Reprinted by © HHP 2001/11/25 GG
Thoughts on The Idiot by Dostoyevsky

Hermann Hesse


[Cover of Fyodor Dostoyevsky The Idiot, New York: Dell, 1959] - Laurel Dostoyevsky Series)

THE IDIOT makes the profoundly moving revelation that this is a world of sinners in which the saint is doomed either to ostracism or death, its titular hero is one of the most memorable characters in Russian literature. The gentle, childlike and almost saintly Prince Myshkin is a man who strives with heartbreaking and ultimately tragic persistence to promote charity, understanding and love among the tortured transgressors with whom he comes in contact. The magnificence of his failure only serves to emphasize the significance of his role as spokesman for the ideas by which the author hoped to save the Russia of his day. 

“The chief idea of the novel is to portray the positively good man. There is nothing in the world more difficult to do, and especially now. All writers … who have tried to portray the positively good man have always failed … The good is an ideal, but tis ideal, both ours and that of civilized Europe, is still far from having been worked out There is only one positively good man in the world — Christ.”  (Dostoevsky)



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at the University of California, Santa Barbara