'The chief thing is that they all need him' -thus Dostoyevsky described Prince Myshkin, the hero of perhaps his most remarkable novel. As the still, radiant center of a plot whose turbulent action is extraordinary even for Dostoyevsky, Myshkin succeeds in dominating through sheer force a personality a cast of characters who vividly and violently embody the passions and conflicts of the 19th century Russia.
" My intention is to portray a truly beautiful soul." -- Dostoevsky
Despite the harsh circumstances besetting his own life -- object poverty, incessant gambling, the death of his firstborn child -- Dostoevsky produced a second masterpiece, The Idiot, just two years after completing Crime and Punishment. In it, a saintly man, Prince Myshkin, is thrust into the heart of a society more concerned with wealth, power and sexual conquest than with the ideals of Christianity. Myshkin soon finds himself at the center of a violent love triangle in which a notorious woman and a beautiful young girl become rivals for his affections. Extortion, scandal and murder follow, testing Myshkin's moral feelings as Dostoevsky searches through the wreckage left by human misery to find " man in man." The Idiot is a quintessentially Russian novel, one that penetrates the complex psyche of the Russian people. " They call me a psychologist, " wrote Dostoevsky. " That is not true. I'm only a realist in the higher sense; that is, I portray all the depths of the human soul."