Item description for The Idiot [With Ribbon Book Mark] by Fyodor Dostoevsky, Richard Pevear & Larissa Volokhonsky...
Overview Prince Myshkin, a good yet simple man, is out of place in the corrupt world obsessed by wealth, power, and sexual conquest created by Russia's elite ruling class, as he becomes caught in the middle of a violent love triangle with two women who become rivals for his attention. 15,000 first printing.
In "The Idiot," the saintly Prince Myshkin returns to Russia from a Swiss sanatorium and finds himself a stranger in a society obsessed with wealth, power, and sexual conquest. He soon becomes entangled in a love triangle with a notorious kept woman, Nastasya, and a beautiful young girl, Aglaya. Extortion and scandal escalate to murder, as Dostoevsky's "positively beautiful man" clashes with the emptiness of a society that cannot accommodate his innocence and moral idealism. "The Idiot" is both a powerful indictment of that society and a rich and gripping masterpiece. From award-winning translators, a masterful new translation-never before published-of the novel in which Fyodor Dostoevsky set out to portray a truly beautiful soul. (Book Jacket Status: Jacketed)
Citations And Professional Reviews The Idiot [With Ribbon Book Mark] by Fyodor Dostoevsky, Richard Pevear & Larissa Volokhonsky has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
Wilson Fiction Catalog - 01/01/2010 page 180
PW Notes and Reprints - 05/27/2002 page 39
Wilson Fiction Catalog - 01/01/2006 page 262
Publishers Weekly - 05/27/2002
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More About Fyodor Dostoevsky, Richard Pevear & Larissa Volokhonsky
Fyodor Mikailovich Dostoevsky s life was as dark and dramatic as the great novels he wrote. He was born in Moscow in 1821. A short first novel, Poor Folk(1846) brought him instant success, but his writing career was cut short by his arrest for alleged subversion against Tsar Nicholas I in 1849. In prison he was given the silent treatment for eight months (guards even wore velvet soled boots) before he was led in front a firing squad. Dressed in a death shroud, he faced an open grave and awaited execution, when suddenly, an order arrived commuting his sentence. He then spent four years at hard labor in a Siberian prison, where he began to suffer from epilepsy, and he returned to St. Petersburg only a full ten years after he had left in chains. His prison experiences coupled with his conversion to a profoundly religious philosophy formed the basis for his great novels. But it was his fortuitous marriage to Anna Snitkina, following a period of utter destitution brought about by his compulsive gambling, that gave Dostoevsky the emotional stability to completeCrime and Punishment(1866), The Idiot(1868-69), The Possessed(1871-72), andThe Brothers Karamazov(1879-80). When Dostoevsky died in 1881, he left a legacy of masterworks that influenced the great thinkers and writers of the Western world and immortalized him as a giant among writers of world literature."
Fyodor Dostoevsky has published or released items in the following series...
Reviews - What do customers think about The Idiot?
Ironic Title? Myshkin is introspective and innocent Feb 18, 2008
Dostoevsky wrote The Idiot after his much praised Crime and Punishment, so it is only fitting that this novel wouldn't have received the same acclaim of this masterpiece. And, while this novel doesn't have the sharp, precise narration and pull that Crime and Punishment had, it still is a significant work for what it strives to accomplish--the depth of the individual spirit.
Dostoevsky once wrote, "They call me a psychologist. That is not true, I'm only a realist in the higher sense; that is, I portray all the depths of the human soul." It's fitting he said this, because this novel exacts this same belief in many ways--many of the characters save the hero Prince Myshkin are greedy, shallow, conceited, scandalous, and back-stabbing. Yet with all the negative aspects of society, Myshkin brings a benevolent force and reaction to those who encounter him--some are affected in a positive light, if only for a small amount of time, while others remain without change. The great contrast gives credence to the depth of Prince Mushin, and for the most part makes his title "the idiot" quite ironic. His soul is examined and tested in many facets of life.
Prince Myshkin's "immovability" is depicted in encounters with various scandals and controversies. He doesn't change to conform to the conditions of society, and often doesn't seem to be swayed by greed or other pleasures, which sometimes leads to a strange reaction for those who meet him. Consider his first encounter with Aglaia and her family, when Madame questions him about who he is. Rather than being typical, he relates a story about Maria in the Swiss village and this gives a clue as to his idea of what love is. He feels a genuine pity for a girl, despite the fact that he doesn't really "love" her in a serious sense. This tale illustrates the sacrifice that the Prince often makes for people. This story makes a deep impact on Aglaia, even though she often laughs at Myshkin for his simplicity. Dostoevsky does a fantastic job of making the Prince both innocent and introspective at the same time; he is more reflective than other characters and is driven by philosophy and good will rather than worldly gains.
The main crux of the story is Prince Myshkin and the love triangle between two distinctly different women--Aglaia and Nastassya Filippova. Aglaia, despite her childlike quality, seems to have instances where she is close to bursting forth into adulthood. However, her restlessness makes it difficult for anything to happen between her and the Prince. Meanwhile, Nastassya Filippova is a character who is outwardly a scandalous woman unfavorable and unequal to the Prince. Inwardly, she is has moments when it appears that there could be some genuine love for the Prince, but these are negated by her relationship with Rogozhin. One of the flaws of Prince Myshkin is trying to appeal and love both women in his singular way. He ultimately must choose, but cannot.
There are some moments when the novel gets a bit bogged down with its "soap opera" like quality or long winded-speeches, but, still, this is a novel with many redeeming qualities. I think this one will appeal much more to those who have already read Dostoevsky and understand his style.
It doesn't get better Jan 22, 2008
This is my first of I believe will be many reviews so I will be brief. The Idiot is one of the best if not the best novel I have ever read. I liked it so much I read it twice.
Is the title ironic? or pragmatic? Aug 22, 2007
I had read just two Dostoevsy novel before this - 'The Brothers Karamazov' and 'Notes from the Underground', but lots of Turgenev and some other Russians - Kropotkin, Goldman, .... I also have some connection with Russian people because some of my work colleagues are Russian ex-patriots (one even carries a family name mentioned at one point in 'The Idiot').
Russian naming is difficult for those of us who do not have the Russian background, and 'The Idiot' was hard to keep straight in my mind - I probably didn't feel comfortable with names to near the end of this very long novel. There's Pavlovitch and Pavlischtev - not the same person. The hero Myshkin is also Lyov Nikolayevitch. Gavril is also Ganya (the short form of his name). With a large suite of characters, tracking these names is not easy. Perhaps a publisher/translator might provide a guide for non-Russian readers. I did find some connection through my knowledge of music: Madame Epanchin, Lizaveta Pokofyevna reminded me of Prokofiev, and the young man dying of consumption, Ippolit, reminded me of Ippolitov-Ivanov.
This novel is a psychological thriller and it may be unbelievable to most readers. How did Dostoevsky know that there are people in the world like Myshkin - perhaps he was one himself, perhaps he observed and understood one. Myshkin, perhaps because of his own 'illness' is attuned to everyone else's needs - sacrificing his own needs as totally without value. So what happens when two women fall in love with him (strange though each of them is)? He wants to love them both. Neither can accept that, but still he cannot let go. This seems to be a recipe for disaster (and in some ways it is), but Myshkin flourishes where he might not have because he has the most extraordinary view of the value of every moment of life. Early on he describes a guillotine execution he had observed and how the man being executed clung to every moment of his life - trying to maximise the richness of it even as the blade came down on his neck. Does Dostoevsky really believe that this is an idiotic way to live life? Or is he recommending that we should all pay more attention, be less flippant with the time that passes us by?
One of the women who fall in love with Myshkin is one of Madame Epanchin's daughters - Aglaia Ivanovna. Despite her love, Aglaia torments Myshkin (but that's not of much significance to him). Here is a quote that meant so much to me - a real insight into Myshkin's personality. 'There is no doubt that the mere fact that he could come and see Aglaia, again without hindrance, that he was allowed to talk to her, sit with her, walk with her was the utmost bliss to him; and who knows, perhaps, he would have been satisfied with that for the rest of his life.'
This novel is hard work, and it's not a happy story. But it is rewarding in its insight into human nature. If you read it you will have to decide for yourself if people like Myshkin actually do exist. And if you happen to meet one - how should you interact with them?
other recommendations: explore the philosophy of phenomenology - I don't have a preferred book to suggest as a contrast - 'Spring Torrents' - Ivan Turgenev (the author is mentioned in 'The Idiot') 'Under Western Eyes' - Joseph Conrad 'Sylvie and Bruno' - Lewis Carroll
The Idiot is a work of genius by Fyodor Dostoevsky Jun 12, 2007
The Idiot of the title is Prince Myshkin. Myshkin suffers from epilepsy and is very highly strung! When the novel opens he is arriving in St. Petersburg following three years in an expensive Swiss Clinic. Myshkin's rich patron a Russian nobleman has provided to pay for the expenses of his psyciatric care. Upon arrival in St. Petersburg the Prince is soon involved with a wealthy middle class family; meets the evil Rogohzin and the mysterious beauty Natasya. Myshkin is also romantically linked with the beautiful but shallow Aglaya youngest of three daughters of a family to whom he is distantly related. The plot involves Dostoevsky's look at love. Myshkin represents innocent, Christ-like love. Gavrin is a character representing greed seeking to wed a rich woman. Rogohzin the fiery noble with murder in his heart and passion in his love-hate for Natasya.He is symbolic of humankind's passionate nature. We also meet such interesting characters as Ippolit a young man dying of TB who writes a long (and at times boring) statement of his view of life. The novel would probably be shortened by a modern editor! Long passages deal with philsophy evincing the author's disdain for Western culture and his strong Messianic Slavic beliefs in Russian orthodoxy. The book can become mesmerizing as many of the characters are dreamy sorts wont to spin out their thoughts in long monologues reminiscent of the otiose figures populating the Chekhovian stage. Dostoevsky had been sentenced to Siberia for his participation in a plot to assassinate the Tsar. He, therefore, knew suffering and allows his characters to act in accord with his own tormented, suffering character. The novel is not the place to begin when delving into Dostoevsky. It is a flawed masterpiece usually rated below his "The Brothers Karamazov" and "Crime and Punishment." Dostoevsky impresses this reviewer with his modern concerns with suffering, human angst and a deeply flawed society of secular skepticism. He is a Christian writer who is not afraid to inject his belief in the redemptive salvic work of Jesus Christ. Myshkin is an innocent man who is unable to cope with modern society. At the end of the novel this butterfly of hope is forced backed into the cocoon of sanatarium care. Myshkin like Don Quixote has tilted his love against society and been defeated. Or has he? Dostoevsky would explore the Myshkin type in his greater novel "The Brothers Karamazov" through the Christ-like figure of Alyosha. This is a long book which will test the reader's patience. One must deal with long Russian names that my be confusing. It is a worthwhile experience which you will never forget.
One of Dostoevsky's Best: Strong Story, Good Characters, and Lots of His Philosophy. May 27, 2007
As background information, I have read most of Dostoevsky's novels including some of his early works and all of his most popular 6 or 7 novels. Among those, I have read some from Oxford Classics and some Vintage translations by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky. It took me about a week to read the 575 pages in this present Wordsworth Classic reviewed here.
I bought and read the Wordsworth Classics version of this Dostoevsky novel The Idiot. This is a minimalist book with little more than the text. For example, Wordsworth does not even give the names of the translators and the introduction to Dostoevsky and the novel is very brief, just three pages long, and it is oriented more towards a biography of the writer than giving the reader much analysis of the story and the themes. Having said that, the translation appears to be smooth and it is highly readable, and it is good value for the money. My initial impression was that the font was small, but it seems to have the same number of pages as other printers of the same novel. In any case, there is lots of analysis on the web which mitigates the need to pay more to buy analysis and the text. So, I would recommend this text only version.
This is one of Dostoevsky's better novels. It has a clear story and it has strong characters led by Prince Lev Nikolayevich Myshkin the protagonist: he is "the idiot." He returns to Russia after spending some years in a hospital or clinic in Switzerland. The story flows smoothly interrupted by only one diversion about a man who is just mildly related to the main thrust of the story: Ippolit. Some consider this part to be brilliant. I thought that it was interesting but did not add that much to the overall story. Most will find the novel to be near perfect but perhaps a bit long.
The book is an opportunity for Dostoevsky to present a morally perfect but physically flawed Christian character, and then to show how the character interacts with an imperfect Russian society. That is the main theme. We follow the story of six odd but interesting primary characters and about twenty secondary characters who represent a cross-section of Russian society.
This is one of his best novels and some might consider it to be a masterpiece and that the protagonist Prince Myshkin is an important literary character. As a novel it is not as good as The Brothers Karamazov which is Dostoevsky's best. It is entertaining and it has a good story, although not what one describe as a compelling read, although the second half is better in that regard. Dostoevsky gives many comments on morality and the Christian faith. It is a story of good versus evil, but with the edges or boundaries slightly blurred.
There is a moderate level of drama and uncertainty which keeps the reader's interest throughout. This is an excellent buy and a good value from Wordsworth Classics.