Shakespeare, Dickens, Homer, Mark Twain, Walt Disney, History.
I avoided this book for a long time: who wants to read a book about a person who's so good everyone around him thinks he's an idiot?
Boy, was I wrong. This is an intense and brooding novel, filled with Dostoevsky's usual array of deeply conflicted characters and blistering monologues. The idiot himself, Prince Myshkin, is no pushover: maybe he's a bit naive at times, but he insists on treating people as equals and assuming their good intentions until contrary evidence is overwhelming. He suffers from epilepsy, and in the course of the novel has a couple of seizures that dramatically alter the direction of the story.
Superficially, the novel is about Myshkin's conflicted relationships with two women: Aglaya, the youngest daughter of a distant relative, with whom he is in love; and Anastassya Filippovna, a "fallen woman" who's been fobbed off by her former lover and who seems to be drifting from one self-destructive relationship to another. Myshkin may have loved her once, but now he mainly pities her. Aglaya, who at one point seems willing to marry Myshkin, ultimately breaks off because of his obsession with Anastassya.
But that's only one small facet of this complex, teeming book. The characters are captivating, the scenes at times almost hypnotic in their intensity. I've only read a few of Dostoevsky's novels, but so far I'm inclined to say this is probably my favorite.
Robert Whitfield (=Simon Vance) gives a stellar reading. Of particular note is his ability to distinguish the voices of the many women in the book: sometimes the shading is subtle, but I always knew instantly who was talking. Well done, highly recommended.
This is the most wonderful presentation of a fascinating story. The plot is intricate and beautifully brought to a conclusion. The readers are simply marvellous. To listen to them all in roles of the colourful characters was a pure joy. An absolute thrill. Wilkie Collins writes with such clarity without wasting a word. Beautifully musical sentences. Lots of fun and a glimpse into an intriguing historical era. Wilkie Collins was a bon vivant and his writing reflects his thirst for life. Witty and clever writing. One of the best mysteries I have read. Great characters and I loved the settings of the action. Reading this has made me want to explore all his other stories and read his letters and biography. There is a Wilkie Collins Society in London which I will join when I finish reading and listening to all his works. I also listened to a shorter story called A Rogue's Life. This was great fun and very tongue in cheek. Again Collins creates a thrilling and symmetrical plot. When I listened to The Woman in White I also bought the book just so I could read the superb language he creates. There is not a single dull moment in this book. I recommend this famous novel to you. Next I am going to listen to and read The Moonstone. Wilkie Collins conveys tension and intrigue in a way that simply grips the reader. He sets scenes to a point where the reader feels totally immersed in his world. He is interesting in the way he treats his women too. The reader sees the sexism of the Age but also feels that Collins himself was not one to stereotype women to the extent that one may see in Dickens' characters. Collins creates somewhat more rounded characters. His virtuous characters are not quite as sickly as those Dickens creates. His villains are really wicked and conniving to an engaging and thrilling extent. Collins takes the reader on a ride that one wishes would never end but which forces one to rush enthusiastically to the conclusion. Brilliant presentation of a gem!