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The Idiot (Classic Literature with Classical Music)

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Item description for The Idiot (Classic Literature with Classical Music) by Fyodor Dostoyevsky & Michael Sheen...

(Book Jacket Status: Jacketed)

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.

Just two years after completing Crime and Punishment, Dostoevsky produced a second novel with a very different man at its center. 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.

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Item Specifications...

Format: Abridged,   Audiobook
Studio: Naxos Audiobooks
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 1" Width: 5.5" Height: 5"
Weight:   0.4 lbs.
Binding  CD
Publisher   Naxos Audiobooks
ISBN  9626340592  
ISBN13  9789626340592  
UPC  730099005920  

Availability  0 units.

More About Fyodor Dostoyevsky & Michael Sheen

Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky (11 November 1821 – 9 February 1881), sometimes transliterated Dostoevsky, was a Russian novelist, short story writer, essayist and philosopher.

Dostoyevsky's literary works explore human psychology in the context of the troubled political, social, and spiritual atmosphere of 19th-century Russia. He began writing in his 20s, and his first novel, Poor Folk, was published in 1846 when he was 25.

His major works include Crime and Punishment (1866), The Idiot (1869), and The Brothers Karamazov (1880). His output consists of eleven novels, three novellas, seventeen short novels and numerous other works. Many literary critics rate him as one of the greatest and most prominent psychologists in world literature.

Born in Moscow in 1821, Dostoyevsky was introduced to literature at an early age through fairy tales and legends, and through books by Russian and foreign authors. His mother died in 1837, when he was 15, and around the same time he left school to enter the Nikolayev Military Engineering Institute. After graduating, he worked as an engineer and briefly enjoyed a lavish lifestyle, translating books to earn extra money. In the mid-1840s he wrote his first novel, Poor Folk, which gained him entry into St. Petersburg's literary circles.

In 1849 he was arrested for his involvement in the Petrashevsky Circle, a secret society of liberal utopians that also functioned as a literary discussion group. He and other members were condemned to death, but at the last moment, a note from Tsar Nicholas I was delivered to the scene of the firing squad, commuting the sentence to four years' hard labour in Siberia. His seizures, which may have started in 1839, increased in frequency there, and he was diagnosed with epilepsy. On his release, he was forced to serve as a soldier, before being discharged on grounds of ill health.

In the following years, Dostoyevsky worked as a journalist, publishing and editing several magazines of his own and, later, A Writer's Diary, a collection of his writings. He began to travel around western Europe and developed a gambling addiction, which led to financial hardship. For a time, he had to beg for money, but he eventually became one of the most widely read and highly regarded Russian writers. His books have been translated into more than 170 languages. Dostoyevsky influenced a multitude of writers and philosophers, from Anton Chekhov and Ernest Hemingway to Friedrich Nietzsche and Jean-Paul Sartre.

Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky was born in 1821 and died in 1881.

Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Penguin Classics

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Reviews - What do customers think about The Idiot (Classic Literature with Classical Music)?

Beautifully written  Jul 3, 2008
This book is one of Dostoyevsky's best, and in my opinion is very accurate in it's depiction of society's view of honesty and decency. Generally speaking honesty and kindness have a tendancy to arose suspicions and contempt amongst the average people you may be so unfortunate to encounter. In a collective society of ignorance and weakness decency is a concept that will encourage a mob like vengeance. Jose Rizal said it quite plainly "The world hates an honest man.", and the biggest social block our prince here has is his inability or unwillingness to be cruel or petty. He is provided with several opportunities to hurt those who try to hurt him, but he does not act upon any of them in fact he often seems saddened by the potential for suffering in his peers.
Tragically we have always been subject to an attitude that kindness is a form of weakness and this has slowed the progress of our advancement since the beginning of time.
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.

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