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The Idiot

A classic novel by Fyodor Dostoevsky

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The Idiot is a brilliant book!

  • Jun 5, 2010

The Idiot is probably one of my favorite books of all time. I first read it while researching my senior thesis, which was on the representation of tuberculosis in literature. While tuberculosis is not one of the central themes, it did afflict my favorite character, Ippolit Terentyev, and it did prove to be quite useful for my thesis. Prior to The Idiot, I had only read one book by Dostoevsky, and that is Notes From The Underground--read because it was the shortest book I could find, and because I wanted to read something by Dostoevsky, but didn't have a lot of patience. I am SO glad that I decided to pick up another Dostoevsky novel, because he is an absolutely brilliant writer. Now I just have to wait for my copy of The Brothers Karamazov to come in the mail!

There are a lot of reasons why The Idiot rocked my world. The main character, Prince Myshkin, is a kind and deceptively simple soul, who is Dostoevsky's vision of a perfect man. He is epileptic and thought to be mentally disabled as a result. The supporting characters have a love-late relationship with him as a result--they venerate him, but they scorn his opinions as those of an imbecile. He isn't stupid, far from it, but his humble personality does not allow him to contradict this. He is a fascinating character, and the supporting characters are equally so, from Rogozhin, whose obsessive love for a woman is one of the scariest parts of the novel, to Ippolit whose illness renders him as invisible as Myshkin, but who screams and rages against it and forces the spotlight on him. It's an amazing and beautiful book.

I had some small issues with the idealogy of this book, but as it was published in the 19th century that is bound to be the case. Dostoevsky has Prince Myshkin give an  impassioned speech against Catholics. As a character who has never one spoken ill of anyone else, including some truly deplorable people, this didn't make any sense to me. It would've been better to put that speech in just about any other character's mouth. Additionally, Myshkin's attitude toward Nastasya, one of his many love interests, is a bit hard for me to stomach. His intense pity for her supposed mental illness is portrayed as true love. Pity is not love, it's condescending. Some characters did seem to realize this, but the authorial message appeared to be that yes, pity IS love. Overall, however, this was a spectacular book and I would recommend it to anyone. I actually bought copies of it for all my friend's last Christmas, I love it so much.

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June 05, 2010
I love Dostoevsky's The Idiot! Great review! It is one of the few books that I equally like the movie for (the Russian one), it is really long though, I think it's 550 minutes long! :) But the actors, especially Yevgeni Mironov (Myshkin), are incredible and very talented.  I highly recommend watching it with English subtitles if you don't know Russian. 
More The Idiot reviews
Quick Tip by . June 29, 2010
The Russian are soo---oo deep.
Quick Tip by . June 26, 2010
Another good Dostoyevski read....
Quick Tip by . June 16, 2010
i love fyodor, and this is my favorite. precocious and precious and seething... pure gut-wrenching prose from one of mother russia's finest!
Quick Tip by . June 11, 2010
Best book on Doestoyevsky.
Quick Tip by . June 06, 2010
Real writing for the connoisseur
About the reviewer
Anna Lindwasser ()
Ranked #1338
Hello there! My name is Anna. I'm a NYC transplant living in upstate New York, currently dividing her time between trying to find a job and get into graduate school, reading and working on my own … more
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The Idiot (Russian: Идиот, Idiot) is a novel written by 19th century Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky. It was first published serially in Russky Vestnik between 1868 and 1869. The Idiot is ranked beside some of Dostoevsky's other works as one of the most brilliant literary achievements of the Russian "Golden Age" of Literature. It was not published in English until the 20th century.[
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Author: Fyodor Dostoevsky
Genre: Classic
Publisher: Barnes & Noble Books

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"The Idiot is a brilliant book!"
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