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The Idiot (Penguin Classics)

The Idiot (Penguin Classics) [Kindle Edition]

Fyodor Dostoyevsky , David McDuff
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Product Description

Inspired by an image of Christ's suffering, Dostoyevsky set out to create a protagonist with "a truly beautiful soul" and to trace the fate of such an individual as he comes into contact with the brutal reality of contemporary society. The novel begins when the innocent epileptic Prince Myshkin - the 'idiot' - arrives in St Petersburg and finds himself drawn into a web of violent and passionate relationships that leads to blackmail, betrayal and eventually murder.

About the Author

Moscow-born Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky (1821-1881) served time in a convict prison for his political alliances, and in his later years his passion for gambling led him deeply into debt. His novels include The Devils and The Brothers Karamazov.

David McDuff has translated widely from the Russian, including for Penguin Classics, Crime and Punishment and Tolstoy's Kreutzer Sonata.

Introducer William Mills Todd III is Professor of Slavic Languages at Harvard.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1650 KB
  • Print Length: 788 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; New Ed edition (27 May 2004)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002RI95PY
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #168,730 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky was born in Moscow in 1821, the second of a physician's seven children. His mother died in 1837 and his father was murdered a little over two years later. When he left his private boarding school in Moscow he studied from 1838 to 1843 at the Military Engineering College in St Petersburg, graduating with officer's rank. His first story to be published, 'Poor Folk' (1846), was a great success.

In 1849 he was arrested and sentenced to death for participating in the 'Petrashevsky circle'; he was reprieved at the last moment but sentenced to penal servitude, and until 1854 he lived in a convict prison at Omsk, Siberia. In the decade following his return from exile he wrote The Village of Stepanchikovo (1859) and The House of the Dead (1860). Whereas the latter draws heavily on his experiences in prison, the former inhabits a completely different world, shot through with comedy and satire.

In 1861 he began the review Vremya (Time) with his brother; in 1862 and 1863 he went abroad, where he strengthened his anti-European outlook, met Mlle Suslova, who was the model for many of his heroines, and gave way to his passion for gambling. In the following years he fell deeply in debt, but in 1867 he married Anna Grigoryevna Snitkina (his second wife), who helped to rescue him from his financial morass. They lived abroad for four years, then in 1873 he was invited to edit Grazhdanin (The Citizen), to which he contributed his Diary of a Writer. From 1876 the latter was issued separately and had a large circulation. In 1880 he delivered his famous address at the unveiling of Pushkin's memorial in Moscow; he died six months later in 1881. Most of his important works were written after 1864: Notes from Underground (1864), Crime and Punishment (1865-6), The Gambler (1866), The Idiot (1869), The Devils (1871) and The Brothers Karamazov (1880).

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Depressingly hopeful 18 Feb 2013
Beauty with suffering may redeem the world but first it sends you insane and you die in isolation sometimes those who visit you don't mock and laugh. If you prefer frivolity stick to Tolstoy. I loved it going for Devils next.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You won't read this in an afternoon 21 April 2008
This is a superb book. Yes, it's repetitive, obsessive and claustrophobic, and it's certainly not easy going. But this is a classic study of bourgeois hypocrisy, deceit and corruption, with a quite brilliant central character (prince Myshkin, The Idiot) and a supportng cast of neurotics, narcissists, snobs and exploiters to whom the prince holds up the mirror of naive honesty and depth of character.

The Idiot is a tough read, but Dostoevsky's literary genius makes it worthwhile to persevere to the end of this dark and uncompromising book.
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Saint and the sinners!!! 5 July 2006
By Room For A View VINE VOICE
Reading about Prince Myshkin (the `idiot') and the characters orbiting his life felt like being imprisoned in some surreal reality game show, where the participants were infused with varying degrees of personality disorder, paranoid delusions, and fits of manic euphoria. Consequently the substance of the narrative is immersed in an oily sea of wilful gossip, self-interest and brinkmanship. For instance the birthday scene, culminating in a wrapped bundle of bank notes, nonchalantly discarded into a fire by the manipulative and power crazed Nastasya, is witnessed by a seething mass of guests itching and sweating in anxious excitement as the flames eat into the precious fortune. Along with the spectators I wanted to thrust my hand into the burning grate before all was lost. This example is one of many in the novel and Dostoevsky exhibits supreme control of the emotional forces that are thrust upon the Christ-like Prince. Indeed Myshkin often seems to be the victim yet it is his presence that dictates the destructive actions of the people around him. In this game there are no winners! An epileptic masterpiece that displays the cost of greed, uncontrollable passion and misdirected ambition.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Only Good Man 10 Mar 2012
Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Idiot

Dostoyevsky wrote The Idiot during his sojourn in Europe (1867-71) where he had fled to escape his creditors. His obsession with gambling and the powerful impression made on him by Hans Holbein's figure of Christ taken from the cross are key motifs in the novel, which is dominated by the contrasting themes of acquisitiveness and Christian charity. Prince Myshkin, the Idiot and central figure, like his author, returns to Russia after four years in `civilised' Europe, where he has suffered poverty and epileptic fits. It is these seizures, as well as his childlike innocence that have led to him being dubbed `the idiot' by most of his fellow citizens. In a novel of over 600 closely packed pages and crammed with up to a hundred characters, the Prince is the sole touchstone of goodness. His frankness and innocence are seen by many as stupidity. He is even accused of vice and cunning when being simply disarmingly honest. He is often used as a pawn by calculating figures, such as the `villain' Rogozhin and the beautiful `fallen' woman, Nastasya Filippovna. To the Prince these are desperately unhappy people whom he seeks to rescue, but without success. He is trapped between two equally beautiful and impulsive young women, Nastasya Filippovna (full name used throughout) and Aglaya Yepanchin, the youngest of General Yepanchin's three unmarried daughters. The Prince, who confesses love and seems to have proposed marriage to both, is torn between their needs and his own need to save them from their darker selves. Both women have several suitors, some offering respectable futures, others desperate passion.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A revealing classic 14 Sep 2006
The Idiot is one of the finest novels in history, perhaps the finest. In this novel, the enigma that is often referred to as "THE RUSSIAN SOUL" is variously dissected through the different characters and more so by the hero of the story Prince Myshkin. In its simplest explanation, it is a soul with good intentions but faulty in executing the intentions. It is a soul in conflict, driven by the zest for life and a search of its meaning. Certainly the most Christian of Dostoyevsky's novels, THE IDIOT portrays how disastrous a good life can be. Rich in characters, this classic centers mostly on the good Prince Myshkin, a recovering epileptic with a rich soul who is easily perceived as an 'idiot' by the casual observer who focuses on his childlike manners especially in expressing himself and his naivety in dealing with people. But then a closer look reveals that his manners are the reflections of his honest soul, the wealth of his big heart and the broadness of his mind.
And only in deeper engagements does it become evident that Myshkin however has superior understanding and expression, which makes him modest and intelligent rather than stupid. His simple, honest and decent life is succinctly conveyed in his interactions, generating both love and resentment. The saintly Myshkin however struggles to deal with a materialistic world which has no place for the virtuous, and to reconcile his passionate and compassionate love for two women. But the love of the women corrupt and drives men out of their minds. Nastasia Filipovna whom Myshkin has compassionate love for is a tormented soul that can only love Christ and in Myshkin she found that Christ-like figure.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic
This is one of those books that you should read in your life,at what ever age your at. Delivery was on time and perfect condition.
Published 13 months ago by BlueEyedCat
3.0 out of 5 stars it sits waiting to be read
a film has not been made of it
so there is no easy way in
it is profound and i await the time when i am ready for it
a classic
Published 19 months ago by lassie
3.0 out of 5 stars Glad I read it, wouldn't read again
Dostoyevsky sets the scene beautifully throughout the first block of four in the idiot. He creates a sympathetic cast of characters with a definitive protagonist and antagonist set... Read more
Published on 1 May 2011 by George Sarell
5.0 out of 5 stars The Sublime Idiot
Dowden is entirely correct stating The Idiot is not an introductory platform into the mind of Dostoevsky. Read more
Published on 28 Dec 2010 by Mr. Robert Barlow
2.0 out of 5 stars He doesn't know the rules !
I must admit that I found "The Idiot" to be one of the most difficult books that I have ever read. It certainly wasn't a page turner for me by any means and it took me several... Read more
Published on 23 Sep 2010 by L. Davidson
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
I had just read Crime and Punishment and really enjoyed it, although I felt Dostoyevsky is not so good with characterisation. Often characters were mouthpieces for ideas. Read more
Published on 10 May 2009 by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun In St Petersburg
Dostoyevsky's talent is unique in that he manages to convey all the subtleties and complexities of everyday life and human social interaction in stories that are peopled almost... Read more
Published on 18 Sep 2008 by Miracle
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring
Perhaps the only criticism I have for the book is the ending. Indeed, Dostoevsky himself seems to have been under pressure when completing the novel. Read more
Published on 6 Mar 2007 by Ipchuk
2.0 out of 5 stars Confused
I've read this twice now. Once when I was around 15 and once at the age of thirty something ( yes, I'm being coy ). Read more
Published on 31 Jan 2007 by K. Tune
5.0 out of 5 stars A revealing classic
The Idiot is one of the finest novels in history, perhaps the finest. In this novel, the enigma that is often referred to as "THE RUSSIAN SOUL" is variously dissected through the... Read more
Published on 29 Dec 2006 by Sancho
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the essence of religious feeling has nothing to do with any reasoning, or misdemeanours, or crimes, or atheism; it’s something different, and it will always be different; it’s not that, it’s something the atheists will always avoid talking about, as they’ll always be talking about something else. &quote;
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