The Idiot | Study Guide

Fyodor Dostoevsky

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Course Hero. "The Idiot Study Guide." Course Hero. 4 Oct. 2019. Web. 2 June 2020. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Idiot/>.

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Course Hero. (2019, October 4). The Idiot Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved June 2, 2020, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Idiot/

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Course Hero. "The Idiot Study Guide." October 4, 2019. Accessed June 2, 2020. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Idiot/.

Footnote

Course Hero, "The Idiot Study Guide," October 4, 2019, accessed June 2, 2020, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Idiot/.

Overview

Author

Fyodor Dostoevsky

Years Published

1868–69

Type

Novel

Genre

Philosophy, Religion

Perspective and Narrator

The Idiot is told by a third-person omniscient narrator, although the narrator occasionally breaks in to address the reader in the first person, using the pronoun we.

Tense

For the most part, The Idiot is written in the past tense, although when the narrator breaks in to address the reader, he sometimes uses the present tense.

About the Title

The protagonist of The Idiot, Prince Myshkin, sometimes refers to himself as an idiot when he recalls his early life, before he was treated for debilitating epilepsy. Others also refer to Myshkin as an idiot when they hear about his epilepsy, and sometimes they call him an idiot because they don't understand his worldview. Prince Myshkin is also called a "holy fool" (yurodivy) by Myshkin's evil double, Rogozhin. In Russian Orthodoxy the expression "fool for God" or "fool in Christ" occasionally refers to a person with limited understanding and intelligence. More often, though, it describes a deeply spiritual person who pretends to be insane to reveal and speak truths about society and holiness. The prince is a holy fool as well as an epileptic, but he returns to an even more primitive condition of idiocy at the end of the novel, after he fails to save either of the two women he loves. It may be that the prince's divine standard of compassion is incompatible with the material world, and thus he returns to silence.

Summary

This study guide for Fyodor Dostoevsky's The Idiot offers summary and analysis on themes, symbols, and other literary devices found in the text. Explore Course Hero's library of literature materials, including documents and Q&A pairs.

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