride and the pursuit of independence. Many of them prefer to ‘reign in Hell than serve in Heaven’. They purposefully ruin their lives and seek out suffering. Why?
‘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!’
(Notes from the Underground)
Because they need to know they can. Because true freedom includes the freedom to destroy yourself, to be ugly and evil. Dostoevsky’s characters can never be happy unless they know they are free to be miserable. In a perverse sense, they find pleasure in destroying their lives: in this they see their true independence.
Dostoevsky’s characters are not so much driven by the rational, straightforward motivations typical of literature before him. Their actions are expressions of the chthonic, irrational side of the mind. He is the first great writer to delve so deep into the dark corners of the psyche. His characters are often puppets to their subconscious urges and this depiction frightened the readers and critics of his time.
Dostoevsky broke the old tradition in literature where plots are linear and characters have clear, rational intentions. He correctly prophesied the time that came shortly after his death, a time of moral confusion, fragmented values, and global psychosis. Decades later, James Joyce would call him ‘the man more than any other who has created modern prose’.
Dostoevsky is much more a writer of our time than he was of his. Today his achievements are unquestionable. He was a man both enchanted by the old traditional values and tortured by the confusion and anxieties of modern times. He saw further than any of his contemporaries and what he suffered privately during his life became the status quo less than a century after his death. His stories and characters explore the search for meaning of modern people, a search for truth in a time when all values seem relative.
Dostoevsky was a man who felt deeply and refused to simplify the contradictions of the human heart. For the same reason that his contemporaries found him bizarre and inappropriate, we remember him as one of the greatest students of the human spirit.
Man is a mystery. It needs to be unraveled, and if you spend your whole life unraveling it, don’t say that you’ve wasted time.
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A mock execution is a stratagem in which a victim is deliberately but falsely made to feel that their execution or that of another person is imminent or is taking place. The subject is made to believe that they are being led to their own execution. This might involve blindfolding the subjects, making them recount last wishes, making them dig their own grave, holding an unloaded gun to their head and pulling the trigger, shooting near (but not at) the victim, or firing blanks. Mock execution is categorized as psychological torture. There is a sense of fear induced when a person is made to feel that they are about to be executed or witness someone being executed. Mock execution is considered psychological torture because there is no physical harm caused, but there is mental harm.
The psychological trauma can also lead to depression, anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other mental disorders after experiencing a traumatic event such as a mock execution. An example of anxiety during a mock execution would be the victim showing signs of fear, crying, uncontrollable movements, and pleading for their life. The psychological trauma may lead to a breakdown where someone may do or say something to stop the execution it might act as a threat that future conduct may result in a real execution or suggest that the apparent victim's death has changed the circumstances. Using mock execution may not result in death, but leaves the victim with the memory of the torture they experienced. Treatment after experiencing torture should take effect as soon as possible. Interventions and specialists have been proven to be beneficial. In Lilla Hardi, Gábor Király, Esther Kovács, and Kathryn Heffernan's 2010 publication Torture and Survivors: Manual for Experts in Refugee Care, treatments for trauma are discussed. According to the authors, trauma specialists are able to help victims overcome the experience and their emotions, and explains that it will be a long healing process. Trauma specialists are able to assist the victim in identifying the issue and brainstorming ways to overcome the trauma. Interventions are beneficial as it allows the victim to be more comfortable with discussing the event, relating to individuals with similar experiences, and practicing coping skills.
Return from Siberia
In 1859, during the reign of liberal emperor Alexander II, Dostoevsky was permitted to return to Saint Petersburg. With the help of his brother Michael, who was a literary journal editor, some of Dostoevsky’s works were published. It included Memoirs from the House of the Dead, and he again became a famous writer.
At that time, Dostoevsky rented numerous inexpensive accommodation mostly in the Haymarket Area near Griboedov Canal, where he later placed all the characters of his Crime and Punishment.
TIP: If you’d like to see some of those places, take a look at a Dostoevsky in Saint Petersburg Tour that Alexandra and Karina are organizing.
There can be no doubt this incident had a profound effect upon the young Dostoevsky.
Those opposed to the death penalty are correct to point out the inherent injustice in the possibility of sentencing an innocent person to death and to cite the grossly expensive nature of capital punishment. At the same time, what should not be left aside in this conversation is the mental toll exacted on the individual who is sentenced to death by the state. My words would fall short of accurately describing this and I pray I never have the experience necessary to give an adequate account. Thankfully, for those of us lucky enough to be unacquainted with the death penalty, we need not rely on the words of any lesser a writer than Dostoevsky himself.
Two instances early on in Dostoevsky’s The Idiot seem especially autobiographical. The first is when the titular Prince Myshkin is discussing an execution by guillotine he witnessed prior to returning to Russia. His interlocutor makes the remark that at least there’s not too much suffering involved for the one sentenced to death by guillotine. Prince Myshkin thinks that may make the execution even worse.
“Take a soldier, put him right in front of a cannon during a battle, and shoot at him, and he’ll still keep hoping, but read the same soldier a sentence for certain, and he’ll lose his mind or start weeping.”
“Think: if there’s torture, for instance, then there’s suffering, wounds, bodily pain, and it means that all distracts you from inner torment.” As the character points out, “the strongest pain may not be in the wounds but in knowing for certain that in an hour, then in ten minutes, then in half a minute, then now, this second — your soul will fly out of your body and you’ll no longer be a man.” The chief characteristic, indeed the greatest suffering, lies in this absolute certainty.
Prince Myshkin contrasts this to other ways of being killed, saying, “a man killed by robbers, stabbed at night, in the forest or however, certainly hopes he’ll be saved till the very last minute.” He continues, “take a soldier, put him right in front of a cannon during a battle, and shoot at him, and he’ll still keep hoping, but read the same soldier a sentence for certain , and he’ll lose his mind or start weeping.”
Faith and Reason in Dostoevsky
The great Russian Orthodox novelist transcended the rationalism of modern literature, in an attempt to transcend everything else.
The battle lines in the supposed war between reason and tradition, science and faith, in the 18th and 19th centuries are a fitting entry point into the life and work of Fyodor Dostoevsky. The Russian novelist viewed the world in cosmic terms. Philosophical irrationalism plays a vital role in most of his novels, as does an ongoing ideological showdown between reason and faith. For Dostoevsky, reason could never fully explain human existence. In a letter to his brother Mikhail in 1838, Dostoevsky claimed that “To know nature, the soul, God, love…These things are known by the heart, not by the mind.” The “mind is material faculty.”
Dostoevsky published his debut novel, Poor Folk, in 1846. The tension in his writing between the spiritual and the material was still in flux at this early stage of his career. He was still gleaning ideas from friends and foes in the St Petersburg literati, especially the Petrashevsky Circle. This was a small gathering of enthusiastic writers and critics who met weekly to debate literature, philosophy, politics, and social equality.
A point the late Joseph Frank continually stresses in Lectures on Dostoevsky is that early Russian literature was mostly theological—controlled by religious ideals derived from Byzantine Christianity. That changed in the late 17th century with Peter the Great. As part of a modernizing project for the Russian empire, the Tsar believed the Russian nobility and literate class should reeducate themselves according to Western standards. A split thus occurred in Russian society between the secular literary ruling class and God-fearing illiterate peasants.
This caused a schism within the Russian intelligentsia, too. The rational materialists became known as Westernizers. They mainly spoke French, held their own language and traditions in contempt, and worshiped at the altar of European culture. The Slavophils sought to link Russia’s future with its early historical values. Namely: its Christian faith. They believed Europe was another fallen Rome and noted the glaring similarities: spiritual unity being sacrificed for self-interested ego-centric decadence, moral disorder, and perverted sensuality. Dostoevsky began his career as a skeptical Westernizer. But he eventually became a committed Slavophil.
That spiritual and cultural identity was solidified in a road-to-Damascus moment, which arrived suddenly in 1849. Along with the rest of the Petrashevsky Circle, Dostoevsky was arrested. This was part of a larger plan by Nicholas I to suppress intellectual freedom across Russian society, which he feared would threaten the social order.
Dostoevsky spent nearly a decade away from Russian public life. The latter part of his sentence required him to serve as a soldier in the Russian army. Four years were spent in a Siberian prison with peasant convicts, but the lasting psychological wound came at the beginning of his sentence. Russian law at the time called for a mock execution to be staged in cases where a death sentence had been pardoned. All relevant props were thus arranged in the Peter and Paul Fortress, St. Petersburg, where Dostoevsky was kept under lock and key. Prisoners were blindfolded. A firing squad stood before them. Carts of coffins were lined up. A priest arrived with a cross, and last confessions were heard.
The scene was recreated in The Idiot (1868). The novel’s central protagonist recalls hearing a story from a man who believes he has just minutes left to live. “His uncertainty and repulsion before the unknown [was] terrible,” Prince Myshkin explains. But biographical evidence also survives. It comes from Nikolay Speshnev who was also part of the Petrashevsky Circle. The communist and atheist recalled the moment both men began contemplating the prospect of immediate death. Dostoevsky turned to him and said: “We shall be with Christ.”
In the post-Siberian novels, Christian symbolism became a ubiquitous presence in Dostoevsky’s work, where a single theme continually raised its head: the ongoing struggle in humankind between good and evil. In Crime and Punishment (1866) we witness a world where trust in reason alone destroys all emotional ties between human beings. In Demons (1872) Shatov bluntly declares that “reason never [has] the power to define good and evil,” and in The Brothers Karamazov (1880) faith is presented in fundamental terms: nothing less than absolute devotion to Christ’s teachings will suffice.
In Dostoevsky: A Writer in His Time, Frank notes how “Life for Dostoevsky was [now] as it had been for Keats, a vale of soul making into which Christ had come to call mankind to battle against the death of immersion in matter and to inspire the struggle towards the ultimate victory over egoism.”
Most standard 19th century novels embraced human reason with open arms. It sat well with the regimented values of bourgeois society: especially its narrow-minded fixation with wealth, social status, and material success. Dostoevsky’s work, by contrast, is closer to poetic tragedy: a world where social relations and religious metaphysics cross paths with dreams and visions unbound by space, time, or materialist matter. Dostoevsky’s harshest critics often claimed that his novels didn’t reflect the reality of the age he was writing in. They also suggested that his pathological characters would be better off locked behind bars in a mental asylum than polluting the pages of prestigious Russian literary journals.
But those critics appear to have misread the central point of Dostoevsky’s work: that reality itself is a questionable concept. This would seem to explain why Dostoevsky’s characters constantly operate within an eschatological framework. If perpetual anxiety, guilt, and doubt are their dominant emotions, it’s hardly surprising. They spend much of their time contemplating the possibility of hell or paradise beyond the grave. Deeply indebted to the Biblical tradition, this moral and mythological framework gives Dostoevsky’s readers the required tools to think about another one of his central themes: moral transcendence.
He felt any individual could achieve it, if they had the willpower. Once ego was parked at the door, breaking free from their narcissistic chains of vanity would come next. And, eventually the individual could move beyond their own selfish drives and appetites. Only then, Dostoevsky believed, was real freedom a possibility. Two key words are important here: acceptance and faith. Accepting that we never possess total control of the individual and collective life we lead, which is really just a random set of events with no preordained path or pattern. And putting faith in the idea that we live in a world that will always exist beyond the realm of human understanding.
JP O’Malley is a journalist, writer and cultural critic, who writes for a host of publications around the globe on literature, history, art, politics, and society.
After his mock execution on 22 December 1849, Dostoevsky's life was spared in exchange for four years of imprisonment in a katorga labor camp at Omsk in western Siberia. Though he often was met with hostility from the other prisoners due to his noble status of dvoryanin, his views on life changed. After his time in the camps Dostoevsky returned to write The House of the Dead. The novel incorporates several of the horrifying experiences he witnessed while in prison. He recalls the guards’ brutality and relish performing unspeakably cruel acts, the crimes that the convicted criminals committed, and the fact that blended amid these great brutes were good and decent individuals.  However, he is also astonished at the convicts' abilities to commit murders without the slightest change in conscience. It was a stark contrast with his own heightened sensitivity. During this time in prison he began experiencing the epileptic seizures that would plague him for the rest of his life. The House of the Dead led Dostoevsky to include the theme of murder in his later works, a theme not found in any of his works preceding House of the Dead. 
The narrator, Aleksandr Petrovich Goryanchikov, has been sentenced to deportation to Siberia and ten years of hard labour for murdering his wife. Life in prison is particularly hard for Aleksandr Petrovich, since he is a "gentleman" and suffers the malice of the other prisoners, nearly all of whom belong to the peasantry. Gradually Goryanchikov overcomes his revulsion at his situation and his fellow convicts, undergoing a spiritual re-awakening that culminates with his release from the camp. It is a work of great humanity Dostoevsky portrays the inmates of the prison with sympathy for their plight, and also expresses admiration for their energy, ingenuity and talent. He concludes that the existence of the prison, with its absurd practices and savage corporal punishments, is a tragic fact, both for the prisoners and for Russia.
Many of the characters in the novel were very similar to the real-life people that Dostoevsky met while in prison. While many of the characters do mirror real-life people, he has also made some of the characters appear more interesting than their real-life counterparts. [ citation needed ]
The House of the Dead was Dostoevsky’s only work that Leo Tolstoy revered. 
English translations Edit
- Fedor Dostoyeffsky (1862). Buried Alive: or, Ten Years Penal Servitude in Siberia. Translated by von Thilo, Marie. London: Longman's, Green, and Co. (published 1881).
- Fedor Dostoïeffsky (1862). Prison Life in Siberia. Translated by Edwards, H. Sutherland. London: J. & R. Maxwell (published 1888).
- Fyodor Dostoevsky (1862). The House of the Dead A Novel in Two Parts. Translated by Garnett, Constance. New York: The Macmillan Company (published 1915).
- Fyodor Dostoevsky (1862). Memoirs from the House of the Dead. Translated by Coulson, Jessie. Oxford University Press, Oxford World's Classics (published 1983). ISBN9780199540518 .
- Fyodor Dostoevsky (1862). The House of the Dead . Translated by McDuff, David. Penguin Classics (published 1985). ISBN9780140444568 .
- Fyodor Dostoevsky (1862). Notes from the House of the Dead. Translated by Jakim, Boris. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. (published 2013). ISBN978-0802866479 .
- Fyodor Dostoevsky (1862). Notes from a Dead House. Translated by Pevear, Richard Volokhonsky, Larissa. Vintage Books (published 2016). ISBN978-0-307-94987-5 .
- Fyodor Dostoevsky (1862). The House of the Dead. Translated by Cockrell, Roger. Alma Classics (published 2018). ISBN978-1-84749-666-9 .
In 1927–1928, Leoš Janáček wrote an operatic version of the novel, with the title From the House of the Dead. It was his last opera.
In 1932 The House of the Dead was made into a film, directed by Vasili Fyodorov and starring Nikolay Khmelyov. The script was devised by the Russian writer and critic Viktor Shklovsky who also had a role as an actor.