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Showing posts from December, 2011

The Idiot

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Russia, mid-1800s.  When Prince Myshkin returns to his native country, he is young, naive, and not fully recovered from the physical and mental illnesses that had sent him to Switzerland.  A sudden inheritance plunges him headfirst into the Russian aristocracy, and he is unprepared for its gritty reality.  Torn between the woman he loves and the woman he pities, Myshkin must face the world for the first time in his life, to either rise above prejudice or be forever labeled "the idiot".

This was my second Russian lit read, after Eugene Onegin.  I was taking the "History of Russia & the USSR" this fall, so it seemed a good time to read some more Russian lit.  I was drawn to The Idiot, moreover, due to its being Dostoyevsky and because of its "saintly" hero, which, according to the back cover, is the reason why Dostoyevsky wrote it.  Overall, I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars.  Recommended?  Not sure.

While not necessarily a saintly hero, Myshkin is certainly …

Thoughts on 'The Idiot'

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I am getting very close to finishing this book, and so far, it has been both fascinating and (to my knowledge) truly original.  I have a feeling it's going to end badly--but then again, the plot has not been predictable.  It keeps shifting from scene to scene, focusing on specific characters and their problems, with no continuous plot except the day-to-day life of Prince Myshkin, a very noble character.

There is the common theme of searching: each character is looking for something, and no one has found it yet.  Rogozhin, the anti-hero, is trying to win the love of Nastasya, a mistreated and embittered woman.  She, in turn, is trying to escape from her past and find real happiness.  The middle-aged Yepanchin couple tries (unsuccessfully) to be conventional, and the youngest Yepanchin daughter is looking for independence.  Even Lebedev, a wannabe lawyer, makes it his business to hunt around for gossip. 

And Myshkin?  He searches for stability, peace, and, above all, goo…