The Idiot

By Fyodor Dostoyevsky

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The Idiot (Russian: Идиот, Idiot) is a novel written by 19th century Russian author Fyodor Dostoevsky. It was first published serially in Russkiy Vestnik between 1868 and 1869. The Idiot is ranked beside some of Dostoevsky's other works as one of the most brilliant literary achievements of the Russian "Golden Age" of Literature. It was not published in English until the 20th century. Twenty-seven-year-old Prince Lev Nikolayevich Myshkin returns to Russia after spending several years at a Swiss sanatorium. Scorned by the society of St. Petersburgh for his Idiocy (epilepsy) and being too generous and innocent, he finds himself at the centre of a struggle between a rich, kept woman and a gorgeous, virtuous girl who both wish to win his affection. Unfortunately, Myshkin's very goodness seems to bring disaster to all he meets, leading to a climax that tragically reveals how, in a world obsessed with money, power, and sexual conquest, a sanatorium is the only place for a saint.

The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoyevsky: Prince Lev Nikolayevich Myshkin, a fair-haired young man in his late twenties and a descendant of one of the oldest Russian lines of nobility, arrives in St. Petersburg on a November morning. He has spent the last four years in a Swiss clinic for treatment of his "idiocy" and epilepsy. Myshkin's only relation in St. Petersburg is the very distant Lizaveta Prokofyevna Yepanchin. Madame Yepanchin is the wife of General Yepanchin, a wealthy and respected man in his late fifties. The prince makes the acquaintance of the Yepanchins, who have three daughters, Alexandra, Adelaida, and Aglaya, the latter being the youngest and the most beautiful. General Yepanchin has an ambitious and rather vain assistant by the name of Gavril Ardalyonovich Ivolgin (nicknamed Ganya) whom Myshkin also meets during his visit to the household. Ganya, though he is actually in love with Aglaya, is in the midst of trying to marry Anastassya Filippovna Barashkov, an extraordinarily beautiful "fatal woman" who was once the mistress of the aristocrat Totsky. Totsky has promised Ganya 75,000 rubles if he marries the "fallen" Nastassya Filippovna. As Myshkin is so innocent and naïve, Ganya openly discusses the subject of the proposed marriage in front of the prince. The prince rents a room in the Ivolgin apartment, also occupied by Ganya, his sister, Varvara Ardalyonovna (Varya); his mother, Nina Alexandrovna; teenage brother, Nikolai (Kolya); his father, General Ivolgin; and another lodger by the name of Ferdyshchenko... (Summary from Wikipedia)

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