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Fyodor Dostoevsky Quotes

83 of the best book quotes from Fyodor Dostoevsky
  1. #1
    “I always feel when I meet people that I am lower than all, and that they all take me for a buffoon; so I say let me play the buffoon, for you are, every one of you, stupider and lower than I.”
  2. #2
    “It is clear to me now that, owing to my unbounded vanity and to the high standard I set for myself, I often looked at myself with furious discontent.”
  3. #3
    “A dream! What is a dream? And is not our life a dream?”
  4. #4
    “The chief thing is to love others like yourself, that’s the great thing, and that’s everything; nothing else is wanted.”
  5. #5
    “Oh, how hard it is to be the only one who knows the truth!”
  6. #6
    “I saw clearly that so long as I was still a human being and not nothingness, I was alive and so could suffer, be angry and feel shame at my actions.”
  7. #7
    “Is there suffering upon this new earth? On our earth we can only love with suffering and through suffering. We cannot love otherwise, and we know of no other sort of love.”
  8. #8
    “I am told that I am vague and confused, and if I am vague and confused now, what shall I be later on?”
  9. #9
    “I lifted up my hands and called upon eternal truth, not with words but with tears.”
  10. #10
    “And of course I shall make many blunders before I find out how to preach, that is, find out what words to say, what things to do, for it is a very difficult task. I see all that as clear as daylight, but, listen, who does not make mistakes?”
  1. #11
    “Dreams seem to be spurred on not by reason but by desire, not by the head but by the heart, and yet what complicated tricks my reason has played sometimes in dreams, what utterly incomprehensible things happen to it!”
  2. #12
    “I have seen the truth; I have seen and I know that people can be beautiful and happy without losing the power of living on earth. I will not and cannot believe that evil is the normal condition of mankind.”
  3. #13
    “Dreams, as we all know, are very queer things: some parts are presented with appalling vividness, with details worked up with the elaborate finish of jewellery, while others one gallops through, as it were, without noticing them at all, as, for instance, through space and time.”
  4. #14
    “For instance, a strange reflection suddenly occurred to me, that if I had lived before on the moon or on Mars and there had committed the most disgraceful and dishonourable action and had there been put to such shame and ignominy as one can only conceive and realise in dreams, in nightmares, and if, finding myself afterwards on earth, I were able to retain the memory of what I had done on the other planet and at the same time knew that I should never, under any circumstances, return there, then looking from the earth to the moon-should I care or not?”
  5. #15
    “If once one has recognised the truth and seen it, you know that it is the truth and that there is no other and there cannot be, whether you are asleep or awake.”
  6. #16
    “I suddenly felt that it was all the same to me whether the world existed or whether there had never been anything at all: I began to feel with all my being that there was nothing existing.”
  7. #17
    “If at least I had solved my problems! Oh, I had not settled one of them, and how many they were! But I gave up caring about anything, and all the problems disappeared.”
  8. #18
    “You see, though nothing mattered to me, I could feel pain, for instance. If any one had struck me it would have hurt me. It was the same morally: if anything very pathetic happened, I should have felt pity just as I used to do in old days when there were things in life that did matter to me.”
  9. #19
    “I love all those who laugh at me more than any of the rest.”
  10. #20
    “And yet, you know, all are making for the same goal, all are striving in the same direction anyway, from the sage to the lowest robber, only by different roads.”

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  1. #21
    “They became acquainted with sorrow and loved sorrow; they thirsted for suffering, and said that truth could only be attained through suffering. Then science appeared. As they became wicked they began talking of brotherhood and humanitarianism, and understood those ideas. As they became criminal, they invented justice and drew up whole legal codes in order to observe it, and to ensure their being kept, set up a guillotine. They hardly remembered what they had lost, in fact refused to believe that they had ever been happy and innocent.”
  2. #22
    “I have always been ridiculous, and I have known it, perhaps, from the hour I was born.”
  3. #23
    “I am a sick man.... I am a spiteful man. I am an unattractive man. ”
  4. #24
    It takes something more than intelligence to act intelligently.
  5. #25
    Taking a new step, uttering a new word, is what people fear most.
  6. #26
    When reason fails, the devil helps!
  7. #27
    We’re always thinking of eternity as an idea that cannot be understood, something immense. But why must it be? What if, instead of all this, you suddenly find just a little room there, something like a village bath-house, grimy, and spiders in every corner, and that’s all eternity is. Sometimes, you know, I can’t help feeling that that’s what it is.
  8. #28
    I did not bow down to you, I bowed down to all the suffering of humanity.
  9. #29
    And the more I drink the more I feel it. That’s why I drink too. I try to find sympathy and feeling in drink.... I drink so that I may suffer twice as much!
  10. #30
    A hundred suspicions don’t make a proof.
  1. #31
    The fear of appearances is the first symptom of impotence.
  2. #32
    The man who has a conscience suffers whilst acknowledging his sin. That is his punishment-- as well as prison.
  3. #33
    Truly great men must, I think, experience great sorrow on the earth.
  4. #34
    You see I kept asking myself then: why am I so stupid that if others are stupid—and I know they are—yet I won’t be wiser?
  5. #35
    Break what must be broken, once for all, that’s all, and take the suffering on oneself.
  6. #36
    Don’t be overwise; fling yourself straight into life, without deliberation; don’t be afraid - the flood will bear you to the bank and set you safe on your feet again.
  7. #37
    People with new ideas, people with the faintest capacity for saying something new, are extremely few in number, extraordinarily so, in fact.
  8. #38
    Only to live, to live and live! Life, whatever it may be!
  9. #39
    There is nothing in the world more difficult than candor, and nothing easier than flattery.
  10. #40
    “The more I love humanity in general, the less I love man in particular.”

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  1. #41
    “I become hostile to people the moment they come close to me.”
  2. #42
    “Love in action is a harsh and dreadful thing compared with love in dreams. Love in dreams is greedy for immediate action, rapidly performed and in the sight of all. Men will even give their lives if only the ordeal does not last long but is soon over, with all looking on and applauding as though on the stage. But active love is labor and fortitude, and for some people too, perhaps, a complete science.”
  3. #43
    “Faith does not, in the realist, spring from the miracle but the miracle from faith.”
  4. #44
    “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 himself without love he gives way to passions and coarse pleasures, and sinks to bestiality in his vices, all from continual lying to other men and to himself.”
  5. #45
    “For socialism is not merely the labor question, it is before all things the atheistic question, the question of the form taken by atheism to-day, the question of the tower of Babel built without God, not to mount to heaven from earth but to set up heaven on earth.”
  6. #46
    “He was well aware of his own considerable abilities, and nervously exaggerated them in his self-conceit.”
  7. #47
    “Humanity will find in itself the power to live for virtue even without believing in immortality. It will find it in love for freedom, for equality, for fraternity.”
  8. #48
    “It’s easier going to the other world if one knows what there is there.”
  9. #49
    “He was so carried away by his simulated emotion, that he was for one moment almost believing it himself.”
  10. #50
    “You know it is sometimes very pleasant to take offense, isn’t it?”
  1. #51
    “The man who lies to himself can be more easily offended than any one.”
  2. #52
    “If anything could dissipate my love to humanity, it would be ingratitude. In short, I am a hired servant, I expect my payment at once—that is, praise, and the repayment of love with love. Otherwise I am incapable of loving any one.”
  3. #53
    “As a general rule, people, even the wicked, are much more naïve and simple-hearted than we suppose. And we ourselves are, too.”
  4. #54
    “I want to live for immortality, and I will accept no compromise.”
  5. #55
    “Here it is, here it is at last, the encounter with reality. . . . All is lost now!”
  6. #56
    “ ‘Ha, ha, ha! Next you’ll be finding pleasure in a toothache!’ you will exclaim, laughing.
    ‘And why not? There is also pleasure in a toothache,’ I will answer.”
  7. #57
    “Who wants to want according to a little table?”
  8. #58
    “I sensed vaguely that she was going to pay dearly for it all. . . .”
  9. #59
    “But as soon as he had uttered his foolish tirade, he felt he had been talking absurd nonsense, and at once longed to prove to his audience, and above all to himself, that he had not been talking nonsense.”
  10. #60
    “Oh, gentlemen, perhaps I really regard myself as an intelligent man only because throughout my entire life I’ve never been able to start or finish anything.”
  1. #61
    “He longed to revenge himself on every one for his own unseemliness.”
  2. #62
    “It was the exercise of my power that attracted me most.”
  3. #63
    “Do what you can, and it will be reckoned unto you.”
  4. #64
    “The genuine realist, if he is an unbeliever, will always find strength and ability to disbelieve in the miraculous, and if he is confronted with a miracle as an irrefutable fact he would rather disbelieve his own senses than admit the fact.”
  5. #65
    Pain and suffering are always inevitable for a large intelligence and a deep heart. The really great men must, I think, have great sadness on earth.
  6. #66
    To go wrong in one’s own way is better than to go right in someone else’s.
  7. #67
    Power is given only to him who dares to stoop and take it ... one must have the courage to dare.
  8. #68
    Man grows used to everything, the scoundrel!
  9. #69
    In flattery, even if everything is false down to the last note, it is still pleasant, and people will listen not without pleasure; with coarse pleasure, perhaps, but pleasure nevertheless.
  10. #70
    The saints were his friends, and blessed him; the monsters were his friends, and guarded him.
  1. #71
    Man has it all in his hands, and it all slips through his fingers from sheer cowardice.
  2. #72
    “What I was afraid of was that everyone present, from the insolent marker down to the lowest little stinking, pimply clerk in a greasy collar, would jeer at me and fail to understand when I began to protest and to address them in literary language. For of the point of honour – not of honour, but of the point of honour – one cannot speak among us except in literary language. You can’t allude to the “point of honour” in ordinary language. I was fully convinced (the sense of reality, in spite of all my romanticism!) that they would all simply split their sides with laughter.”
  3. #73
    “Once, indeed, I did have a friend. But I was already a tyrant at heart; I wanted to exercise unbounded sway over him; I tried to instill into him a contempt for his surroundings; I required of him a disdainful and complete break with those surroundings. I frightened him with my passionate affection; I reduced him to tears, to hysterics. He was a simple and devoted soul; but when he devoted himself to me entirely I began to hate him immediately and repulsed him – as though all I needed him for was to win a victory over him, to subjugate him and nothing else. But I could not subjugate all of them; my friend was not at all like them either, he was, in fact, a rare exception.”
  4. #74
    “And the worst of it was, and the root of it all, that it was all in accord with the normal fundamental laws of over-acute consciousness, and with the inertia that was the direct result of those laws, and that consequently one was not only unable to change but could do absolutely nothing.”
  5. #75
    “One night as I was passing a tavern I saw through a lighted window some gentlemen fighting with billiard cues, and saw one of them thrown out of the window. At other times I should have felt very much disgusted, but I was in such a mood at the time, that I actually envied the gentleman thrown out of the window – and I envied him so much that I even went into the tavern and into the billiard-room. ‘Perhaps,’ I thought, ‘I’ll have a fight, too, and they’ll throw me out of the window.’ ”
  6. #76
    “I invented adventures for myself and made up a life, so as at least to live in some way. […] I tried hard to be in love. I suffered, too, gentlemen, I assure you. In the depth of my heart there was no faith in my suffering, only a faint stir of mockery […], and it was all from ennui, […]; inertia overcame me. You know the direct, legitimate fruit of consciousness is inertia, that is, conscious sitting-with-the-hands-folded.”
  7. #77
    “You see, gentlemen, reason is an excellent thing, there’s no disputing that, but reason is nothing but reason and satisfies only the rational side of man’s nature, while will is a manifestation of the whole life, that is, of the whole human life including reason and all the impulses. ”
  8. #78
    “Man likes to make roads and to create, that is a fact beyond dispute. But why has he such a passionate love for destruction and chaos also? Tell me that! But on that point I want to say a couple of words myself. May it not be that he loves chaos and destruction (there can be no disputing that he does sometimes love it) because he is instinctively afraid of attaining his object and completing the edifice he is constructing?”
  9. #79
    “Good heavens, gentlemen, what sort of free will is left when we come to tabulation and arithmetic, when it will all be a case of twice two make four? Twice two makes four without my will. As if free will meant that! ”
  10. #80
    “Of course boredom may lead you to anything. It is boredom sets one sticking golden pins into people, but all that would not matter. What is bad is that I dare say people will be thankful for the gold pins then. ”
  11. #81
    “I would rather my hand were withered off than bring one brick to such a building! […] Perhaps the thing I resented was, that of all your edifices there has not been one at which one could not put out one’s tongue. On the contrary, I would let my tongue be cut off out of gratitude if things could be so arranged that I should lose all desire to put it out. ”
  12. #82
    “I could never stand more than three months of dreaming at a time without feeling an irresistible desire to plunge into society. To plunge into society meant to visit my superior at the office... I was overcome by a sort of paralysis; but this was pleasant and good for me. On returning home I deferred for a time my desire to embrace all mankind. ”
  13. #83
    “In the first place I spent most of my time at home, reading. I tried to stifle all that was continually seething within me by means of external impressions. And the only external means I had was reading. Reading, of course, was a great help – exciting me, giving me pleasure and pain. But at times it bored me fearfully. One longed for movement in spite of everything, and I plunged all at once into dark, underground, loathsome vice of the pettiest kind. My wretched passions were acute, smarting, from my continual, sickly irritability I had hysterical impulses, with tears and convulsions. I had no resource except reading, that is, there was nothing in my surroundings which I could respect and which attracted me.”
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