The Digital Dostoevsky: Download Free eBooks & Audio Books of the Russian Novelist’s Major Works


In the pan­theon of Great Russ­ian Writ­ers, two heads appear to tow­er above all others—at least for us Eng­lish-lan­guage read­ers. Leo Tol­stoy, aris­to­crat-turned-mys­tic, whose detailed real­ism feels like a fic­tion­al­ized doc­u­men­tary of 19th cen­tu­ry Russ­ian life; and Fyo­dor Mikhailovich Dos­to­evsky, the once-con­demned-to-death, epilep­tic for­mer gam­bler, whose fever-dream nov­els read like psy­cho­log­i­cal case stud­ies of peo­ple bare­ly cling­ing to the jagged edges of that same soci­ety. Both nov­el­ists are read with sim­i­lar rev­er­ence and devo­tion by their fans, and they are often pit­ted against each oth­er, writes Kevin Hart­nett at The Mil­lions, like “Williams vs. DiMag­gio and Bird vs. Mag­ic,” even as peo­ple who have these kinds argu­ments acknowl­edge them both as “irre­ducibly great.”

I’ve had the Tol­stoy vs. Dos­to­evsky back and forth a time or two, and I have to say I usu­al­ly give the edge to Dos­to­evsky. It’s the high-stakes des­per­a­tion of his char­ac­ters, the trag­ic irony of their un-self-aware­ness, or the gnaw­ing obses­sion of those who know a lit­tle bit too much, about them­selves and every­one else. Dos­toyevsky has long been described as a psy­cho­log­i­cal nov­el­ist. Niet­zsche famous­ly called him “the only psy­chol­o­gist from whom I have any­thing to learn.” Hen­ry Miller’s praise of the writer of par­tic­u­lar­ly Russ­ian forms of mis­ery and tres­pass is a lit­tle more col­or­ful: “Dos­to­evsky,” he wrote, “is chaos and fecun­di­ty. Human­i­ty, with him, is but a vor­tex in the bub­bling mael­strom.”

Per­haps the most suc­cinct state­ment on the Russ­ian novelist’s work comes from Scot­tish poet and nov­el­ist Edwin Muir, who said, “Dos­toyevsky wrote of the uncon­scious as if it were con­scious; that is in real­i­ty the rea­son why his char­ac­ters seem ‘patho­log­i­cal,’ while they are only visu­al­ized more clear­ly than any oth­er fig­ures in imag­i­na­tive lit­er­a­ture.” Joseph Con­rad may have found him “too Russ­ian,” but even with the cul­tur­al gulf that sep­a­rates him from us, and the well over one hun­dred years of social, polit­i­cal, and tech­no­log­i­cal change, we still read Dos­to­evsky and see our own inner dark­ness reflect­ed back at us—our hypocrisies, neu­roses, obses­sions, ter­rors, doubts, and even the para­noia and nar­cis­sism we think unique to our inter­net age.

This kind of thing can be unset­tling. Although, like Tol­stoy, Dos­to­evsky embraced a fierce­ly uncom­pro­mis­ing Christianity—one more wracked with painful doubt, per­haps, but no less sincere—his will­ing­ness to descend into the low­est depths of the human psy­che made him seem to Tur­genev like “the nas­ti­est Chris­t­ian I’ve ever met.” I’m not sure if that was meant as a com­pli­ment, but it’s per­haps a fit­ting descrip­tion of the cre­ator of such express­ly vicious char­ac­ters as Crime and Pun­ish­ment’s socio­path­ic Arkady Svidri­gailov, Demons’ cru­el rapist Niko­lai Stavro­gin, and The Broth­ers Kara­ma­zov’s psy­cho­path­ic creep Pavel Smerdyakov (a char­ac­ter so nasty he inspired a Mar­vel comics vil­lain).

Next to these dev­ils, Dos­to­evsky places saints: Crime and Pun­ish­ment’s Sonya, Kara­ma­zov broth­er Alyosha the monk, and holy fool Prince Myshkin in The Idiot. His char­ac­ters fre­quent­ly mur­der and redeem each oth­er, but they also work out exis­ten­tial crises, have lengthy the­o­log­i­cal argu­ments, and illus­trate the author’s philo­soph­i­cal ideas about faith and its lack. The genius of Dos­to­evsky lies in his abil­i­ty to explore such heady abstrac­tions while rarely becom­ing didac­tic or turn­ing his char­ac­ters into pup­pets. On the contrary—no fig­ures in mod­ern lit­er­a­ture seem so alive and three-dimen­sion­al as his anguished col­lec­tion of unfor­get­table anar­chists, aris­to­crats, poor folks, crim­i­nals, fla­neurs, and under­ground men.

Should you have missed out on the plea­sure, if it can so be called, of ful­ly immers­ing your­self in Dostoevsky’s world of fear, belief, and madness—or should you desire to refresh your knowl­edge of his dense and mul­ti­fac­eted work—you can find all of his major nov­els and novel­las online in a vari­ety of for­mats. We’ve done you the favor of com­pil­ing them below in ebook for­mat. Where pos­si­ble, we’ve also includ­ed audio books too. (Note: they all per­ma­nent­ly reside in our Free eBooks and Free Audio Books col­lec­tions.)

Find more of Dostoevsky’s work—including his sketch­es of prison life in Siberia and many of his short sto­ries—at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Adelaide’s eBooks library. Like his con­tem­po­rary Charles Dick­ens, Dostoevsky’s nov­els were seri­al­ized in peri­od­i­cals, and their plots (and char­ac­ter names) can be wind­ing, con­vo­lut­ed, and dif­fi­cult to fol­low. For a com­pre­hen­sive guide through the life and work of the Russ­ian psy­cho­log­i­cal real­ist, see Chris­ti­aan Stange’s “Dos­to­evsky Research Sta­tion,” an online data­base with full text of the author’s work and links to art­work, crit­i­cal essays, bib­li­ogra­phies, quo­ta­tions, study guides and out­lines, and muse­ums and “his­tor­i­cal­ly impor­tant places.” And for even more resources, see, a huge archive of texts, essays, links, pic­tures and more. Enjoy!

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Dig­i­tal Niet­zsche: Down­load Nietzsche’s Major Works as Free eBooks

Watch a Hand-Paint­ed Ani­ma­tion of Dostoevsky’s “The Dream of a Ridicu­lous Man”

Watch Piotr Dumala’s Won­der­ful Ani­ma­tions of Lit­er­ary Works by Kaf­ka and Dos­to­evsky

The His­toric Meet­ing Between Dick­ens and Dos­to­evsky Revealed as a Great Lit­er­ary Hoax

Crime and Pun­ish­ment: Free Audio­Book and eBook

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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