“My intention is to portray a really beautiful soul.” - DostoevskyIn The Idiot, a saintly man, Prince Myshkin, is thrust into the heart of a society more concerned with wealth, power, and sexual conquest than the ideals of Christianity. Myshkin soon finds himself at the center of a violent love triangle in which a notorious woman and a beautiful young girl become rivals for his affections. Extortion, scandal, and murder follow, testing the wreckage left by human misery to find “man in man.”
The Idiot is a quintessentially Russian novel, one that penetrates the complex psyche of the Russian people. “They call me a psychologist,” wrote Dostoevsky. “That is not true. I’m only a realist in the higher sense; that is, I portray all the depths of the human soul.”
(P)2001 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
I have read other Dostoevsky books before, and for some reason The Idiot has never appealed to me. I love Dostoevsky but did not have high expectations for this book. To my surprise,I really enjoyed this book when I finally decided to listen to it. The story is catching with the typical Dostoevsky observations on life, human behaviour, philosophy without being a lecture on these themes. It is worth reading/listening. Plus, the narration is great.
Narrator Robert Whitfield gives individuality to every personality in this character-driven novel. The Idiot careens from drawing room comedy to pathos to political satire sometimes in a wink. Whitfield is up to all the challenges and renders all the tension and nuance found on the page. The only lapse is the light fluttery voice of Natasha Filipovna which does not match the seductive beauty's willful character.
One star is withheld because of the translation which at key moments opts for a word that, although correct, misses the sarcastic or hyperbolic intent.
This book will entertain you while you listen and haunt you with its personalities long after.
The story reads much like a soap opera in high society. Some analysts of "The Idiot" claim Dostoevsky designed the characters to be representative of various aspects Russian society in the 1800's while others claim that the main character's are representative of Christ and the devil. Neither were apparent to me. There are also many characters, which make the story the little difficult to follow. (However, kudos to the narrator, who's outstanding performance minimized this particular difficulty with the story.) The story seemed long and at times, seemed to go around in circles without contributing to the whole. While "The Idiot" is not necessarily bad, it does not soar to the heights of Dostoevsky's "Crime and Punishment".
Robert Whitfield's reading of Prince Myshkin is perfect. It is worth buying the audiobook. There is a certain genius in the way Whitfield's inflection unveils the personality of Myshkin - the personality Dostoevsky surely considered "heroic." This reading is truly a unique accomplishment.
Such an author as Dostoevsky can seem daunting on audiobook. The Idiot proved slightly challenging at the outset due to the subtle details of relationships between the characters, and the unfamiliar Russian names. I was certainly not prepared for each character to go by two titles interchangeably. Yet I found it well worthwhile to exhibit some patience in learning this facet of Russian culture.
Though the story is quite detailed, I am glad to have experienced it on audiobook for the first time reading it. Robert Whitfield employs his voice to great effect in reinforcing the characters' traits - for example Myshkin's innocence, Rogozhin's darkness, or Nastassya Filippovna's insanity.
In this, Whitfield delivers one of my favorite audiobook performances. In performing each personality uniquely, he by no means does it to such an extreme as to be artificial or cheesy. His conveyance of the characters is in fact very natural and easy to follow by ear.
As for the story itself, I regret that the Constance Garnett translations of Dostoevsky prevail on Audible. Nonetheless, I found it a riveting and meaningful tale. So many complex themes intermingle flawlessly in this story. I always looked forward to long drives when I was working on The Idiot. Certain passages were so magnificent that I would re-listen to them over and over again.
I highly recommend this for both author and narrator. It is a combination difficult to beat.
This novel has a bewildering number of characters.
Robert Whitfield manages to give each of them a different voice.
It's amazing to see the different directions people will go to in their conceptions of a another person's behavior.
Truly enjoyed this book -- Narrator did a great job!
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