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Background[ edit ] In Septemberwhen Dostoevsky began work on what was to become The Idiot, he was living in Switzerland with his new wife Anna Grigoryevnahaving left Russia in order to escape his creditors.
They were living in extreme poverty, and constantly had to borrow money or pawn their possessions. They were evicted from their lodgings five times for non-payment of rent, and by the time the novel was finished in January they had moved between four different cities in Switzerland and Italy.
During this time Dostoevsky periodically fell into the grip of his gambling addiction and lost what little money they had on the roulette tables. He was subject to regular and severe epileptic seizures, including one at the time Anna was going into labor with their daughter Sofia, delaying their ability to go for a midwife.
The baby died aged only three months, and Dostoevsky blamed himself for the loss. Detailed plot outlines and character sketches were made, but were quickly abandoned and replaced with new ones. In one early draft, the character who was to become Prince Myshkin is an evil man who commits a series of terrible crimes, including the rape of his adopted sister Nastasya Filippovnaand who only arrives at goodness by way of his conversion through Christ.
By the end of the year, however, a new premise had been firmly adopted. In a letter to Apollon Maykov Dostoevsky explained that his own desperate circumstances had "forced" him to seize on an idea that he had considered for some time but had been afraid of, feeling himself to be artistically unready for it.
This was the idea to "depict a completely beautiful human being". It was not only a matter of how the good man responded to that world, but of how it responded to him. Devising a series of scandalous scenes, he would "examine each character's emotions and record what each would do in response to Myshkin and to the other characters.
Part 1[ edit ] Prince Myshkin, a young man in his mid-twenties and a descendant of one of the oldest Russian lines of nobility, is on a train to Saint Petersburg on a cold November morning. He is returning to Russia having spent the past four years in a Swiss clinic for treatment of a severe epileptic condition.
On the journey, Myshkin meets a young man of the merchant class, Parfyon Semyonovich Rogozhin, and is struck by his passionate intensity, particularly in relation to a woman—the dazzling society beauty Nastasya Filippovna Barashkova—with whom he is obsessed.
Rogozhin has just inherited a very large fortune from his dead father, and he intends to use it to pursue the object of his desire.
Joining in their conversation is a civil servant named Lebedyev — a man with a profound knowledge of social trivia and gossip.
Realizing who Rogozhin is, he firmly attaches himself to him. The purpose of Myshkin's trip is to make the acquaintance of his distant relative Lizaveta Prokofyevna, and to make inquiries about a matter of business. Lizaveta Prokofyevna is the wife of General Epanchin, a wealthy and respected man in his mid-fifties.
The General and his business partner, the aristocrat Totsky, are seeking to arrange a marriage between Ganya and Nastasya Filippovna. Totsky had been the orphaned Nastasya Filippovna's childhood guardian, but he had taken advantage of his position to groom her for his own sexual gratification.
As a grown woman, Nastasya Filippovna has developed an incisive and merciless insight into their relationship. Totsky, thinking the marriage might settle her and free him to pursue his desire for marriage with General Epanchin's eldest daughter, has promised 75, rubles.
Ganya and the General openly discuss the subject in front of Myshkin. Ganya shows him a photograph of her, and he is particularly struck by the dark beauty of her face. Myshkin makes the acquaintance of Lizaveta Prokofyevna and her three daughters—Alexandra, Adelaida and Aglaya.
They are all very curious about him and not shy about expressing their opinion, particularly Aglaya.
He readily engages with them and speaks with remarkable candor on a wide variety of subjects — his illness, his impressions of Switzerland, art, philosophy, love, death, the brevity of life, capital punishment, and donkeys. In response to their request that he speak of the time he was in love, he tells a long anecdote from his time in Switzerland about a downtrodden woman—Marie—whom he befriended, along with a group of children, when she was unjustly ostracized and morally condemned.
The Prince ends by describing what he divines about each of their characters from studying their faces and surprises them by saying that Aglaya is almost as beautiful as Nastasya Filippovna. The prince rents a room in the Ivolgin apartment, occupied by Ganya's family and another lodger called Ferdyschenko.
There is much angst within Ganya's family about the proposed marriage, which is regarded, particularly by his mother and sister Varyaas shameful. Just as a quarrel on the subject is reaching a peak of tension, Nastasya Filippovna herself arrives to pay a visit to her potential new family.
Shocked and embarrassed, Ganya succeeds in introducing her, but when she bursts into a prolonged fit of laughter at the look on his face, his expression transforms into one of murderous hatred.Line Breaks: Belletristic Writing, Reality, and Academia Jeffrey Lependorf. she has no choice but to submit to the insult of their help.
The shop girl pushes up the little stand and the dwarf unlaces her boot.
Perhaps the answer can be found in the literary magazine's belletristic essay, our dwarf with the exquisite instep. Existing in. Belletristic essay writer.
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