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The Idiot

Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Book Overview: 

The extraordinary child-adult Prince Myshkin, confined for several years in a Swiss sanatorium suffering from severe epilepsy, returns to Russia to claim his inheritance and to find a place in healthy human society.
The teeming St Petersburg community he enters is far from receptive to an innocent like himself, despite some early successes and relentless pursuit by grotesque fortune-hunters. His naive gaucheries give rise to extreme reactions among his new acquaintance, ranging from anguished protectiveness to mockery and contempt.
But even before reaching the city, during the memorable train journey that opens the novel, he has encountered the demonic Rogozhin, the son of a wealthy merchant – who is in thrall to the equally doomed Nastasia Filippovna: beautiful, capricious and destructively neurotic, she joins with the two weirdly contrasted men in a spiralling dance of death…

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .Yes, quite so. I wished to ask you whether you could show me the way to Nastasia Philipovna's tonight. I must go; I have business with her; I was not invited but I was introduced. Anyhow I am ready to trespass the laws of propriety if only I can get in somehow or other."

"My dear young friend, you have hit on my very idea. It was not for this rubbish I asked you to come over here" (he pocketed the money, however, at this point), "it was to invite your alliance in the campaign against Nastasia Philipovna tonight. How well it sounds, 'General Ivolgin and Prince Muishkin.' That'll fetch her, I think, eh? Capital! We'll go at nine; there's time yet."

"Where does she live?"

"Oh, a long way off, near the Great Theatre, just in the square there—It won't be a large party."

The general sat on and on. He had ordered a fresh bottle when the prince arrived; this took him an hour to drink, and then he had another, and another, during . . . Read More