Novel written by the Russian author Fyodor Dostoevsky and first published in 1868. Dostoevsky's motives for writing The Idiot stem from his desire to depict the "positively good man". This man is naturally likened to Christ in many ways. Dostoevsky uses Myshkin's introduction to the Petersburg society as a way to contrast the nature of Russian society at the time and the isolation and innocence of this good man.
The title is an ironic reference to the central character of the novel, Prince (Knyaz) Lev Nikolaevich Myshkin, a young man whose goodness and open-hearted simplicity lead many of the more worldly characters he encounters to mistakenly assume that he lacks intelligence and insight.
In the character of Prince Myshkin, Dostoevsky set himself the task of depicting "the positively good and beautiful man".The novel examines the consequences of placing such a unique individual at the centre of the conflicts, desires, passions and egoism of worldly society, both for the man himself and for those with whom he becomes involved.
Joseph Frank describes The Idiot as "the most personal of all Dostoevsky's major works, the book in which he embodies his most intimate, cherished, and sacred convictions.
It includes descriptions of some of his most intense personal ordeals, such as epilepsy and mock execution, and explores moral, spiritual and philosophical themes consequent upon them. His primary motivation in writing the novel was to subject his own highest ideal, that of true Christian love, to the crucible of contemporary Russian society.
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