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The Idiot (Bantam Classic) Mass Market Paperback – July 1, 1983
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Despite the harsh circumstances besetting his own life -- object poverty, incessant gambling, the death of his firstborn child -- Dostoevsky produced a second masterpiece, The Idiot, just two years after completing Crime and Punishment. In it, a saintly man, Prince Myshkin, is thrust into the heart of a society more concerned with wealth, power and sexual conquest than with the ideals of Christianity. Myshkin soon finds himself at the center of a violent love triangle in which a notorious woman and a beautiful young girl become rivals for his affections. Extortion, scandal and murder follow, testing Myshkin's moral feelings as Dostoevsky searches through the wreckage left by human misery to find "man in man." The Idiot is a quintessentially Russian novel, one that penetrates the complex psyche of the Russian people. "They call me a psychologist," wrote Dostoevsky. "That is not true. I'm only a realist in the higher sense; that is, I portray all the depths of the human soul."
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Aamazibgnz craft of storytelling, learnt the art if narration from.Fyodor. some stuff was dragged too much in the name.e of humour, but a good story. Read morePublished 26 days ago by KK
You discover that the personality of the characters other than the Prince fit yourself and others with which you share life experiences, attitudes, and
This woman can really write. I picked up her book up at a yard sale. I figured for 50 cents how could I go wrong. I'll give it to my wife. She can read it at he beach this summer. Read morePublished 1 month ago by 1776freak
In part one of this story, we meet Myshkin, a prince, on a train to Petersburg, Russia. He is a prince by title, but does not possess the wealth you might expect from royalty. Read morePublished 1 month ago by JJohns
I enjoyed the glimpse into Russian politics given the state of America now. Many ideas in the book are still true over a century later. Read morePublished 1 month ago by A M Boyers
Very interesting! A little difficult to follow all the names but worth the effort. I wish I had the time to read all the different translations.Published 1 month ago by Becky
Great novel - a deserved classic. I can recommend these Everyman's Library hardcover editions. If you want this book as a keeper, you should be happy with this edition. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Deardon
This review is of the Kindle version of the Dover Thrift Edition. DO NOT BUY THIS. It is full of typographical errors. Read morePublished 1 month ago by cranky yankee