Dostoevsky, Fyodor

Idiot (1869)


Returning to Russia from a sanitarium in Switzerland, the Christ-like epileptic Prince Myshkin finds himself enmeshed in a tangle of love, torn between two women - the notorious kept woman Nastasya and the pure Aglaia - both involved, in turn, with the corrupt, money-hungry Ganya.

By making Myshkin a paragon of kindness and humility, Dostoyevsky shows what can happen when such a man is confronted by society. Myshkin frequently confronts society's norms with his "idiocy", which is merely his apparently naive approach to life. However, it is merely a search for truth in human relationships. He is not naive about what others say to him and about him, he merely assumes they're true because human beings should have no need for falsehood. The prince frequently faces various social turmoils, petty arguments, and ridiculous assumptions throughout the novel. Unfortunately, the "idiot" cannot save himself from society and fails in the end.

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