Dostoevsky intended to portray in the character of Prince Myshkin ''a truly beautiful soul.'' Having done so, the author takes his beloved character into many settings among various people in order that he might speak truth into each situation. The story line is multifaceted -- and as quirky -- as life itself. As is common, people perceive the speaker of truth as a fool, an idiot, though in Prince Myshkin's case, a lovable one. 633 pp.
An Eighth Day View:
Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky's masterful translation of The Idiot is destined to stand with their versions of Crime and Punishment, The Brothers Karamazov," "and Demons as the definitive Dostoevsky in English.
After his great portrayal of a guilty man in Crime and Punishment," " Dostoevsky set out in The Idiot to portray a man of pure innocence. The twenty-six-year-old Prince Myshkin, following a stay of several years in a Swiss sanatorium, returns to Russia to collect an inheritance and "be among people." Even before he reaches home he meets the dark Rogozhin, a rich merchant's son whose obsession with the beautiful Nastasya Filippovna eventually draws all three of them into a tragic denouement. In Petersburg the prince finds himself a stranger in a society obsessed with money, power, and manipulation. Scandal escalates to murder as Dostoevsky traces the surprising effect of this "positively beautiful man" on the people around him, leading to a final scene that is one of the most powerful in all of world literature.