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The Idiot (Vintage Classics) Paperback – July 8, 2003


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Product Details

  • Series: Vintage Classics
  • Paperback: 656 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (July 8, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375702245
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375702242
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (184 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #20,012 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, justly acclaimed for their translations of such Russian classics as Gogol's Dead Souls and Dostoyevski's The Brothers Karamazov, Crime and Punishment and Notes from Underground, have now undertaken another major Dostoyevski novel, The Idiot. Their trademark style fresh, crisp and faithful to the original (bumps and blemishes included) brings the story of nave, truth-telling Prince Myshkin to new life. As is true of their other translations of Dostoyevski, this will likely be the definitive edition for years to come. Intro. by Pevear.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

Praise for Pevear and Volokhonsky’s translation of Crime and Punishment:

“Reaches as close to Dostoevsky’s Russian as is possible in English. . . . The original’s force and frightening immediacy is captured. . . . The Pevear and Volokhonsky translation will become the standard English version.” –Chicago Tribune

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Customer Reviews

This is the second time I have read this book.
Book Club Mom
Read 'The Idiot' and be illuminated by Dostoyevsky's understanding of life, challenged by his approach to the world and inspired by Prince Myshkin.
Jose Antonio Area Portaba
In fact, the novel would be much better without this tiresome character altogether.
expression

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

160 of 171 people found the following review helpful By Sean O'Neill on June 30, 2007
Format: Paperback
What could have prompted me to first read "The Idiot" at age 13 on a beach vacation with my family I can not recall. What I do recall, however, is that I was fully engrossed day after day in a world of ideas, people and places far beyond my experience. Having now just "re-read" it 39 years later (following Crime and Punishment and Brothers Karamazov), I know I couldn't possibly have digested all of its ideas at that age: atheism vs. Christianity; nihilism vs. a dying social order; Eros vs. charity; truth vs. artifice; id vs.ego and superego. And yet, I also sense I know what captivated me even then.

The characters in this novel, though usually explained as symbolic of the ideas they represent, are yet the most vividly realized characters I had ever "read" then, and still. The real-time manner in which they are drawn and followed is as if the author simply recorded their actions and conversations as and where they happened. We get to know who these people are, not through narrative description, but, as if by "candid camera", observing what they say, withhold, do, and fail to do. What emerges are fascinating, at times frightening and at times affectionate portraits of real and troubled humans: Lizaveta, the flighty, but loving society mother; General Epanchin, the successful but utterly conventional man of the house; Aglaya, the childish but delightful beauty who resents her sister's and parents' expectation for her; Ganya, who wants money and love, but plays the wounded martyr while more obviously blaming his father for his failures at both; Ivolgin, the pathetic figure of an aging man who aches for dignity and respect but who's former glory is long gone and mostly imagined; and Lebedev, the likeable sycophant and name-dropper.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Frikle on July 25, 2004
Format: Paperback
This is one of the more famous of Dostoyevsky's novels, and quite rightly so as it has his very-unique blend of psychology, philosophy and an unrelenting view of the bleakest recesses of the soul.

I read the novel in the original Russian, so this isn't a review of any particular translation but the work itself.

In brief, the book centres around a Prince who has returned to Russia after being treated for mental illness in Switzerland since his childhood (hence the idiot). He quickly becomes involved within the upper-middle eschellons of St Petersburgian society, as people become fascinated by his direct honesty, simplicity and compassion. He becomes emotionally involved with a Fallen Woman, and this develops into a love triangle with another woman, ultimately ending in --- you guessed it! - tragedy. The Idiot is portrayed as the symbol of a child-like innocence: he genuinely wants everyone to live in harmony and love. However, the falseness, politics and backstabbing of the world of Russian middle-nobility will have none of that.

The plot is quite complicated - but not in terms of twists. The story is quite simple in terms of what happened, however much of it is told inside-out, focusing on the internal world of the characters. So, if you feel like you've missed something - a reason for a character's comment, an event etc, chances are, this will be revealed later on.

Dostoyevsky dwells on the extreme minute aspects of the emotional lives of his charactes. This is the richest aspect of the novel - and these emotions possess all the contradiction and chaos that real people have.
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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 5, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Dostoyevsky is the master of the art of creating the character. All his characters have a distinct personality, each of them behaving in a certain way, until you truly feel for those characters. But in The Idiot, things are different. You see the corruption of the people through the eyes of the innocent and loveable Prince Myshkin. But Myshkin is seen as an 'Idiot' because of his true kindness. Only the strong can survive in this world, or so it seems. The character of Hippolite is also a truly great character, as well as Rogozhin. Not a word should ever be changed from this awesome novel. Read it, change your view on life.
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40 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Nathan Knapp_Voronwë on February 21, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Having previously read my first Dostoevsky (Crime and Punishment) I was literally chomping at the bit to start reading something else of his. I am not altogether sure as to why I found The Idiot to be the most appealing, it probably wasn't the synopsis, because I, in my ignorance, thought I was buying "The Possessed". I realized this as I pulled away from the book store, but didn't worry about it. Dostoevsky is Dostoevsky, right? Well, sort of. I was shocked when I did not find the anti-hero I expected, but Prince Lev Nikolaevich Myshkin, a pure and beautiful soul who I loved from the start. It was hard not to cheer for him throughout the course of the novel, and to feel his pain at the corrupt and confusing society that surrounded him. He is torn apart by his first love for the intriguing Nastasya Filippovna, and then later Aglaia Ivanovna, equally intriguing.

I'll be the first to admit that though I loved this book I struggled through certain portions of it, namely nearly every scene Lebedev is involved in, and Ippolit's letter. The book has a very 'meandering' quality to it, and you get the feeling at times that Dostoevsky didn't have the slightest clue how he would finish it, and so stalled for time in certain areas. This didn't really diminish the book's quality, it simply made it harder to follow. Also, towards the end it seems as if Dostoevsky finally knows, and he finally hurries off.

But, there is, perhaps, some of the greatest writing ever put on paper within these pages. Scenes such as Prince Myshkin's oratory on capital punishment, the party at Nastasya Fillippovna's, Prince Myshkin in the house of Rogozhin, and the most chilling scene in Rogozhin's bedroom.
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