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.
Andrew Peterson has a captivating writing style that combines an excellent story, lovable characters, unexpected plot twists, and delightful humor! This book is enjoyable for people of all ages. Everyone I've shared this story with has loved it, most buying the following books as soon as they could.
If you want a great book to read alone or with your family, On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness is the ideal one.
Peter Sandon has the perfect voice for a narrator. Deep, powerful, and British, it is perfect for this story. Near the start there is a gloomy poem that when he reads comes to life as a prophecy of doom; perfect. At times of humor, his voice carries the straight British tone that communicates far more humor than a jovial narrator ever could. Overall, Peter Sandon has one of the best narrating voices I have ever heard.