Just do make it clear from the beginning: I liked the novel just as much as Crime and Punishment and Notes from Undergroundand I found it just as compulsively readable.
Background[ edit ] In Septemberwhen Dostoevsky began work on what was to become The Idiot, he was living in Switzerland with his new wife Anna Grigoryevnahaving left Russia in order to escape his creditors.
They were living in extreme poverty, and constantly had to borrow money or pawn their possessions.
They were evicted from their lodgings five times for non-payment of rent, and by the time the novel was finished in January they had moved between four different cities in Switzerland and Italy. During this time Dostoevsky periodically fell into the grip of his gambling addiction and lost what little money they had on the roulette tables.
He was subject to regular and severe epileptic seizures, including one at the time Anna was going into labor with their daughter Sofia, delaying their ability to go for a midwife.
The baby died aged only three months, and Dostoevsky blamed himself for the loss. Detailed plot outlines and character sketches were made, but were quickly abandoned and replaced with new ones. In one early draft, the character who was to become Prince Myshkin is an evil man who commits a series of terrible crimes, including the rape of his adopted sister Nastasya Filippovnaand who only arrives at goodness by way of his conversion through Christ.
By the end of the year, however, a new premise had been firmly adopted. In a letter to Apollon Maykov Dostoevsky explained that his own desperate circumstances had "forced" him to seize on an idea that he had considered for some time but had been afraid of, feeling himself to be artistically unready for it.
This was the idea to "depict a completely beautiful human being". It was not only a matter of how the good man responded to that world, but of how it responded to him.
Part 1[ edit ] Prince Myshkin, a young man in his mid-twenties and a descendant of one of the oldest Russian lines of nobility, is on a train to Saint Petersburg on a cold November morning.
He is returning to Russia having spent the past four years in a Swiss clinic for treatment of a severe epileptic condition. On the journey, Myshkin meets a young man of the merchant class, Parfyon Semyonovich Rogozhin, and is struck by his passionate intensity, particularly in relation to a woman—the dazzling society beauty Nastasya Filippovna Barashkova—with whom he is obsessed.
Rogozhin has just inherited a very large fortune from his dead father, and he intends to use it to pursue the object of his desire.
Joining in their conversation is a civil servant named Lebedyev — a man with a profound knowledge of social trivia and gossip. Realizing who Rogozhin is, he firmly attaches himself to him. Lizaveta Prokofyevna is the wife of General Epanchin, a wealthy and respected man in his mid-fifties.
The General and his business partner, the aristocrat Totsky, are seeking to arrange a marriage between Ganya and Nastasya Filippovna. As a grown woman, Nastasya Filippovna has developed an incisive and merciless insight into their relationship.
Ganya and the General openly discuss the subject in front of Myshkin.
Ganya shows him a photograph of her, and he is particularly struck by the dark beauty of her face. Myshkin makes the acquaintance of Lizaveta Prokofyevna and her three daughters—Alexandra, Adelaida and Aglaya. They are all very curious about him and not shy about expressing their opinion, particularly Aglaya.
He readily engages with them and speaks with remarkable candor on a wide variety of subjects — his illness, his impressions of Switzerland, art, philosophy, love, death, the brevity of life, capital punishment, and donkeys. In response to their request that he speak of the time he was in love, he tells a long anecdote from his time in Switzerland about a downtrodden woman—Marie—whom he befriended, along with a group of children, when she was unjustly ostracized and morally condemned.
The Prince ends by describing what he divines about each of their characters from studying their faces and surprises them by saying that Aglaya is almost as beautiful as Nastasya Filippovna. Just as a quarrel on the subject is reaching a peak of tension, Nastasya Filippovna herself arrives to pay a visit to her potential new family.
Shocked and embarrassed, Ganya succeeds in introducing her, but when she bursts into a prolonged fit of laughter at the look on his face, his expression transforms into one of murderous hatred.
Nastasya Filippovna flirtatiously encourages the General and then mocks him. Rogozhin openly starts bidding for Nastasya Filippovna, ending with an offer of a hundred thousand rubles.
With the scene assuming increasingly scandalous proportions, Varya angrily demands that someone remove the "shameless woman". He is about to strike her when the Prince again intervenes, and Ganya slaps him violently in the face. Everyone is deeply shocked, including Nastasya Filippovna, and she struggles to maintain her mocking aloofness as the others seek to comfort the Prince.
Myshkin admonishes her and tells her it is not who she really is. Rogozhin and his retinue go off to raise therubles. To enliven the party, Ferdyshchenko suggests a game where everyone must recount the story of the worst thing they have ever done.‘The Idiot’ is a book that draws a visceral reaction.
Once you are sucked in (which admittedly may take a while given the books daunting size and somewhat awkward beginnings), you can feel the book’s tragedy and those of the main characters as your own.
The Search for Dostoyevsky in Crime and Punishment Essay. The Search for Dostoyevsky in Crime and Punishment Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky who is known as a great novelist wrote timeless classics such as The Idiot, Crime and Punishment, and The Brothers Karamazov, was not only a novelist, but a good psychologist who uncovered the secret sides of the human beings in a very .
The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky, translated by David McDuff pp, Penguin Classics, £ The forms of 19th-century European fictions, including the Russian, have a powerful relation to older. The Idiot Fyodor Dostoevsky. The following entry presents criticism of Dostoevsky's novel The Idiot (). See also Dostoevsky Short Story Criticism and Notes from the Underground Criticism.
Prince Myshkin, is not an idiot in either the modern or the legal sense of the word, but is an unfailingly good man in a world that is selfish, depraved and in truth, desperate. You often see him get taken advantage of, a newbie to Russian high society in St.
Petersburg, . Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky (/ ˌ d ɒ s t ə ˈ j ɛ f s k i, ˌ d ʌ s-/; Russian: Фёдор Михайлович Достоевский, tr. Fyódor Mikháylovich Dostoyévskiy, IPA: [ˈfʲɵdər mʲɪˈxajləvʲɪtɕ dəstɐˈjɛfskʲɪj] ; 11 November – 9 February ), sometimes transliterated Dostoyevsky, was a Russian novelist, short story writer, essayist, journalist and philosopher.