Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky’s masterful translation of The Idiot is destined to stand with their versions of Crime and Punishment, The Brothers Karamazov, and Demons as the definitive Dostoevsky in English.
After his great portrayal of a guilty man in Crime and Punishment, Dostoevsky set out in The Idiot to portray a man of pure innocence. The twenty-six-year-old Prince Myshkin, following a stay of several years in a Swiss sanatorium, returns to Russia to collect an inheritance and “be among people.” Even before he reaches home he meets the dark Rogozhin, a rich merchant’s son whose obsession with the beautiful Nastasya Filippovna eventually draws all three of them into a tragic denouement. In Petersburg the prince finds himself a stranger in a society obsessed with money, power, and manipulation. Scandal escalates to murder as Dostoevsky traces the surprising effect of this “positively beautiful man” on the people around him, leading to a final scene that is one of the most powerful in all of world literature.
About the Author
Fyodor Dostoyevsky was a Russian novelist, short story writer and essayist whose literary works explored human psychology in the troubled political, social, and spiritual context of nineteenth-century Russia. A student of the the Nikolayev Military Engineering Institute, Dostoyevsky initially worked as an engineer, but began translating books to earn extra money. The publication of his first novel, Poor Folk, allowed him to join St. Petersburg's literary circles. A prolific writer, Dostoyevsky is best known for work from the latter part of his career, including the classic novels Crime and Punishment, The Idiot and The Brothers Karamazov. Dostoyevsky's influence extends to authors as diverse as Anton Chekhov, James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway, and Jean-Paul Sartre, among many others. He died in 1881.
Pevear is a poet and translator.
Praise for Pevear and Volokhonsky’s translation of Crime and Punishment:
“Reaches as close to Dostoevsky’s Russian as is possible in English. . . . The original’s force and frightening immediacy is captured. . . . The Pevear and Volokhonsky translation will become the standard English version.” –Chicago Tribune