People of this generation who want to record a diary have a lot of options available to them, but it’s not necessarily the Internet that they should be thanking. Bloggers, for example, are most certainly a type of diarist, as it stands that a blog is similar to a diary entry. But this type of diary was around long, long before computers were. In fact, one of the first “bloggers” around was Fyodor Dostoyevsky, a Russian writer.
Fyodor was famous for his writings. Whether it was a novel, an essay, or even a literary battle with another writer, his monthly publications (which required subscribers) was incredibly blog-like in its approach, drawing in a lot of subscribers. His works have withstood the test of time, but it’s his habits as a diarist which intrigue people the most.
Born in 1821 in the heart of the Russian Empire, Fyodor Mikhaylovich Dostoyevsky began writing (at least began being published) in 1846 and would continue until his death in 1881 at 59 years of age. Fyodor took his writing so seriously that, when he began writing his first novel in 1884 with the hopes of earning money from it, he stated that would hang himself if the novel failed.
It was this type of passion for writing that made Dostoyevsky such a brilliant and intriguing writer. Fyodor’s approach to writing was, as renowned literary critic Vissarion Belinksy put it, very “social.” His approach earned his first published work, Poor Folk, wide acclaim and success. Fyodor suffered from epilepsy and his health would continue to decline after his first novel. Though he continued to write, particularly giving focus to his diaries, he would ultimately die from his affliction.
A writer always leaves behind something very personal on the pages of their works, but Fyodor took this to new heights in his diaries. Many of the entries are extremely personal, while others take a more philosophical approach. Some of his diary works are even fictional and include letters, sketches and general ramblings. But altogether, the writings paint a picture of an incredible author who saw the world in a variety of colors.
Dostoyevsky’s idea for a by-subscription monthly diary begin to pay off immediately after its release in 1873. Although only a literary experiment, most conclude that it was widely successful considering the media available at the time.
Many of Fyodor’s nonfiction entries deal with Russia’s justice system and its political system, many other entries deal with religion. He was a very religious man and wanted his nation to adopt a much more Christ-like approach in its dealings. However, he doesn’t get carried away in his tone here. For those who don’t enjoy reading about politics, much of Fyodor’s political views are illustrated via fictional stories. That’s where he hits the hardest.
Some may argue that this isn’t a diary in the truest sense of the word, but rather a series of published articles. That is completely accurate; however, it’s important to note that Fyodor was, for all intents and purposes, greatly ahead of his time. Today, he would be just another blogger. In his time, he was a groundbreaking, open and unabashedly honest writer.