->''For a long time now I’ve been tormented by a certain idea, but I’ve been afraid to make a novel out of it, because the thought is too difficult, and I’m not ready for it, though it’s thoroughly tempting thought and I love it. The idea is -- ''to portray a perfectly beautiful man''. Nothing, in my opinion, can be more difficult than that, especially in our time.''
-->-- '''Fyodor Dostoyevsky''', in a letter to Apollon Maikov, January 12, 1868

''The Idiot'' (''Идиот'') is a novel by Creator/FyodorDostoevsky, originally published serially between 1868 and 1869.

Prince Lev [[{{Patronymic}} Nikolayevich]] Myshkin returns to StPetersburg after a several-year stay at a Swiss sanatorium. He had received treatment for epilepsy and supposed mental deficiencies, and now that his treatments are at an end, he’s eager to “be with people” again.

What Prince Myshkin finds within his very first day on Russian soil are people who, whether nobility or lower class, whether old Orthodox or young nihilists, are constantly struggling against each other: struggling for social status, for money, or for romantic conquest. He meets the brooding and passionate Rogozhin, the bitterly philosophical Ippolit, the possibly-mad femme fatale Nastasya, the capricious daughter of nobility Aglaya, and the vain but ordinary Gavrila.

These people, with their crossed purposes and intrigues, are a keg of gunpowder, and Prince Myshkin’s noble qualities--his kindness, humility, and surprising forthrightness-- are the spark that sets them off. Because of Myshkin’s innocence, nearly everyone assumes him to be a fool, and either immediately takes him into their confidence, or tries to exploit him outright. The results are alternately tragic and darkly comic.

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!!Provides examples of:

* ApologizesALot: Lukyan Timofeyevich Lebedev, when engaging in YesMan mode, will browbeat himself and wax lyrical in his agreement with any criticism flung in his direction.
* AttentionWhore: Ippolit Terentyev, possibly. Other characters speculate that he can’t stand the thought that other people are happy while he’s dying of tuberculosis.
* BeamMeUpScotty: [[invoked]] Happens in-story. Both Ippolit and Aglaya attribute the phrase “Beauty will save the world” to Prince Myshkin. What Myshkin actually said was, “Beauty is difficult to judge; I'm not prepared yet. Beauty is a mystery.”
* BookEnds: Major spoiler. [[spoiler:The novel opens with Myshkin having been just released from the Swiss sanatorium. The novel ends with Myshkin recommitted to the sanatorium.]]
* BungledSuicide: Ippolit attempts to shoot himself in the head. His gun misfires. (Though, owing to his aforementioned attention whoring, some characters suspect that Ippolit wasn’t actually trying to kill himself and had loaded his gun wrong deliberately.)
* ChristianityIsCatholic: Inverted. Prince Myshkin launches into a CharacterFilibuster denouncing Roman Catholicism as anti-Christian, and worse than atheism.
* [[spoiler:DownerEnding]]
* FemmeFatale: Nastasya Fillipovna.
* {{Foil}}:
** Prince Myshkin, Rogozhin, and Ippolit.
** Nastasya Filipponva and Aglaya Ivanovna Yepanchina.
* {{Foreshadowing}}: [[spoiler: Nastassya Filippovna makes a comment about Rogozhin becoming consumed by his passions and ending up being exiled to Siberia. Much later on, Rogozhin murders her...and is sentenced to fifteen years' hard labour in Siberia.]]
* FriendshipMoment: Myshkin and Rogozhin, in Part Two, meet to discuss their feelings for Nastasya, and exchange crosses before parting.
* FriendToAllChildren: Myshkin was beloved by children when he was getting over his illness in Switzerland.
* FunetikAksent: When Lebedev tries to use French words and mispronounces them, the words are written phonetically to convey his accent.
* HeroicBSOD: [[spoiler:The finale leaves Prince Myshkin mad and unable to speak.]]
* IncorruptiblePurePureness: Prince Myshkin.
* InternalizedCategorism: Nastasya believes herself forever soiled by her time as Totsky’s mistress, and decides [[ThenLetMeBeEvil she might as well be a bad girl]].
* LoveDodecahedron: Let's see. Myshkin loves Aglaya, and is briefly in love with Nastasya but mainly just pities her (which nevertheless makes Aglaya see her as a threat). Gavrila loves Aglaya, but for various reasons won't commit himself to her; he doesn't love Nastasya at all, but he's seeking her hand anyway because of her impressive dowry. Rogozhin only has eyes for Nastasya. Nastasya used to be Totsky's mistress but now she hates the man; she seems to despise Gavrila; she's in a full-on Masochism Tango with Rogozhin, so it's unclear whether she loves or hates him; and she seems to be afraid of Myshkin--his love threatens her self-image as a bad person, and in her more selfless moments she fears that she'll hurt him.
* TheMasochismTango: Roghozin and Nastasya are the worst offenders, but everyone gets in on the act to some extent.
* MeaningfulName:
** Lev Nikolaevich Myshkin. In Russian, "lev" means “lion”, and "mysh" means “mouse”. Furthermore, Myshkin shares his name with an architect from Karazim’s ''History of the Russian State'', who designed a large cathedral that collapsed in 1474.
** Nastasya Filippovna Barashkova. ''Barashkov'' is derived from the Russian for "lamb." ''Nastasya'' is short for ''Anastasiya'', a Greek name derived from ἀνάστασις "resurrection."
* TheMessiah: Myshkin, not that it does him any good.
* MoneyToBurn: Nastasya throws a package of ten thousand rubles into her fireplace, and tells Gavrila that he can have the money if he pulls it out with his bare hands.
* MoralDilemma: Aglaya and Nastasya's confrontation ends with them forcing Prince Myshkin to decide which is more important, his love for Aglaya, or his pity for Nastasya?
* PokeThePoodle: According to the narrator, Gavrila would constantly insist to himself that he would be as mean as it took to succeed, but could never bring himself to do anything truly mean.
* PoorCommunicationKills: It seems no one in this book is capable of actually saying what’s on his mind (assuming that the characters themselves understand what they’re thinking); the suspicions and misunderstandings that arise are major driving forces on the plot.
* {{Pride}}: The major motivation for nearly everybody. Prince Myshkin is darn near the only person not motivated by pride.
* RidiculouslyAverageGuy: {{Lampshaded}} and discussed at length. The narrator launches into an aside about how memorable [[StockCharacters literary types]] are actually exaggerations of traits from real life--and inversely, “ordinary” folks are actually watered-down versions of traits from fiction. The narrator then describes a particular class of ordinary folks, those who attempt (unsuccessfully) to make themselves unique or who (falsely) believe themselves to already be unique--and tells us that Varvara Ardalionovna Ptitsyn, her husband Ivan Petrovich Ptitsyn, and her brother Gavrila Ardalionovich Ivolgin all belong to this class.
* SecretTestOfCharacter: Sort of. The aforementioned MoneyToBurn scene ends with [[spoiler:Gavrila refusing outright to go for the money, then fainting. Nastasya then pulls the money out with fire tongs and decides to give it to Gavrila anyway. “So his vanity is still greater than his lust for money. [...] I grant him full possession of it as a reward for... well, for whatever!”]] What’s unclear is how much (if at all) Nastasya planned any of it.
* ShoutOut: "Lev Nikoleyevich Myshkin" is often considered a not-so-veiled reference to [[Creator/LeoTolstoy Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy]].
* SmugSnake: Ferdyshchenko establishes himself as this in one scene. He proposes, as a bizarre parlor game, that everyone confess the worst misdeed they ever committed. He confesses that he once stole 25 rubles for no reason, and allowed a maid to take the blame for the theft. After telling the story, he gets annoyed that no one is impressed with the deed.
* SourOutsideSadInside: Nastasya, who uses her pride and anger as a shield to deflect the pain she has gone through in her life. Contrast to:
* {{Tsundere}}: Aglaya, who falls head-over-heels in love and can never bring herself to publicly admit it, so she mocks the object of her affection instead.
* WifeHusbandry: Totsky originally groomed Nastasya Filippovna as his own love interest. The plan backfired.
* WriteWhatYouKnow: Myshkin’s epilepsy, his reaction to Hans Holbein the Younger’s painting ''Christ’s Body in the Tomb'', his thoughts on Catholicism: all modeled on Dostoyevky’s own thoughts and experiences. Myshkin recounts via hearsay the thoughts of a condemned criminal awaiting execution; Dostoyevsky had himself been condemned, run through a mock execution, and only informed at the last second that his sentence had been reduced.
* YesMan: Lebedev.

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