Fyodor Dostoevsky:excerpt from The Idiot

Fyodor Dostoevsky

Fyodor Dostoevsky

Reading Fyodor Dostoevsky has had a strong impact on me. I felt compelled to make a pilgrimage to his gravesite in St.Petersburg, Russia. I did so on several occasions, just so I could have a have a little chat with my mentor. Here is one of the Photographs I took the last time I was there, and also one of my favorite quotes from the novel The Idiot. This is Prince Myshkin recounting an encounter with a man that was once led to a scaffold for a public execution…

“He was dying at the age of twenty-seven, healthy and strong; bidding farewell to his comrades, … There was a church nearby, and the top of the cathedral with its gilded dome shone in the bright sun. He remembered gazing with terrible fixity at that dome and the rays shinning from it: it seemed to him that those rays were his new nature and in three minutes he would somehow merge with them…The ignorance of and loathing for this new thing that would be and would come presently were terrible; yet he said nothing was more oppressive than for him than the constant thought: “What if I were not to die! What if life were given back to me – what infinity! And it would all be mine! Then I’d turn each I’d turn each minute into a whole age, lose nothing, I’d reckon up every minute separately, I’d let nothing be wasted! He said that in the end this thought turned into such anger in him that he wished they would hurry up and shoot him.” (P.60-1)

Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Idiot.

Part one chapter 5

Translated by: Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky

First Vintage Classics edition July 2003