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The Idiot
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1001 book reviews > The Idiot, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

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Jamie Barringer (Ravenmount) (ravenmount) | 481 comments Poor Prince Muishkin. He was so good, and nice, and eager to think the best of everyone, and he had the misfortune of being drawn into a circle of people who were absolutely awful. Even before the references to Don Quixote in the text, I was reminded of that story, so that the prince was a sort of Russian Don Quixote defending the honor of his Dulcinea, in the form of the beautiful, mentally unstable woman he encounters through his first new friends on arriving home in Russia. Surrounded by people who really do not care about him, except to the extent that they can take advantage of him or use him in their social scheming, the Prince thinks he has friends, and acts accordingly. He never wavers far from his devotion for his Nastasia Philipovna, even once he gets bullied into nearly marrying Aglaya, nor does he recognize all the bullying pushing him from one choice to the next on his path to disaster. His epilepsy and almost Aspergers-like lack of social understanding earn him the label of 'idiot', which only makes his supposed friends more inclined to bully him. It was hardly surprising that his story ended in tragedy, considering what he was up against.
This book was frustrating because Muishkin never really learned to stand up for himself, so he just kept getting pushed around and abused. The other characters were mostly so horrible that one could hardly help rooting for the prince even knowing the book could not really have a happy ending. After all, Don Quixote was also doomed from the start.
I enjoyed this book almost as much as The Devils/The Possessed, and would recommend it, definitely as more readable than the Brothers Karamazov, possibly as readable as Crime & Punishment. I gave this book 4 stars on Goodreads.


Kristel (kristelh) | 4263 comments Mod
Read 2017
The Idiot, Dostoyevsky is by far one of my favorite Russian authors. I've read 3 of the 5 books he has on the 1001 list. Looking at his life as I just did, I did not realize that he actually was given a death sentence when he was arrested for opposing the monarchy. This is touched on in this book in the chapter where they are discussing that death by murder is better than death by sentence. His time spent in prison and labor probably made him the man that can write such stories as Crime and Punishment, Brother's K and The Idiot. In his travels, he meets Appolinaria Suslova. His relationship with her is reflected in “The Idiot,” “The Gambler” (“Igrok”) and his other works. She is believed to be the main inspiration for Dostoevsky’s female characters. He did not marry her but instead married his stenographer. Who he may have used as inspiration for Nastasya Fillipnova. (http://russiapedia.rt.com/prominent-r...) This book is about a man who is good and kindhearted in contrast to the wordly people he encounters in Russia. The author set out to write a story of a splendidly good man and he said it was the most difficult thing to do. His books are largely translated and required reading in many schools. His stories reflect the mood of the times and his views of Russia. The story and characters are well developed. I certainly can see that writing about someone who is "simply good" would be hard to stick to as humans just aren't that good therefore the prince is a Christ like figure with Rogozhin serving as the antagonist to the prince. I listened to the Blackstone audio and narrated by Robert Whitfield and the pdf file translated by Eva Martin. The audio was good but I really did not like his women voices and so therefore this might not be the best audio. Did the author achieve creating a splendidly good man. Yes and no. I don't know why a splendidly good man would also be a man who suffers from epilepsy and had to be hospitalized or is that how he became a good man because he had been removed from the world and not contaminated by the world. While this was the author's favorite book, it wasn't mine, I think I liked The Brothers Karamazov best so far. Rating is 4.74


Amanda Dawn | 1251 comments Just finished this one on audio: gave it 4 stars. I’ve now read all of the Dostoevsky books on the list (I think I gave all five 4 stars?), and he definitely has his standard themes/motifs: like Christian morality, alienation, secularization, intellectualism and pseudo-intellectualism, the Russian cultural character, crime and guilt. As always, all feature into this story as well. I often have my strong disagreements with his stances as an atheist and democratic socialist, but I respect his writing regardless and still feel like it provides some degree of profound insights into society and human nature.
In this case, I did love the character of the Prince, and how he represents a post conventional morality that often gets him mistaken for an “idiot”. I like the presentation of him as someone with a faith beyond just having a religion. Additionally, I think the semi-autobiographical elements like him having epilepsy and the false hanging made the story more vivid. Not going to lie: I am a little sad that I’ve finished all the big Dostoevsky classics now, I’ve a had a good journey with them.


message 4: by George P. (last edited Feb 22, 2022 07:55PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

George P. | 541 comments This overlong novel has a lot going for it- great characters (though perhaps a few too many, but that did give it a realistic sense) and imaginative plot, good style. But, as I said, overlong. Of FD's 5 books on the 1001 list, I just have The Devils/The Demons left to read. I think The Bros K was my favorite so far. Though this novel explored similar themes it was something of a change of genre for him in some ways.


Pamela (bibliohound) | 166 comments This was a very intense novel, showing a kind of innocent abroad in a greedy, hostile, and nihilistic society. Prince Myshkin is drawn into defending the beautiful but flawed Nastasya Filippovna while also being set up for marriage to Aglaya Ivanovna.

Dostoevsky really is a master at showing the psychological complexity of human nature, and his characters are fascinating and brilliant drawn. Despite the large cast of characters, I found no difficulty in distinguishing them as they all had their own quirks and characteristics. There is also a lot of drama that grabs the attention - physical fights, faces slapped, insults thrown, grand ladies flouncing out of drawing rooms.

I’ve found I like Dostoevsky much more than I expected, and this was probably my favourite so far. I admire his writing skill and the power of his imagination, and this was a memorable read.


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