The Idiot [Blackstone]

  • by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  • Narrated by Robert Whitfield
  • 22 hrs and 33 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Despite the harsh circumstances besetting his own life - abject poverty, incessant gambling, and the death of his firstborn child - Dostoevsky produced a second masterpiece, The Idiot, just two years after completing Crime and Punishment. In it, 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."

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What the Critics Say

"Nothing is outside Dostoevsky's province....Out of Shakespeare there is no more exciting reading." (Virginia Woolf)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Intense and painfully sad

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.
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- Tad "Shakespeare, Dickens, Homer, Mark Twain, Walt Disney, History."

good audio

While this has not been my favourite Dostoevsky, (brother's karamazov was better), it remains on my 'must-read' list for Russian authors. The characters were very vivid, and the good narration made it easy to distinguish characters. Did I say 'good' narration? Actually, it was marveleous. Some of the voices were quite comical when they suited the characters, and I have to credit this narrator (robert whitfield) with making this book truly enjoyable. I would recommend this book to any Russian literature fan. It's an integral part of the 'Russian Canon'.
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- Victoria

Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-19-2003
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.