Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Fyodor Dostoevsky, fully Fyodor Mikhaylovich Dostoevsky or Feodor Mikhailovich Dostoevski

Russian Novelist, Short-Story Writer and Essayist best known for his novels Crime and Punishment, The Idiot and The Brothers Karamazov

"A man who bows down to nothing can never bear the burden of himself."

"As a general rule, people, even the wicked, are much more naive and simple-hearted than we suppose. And we ourselves are, too."

"Beauty is a terrible and awful thing! It is terrible because it has not been fathomed and never can be fathomed, for God sets us nothing but riddles. Here the boundaries meet and all contradictions exist side by side."

"By the very fact that I respect you without envy I prove my dignity as a man."

"Everyone is really responsible to all men for all men and for everything... Remember particularly that you cannot be a judge of anyone. For no one can judge a criminal, until he recognizes that he is just such a criminal as the man standing before him, and that he perhaps is more than all men to blame for the crime. When he understands that, he will be able to be a judge... But there are other things which a man is afraid to tell even to himself, and every decent man has a number of such things stored away in his mind."

"Everywhere in these days men have, in their mockery, ceased to understand that the true security is to be found in social solidarity rather than in isolated individual effort."

"If the people around you are spiteful and callous and will not hear you, fall down before them and beg their forgiveness; for in truth you are to blame for their not wanting to hear you."

"In order to act wisely it is not enough to be wise."

"In order to love simply, it is necessary to know how to show love."

"It seems, in fact, as though the second half of a man's life is made up of nothing but the habits he has accumulated during the first half."

"Lying to ourselves is more deeply ingrained than lying to others."

"Much on earth is hidden from us, but to make up for that we have been given a precious mystic sense of our living bond with the other world, with the higher heavenly world, and the roots of our thoughts and feelings are not here but in other worlds. That is why the philosophers say that we cannot apprehend the reality of things on earth."

"My God, a moment of bliss. Why, isn’t that enough for a whole lifetime?"

"Originality and the feeling of one's own dignity are achieved only through work and struggle."

"Realists do not fear the results of their study."

"Suffering is the sole origin of consciousness."

"The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to such a pass 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 himsefl without love he gives away his passions and coarse pleasuures, and sinks to bestiality in his vices, all from continual lying to other men and to himsefl. The man wholies to himself can be more easily offended than anyone."

"The greatest unhappiness is to know the source of unhappiness."

"To crush, to annihilate a man utterly, to inflict on him the most terrible of punishments so that the most ferocious murderer would shudder at it and dread it beforehand, one need only give him work of an absolutely, completely useless and irrational character"

"Without some goal and some effort to reach it, no man can live."

"A new philosophy, a way of life, is not given for nothing. It has to be paid dearly for and only acquired with much patience and great effort."

"Happiness does not lie in happiness, but in the achievement of it."

"I believe the best definition of man is the ungrateful biped."

"In abstract love of humanity one almost always loves oneself."

"In sorrow seek happiness."

"Innovators and men of genius have almost always been regarded as fools at the beginning (and very often at the end) of their careers."

"It is easier to love humanity than to love one's neighbor."

"Man has such a predilection for systems and abstract deductions that he is ready to distort the truth intentionally, he is ready to deny the evidence of his senses only to justify his logic."

"Man is fond of counting his troubles, but he does not count his joys. If he counted them up as he ought to, he would see that every lot has enough happiness provided for it."

"Much unhappiness has come into the world because of bewilderment and things left unsaid."

"Neither man nor nation can exist without a sublime idea."

"Remember particularly that you cannot be a judge of anyone. For no one can judge a criminal until he recognizes that he is just such a criminal as the man standing before him, and that he perhaps is more than all men to blame for the crime."

"So long as man remains free he strives for nothing so incessantly and so painfully as to find someone to worship. But man seeks to worship what is established beyond dispute, so that all men would agree at once to worship it. For these pitiful creatures are concerned not only to find what one or the other can worship, but to find something that all would believe and worship; what is essential is that all may be together in it. This craving for community of worship is the chief misery of every man individually and of all humanity form the beginning of time. For the sake of common worship they’ve slain each other with the sword. They have set up gods and challenged one another, “Put away your gods and come and worship ours, or we will kill you and your gods!”"

"Taking a new step, uttering a new word, is what people fear most."

"There is no idea, no fact, which could not be vulgarized and presented in a ludicrous light."

"There is no object on earth which cannot be looked at from a cosmic point of view."

"There is no subject so old that something new cannot be said about it."

"There is only one thing that I dread: not to be worthy of my sufferings."

"We are citizens of eternity."

"What is hell? I maintain that it is the suffering of being unable to love."

"With love one can live even without happiness."

"To study the meaning of man and of life — I am making significant progress here. I have faith in myself. Man is a mystery: if you spend your entire life trying to puzzle it out, then do not say that you have wasted your time. I occupy myself with this mystery, because I want to be a man."

"The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons."

"The second half of a man's life is made up of nothing but the habits he has acquired during the first half."

"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."

"Every man has some reminiscences which he would not tell to everyone, but only to his friends. He has others which he would not reveal even to his friends, but only to himself, and that in secret. But finally there are still others which a man is even afraid to tell himself, and every decent man has a considerable number of such things stored away. That is, one can even say that the more decent he is, the greater the number of such things in his mind."

"Civilization has made man, if not always more bloodthirsty, at least more viciously, more horribly bloodthirsty."

"Nothing in this world is harder than speaking the truth, nothing easier than flattery."

"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. But if I too have failed to convey all that has been tormenting me for the last six months, it will, anyway, be understood that I have paid very dearly for attaining my present "last conviction." This is what I felt necessary, for certain objects of my own, to put forward in my "Explanation". However, I will continue."

"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."