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Publisher's Summary

"Pevear and Volokhonsky may be the premier Russian-to-English translators of the era." (The New Yorker)

Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky’s masterful translation of The Idiot is destined to stand with their versions of Crime and Punishment, The Brothers Karamazov, and Demons as the definitive Dostoevsky in English.

After his great portrayal of a guilty man in Crime and Punishment, Dostoevsky set out in The Idiot to portray a man of pure innocence. The 26-year-old Prince Myshkin, following a stay of several years in a Swiss sanatorium, returns to Russia to collect an inheritance and “be among people”. Even before he reaches home, he meets the dark Rogozhin, a rich merchant’s son whose obsession with the beautiful Nastasya Filippovna eventually draws all three of them into a tragic denouement.

In Petersburg, the prince finds himself a stranger in a society obsessed with money, power, and manipulation. Scandal escalates to murder as Dostoevsky traces the surprising effect of this “positively beautiful man” on the people around him, leading to a final scene that is one of the most powerful in all of world literature.

This audio edition of The Idiot is the only recording of Pevear and Volokhonsky's translation of Dostoevsky’s classic work. This audiobook is masterfully narrated by Peter Batchelor.  

©2001 Richard Pevear, Larissa Volokhonsky (P)2019 Echo Point Books & Media, LLC

What listeners say about The Idiot

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Excellent Reading of the Best Translation

I loved this dynamic reading of what is, in my opinion, the best existing translation of Dostoevsky's The Idiot. I am not a Russian speaker so I can't address the mispronunciations that another reviewer mentioned, but the Russian names and words all sounded great to me and I thought Peter Batchelor did a fantastic reading. He has one of those classic audiobook narrator voices that fits so well with a book like this.
I received this product in exchange for an honest review. After listening to it, I'd like to hear more of Batchelor's work, and I hope there will be more audio editions of Pevear and Volokhonsky's translations!

4 people found this helpful

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I should've learned my lesson

While this psychological deep-dive is one of my all-time favorite novels, the performance of Peter Batchelor completely destroyed the enjoyment factor of this magnificent translation of Dostoevsky's "The Idiot."

I listened to Peter Batchelor read David Copperfield and abhorred it, but was so excited to revisit the P&V translation, I deluded myself into thinking Batchelor would do better this time around. His mumbling, squealing, and inability to enunciate made this listen very arduous and unbearable at times.

Lastly, the very insightful and useful endnotes that the translators prepared for this version of the book are missing. Adding them as an appendix or integrating them into the text as is the case with P&V's "Anna Karenina" would be much appreciated.

4 people found this helpful

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Reader Destroys Dostoevsky Classic

I'm giving the story five stars because I've read the book; if my only experience had been this reading, I couldn't have appreciated the novel. Of course, every performance of a literary work is also an interpretation. Based on Peter Batchelor's performance, he must understand "The Idiot" to be some kind of strange slapstick cartoon. To give him his due, when he is reading the straight-ahead third person narrator, he is OK, but as soon as he voices a character, the audiobook becomes almost impossible to listen to. Most of the female characters, be they dowagers or tragic femme fatales, sound like the old Monty Python troupe doing a skit in drag. The more macho male characters remind me of Bluto in the vintage Popeye cartoons--but with an English accent. Batchelor's voice for a young anarchist dying of consumption brings to mind a hysterical Mickey Mouse. I could go on, but suffice it to say that the performance is a train wreck. Don't make the mistake that I did and purchase this book for the Pevear/Volokhonsky translation because the translation becomes immaterial in Bachelor's misguided hands. Most of all, I want to urge any students or other readers approaching this great novel for the first time not to judge it by this audiobook. Read the book itself or listen to another reading--preferably a competent performance by an actor who comprehends the words on the page.

2 people found this helpful

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Right translation - fatal flaw

Everything is fine here, except the narrator was apparently never told how to correctly pronounce Nastasia Philipovna. As a result, I find that I cannot listen to this performance.

3 people found this helpful

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this translation is not Pevear and Volokhonsky.

Very disappointed. Where can I get the advertised translation? Where is Audibles quality control? Again very disappointed.

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Endearing, Insightful, and Saddening

What if you met someone who was truly without guile?

This question must have occurred to Dostoevsky, who wrote a whole novel about such a character. Prince Myshkin is an endearing, and at times enigmatic, protagonist, an ideal more than a person (though perhaps one day I shall be blessed to converse with such a one).

As with Crime and Punishment, Dostoevsky is masterful in setting up coversations between multiple characters. There are some that I will continue to ponder, long after the book is finished.

Peter Batchelor voices Prince Myshkin and Rogozhin excellently, though I did find Ippolit and Lizaveta a bit shrill for my liking.

I eagerly look forward to Dostoevsky's next novel.