The Idiot is a novel by the 19th-century Russian author Fyodor Dostoevsky. It was first published serially in the journal The Russian Messenger in 1868–69.
The title is an ironic reference to the central character of the novel, Prince (Knyaz) Lev Nikolayevich Myshkin, a young man whose goodness, open-hearted simplicity and guilelessness lead many of the more worldly characters he encounters to mistakenly assume that he lacks intelligence and insight. In the character of Prince Myshkin, Dostoevsky set himself the task of depicting "the positively good and beautiful man." The novel examines the consequences of placing such a unique individual at the centre of the conflicts, desires, passions and egoism of worldly society, both for the man himself and for those with whom he becomes involved.
Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky (11 November 1821 – 9 February 1881), sometimes transliterated Dostoyevsky, was a Russian novelist, short story writer, essayist, journalist and philosopher. Dostoevsky's literary works explore human psychology in the troubled political, social, and spiritual atmospheres of 19th-century Russia, and engage with a variety of philosophical and religious themes. His most acclaimed works include Crime and Punishment (1866), The Idiot (1869), Demons (1872), and The Brothers Karamazov (1880). Dostoevsky's body of work consists of 11 novels, three novellas, 17 short stories, and numerous other works. Many literary critics rate him as one of the greatest psychologists in world literature.
His 1864 novella Notes from Underground is considered to be one of the first works of existentialist literature.
Translated by Eva Martin
Translated in 1915 by C. J. Hogarth. Written in 1845 and published in 1846, Poor Folk or Poor People is a natural beginning point for anyone who wants to read Dostoevsky. The novel occupies a position of particular interest and importance in both the history of Russian literature and Dostoevsky's work as a whole. Several lines of development in Russian prose intersect: sentimentalism, naturalism, the physiological sketch, and the phenomenon of Gogol, with whom Dostoevsky maintains a dialogue throughout the novel. This is the first novel by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, written over the span of nine months between 1844 and 1845. He was in financial difficulty because of his extravagant living and his developing gambling addiction; although he had produced some translations of foreign novels, they had little success, and he decided to write a novel of his own to try to raise funds. Inspired by the works of Gogol, Pushkin, and Karamzin, this novel is written in the form of letters between the two main characters, Makar Devushkin and Varvara Dobroselova, who are poor second cousins. The novel showcases the life of poor people, their relationship with rich people, and poverty in general, all common themes of literary naturalism. A deep but odd friendship develops between them until Dobroselova loses her interest in literature, and later in communicating with Devushkin after a rich widower Mr. Bykov proposes to her. Devushkin, a prototype of the clerk found in many works of naturalistic literature at that time, retains his sentimental characteristics; Dobroselova abandons art, while Devushkin cannot live without literature.
(1868) Translated by Eva Martin in 1915 First published in The Russian Messenger between the years 1868 and 1869, this novel is often considered one of the most brilliant literary achievements of the "Golden Age" of Russian literature. It has been adapted for the stage and screen numerous times. It has gone on through the years to inspire numerous authors, poets, and musicians. Christian Bale's character in the film "The Machinist" is seen reading The Idiot at various points. Musician Iggy Pop's 1977 album is called "The Idiot" in reference to the book. 26 year old Prince Lev Nikolayevich Myshkin returns to Russia after spending several years at a Swiss sanatorium. Scorned by the society of St. Petersburg for his trusting nature and naivet , he finds himself at the center of a struggle between a beautiful kept woman and a virtuous and pretty young girl, both of whom win his affection. Unfortunately, Myshkin's very goodness precipitates disaster, leaving the impression that, in a world obsessed with money, power, and sexual conquest, a sanatorium may be the only place for a saint. The novel begins with three strangers in a train en route to Petersburg. A young man named Prince Myshkin is returning from a Swiss sanatorium where he has been treated for the past few years for some malady similar to epilepsy. He meets a roguish young man named Rogozhin, who has an unhealthy obsession with a beautiful young woman named Nastasya Filippovna, and a nosy government official named Lebedyev, who figures prominently throughout the novel. Upon arriving in Petersburg, Myshkin acquaints himself with many of the citizens and eventually meets, and is infatuated by, Nastasya. She is pushy, fickle, and impetuous, and bounces from fiance to fiance like a fortune hunter. Her irresistible and psychological stronghold on the men in her life leads to her downfall. The basis of the novel is that Myshkin is not bright, has not had much education, and traverses society with a mentality of simplistic innocence. When speaking his opinion, he struggles to articulate himself with Charlie Brown-like stammering and wishy-washiness. For this reason, people consider him an idiot, but he is a good, honest, sympathetic, and gracious person. When he comes into a large inheritance, he is blackmailed by a man who claims to be the illegitimate son of Myshkin's benefactor; but when the man's story is debunked, Myshkin befriends rather than chastises the culprit and his accomplices. Myshkin also falls in love with and becomes betrothed to a giddy girl named Aglaia, who uses his ingenuousness as a foil for her jokes and sarcasm, despite his undying devotion to her. The novel seems to say that a saintly man, making his way in a society that is concerned with materialism and cutthroat avarice, will be considered a childish idiot for valuing honesty, kindness, and the simple things in life. Like I said, the ending is a shocker and sends a plaintive message, that in a crazy world, a sanatorium is the only place for a saint. Can a pure heart function in society? Apparently Dostoevsky thinks not except within the boundaries of a mental institution or monastery! This book introduces one of the great figures in fiction and surprisingly one you might like knowing. "Prince Myshkin" is so well intentioned as to be clownish. The author's greatest strength was his humanity and his protagonist is a lasting legacy for all of us to enjoy.--Submitted by Anonymous
(1867) Translated by Constance Garnett (1861-1946) The Gambler brilliantly captures the strangely powerful compulsion to bet that Dostoevsky, himself a compulsive gambler, knew so well. The hero rides an emotional roller coaster between exhilaration and despair, and secondary characters such as the Grandmother, who throws much of her fortune away at the gaming tables, are unforgettable. The book's publishing history is equally so: Under the pressure of a deadline from an unscrupulous publisher, and with rights to his entire oeuvre at stake, Dostoevsky dictated the book in less than a month to the star pupil of Russia's first shorthand school. Then he married her.
The Devils A Novel in Three Parts First published in 1871. Translated from the Russian by Constance Garnett (1861-1946) in 1916. "Strike me dead, the track has vanished, Well, what now? We've lost the way, Demons have bewitched our horses, Led us in the wilds astray. "What a number! Whither drift they? What's the mournful dirge they sing? Do they hail a witch's marriage, Or a goblin's burying?"--A. Pushkin.
A Novella, first published in 1859. Translated from the Russian by Frederick Whishaw.
A Fantastic Story (1876) Translated by Constance Garnett (1861-1946) Also titled "A Gentle Creature" or "The Meek One" chronicles the relationship between a pawnbroker and a girl that frequents his shop. This story was inspired by a news report that Dostoyevsky read in April 1876 about the suicide of a seamstress. It has been adapted for the screen numerous times.
Crime and Punishment is a novel by the Russian author Fyodor Dostoevsky. It was first published in the literary journal The Russian Messenger in twelve monthly installments during 1866. It was later published in a single volume. It is the second of Dostoevsky's full-length novels following his return from 5 years of exile in Siberia. Crime and Punishment is considered the first great novel of his "mature" period of writing.
Crime and Punishment focuses on the mental anguish and moral dilemmas of Rodion Raskolnikov, an impoverished ex-student in Saint Petersburg who formulates a plan to kill an unscrupulous pawnbroker for her money. Before the killing, Raskolnikov believes that with the money he could liberate himself from poverty and go on to perform great deeds. However, once it is done he finds himself racked with confusion, paranoia, and disgust for what he has done. His moral justifications disintegrate completely as he struggles with guilt and horror and confronts the real-world consequences of his deed.
Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky ( 11 November 1821 – 9 February 1881), sometimes transliterated Dostoyevsky, was a Russian novelist, short story writer, essayist, journalist and philosopher.
Translated by Constance Garnett
A troubled young man commits the perfect crime: the murder of a vile pawnbroker whom no one will miss. Raskolnikov is desperate for money, but he convinces himself that his motive for the murder is to benefit mankind. So begins a tragic novel that illuminates the eternal struggle between human emotions and desire, and the harsh laws of ethics and justice. Part thriller and part philosophical meditation, this is a penetrating look at the core of human nature.
"The Grand Inquisitor" is a poem (a story within a story) inside Fyodor Dostoevsky's novel The Brothers Karamazov (1879–1880). It is recited by Ivan Karamazov, who questions the possibility of a personal and benevolent God, to his brother Alexei (Alyosha), a novice monk. "The Grand Inquisitor" is an important part of the novel and one of the best-known passages in modern literature because of its ideas about human nature and freedom, and its fundamental ambiguity.
Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky (11 November 1821 – 9 February 1881), sometimes transliterated Dostoyevsky, was a Russian novelist, short story writer, essayist, journalist and philosopher. Dostoevsky's literary works explore human psychology in the troubled political, social, and spiritual atmospheres of 19th-century Russia, and engage with a variety of philosophical and religious themes. His most acclaimed works include Crime and Punishment (1866), The Idiot (1869), Demons (1872) and The Brothers Karamazov (1880). Dostoevsky's oeuvre consists of 11 novels, three novellas, 17 short stories and numerous other works. Many literary critics rate him as one of the greatest psychologists in world literature.
His 1864 novella Notes from Underground is considered to be one of the first works of existentialist literature.
(Translation by H.P. Blavatsky)
Crime and Punishment is by truth the best book ever written. It talks about Raskolnikov, a foreign student troubled by money woes who commits a heinous crime. Then he gets sick of himself and has all of that guilt in his heart and can't let go of it.--Submitted by Laura This book was written by Fyodor Dostoevsky to help outline the life of a young man struggling with insanity. It is powerful and moving as he takes you into the psyche and behaviour of one of the most deranged characters of any fictional tale.--Submitted by Matthew Stankowicz Does madness turn a man into a criminal? or does crime turn a criminal mad?--Submitted by Craig Fleming This is an indisputable classic, with insight into the lives of poverty stricken Russians during the late 19th century. Although on the surface it appears to be a nothing more than a stretched out story line, the depth of psychological premises and the existentialist nature of the novel create a picture of true suffering and enable the reader to question the basic moralities of both historical and modern cultures. With continuing fatalities and guilt stricken chapters, Crime and Punishment brings forth an autobiographical aspect of Fyodor Dostoevsky and allows for the reader to gain insight and learn to question the systems of society.--Submitted by morgs This novel is a psychological account of a man steeped in poverty. The biggest question is--is it the poverty that leads him to kill? Or is he just a man who believes that one can choose to be like Napoleon?; to take what they want and not feel remorse? This 19th Century classic asks fundamental questions about humanity, and gets you about as close to the answers as you may get.--Submitted by Kate O'Reilly Crime and Punishment is a psychological study of a man who explored the limits of crime. Dostoevsky shows what really happens when a man commits a crime. Theorizing and justifying crime and intentions does not satisfy the human soul. The soul has its own way of working and Dostoevsky shows that starkly, with utter honesty. It is a profound study and at the end you realize, learn deeply about the human soul of what morality psychologically means, what crime means at the root. It is an action story and a psychological story integrated and it is a thriller and deeply intellectual at the same time. Read it. It is a book you can't but read with total attention. It is about the human soul and it concerns us all. Dostoevsky is a master story teller.--Submitted by Narendra Vellanki St. Petersburg, 1866. An ex-student, currently out of a job and living in a sickly-yellow coloured penthouse in total squalor, is having issues with an old pawnbroker down the street. He suddenly decides to play God and pass ultimate judgement of right and wrong, and having determined the pawnbroker's lifetime worth of guilt, he hunts her down. Thus begins the story of Rodion Raskolnikov, his friends, and his enemies as he faces the aftermath of his decisions and undergoes an epic transformation.--Submitted by MPL Crime And Punishment is the story of a poverty stricken young man who dreams that by killing an old woman and stealing her wealth he can save himself and many other poor souls from utter poverty. But in the aftermath of the actual murder, the story takes an unexpected twist. He doesn't get anything valuable from the old woman to become rich. He becomes psychic. The very thought of the crime shatters his personality. He very cleverly tries to evade the law. But at the end he is caught hold of by the police officer. The depiction of the protagonist's inner struggle is excellent. His sympathy towards the poor and the suffering, his ardent love for Sonia, his affinity towards his mother and sister, and his sense of remorse are all very well depicted. The most intimate conversation between Raskonikov and Sonia is the most attractive part of the novel. Thus the novel reminds us that "for every crime , there awaits you a punishment". Hats off to the great soul ---Dostoesky. --Submitted by M.R. Varghese, Kerala
or; The Eternal Husband First published in Zarya magazine in 1870. Translated from the Russian by Frederick Whishaw. An extremely emotional and psychological novel. A must read.--Submitted by Anonymous.
This is a semi-autobiographical novel first published in 1861 in the journal Vremya. Also published as Memoirs from the House of The Dead and Notes from the Dead House. It portrays the life of convicts in a Siberian prison camp. It is a loosely-knit collection of facts and events organised by "theme" rather than as a continuous story. Dostoyevsky himself spent four years in exile in such a camp following his conviction for involvement in the Petrashevsky Circle. This experience allowed him to describe with great authenticity the conditions of prison life and the characters of the convicts. After his mock execution on 22 December 1849, Dostoevsky was spared his life in exchange for 4 years of imprisonment in one of Siberia抯 labour camps. Though he often met with hostility from the other prisoners due to his status of "gentleman," his views on life had changed and this precious gift, he did not take for granted. Ten years later, Dostoevsky returned to Russia to write The House of the Dead. The novel incorporates several of the horrifying experiences he witnessed while in prison. He recalls the guards' brutality and relish performing unspeakably cruel acts, the crimes that the convicted criminals committed, and the fact that blended amid these great brutes were good and decent individuals. However, he is also astonished at the convicts' abilities to commit murders without the slightest change in conscience. It was a stark contrast with his own heightened sensitivity. During this time in prison he began experiencing the epileptic seizures that would plague for the rest of his life.
(1880) Translated by Constance Garnett (1861-1946) in 1912. The last of Dostoevsky's finest works, telling the story of the four Karamazov brothers--each with his own distinct personality and desires. Exploring the secret depths of humanity's struggles and sins, Dostoevsky unfolds a grand epic which attempts to venture into mankind's darkest heart, and grasp the true meaning of existence. This novel explores the big questions of life through the story of a highly dysfunctional "family": three sons basically neglected and abandoned by their father Fyodor. The oldest, Dmitry, is engaged to the beautiful Katerina Invanova yet irresistibly drawn to Grushenka, the same woman his wealthy lecherous buffoon of a father is lusting after. To make matters worse, Dmitry has given up rights to a future inheritance to finance his extravagances and now feels his father is cheating him. Perhaps the half brothers he is just getting to know can help resolve these problems. Ivan is a highly educated man who rejects the ideas of a creator God and an immortal soul. Alexey, the youngest, is a gentle spiritual man, apprenticed to the local monastery. How will these three very different brothers affect Smerdyakov, Fyodor's cook, who is also rumoured to be his illegitimate son? Will these family problems be resolved or go on to affect the whole community and the whole society? Read Fyodor Dostoevsky's last and possibly greatest novel to find out!--Submitted by Aloe Each brother in this novel is a vivid, individual personality. Yet, as a group, they represent the classically recognized spectrum of human traits: Ivan Karamazov, one of the famous characters in modern literature, is the tortured intellectual who questions the justice of both man and God, the forerunner of modern philosophical nihilists who see no evidence of moral purpose in the world. Dmitri, the man of passion, actually threatened to kill his father, for they both vie for the favors of the young courtesan Grushenka. If intent of the heart establishes guilt, then Dmitri must be guilty and is, in fact, arrested for the crime. Young Alexey, called Alyosha, represents spirituality and purity, a contrast to the violence and sensuality of Dmitri and the rationality of Ivan. Yet he secretly recognizes his own tendency toward sensuality and his resentment of their irresponsible father. His mentor is Father Zossima, whose teaching on behalf of spiritual brotherhood provides a counterweight to the ambivalent, passionate nature of the Karamazovs. The fourth son, Smerdyakov, is a servant in the household and does not bear the family name. He was born to an idiot woman raped by Fyodor Pavlovitch. He is understandably vulnerable to Ivan's skepticism about human and divine justice. Although this complex family tragedy promotes the vision of Christian redemption, its exploration of intellectual doubt and metaphysical rebellion seems, to some readers, more convincing. Ivan's famous "Legend of the Grand Inquisitor" often appears in anthologies dealing with existentialist literature.--Submitted by Anonymous. I have attempted again to read this book. It was assigned to me in a college class to be read in one week (along with other courses work!) and I never finished it and only remembered the part about the stinking monk, but I did remember the flowing style of the author. What has engaged me now is the wonderful detective/mystery story revolving around Dmitri's confession. I am at page 580 and find the story suddenly as compelling as my wife's favorite detective show on tv : the Closer. The heavy almost deadly discussions regarding god and morality and what kind of god would allow this and that were nauseating. But they helped in providing a picture of daily Russian life and showing the role of the church. The simple village sketch was enchanting in a way almost evoking Robert Frost in some strange way. Of course to me the references to the bible and Shakespeare and Russian playwrights made me identify with this Russian work and made me think of it more as an American or European work. I marveled at how this world was swept with the godless Russian revolution, the horrible horrible world wars, the Stalin terror and the gulag with neighbors accusing neighbors like the Salem Witch trial world. I hope those visiting Russia either in person or via the media during the 2014 Winter Olympics will read this book (be patient) and sense the deep underlying bonds that should unite Europe and America and Russia in a cultural bond.--Submitted by Anonymous.
(1861) Also titled Humiliated and Insulted and The Insulted and Humiliated, this novel was first published in 1861 in the monthly magazine Vremya. Translated by Constance Garnett (1861-1946) in 1914.
(1864) Translated by Constance Garnett (1862-1946). The author of the diary and the diary itself are, of course, imaginary. Nevertheless it is clear that such persons as the writer of these notes not only may, but positively must, exist in our society, when we consider the circumstances in the midst of which our society is formed. I have tried to expose to the view of the public more distinctly than is commonly done, one of the characters of the recent past. He is one of the representatives of a generation still living. In this fragment, entitled "Underground," this person introduces himself and his views, and, as it were, tries to explain the causes owing to which he has made his appearance and was bound to make his appearance in our midst. In the second fragment there are added the actual notes of this person concerning certain events in his life. --Author's This is the first book of a series of novels that form Dostoevsky's "second period" works, which includes "Crime and Punishment", "Karamazov Brothers", "The Idiot" and others. Though a short novel compared to the ones mentioned, we can find here the seeds of many subjects Dostoievsky was to develop further in his subsequent works. The book is divided into two parts. In the first one, the main character - an obscure student whose name is not even mentioned- introduces himself as a sick and spiteful man. He makes a long diatribe against subjects such as free will, rationalism and romanticism. He attempts to explain his ideas of life and the quest of being, relating man with a piano keyboard: man does not want to think of himself as an instrument that can be played by a superior force without having the power to use his will; rather he has to demonstrate he is a human being with an inner and singular self and not just a piece that belongs to a bigger mechanism. In the second part, this troubled man engages in telling us his difficulties to relate to other people. Here the author brings some characters into the scene, whose principal role is to show the main character's incapability to interact in society. The scene in which he delivers a wordy speech to a young prostitute in a dark cubicle is particularly touching.
(1846) A haunting psychological novella of Yakov Petrovich Golyadkin and his doppelg nger. Translated by Constance Garnett (1861-1946)