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Dostoyevsky grew up in a middle-class family in Moscow. His father,
a doctor, was a tyrant toward his family, and his mother was a mild,
pious woman who died before Dostoyevsky was sixteen. Partly to escape
the oppressive atmosphere of his father's household, the boy acquired
a love of reading, especially the works of Nikolai Gogol, E. T.
A. Hoffmann, and Honore de Balzac. At his father's insistence, Dostoyevsky
trained as an engineer in St. Petersburg. While the youth was at
school, his father was murdered by his own serfs at the family's
small country estate. Dostoyevsky rarely mentioned his father's
murder, but Oedipal themes are recurrent in his work, and Sigmund
Freud suggested that the novelist's epilepsy was a manifestation
of guilt over his repressed wish for his father's death. More...