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The Idiot is Dostoevsky's brilliant 1869 novel about a poor nobelman, Prince Myshkin, who has recently been released from a Swiss sanatorium where he was treated for epilepsy. Despite his destitution, a gambling habit, and the death of his first born child, Dostoevsky completed this masterpiece of Russian literature a mere two years after Crime and Punishment. His protagonist Myshkin is a saintly character, who's "idiocy" has left him utterly kind and free of malice in a world obsessed with money, sex and power. Myshkin's strange state inspires both love and resentment amongst his fellows in St. Petersburg. Our protagonist gets caught up in several scandals, including fraud, extortion, and murder, but Myshkin turns the other cheek as it were, for which he's once again confirmed as an idiot.

That said The Idiot is not an easy read - it might be best read after one is familiar with Dostoevsky (and perhaps some Russian history). It is not a thrilling, plot-driven tale. It is a coalescence of Dostoevsky's religious, philosophical and psychological notions - ideas he wanted to share with the world despite their conflict and complexity. The bulk of the book takes place in amidst a flurry of conversations, not actions, with new ideas flowing out of every page, which makes this a difficult book for most modern readers. They might see it as implausible or obscure, but the central idea, that one who imitates the Christ will be treated like a fool, is strong and well conceived.

Published: Sheba Blake Publishing an imprint of Vearsa Limited on Dec 30, 2013
ISBN: 9781304739766
List price: $4.99
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This book was incredibly long and at times rather dull. Though I feel that it is worth reading, it is not for the faint of heart. Picking up this book is a huge commitment of time. However, looking back on it the story was an interesting one and it was not a book that I ever thought of giving up on.read more
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Read this in adolescence. But i didn't finish it. I remember keeping an inventory of the characters names.read more
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My book is a great translation with insight into Russian society.read more
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This book was incredibly long and at times rather dull. Though I feel that it is worth reading, it is not for the faint of heart. Picking up this book is a huge commitment of time. However, looking back on it the story was an interesting one and it was not a book that I ever thought of giving up on.
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Read this in adolescence. But i didn't finish it. I remember keeping an inventory of the characters names.
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My book is a great translation with insight into Russian society.
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Great novel, and still recognizable. Easy to identify with main character
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i loved this book. it has such a sense of dignity & honour, values from an age past. felt like i was soaking those values in. like a spring shower. wonderful.
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While it was still a bit of a challenge, I enjoyed The Idiot far more than Crime and Punishment. My second try at Dostoevsky confirms, however, that I'm not a huge fan.This novel centers around Prince Myshkin who was given up as a child to a sanatorium for treatment for a condition. The story begins with him leaving the institution as an adult. He has no immediate family or friends and he desperately seeks to make a connection with distant relatives and their acquaintances.In character, the Prince is simply a kind, quiet and forgiving person. He does posses some symptoms of a malady that include seizures, difficulty speaking, agitation, difficulty focusing attention, emotional instability and a preoccupation with human faces. Because of his late language development, clumsiness and extreme reactions to the environment, he may have been suffering from something within the autism spectrum, though high functioning.The story is composed of numerous psychologically deep insights into Myshkin and the other characters; some of which are bipolar, schizophrenic and suicidal. These often come to light during various social gatherings that are required of people of their stature. Throughout most of the book, the Prince is treated horribly. The other characters show a complete disregard for his feelings and have no sense of empathy. In fact, many take "malignant pleasure" in the tragedies of others. They often refer to the Prince as "The Idiot" in his presence. Even those that care for him sometimes chide him or try to hide him so they are not embarrassed by his behavior.Lightly stringing these events together is the underlying plot of Prince Myshkin's pursuit of two love interests in trying to find a sense of acceptance and belonging. In the end, he gives up the woman he truly loves because he feels he isn't good enough for her and instead decides to marry her rival, a woman he pities. The marriage is never completed however because his wife-to-be leaves him at the altar and runs off with another lover. The story ends with her murder and the Prince completely regressing into a catatonic state in the sanatorium. He never finds the sense of belonging or normalcy he wanted.
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