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Showing 1-10 of 363 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 546 reviews
on October 20, 2016
I love Dostoyevsky. I studied most of his books at the university. So the two stars are not for Dostoevsky, I just want to be clear on this. The two stars are for the poor translation of Eva Martin. It's so bad I did not even finish the book. Strange sentences, poorly constructed, unsophisticated language - at least in my opinion. Will try again with a different digital translation.
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on February 16, 2017
Fyodor Dostovesky's books are very dense in their relation of humanity. This is because he captures the complexities of people's personalities and inner dialogues - which can be very lengthy to portray in writing. If you enjoy that sort of thing, this is a book for you.

The story itself was very engaging and took a lot of unpredictable turns. It is easy to lose yourself in the world of the story, as it is so complete in its conveyance of humanity that it could be a real life you're living through vicariously.
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on May 9, 2017
Maybe something got lost in translation, but whatever happened, this thing fits the description by Shakespeare perfectly: "it is a tale
told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,signifying nothing."

Total mishmash of characters doing who knows what, when, how, when and where nobody knows. A total waste of time. I quit halfway thru the 3-CD audio book.
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on June 4, 2017
The ink is very FAINT to prevent bleeding onto the opposite side of the page rendering it difficult to read.
The paper quality is SUBPAR.
This site leaves no room to comment on the actual printed copy, and the preconfigured prompts which do exist for content resemble an elementary school book report. For example, as I type this, the page displays three buttons: "Predictable" "Some twists" "Full of surprises" - I do not know what you, dear reader, find predictable - but I predict it matters little in relation to the enjoyment of literature. NABOKOV wrote cogently on Dostoevsky's lack of ability without ever stooping to these childish questions - we enjoy the content of this book nonetheless.
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on July 31, 2012
Firstly, pardon any typos regarding the names, I was reading almost alternatively this kindle version and a paperback version that I had on hand when I didn't have my Kindle (hence Hippolyte might be Ippolit, for example).

Returning to Russia from Switzerland where he'd been recooperating from his epileptic disorder, Prince Muisken is heir to what equates to a small fortune.

The first day in town he seeks out his distant relatives and meets many interesting personages (The Epanchins, The Ivolgens, Gavrila Ardilionovitch, etc.) Amongst them are Aglaya Epanchin and Nastasia Philipovna.

Both women quickly become key to the central plotline as the Prince simultaneously has deep and tragic feelings for both, this despite each being twisted and twisting him in their own way: one is an eternal contrarian to her family; the other a disgraceful, utterly disagreeable despite being beautiful sort of woman.

Filled with inter and intra familial feuding, side-taking, backstabbing, playing one against the other and hysterics simply for the sake of the ruse, things soon become almost unbearably entangled and convuluted - which Dostoyevsky admits is the case at one point as he narrates to the reader.

Gradually a love triangle develops with another player (Rogojin / Rogozhin) as the odd-man out. Finally the Prince is to be married... with it's failure to pan out a much more gruesome and tragic end lies in wait for the reader - certainly not the end I would have been expecting.
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on February 13, 2017
A little like Sense & Sensibility meets Dostoyesvsky. A great mad over the top version of when 3 unmarried sisters plus one subject to the psychological lacerations of a true Dostoyevskian Heroine meet some wealthy attractive suitors: a Christ-like epileptic and a romantically passionate psychopath. Plus an oily self-enamored millionaire, a socially ambitious general, and a senile retired general whose financial machinations with his mistress (the widow of one of his subordinates) lands him in debtor's prison. And all of these characters meet on one or two calendar days before the book is one fourth through. I forgot the obsessively twisted young bourgeois on the make whose obsession with his own dignity runs afoul of the psychic lacerations of the heroine who challenges him to remove a burning package of 100, 000 ruble notes from the fireplace with his bare hands.
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on January 1, 2016
As neither a Dostoevsky scholar, nor someone who understands Russian, I cannot say how faithful Eva Martin's 1915 translation really is.
For all I know (and I am just making this up), she translated from the French or German instead of from Russian.

Nonetheless, I found her version of Dostoevsky's novel quite readable- and when a passage wasn't clear, and I turned to the P/V translation, I actually found their version LESS clear. Eva Martin seems to know what is going on better than her contemporary, Constance Garnett, or than our contemporaries, Pevear and Volkhonsky. I won't claim it's the best translation. I know it's not the worst.

Here is an excerpt, from the great confrontation at the end of part one- where Dostoevsky piles false climax upon false climax:

"Prince," said Nastasia Philipovna, unexpectedly turning to Muishkin, "here are my old friends, Totski and General Epanchin, who wish to marry me off. Tell me what you think. Shall I marry or not? As you decide, so shall it be."
Totski grew white as a sheet. The general was struck dumb. All present started and listened intently. Gania sat rooted to his chair.
"Marry whom?" asked the prince, faintly.
"Gavrila Ardalionovitch Ivolgin," said Nastasia, firmly and evenly. There were a few seconds of dead silence. The prince tried to speak, but could not form his words; a great weight seemed to lie upon his breast and suffocate him.
"N-no! don't marry him!" he whispered at last, drawing his breath with an effort.
"So be it, then. Gavrila Ardalionovitch," she spoke solemnly and forcibly, "you hear the prince's decision? Take it as my decision; and let that be the end of the matter for good and all."
"Nastasia Philipovna!" cried Totski, in a quaking voice.
"Nastasia Philipovna!" said the general, in persuasive but agitated tones. Everyone in the room fidgeted in their places, and waited to see what was coming next.

I won't be out on a limb if I say that the ideas conveyed by the novel as a whole are almost inexpressible, and far beyond any 'ideas' consciously expressed by any of the characters. That the plot is melodramatic and profound, mad and satirical, makes it something like HAMLET.
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on February 6, 2017
Glancing over the reviews, seems my early fairly negative take on "The Idiot" was not without similar sentiment.
The first quarter of the book requires becoming acquainted with the characters, and the second quarter flattered neither the characters, nor Dostoevsky's treatment of them.
Just after half-way through the book, about the time Dostoevsky had a firmer idea, himself, of what the characters were all about, this novel came alive and became an exciting read.
I'm not sure I have ever encountered people whom I am curious over and repulsed by in equal measures.
These opportunistic wishy-washy souls are us.

Nearing the end of the tale, I have ordered, "The Adolescent." Apparently, I just don't want to put-down, quite yet, this Russian brand of soap-opera.
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on March 1, 2015
Reading a Dostoevsky book changes the way one evaluates a book. The characters are passionate, both physically and emotionally, and many are obsessed with larger issues such as the existence of God or the place of Russia in the world and its future. They often strive to live in accord with these higher principles, but in conflict with their physical passions. Many straddle the boundary between sanity and insanity.

The plots are complex in actual events and also in the emotional interplay between the characters. Every book contains several scenes of extraordinary intensity involving both the main plot and subplots and major and minor characters. These often center on poverty, misfortune, and the like.

Further, the characters display an amazing insight into the meaning of events and statements, far more than myself and I expect many others, so that one must strive to understand what is happening as it unfolds.

No other writer really compares to him.
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on May 16, 2015
It needs to be stated at the outset that this is not a novel about politics and the social interactions they inspire as Dostoyevsky is known for in his other novels. This novel focuses mainly on the social interactions and how newcomers must conform or fail immediately. If you have read Crime and Punishment or The Brothers Karamazov you might readily expect political intrigue to be the main barrier our "hero" faces but instead this plays out more like a soap opera. If you are familiar with Tolstoy's War and Peace this novel will seem quite familiar in form but if not it is still worth a look.

The reason I stress the difference between political intrigue and social norms as primary movers of events though the two are quite related is because the former is heavily reliant on place, time, and the social hierarchy of interrelated characters it is almost irrelevant in the latter. Without giving too much of the plot away let me end by saying that while this does not approach the level of an epic tragedy we can see the windup of the novel from the outset and only a wit and writing style like Dostoyevsky's can make such a story interesting from beginning to end.

With that said and to wrap up the novel was very good but not great. Had the nove another 600 pages like war and peace we might have had more development and intrigue but a character like our hero was not built for such and as a result his flaws will make you want to tear your eyes out at times or thst of some supporting characters like hippolyte. I could definitely read this again but knowing the ending (though it was apparent from th beginning) for sure would make the novel less enjoyable.
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