The Idiot: thought-provoking with an excellent plot

the idiot pic

The Idiot
by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Rating: ****

This is the second time I have read this book. The first time was in college and, back then, I read the Henry and Olga Carlisle translation. This time I read the free Kindle version, translated by Eva Martin. I have seen a bit of discussion here online about which translation is the better one, and there are other translations as well.

I can’t say which is better because I truly don’t know. I will only tell you that I read a couple chapters of my Carlisle translation while my Kindle was recharging and, except for the name differences, I didn’t notice much difference.

I like this kind of book because it is simple and complex at the same time. The love triangle between Prince Muishkin, Parfen Rogojin and Nastasia Philipovna is a love story taken to tragic extremes and Muishkin’s complicated character is one that you want to understand. Muishkin is often described as a Christ figure. I am no expert and won’t comment on these observations, but I would like to learn more.

There are many other central characters and it helps to make a list. I enjoyed Dostoyevsky’s depiction of these additional characters, particularly the Epanchins, Lebedeff, General Ivolgin, Gania, Colia, and Hippolyte. These and a multitude of other side characters all seem to serve a specific purpose in the author’s social, religious and political commentary. I think I will need to read this a third time to fully understand it!

This is not a light read, but it is worth the effort.

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