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The Idiot (1869)
by Fyodor Dostoevsky
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Fyodor Dostoyevsky at his best! One of the best classics I've read in a really long time. ( )
مدتی پیش بعد از فارغ شدن از مشکلات تصمیم گرفتم یک رمان بخونم و «جنایات و مکافات» رو انتخاب کردم اما یکی از دوستام داشت ابله رو میخوند و با تهدید و ترعیب من رو واداشت که ابله رو بخونم!
داستان درباره شخصی سادهدل و پاکنهاد به نام شاهزاده میشکین است که پس از معالجه امراض روانی و صرع از سوئیس به روسیه میاد و در قدم اول عاشق دختری بدنام به اسم ناستازی میشه. شاهزاده معصومی که میاد و کثافتهای جامعهش رو میبینه و هیچوقت نمیتونه خودش رو با اون وفق بده و در آخر از خودکشی صحبت میکنه و دستِ آخر به همون دیوونگی پناه میبره. نقطهقوت رمان به جرأت شخصیتپردازی اونه! شاهزادهی ابله گاهی اونقدر آگاه و به هوش میشد که در موعد مقرر، ابله بودن اون کاملاً من رو آزار میداد و چقدر باورپذیر ابله بودن و آگاه بودن اون کنار هم جمع شده بود و تیشهای به داستان نمیزد. شخصیت شاهزاده در درجهی اول خیلی عجیب بود. شخصیتی که در عین قهرمان کلاسیک بودن گاهی به ضدقهرمان هم نزدیک میشد. شخصیتی که هر وقت در جمع قرار میگرفت تب میکرد و مریضی به سراغش میاومد و تحمل آدمها رو نداشت. شخصیت جذاب دیگه ناستازی بود. ناستازی شخصیتی با بلاتکلیفیهای روانی مخصوص به خودش... شخصیتی که بد نیست و بدنامه! شخصیتی که در عین حال که دوستش داری ازش متنفر هم هستی. شخصیت جذاب دیگهای که برای من وجود داشت پاولیچف بود با اینکه هیچگاه به صورت مستقیم در داستان حضور نداشت و تنها در خاطرات بهش اشاره میشد. شخصیتی که تو ذهن شاهزاده قدرتمند و پاک بود و هربار با قسمتی از زندگیش روبهرو میشد که اون رو به تردید مینداخت و یا زوایای پنهان زندگیش رو به اون نشون میداد.
من با رمانهای زیادی ارتباط برقرار کردم اما تنها دو رمان بود که تونستم همزادپنداری خیلی نزدیکی با شخصیت داشته باشم اولین رمان «زوربای یونانی» بود که من خیلی شخصیت خودم رو نزدیک به اربابِ زوربا میدونستم و اینبار شاهزاده خیلی من رو تحتتأثیر قرار داد.
تعلیقها نیز به نسبت مناسب و قدرتمند بود. شخصیت آگلائه و عشقی که بین شاهزاده و او وجود داره خودش کمک به تعلیق میکنه. اما گاهی نوع روایت فضا از رئالیسم فاصله میگرفت و به رمانتیک نزدیکتر میشد. فضاسازی هم کمتر در خدمت داستان بود و بیشتر بستری برای رخ دادن داستان در اون بود. تنها جایی که خیلی خوب توصیف شده بود و در خدمت داستان بود آپارتمان روگوژین بود. با این اوصاف بسیار بسیار بسیار از خوندن این رمان لذت بردم و باهاش حال کردم.
A sense of foreboding dominates this lengthy novel from the outset, yet like the best of mysteries, I suffered from misdirection throughout and assumed the main character was doomed until I reached the final pages. By his innocence and sincerity, he had provoked reactions that included envy and unreasoning hatred. I was sure he would be killed in the end; I was only unsure who would wield the knife or pistol; there were many possible candidates.
But no, Prince Myshkin (the “idiot” of the title) does not lose his life, simply his mind after spending the night shut in a room with the corpse of his runaway bride, sharing a sofa with the woman’s killer.
As many have pointed out, if one defines the novel genre based on the long tradition perfected in Britain and France, there is much wrong with many of the great Russian novels, including this one. It’s a fact the author slyly concedes when he has the prince discover the last book his missing bride was reading, Madame Bovary, and pocket it on his way out the door.
Earlier on, another book had served as a sign. From the opening pages, it’s clear that the prince is a Christ figure (the drunken scene as twelve guests greet the prince on his birthday—-a parody of the Last Supper—reinforced my conviction we were headed to Golgotha). But in Part Two, Chapter One, he writes a letter to one of the two women he loves, Aglaia Ivanovna. She doesn’t want to misplace the letter, so she puts it where she files anything important: her copy of Don Quixote. Aha, I said to myself, in addition to being the doomed innocent lamb, Prince Myshkin is also a knight errant. This also changed my understanding of Nastasya Filippovna, the other woman he loved. Until then, I had taken her as a Mary Magdalene, but from then on, she was also Dulcinea.
To say that the prince loved these two women puts it too simply, though the prince himself says he does. Especially toward the darkly beautiful Nastasya, love mingles with pity, fear, and hatred. She reciprocates this volatile mix of feelings, similar to what Aglaia feels toward the prince.
But love and its conventional outcome, marriage, seem to be things Prince Myshkin allows to happen to him (or not) rather than anything he initiates or is capable of consummating. In fact, not only in his relation to these two women but toward the vast cast of “strange and incredible characters” (as the narrator refers to them) that populate the book, he is open to all. The prince is a passive protagonist (he “acts” only in the sense a catalyst does); he seems incapable of distinguishing friend from foe. I have to qualify that: He seems aware throughout the book that Rogozhin is his nemesis, yet extends to him the same non-judgmental friendliness with which he encounters everyone.
Though the prince doesn’t judge, he nevertheless displays remarkable insight into those he meets, telling them guilelessly what he sees (this straightforwardness on his part is perhaps why, for all his understanding, he can’t recognize guile in others).
The book contains repeated references to “the woman question.” I suspect this was a topic in mid-nineteenth-century Russia, although I don’t know. Yet I was ambivalent about Dostoyevsky’s treatment of the key female characters. Laudably, the author seems to share the prince’s refusal to join in the general condemnation of Nastasya as a shameful woman but views her as the victim of sexual abuse instead. Yet the prince’s alacrity to conclude she is crazy hardly seems more progressive—-particularly since her counterpart, Aglaia, with her violent mood swings and irrational behavior, seems another exemplar of an alien species that confounds the author.
As with any long Russian masterpiece, keeping the characters straight is challenging. Not only are there so many, but they’re referred to interchangeably by their family surname, by given name plus patronymic, and by familiar name. For the most part, I was able to keep them apart. Still, in one scene, two families, the Eplanchins and the Igolvins, are present in full, along with assorted other characters, including a new suitor for Aglaia’s hand, Yevgeny Pavlovich. He is newly introduced into the story, and I failed to take much note of him and thought his interjections were those of General Igolvin. I had to go back over the scene again when I realized my error. It happened again in a crucial scene toward the end when Aglaia drags the prince to confront Nastasya and Rogozhin. Though only four are present, there is so much use of pronouns rather than names that I got lost.
Despite these difficulties, I enjoyed the book. Part of the pleasure was the story itself. Much of the text is dialogue, and much of what is not seems like extended stage directions; there is little interiority in the characters. I imagined what a great six-hour miniseries this would make, with nothing cut. Had I been able to film it in the 1930s, I’d have loved to cast Garbo (with dyed hair) as Nastasya and Jean Harlow (playing against type) as Aglaia. For the prince, perhaps Peter Lorre; once again, against type.
Beyond the plot, I also enjoyed technical aspects. Along with the symbolic references to key works in the novel tradition, there are several cases of twinning. Among them are the poor girl Marie, whom the prince befriended during his sanatorium stay in Switzerland, as a counterpart to Nastasya, and Ferdyshtenko, who claims for himself Prince Myshkin’s virtue of speaking the truth but does so with a vindictiveness foreign to the prince. And at times, the narrator intrudes, such as in his reflection on the employment of outrageous characters in novels rather than the ordinary people of daily life, or (also in Part 4), when he confesses to being a less than omniscient narrator.
I read the widely-available Constance Garnett translation. Apart from getting off to an inauspicious start, which due to an unclear antecedent seems to say the train is thawing—an error every other translation I checked avoided—it was readable.
A frustrating read... i am still processing it and likely need someone to help me with it. I am reading the part of the Mochulsky bio about the Idiot and that helps a lot, but still... Yes, the difficult portrayal of the perfect man. It's full of striking scenes and characters- like the wonderful opening train scene with Myshkin, Rogzhin and Lebedev.. and that transition to the Nastaya Fillipovna drama. Ok- there we have it and then it spins and spins till the tragic conclusion- but what is really happening? what is the point of Myshkin's "development" in the novel? The perfect man evolves? Well, he becomes more acclimated to his society - everyone seems to love him and yes, he is an innocent. ok. and...? Don't really see the point of Aglaya either- ok, so she is also amazing and it is "tragic" that it doesn't work out, but is it really? She's pretty annoying most of the time. Though I did love the part (she's involved) in the long digression of merely average people (Ganya). Ippolit's confession is well put and serves as a kind of dark manifesto. Lizaveta always brings life to the scenes she is in and i cherish her character. So- so much to recommend the book- but ... what's the point, again? Enlighten me.
Dostoyevsky set out to portray a "positively beautiful man" in The Idiot. Unfortunately in our society, such a character can only end up one way.
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A Russian prince returns to Saint Petersburg after a long absence in Switzerland, where he was undergoing treatment for epilepsy. On the train he meets and befriends a man of low origins. This man becomes the dark counterpart of the inherently good prince; the two can also be seen as Christ- and devil-like figures. Dostoevsky wished to portray an unspoiled man, whose goodness is plunged into the chaos of Saint Petersberg society and a passionate contest for the disreputable Nastasya.
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)891.733Literature Literature of other languages Literature of east Indo-European and Celtic languages Russian and East Slavic languages Russian fiction 1800–1917
2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.
Editions: 014044792X, 0451531523
An edition of this book was published by Urban Romantics.
An edition of this book was published by Tantor Media.