Blogged Out Ma Nut

Emoticoning but with letters.

The Idiot - Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Alan Myers, William J. Leatherbarrow As you can see below, this review was requested by Tracy Reilly (cheers!) Since this is the case, I find it only fair that I write it as a response to her review.
Bear with the typical self-indulgent pre-amble if you will, or if you won’t, skip to the next paragraph. I am about to write my third novel. The reason none of my stuff is in your hands right now or even displayed on Goodreads is a combination of lots of things but you’ll soon be able to read it if you wish ☺ Anyways, still learning the craft, I have become a disciple of [a:Robert McKee|27312|Robert McKee|], and highly recommend his book on (albeit screen)writing entitled [b:Story|101139|Story|Robert McKee||47598]. In here, amongst other things, you will find how to construct complex characters out of sets of dichotomous personality traits, ‘Smart, stupid,’, ‘devoted, capricious’ and so on. In so doing you have the basis for a good character. Characters, argues McKee, are better than real people in that their actions and behaviour are predictable and well-defined. I agree. But then, did [a:Dostoyevsky|3137322|Fyodor Dostoyevsky|] think or do any of this when he wrote The Idiot? Absolutely not. Why not? Because…
Dostoyevsky’s characters are not only better than real people, but better than other characters. They don’t have to maintain a set of realistic responses or polarising characteristics in order to create good story; they are a Planck length away from real people. From me quoting Tracy quoting Dostoyevsky, "Don't Let us forget that the causes of human actions are usually immeasurably more complex and varied than our subsequent explanations of them. And these can rarely be distinctly defined." Dostoyevsky moves us beyond story, beyond the ‘metaphor for life’, and gives us life instead. Why don’t most authors do this? Because they bloody can’t. Myshkin is not a hero or a villain, or a rival or a funny friend or a love interest or any definable character, he is as elusive as a person. How is this possible? Sporadic genius? Keen psychological insight? Yeah yeah and
Well, I am a big fan of Marina Abramović and she is a big fan of The Idiot, because as she quite rightly states, this art was borne of suffering [1]. I have since read a little about his circumstances particularly around the time of writing this novel, but it wasn’t really necessary- his description of that brief escape of life before an epileptic fit is too intimate, his portrait of Russian decadence is too articulately damning. He pours his suffering into his words and the result is deliciously scandalous. Indeed, Tracy, this is Tarkovsky, Bergman or Jodorowsky, this is the absorption of a substance that bypasses understanding but sticks with you and rears its grey head while you’re staring out the window and doing the dishes.
Nastasya Fillippovna is the closest us classics readers will get to shouting ‘Oh you bitch!’ at the TV; Rogozhin is the 'anti-quintessential' sociopath because despite having seduced and then tricked you, you’re still on his side somehow; Myshkin is far from his supposed quixotic counterpart in all the right ways.
Thus ends anything original I could have to say about The Idiot.
I abandoned [b:Crime and Punishment|7144|Crime and Punishment |Fyodor Dostoyevsky||3393917] and I page-skipped [b:Karamazov|4934|The Brothers Karamazov|Fyodor Dostoyevsky||3393910], but The Idiot? I lived.

[1] Just like hers but big D doesn’t occasionally make you say ‘ew.’

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