Brain Snacks: Tasty Tidbits of Knowledge
Dostoevsky's dad was murdered by his own serfs! And dudes, serfs were usually horribly abused by their owners, so think about how incredibly awful that guy must have been for them to kill him by—get this—pouring vodka down his throat until he drowned. Yeah. They totally vodka-boarded him. Okay, that last part is a rumor, but the murdered-by-serfs part is totally true.
Dostoevsky grew up in an apartment in the Mariinksy Hospital, a hospital for poor people where his father was a staff doctor. It was in one of the sketchiest neighborhoods of Moscow, which included a cemetery for criminals, a lunatic asylum, and an orphanage for abandoned infants. Bet he had some cheerful childhood memories there.
The Idiot was originally published serially (in parts appearing monthly, like a spaced-out TV show) in the magazine The Russian Messenger.
Dostoevsky was deeply influenced by Dickens and arguably his "people in small rooms yelling at each other" style comes from the way Dickens used forced coincidences to bring his own characters together. The Idiot seems particularly indebted to Our Mutual Friend for some of the plot development too.