Dostoevsky, The Idiot

Patito de Hule

Ad Honorem
Jan 2009
3,333
Minneapolis, MN
how would people rate the Idiot when comparing it to Dostoevsky's other books? i preferred crime and punishment yet these two books are the only ones of dostoevsky i have read so far. i felt that The Idiot started out very well and just as it crime and punishment i found it almost impossible to predict how events would unfold as the book progressed. yet the book really felt like it was pointlessly dragging on for much of it with no real aim in sight and its only near the end that things get interesting again.
I haven't read any of Dostoevsky's works in about 15 years or more, but as I remember them:

Compared to his other works, The Idiot did not seem to have much plot. Rather it was a characterization, and an excellent one.

The Brothers Karamazov had a far better plot or kept to the thread of the plot better. But the philosophy got a little heavy for me and there were some lengthy parts that seemed independent of the novel--more philosophical. Some of the symbolism initially escaped me; for example there was the part of the holy monk who died and didn't smell. Smerdyakov also means "smell of death" and that theme appeared in several other places. I would have missed it but that I was taking Russian in the university at the time and asked my professor about it.

Crime and Punishment was to me the best in terms of plot. It was connected all the way through, yet the use of an anti-hero to spell out Dostoevsky's existentialist philosophy was very good. But what I enjoyed the most is the amount of skill it takes to make a reader root for a cold-blooded axe-murderer like Raskolnikov.

These are the three novels I remember best. I've also read The Demons and Notes from the Underground, but I don't remember much about either. What I found interesting about comparing the three I mentioned is the different use of plot versus characterization to deliver the message. The Idiot is all characterization whereas Crime and Punishment was all plot.
 
Jun 2011
1,662
I recommend everybody to watch this screen version of "The Idiot" made by Bortko in 2003:

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d5aNBjfgCS4]The Idiot (2003) (English subtitles). Part 1/10. - YouTube[/ame]

Advantages:

1. Word-for-word exposition of Dostoevsky's novel
2. Brilliant work of russian actors

After the demonstration of this movie on TV teenagers(!!!) started reading Dostoevsky.

Yevgeniy Mironov (Prince Myshkin) became a superstar
 
Jun 2011
1,662
[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Y67w8SDggk&feature=related]The Idiot (2003) (English subtitles). Part 2/10. - YouTube[/ame]
 

Patito de Hule

Ad Honorem
Jan 2009
3,333
Minneapolis, MN
Has anyone looked at the meanings or connotations of some of the characters' names? I know Myshkin suggests "mousey" but I don't remember any of the others.
 
Aug 2011
217
American living in HaNoi VN
I'm excited to check out that film you posted, but I better finish the book first.
 

irishcrusader95

Ad Honorem
Aug 2010
6,740
Ireland
I haven't read any of Dostoevsky's works in about 15 years or more, but as I remember them:

Compared to his other works, The Idiot did not seem to have much plot. Rather it was a characterization, and an excellent one.

The Brothers Karamazov had a far better plot or kept to the thread of the plot better. But the philosophy got a little heavy for me and there were some lengthy parts that seemed independent of the novel--more philosophical. Some of the symbolism initially escaped me; for example there was the part of the holy monk who died and didn't smell. Smerdyakov also means "smell of death" and that theme appeared in several other places. I would have missed it but that I was taking Russian in the university at the time and asked my professor about it.

Crime and Punishment was to me the best in terms of plot. It was connected all the way through, yet the use of an anti-hero to spell out Dostoevsky's existentialist philosophy was very good. But what I enjoyed the most is the amount of skill it takes to make a reader root for a cold-blooded axe-murderer like Raskolnikov.

These are the three novels I remember best. I've also read The Demons and Notes from the Underground, but I don't remember much about either. What I found interesting about comparing the three I mentioned is the different use of plot versus characterization to deliver the message. The Idiot is all characterization whereas Crime and Punishment was all plot.
you described that all very well, yes the idiot is about characterization rather then a plot which can make it harder to get into yet once finished you see it for what it really is. also true about crime and punishment, it really does take skill to make the reader root for a murderer and its really the cunning of Raskolnikov that i loved the most like the way he effectively confessed the murder to his doctor because that's the last thing he expected him to do so it convinced him he was not the murderer.
I recommend everybody to watch this screen version of "The Idiot" made by Bortko in 2003:

The Idiot (2003) (English subtitles). Part 1/10. - YouTube

Advantages:

1. Word-for-word exposition of Dostoevsky's novel
2. Brilliant work of russian actors

After the demonstration of this movie on TV teenagers(!!!) started reading Dostoevsky.

Yevgeniy Mironov (Prince Myshkin) became a superstar
can they really make an effective movie of Dostoevsky's novels? many of them involves the thoughts of the characters such as in crime and punishment were we spend much of our time in what his thoughts are so there's no artistic war to transmit that to a movie that would have the same effect. that is great though that the movies have gotten people interested in Dostoevsky again and i do wish more people were interested in him.
Has anyone looked at the meanings or connotations of some of the characters' names? I know Myshkin suggests "mousey" but I don't remember any of the others.
i think it means Meek and that is the main characteristic he emits as he is very accommodating with people.
 

avon

Forum Staff
May 2008
14,253
Has anyone looked at the meanings or connotations of some of the characters' names? I know Myshkin suggests "mousey" but I don't remember any of the others.
I know that 'Rog' is Russian for 'horn', so perhaps Rogozhin equates to a horned being like the Devil. Given his violent nature and his murder of Natashya, that would seem easy enough to concieve.
 

Patito de Hule

Ad Honorem
Jan 2009
3,333
Minneapolis, MN
"Myš" means "mouse". So "Miškin" can be translated as "Mouseman" or "Mouser". It is normal Russian name.
So is Rogozhin (as in General Rogozhin). But Dostoevsky was good at having hidden meanings in names just as Tolstoy often had hidden meanings in his landscapes. There are too many of them not to have been deliberate, and they reveal something about the author's state of mind when he was writing.