The Idiot
By Fyodor Dostoyevsky

I don't think this is Dostoyevsky's best book, but it is the one that most moves me. As a writer, I find its story powerful and seemingly inevitable, and yet we know (it was published in installments) that Dostoyevsky had no idea how it would end when he was halfway through. It moves me as a human being, because it deals with real terror—there is a description of a condemned man on his way to the scaffold, which is an account of Dostoyevsky's own feelings when he himself was taken to be executed. (He was reprieved at the last moment.) It is the best attempt I know at a novel about a character who tried to behave like Christ in the modern world. It is a powerful, unforgettable phantasmagoria.


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