Author: Fyodor Dostoeyevsky
Date Finished Reading: ?
The world celebrates when a rare, seemingly superhuman individual is born every couple or so years, gifted with the ability to change almost everything. The exclusive club includes Leonardo Da Vinci, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, my absolute favorite, Salvador Dali…and then there’s Fyodor Dostoeyevsky.
Russian novels are scary. For one thing, they’re thick. The Idiot has around 1,100 pages for a normal paperback. They’re reputed to be dark, sometimes cold, serious, intense and deep — the same characteristics perhaps many people have stereotyped the Russian community itself.
I chose to read The Idiot because of the title. A story about a Russian simpleton will be, well, simpler.
So far, just a few pages of the book had made me stand in awe of how brilliant a writer he really is. The characters are so beautifully complex, and real. Very 3-dimensional, so to speak. Each person’s character is so well-differentiated, their histories explained at depth, such as you don’t judge anyone to be good or bad. We sympathize the infamous Nastassya Filippovna who is pompous on the outside but values too little of herself on the inside. We realize that Rogozhin, a foul-tempered, bipolar-ish man, merely seeks to gain/buy affection and admiration he has never gotten from his own parents. Ganya has made a balancing act of his integrity with relief of being a prisoner of poverty (but aren’t we all co-acrobats?). Poor Colia is like any typical adolescent, desperately seeking idealism. They are all victims of circumstance who are getting by through varying degrees of ego strength.
My favorite though, will always be the prince. For anyone to dislike him is ineffable. He sees the world in a different colored lens. Or rather sees the world in more angles and perspectives than we do and thus is able to find any trace of goodness, no matter how small or obscure, in every person or situation. Dostoeyevsky has shown us through this man that pure goodness does exist in human form. However, the prince is an idiot. His handicap is complete blindness to evil and corruption. He is gullible, overly sensitive and easily abused, in contrast with a wise yet good man who is aware of the power of evil and thus strengthens his barriers.
Ergo, the first half of the book throws us a question: Does a fine line really exist between idiocy (or being incapable of understanding other people’s evil mental states) and pure, untainted goodness?