The Idiot

The Idiot

Signet Classics
by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Publisher: Signet Classics
Mass market paperback, 664 pages
Price: $6.95

Myshkin is a saint. Recently released from a Swiss sanatorium where he was incarcerated for his epilepsy (interpreted as insanity, or idiocy), he returns to his native Russia where he finds himself a moral outsider. Like many of Dostoevsky's heroes, Myshkin is a Christ figure, innocent and guileless in the midst of sin and sinners. And like many of Dostoevsky's novels, this is more philosophical reflection than plot-driven narrative.

In many ways his most Christian novel, this one explores the complexities of good and evil. Other than Myshkin, no one is seen as purely good or purely evil—each character is portrayed as a human being with motivations in conflict. Two women—one unscrupulous, one virtuous—struggle for the idiot's love, and these relationships as well as other romantic entanglements are portrayed in all their confusion and human chaos.

Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he's a husband and father who loves church, good food, and weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here.
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Exodus Rating:
FLAWS: Gritty depictions of the seamy side of life
Summary: An innocent man with epilepsy is fought over by a virtuous woman and her opposite, over which Dostoevsky rhapsodizes philosophically.

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