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The Idiot (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – 12 Jun 2008

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Product details

  • Paperback: 688 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks; Reprint edition (12 Jun. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199536392
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199536399
  • Product Dimensions: 19.3 x 3.3 x 12.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 267,690 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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).

Product Description


"A fine new translation that retains the flavor and vigor of the original. The ghost of Dostoevsky must be laughing with pleasure: at least we have his linguistic humor, solecisms and all. In short, a fine new edition."--Clifford Hardie, Wilmington College"Myers translation is much more readable than the Garnett one."--Sr. Anna M. Conklin, Spalding University --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Molly Marsden on 16 Jan. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Returning from years abroad where he's been seeking treatment for mental instability, Prince Lev Nikolayevitch Myshkin enters the upper echelons of Russian society; unfortunately for this innocent, but fortunately for the reader, (see later), into a clique where many of the men are ill mannered buffoons. Myshkin's reputation and reluctance to assert himself earn him the title of the Idiot. Naïve he may be, the prince is anything but an idiot. Nor is he the ` hero' to whom the author refers; rather a foil for Dostoevsky's depiction of an amoral society in that the novelist sets Myshkin against a mixed bag of characters, their buffoonery and boorishness targets for his philosophical discourse of good versus evil. The Prince, around whom the novel revolves, endears himself to the reader in his modesty and self-effacement in the face of barefaced rudeness. His good natured handling of the contumely of those who feel the need to slanderously probe into his personal business borders on the saintly. Virtue that leads to his fall and the fall of others.

Compared to Crime and Punishment, tauter, and Devils more dramatic, The Idiot is an amorphous structure, a labyrinth where the reader may wander, confused by the ebb and flow of the various plots. And there is a hole in the middle, for at the end of Part One a chief protagonist disappears, save for a couple of very brief appearances, one `when a frightful scene took place,' only to reappear towards the end of the story when things finally wind up. In this way the reader is deprived of much of the drama generated by the scandalous behaviour and ploys of the alluring Nastasya Filippovna Barashkova, so the important influence she has needs to be in absentia.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Idiot is not really an Idiot at all (I've met my fair share of real idiots). The man in question is Prince Myshkin who because of his epilepsy has spent time in a Swiss clinic and the start of the novel sees Myshkin return to Russia after many years. His sheltered upbringing abroad means that he doesn't understand how to truly behave in the society he finds himself in and he has a naivety and willingness to do the right thing for which he is ridiculed and labelled as an Idiot.

The main story is the competition between various suitors vying for the attentions of one Nastasya Fillipovna, a troubled beauty who has been cast off as a fallen women through no fault of her own. But that's summarising the plot in very simple terms as there are an abundance of characters, themes and general philosophising throughout.

Its a packed book and I didn't always remember which character was which (thank goodness for the character list at the front of my edition!) Sometimes while reading it I got a bit lost and became confused by some of the characters behaviour. This wasn't because it was a dense or difficult read, there was just a lot going on and lots of different characters that would suddenly appear. Sometimes a character would suddenly declare they hated another character before suddenly changing their mind again, they all seemed to be very fiery, there was a lot of people throwing their arms up in the air and I just couldn't keep up.

But I kept on with it and it all made sense in the end plot wise but really its not the story arch here that's so important but the conclusions brought up throughout during the dialogue and how characters react to the Prince's behaviour or philosophising.
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13 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 4 Mar. 2004
Format: Paperback
I tried to read the Penguin Classics version of The Idiot, but the print was too small and the pages were that grubby cheep colour that Penguin tend to use. It was a struggle. This has slightly larger type, nice white paper and good margins (for notes if you like that sort of thing). It also has a list of characters, a map and a cronology of Dostoevsky; not that they're that useful, but it's nice to have something to refer to now and again. The translator's different, but I can't comment on the different translations cause I've not read them all. Basically if you're going to read the book anyway, I'd recomend this copy. Slilghtly bigger to carry around, but cheeper and nicer to read.
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17 of 50 people found the following review helpful By "justbell" on 1 Nov. 2002
Format: Paperback
Having read Crime and Punishment last year, I was looking forward to plunging back into some Dostoyevsky. Crime and Punishment is an awsome novel, and a pleasure to read. It is the work of a true genius writing at his best. Perhaps the first 'Modernist' novel.
Unfortunately, this book does fall some way short of his earlier effort. The first two hundred pages are well written, and the story is intriguing. Prince Myshkin is introduced and set against the demonic Rogozhin for the affections pf Natasya Fillipovna. Fillipovna, loves the Prince but believes herself worthy only Rogozhin (who will most probably kill her). Then, quite inexplicably, Rogozhin and Natasya take their leave from the book and the story becomes confused, disorganised and aimless. Prince Myshkin, rather than being a Christian spirit in the modern world, is merely a "good egg" - who would rather lie than upset anyone - not the true Christian, who would battle with money lenders in the Temple. In this way, he comes across as being rather feeble, and although he doesn't really do much to warrant those about him to freely call him an idiot - one imagines that he probably deserves it for being such a sap.
As the story progresses, numerous minor characters seep into and out of the story, with little or no direction - adding to the confusion. In the end, it is difficult to maintain interest, although by about page 500 the increasing eccentricity of the General does become more entertaining, although by that time, one is already lost to whatever Dostoyevsky was meaning to say.
Perhaps the biggest clues to this novels failure lie in the details that accompany the Penguin edition. This work was written whilst the author was suffering from intense bouts of epilepsy, and the work under went many many redrafts. The result is as confused as it should be.
Undaunted, I shall read the Brothers Karamazov next year in the hope Crime and Punishment was not a one off.
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