The most autobiographical novel by the author of Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov—and the namesake of Elif Batuman’s debut novel, The Idiot
Returning to St Petersburg from a Swiss sanatorium, the gentle and naïve epileptic Prince Myshkin— known as the “idiot”—pays a visit to his distant relative General Yepanchin and proceeds to charm the General and his family. But his life is thrown into turmoil when he chances on a photograph of the beautiful Nastasya Filippovna. Utterly infatuated, he soon finds himself caught up in a love triangle and drawn into a web of blackmail, betrayal, and finally, murder. In Prince Myshkin, Dostoyevsky portrays the purity of “a truly beautiful soul” and explores the perils that innocence and goodness face in a corrupt world.
David McDuff's translation brilliantly captures the novel's idiosyncratic and dream-like language and the nervous, elliptic flow of the narrative. This edition also contains an introduction by William Mills Todd III, which is a fascinating examination of the pressures on Dostoyevsky as he wrote the story of his Christ-like hero.