©2000 Blackstone Audiobooks. Originally published in 1880 in Russia.
"Nothing is outside Dostoevsky's province....Out of Shakespeare there is no more exciting reading." (Virginia Woolf)
The title "The Idiot" is enjoyably ironic.
The matriarch of one of the families is, as we probably still are, consumed with how her family appears to society. It gnaws her. The narrator casually tosses off a comment that describes her. "If you have wart on forehead or nose, you always fancy no one has anything else to do than stare at your wart , make fun of it, despise you for it, even though you have discovered America."
I could not have sounded out the legion of Russian names. The narrator easily navigates through them.
The character with "consumption" is compelling. If I wasn't sure before, I am now. I don't want consumption. Also a cautionary tale to beware when the fiendish coquette and/or loose woman is around. Does it take a woman to be able to see from a mile away that things will go south with her around?
When the society discussion turns to self-preservation, self-destruction, nihilism, etc., I was glad the author had one of the characters tell his co-horts they were boring. They moved on and the pace picked up.
I liked Crime and Punishment and the Brothers Karamazov better, but this was also good.
I likes this book so much, that I even prefer it to The Brothers Karamazov. In The Idiot, the "angelic" character Myshkin is even more annoying than Alyosha Karamazov, but the other characters are much more likeable in this book. There is a great deal of humor, and it is less tempered here than in the Karamazov drama.
Lizabetha Prokofievna's character is surrounded by humor and she was the most sympathetic character; hers made the book very enjoyable.
"Be quiet, Aglaya! Be quiet, Alexandra! It is none of your business! Don't fuss round me like that, Evgenie Pavlovitch; you exasperate me! So, my dear," she cried, addressing the prince, "you go so far as to beg their pardon! He says, 'Forgive me for offering you a fortune.' And you, you mountebank, what are you laughing at?" she cried, turning suddenly on Lebedeff's nephew. "'We refuse ten thousand roubles; we do not beseech, we demand!' As if he did not know that this idiot will call on them tomorrow to renew his offers of money and friendship. You will, won't you? You will? Come, will you, or won't you?"
Both The Idiot and The Brothers Karamazov have the "angelic" character; presumably, the one who is too good to survive in our world of men and women. These are similar to Lars Von Trier's "Dancer in the Dark" or "Breaking the Waves". However, whereas the film characters are very likeable, Myshkin and Alyosha are annoying or downright infuriating. However, Dostoyevki knits such an entertaining story with other, flawed characters who are very likeable, so the overall experience is absorbing.
On a quick research, I couldn't find the origin of the idiom, "Prince among men." Prince Myshkin in Dostoevsky's "The Idiot" is who immediately came to mind when I recently heard that phrase, well after having read and listened to this book several months ago.
What happens when you drop into higher society a man with a title but an illness that took him away to Switzerland for all his youth? Dostoevsky wanted to write a novel that answered the question of how society of the day would treat a true innocent, an unmarried man in his mid-20s who does not sin and only has love to give (in Christianity, only One fits that description). To me, this was Dostoevsky's sad, but hopeful parabolic answer. While published in 1869, "The Idiot" is essentially timeless and one of the best 100 novels of all time.
The narration was perfect.
I highly recommend this audiobook.
This novel is always interesting, but often difficult to follow and I think many people will be tempted to give up in a few spots. I would concur with the other reviewers that the narrator did a good job with a challenging cast of characters to distinguish. I would also suggest that this is not the easiest introduction to Dostoyevsky -- Crime and Punishment or even Notes from the Underground would be better.
I work. I ski. I play. I write. I have a family. I garden. I coach. I volunteer. I sketch. I run. I read.
I have not read the print version.
The money in the fire
I have not.
I didn't want to think that the guy was an idiot, but I think he ended up being just that.
I like Crime and Punishment better.
We all know this is a masterwork. This reader is very talented and brings the story to life.
Steller performance and incredible story.
Brothers Karamazov, Crime and Punishment
Excellent pronunciations of Russian names etc, different voices for different characters and a very good steady rate of delivery of the content. Sounded like a play almost!
Both laugh and cry... took me to a time and place where I have no past experience with yet made me feel home.
Can't believe I waited so many years to read this book.
Well, I think Dostoievski is the best writer of all times. This is one of his best books, after Crime & Punishment and The Karamazov Brothers
The whole book
Excellent narrator. I liked the way he use his voice to intepretate different characters
No moment in particular
I love Dostoevsky. But I wasted my money on this audiobook because of the narration. Robert Whitfield is technically excellent: his enunciation, his voices which vary according to character, his fluidity. All this is great. For me, however, there was one big drawback which is a deal-breaker: the super fast, breakneck speed at which he reads the book. Actually, I listened to the sample first, and choose it because I really did want a narrator who read relatively quickly. I have a restless mind and do not like slow poke readers. And in the sample this sounded good. But when I began listening for long periods of time I realized that I hated the way Whitfield rushes through everything with barely a pause for a breath. In a novel with Dostoevskian depth, this just will not do. One has no time to appreciate subtleties, nor even non-subtle, grand sweeps of emotion, because everything gets breathlessly passed by in what quickly begins to feel like a rush through the text. I had almost no time to absorb the feeling of the narrative, or appreciate the import of events. I kept thinking, "My God, man, slow down just a bit!" Eventually I gave up listening. It was a painful $20-something lesson.
I'm fairly liberal with 5 star reviews, If I thoroughly enjoy something it gets 5 stars.
The Idiot was the first time I had to re-think my practice because it is so fantastic I feel as though I should be able to rate it higher.
The narration is superb and Robert Whitfield does an excellent job of making every character spring immediately to life and the extended dialogue in many of Dostoevsky's scenes is a real treat.
I recommend this 100% without reservations.
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