In my book much was written in haste, much is too drawn-out, much is miscarried; but much too is extremely good. I am not defending the novel, but the idea.”1

Out of all the works of Dostoevsky, few novels have received as much criticism as The Idiot. Myshkin is often seen as either a character whose inherent goodness cannot save, or a character suffering from a deficient sense of reality which leads to destruction. Despite such criticism, The Idiot has always remained my favorite work of Dostoevsky’s. In fact, Lev Nikolayovitch Myshkin has been the character, above all others, who has made the most profound impression on my soul. I have not been able to pin down the exact reason why, though I do hypothesize that my love for the Prince stems from the depth and breadth of interpretations which his perplexing character presents the reader.2 The Orthodox interpretation follows Dostoevsky’s notes that he was attempting to present a “truly perfect and noble man.”3 However, given the variety of opposing interpretations such as Myshkin as a flawed hero, Myshkin’s symbolism, and a Nietzschean interpretation, I will begin with these interpretations before reexamining the Orthodox reading in depth.

Myshkin as a Flawed Hero

The interpretation that Myshkin is not Dostoevsky’s “truly perfect and noble man” but instead a flawed hero with good intentions is explored by Dostoevsky scholar Janet Tucker. Tucker argues that although Myshkin’s desire to intervene and help those around him comes from a positive disposition, his controlling nature, demonstrated by his attempt to save other people, betrays a sense of hubris which results in the destruction of those around him.4 While Tucker’s presentation may seem counter-intuitive, it is helpful to note that interpreting Myshkin as a flawed figure is in line with Dostoevsky’s early notes which show that he presented a character who was “hypocritical, proud, [and] vengeful.”5 Although it is difficult to decipher how much of the early drafts were present in the final edition, I will analyse some of the arguments which can be proposed in favor of such a reading.

One argument which supports interpreting Myshkin as a flawed character is found in the works of Dostoevsky scholar Amber Dyer who presents Myshkin as the anti-Christ.6 To begin, I am not sympathetic towards Dyer’s conclusion. The claim that Myshkin may not have been a Christ-like figure is plausible; however, that he was symbolically the anti-Christ is a step too far. That said, Dyer’s essay does pose a thought-provoking challenge to readers of The Idiot, making a powerful case for why Myshkin should not be read naïvely as a moral exemplar. Let us examine Dyer’s arguments.

Firstly, Dyer argues that instead of embodying the wholeness of Christian love, Myshkin’s actions stem from the deficient derivations of “pity and compassion.”7 This interpretation raises two challenges: firstly, whether pity is a deficient substitute for love; secondly, whether Dyer’s diagnosis of pity as the motivation of Myshkin’s actions is correct. From an ethical perspective, I agree with Dyer that pity, as demonstrated by Myshkin, is not a sufficient substitute for love. Tying to Tucker’s challenge, pity has an implicit connection to a feeling of moral superiority. The observation that someone else is in a pitiable state comes with connotations of viewing the other from a high ground, betraying a sense of pride.

Compassion, unlike pity, is of a different nature I argue and this is where Dyer’s analysis falls short. Unlike pity, compassion is more self-abnegating, a love of the neighbour which knows no bounds. However, let us return to the concept of pity and see whether Myshkin espouses such a motivation. The answer is a resounding yes. The case can even be made that pity is the underlying framework of the dynamics in the novel. Myshkin pities those around him for their moral depravity and suffering. Likewise, the St. Petersburg society pities him for his “idiocy.” There is perhaps no better example of Myshkin’s pity than his commitment to Nastasya Filippovna, which he describes as a love out of pity.8 Upon recognizing the centrality that Dostoevsky gives pity in the novel, along with pity’s insufficiency as a replacement for the Christian ideal of love, we are provided with a possible explanation for why Myshkin fails to save those around him. His love is not complete, as it does not stem from the right place. As such, Myshkin’s failure to realise the Christian ideal of love ultimately leads to a trail of “defeats and destruction” through the high society of St Petersburg and is a cautionary tale for Christians to examine their own motivations and to act out of Christian love.9

Another interesting argument is that Myshkin embodies a form of secular compassion which leads to the “dismissal of sin” because of his “naïve sincerity.”10 This connection is developed by Dyer from the similarities between Myshkin and Rousseau, which stem predominantly from numerous biographical parallels and ideological parallels between the two figures. Most notably, Myshkin’s confidence in the innocence of man is linked to Rousseau’s famous argument that “man was born free, and everywhere he is in chains.”11 While the idea that Myshkin’s actions stem from a secular worldview is not warranted, I am sympathetic to the interpretation that Myshkin’s innocence led to a failure to distinguish between the forgiveness of sins and the dismissal of sins.12 This failure is best epitomised by his interactions with Marie. By exonerating her wrongdoings out of pity, he fails to recognise Marie’s greatest desire: not that her guilt be dismissed, but rather that her sins be forgiven. His approach to convince Marie that she is not “below everyone,” not needing to feel “horribly abashed,” merely demonstrates Myshkin’s obliviousness to Marie’s longing for forgiveness.13 In fact, Myshkin’s treatment of guilt is inconsistent with Dostoevsky’s own ponderings on the subject in Crime and Punishment. One of Dostoevsky’s contributions to psychology was the fact that guilt is something intrinsic to the person, something which can neither be forced upon someone’s shoulders nor be lifted off one’s conscience via a mere dismissal of wrongdoing. One’s inability to clean one’s own conscience is most evident by the guilt that Raskolnikov suffers throughout the novel, even though his crime is not uncovered by society. This is the guilt that Myshkin fails to recognise in Marie, the guilt which is both acknowledged by society and the individual. By attempting to dismiss her sin instead of forgiving her, it leads Marie to die “in despair . . . unforgiven and diminished as a human being.”14

Regardless of where one stands with Dyer’s or Tucker’s theses that Myshkin was a deeply flawed individual, these interpretations fruitfully challenge us as readers. They force us to recognise the nuances of love and forgiveness. They invite us to mindfully, critically, reexamine our own actions and motivations. Do we act out of an instinctual, prima facie, mindless desire to do what is loving? Or do we take the time to ensure that we are, in fact, loving, rather than pitying or dismissing the wrongdoings of others?

Myshkin as an Embodiment of the Conflict Between Two Worlds

The conflict between the sublime and the base has always played a role in the works of Dostoevsky. Amongst his works, there is perhaps no greater example of the conflict of these two worlds than the character of Myshkin.15 16 This clash is best illustrated by a question: is there room for pure goodness in the world? To readers of this book, the most intuitive answer to this question appears to be a resounding “NO!”17 No one gets saved, and the story collapses into tragedy. However, from this intuitive answer, Myshkin poses a further point of meditation. Does the failure of Myshkin lead to the conclusion that such perfection is not worth the attempt?

Initially, it may be tempting to argue that one ought not to emulate Myshkin. Simon Lesser argues that despite the fact that Myshkin is morally superior, wiser, and more penetrating than those around him, he ultimately falls short. When it comes to navigating safely through the world, he fails to accomplish any of his goals. To Lesser, Myshkin could only succeed in a world of children or in a world of passivity.18 However, such prerequisites of a successful Myshkin-esque life are not solutions that Dostoevsky would support. While a monastic life, in many ways, would create for oneself a small paradise that could be ideal, peaceful, and protected, we must remember that Father Zosima’s final command to Alyosha in The Brothers Karamazov is not one of passivity, but rather of courage — to enter the world and brave its turmoils.19 Such a realisation leaves the reader with a dilemma. It appears, from Lesser’s argument, that a Myshkin-esque project is doomed from the beginning; nevertheless, there is an equally powerful command for one to enter into the world, regardless of its costs.

There are two solutions to this problem.

Firstly, Dostoevsky’s dialectical position suggests that while Myshkin’s mission is difficult, it is by no means impossible. Let us reflect on the themes of sin and redemption in the works of Dostoevsky, most notably the utopian parody in The Dream of a Ridiculous Man and the redemptive arc of Dmitry in The Brothers Karamazov. Both of these narratives are perfect representations of what Blank calls “the inseparability of opposites.”20 On one hand, the ridiculous man is able to, from the introduction of one small lie, corrupt an entire world;21 on the other, it took only a spark of light within Dmitry’s soul to lead him to reconciliation with God.22 This possibility for salvation is one way Dostoevsky provides a sense of hope for the reader. Regardless of how you interpret Myshkin, an initial reading of The Idiot leaves one impressed by his beauty. Just as Myshkin is able to touch our lives, a seed of hope is sown in the hearts of the reader: that by living a Myshkin-esque existence, we would be able to touch the lives of those around us, just as Myshkin has touched us.23 By understanding the hidden dialectic of Dostoevsky’s thought, we are able to understand the “joy that one gets from suffering” found in his work, the “light in [Dostoevsky’s] darkness . . . the light of Christ.”24

A further solution to this problem is the recognition of the role of aesthetics as a mediator between the sublime and the base. Throughout the works of Dostoevsky, and especially in The Idiot, beauty appears to be the predominant argument that he uses to demonstrate the unity between the two worlds. Many scholars have noted the importance of aesthetics both within the narratives of the stories and in Dostoevsky’s personal life.25 For Dostoevsky, art has a unique effect which allows the individual to be transported from one plane of existence to another. If one searches long enough, either in the base or the sublime, one is able to find, in all things, a sense of beauty.26 How does art create this effect? The answer comes from understanding the idea of aestheticism in Russian criticism. In this tradition, literary scholar Tatiana Goerner notes that art has an intrinsic quality, that “art exists for its own sake and that the aesthetic experience is paramount.”27 This sentiment is also found in Russian existentialist philosopher Nikolai Berdyaev, who writes that “the truth is that all essential art is symbolical . . . a sign that expresses a deep, authentic reality.”28 Such an analysis provides an explanation for Dostoevsky’s Myshkin — a character tied closely to romanticism.29 This connection, albeit subtle, is deeply telling of Dostoevsky’s intentions for the character. The definition of romanticism in art and literature, though broad, can be summarised as man’s attempt to aspire towards the sublime, or that which is beyond.30 Likewise, Myshkin is very much the embodiment of Dostoevsky’s aspiration for the world beyond. It is through a character like Myshkin, a representation of art, who allows us to embark on the upward climb towards God and away from the baseness of the world around us.

What do these two solutions mean for the reader of The Idiot? These two interpretations help one understand the Christian message. Instead of rejecting the Christian mission as overly difficult, Dostoevsky reaffirms it through dialectics and art. I stand with Berdyaev’s analysis, that Dostoevsky’s genius lies in the fact that he recognises the path the Christian must take, one of “tragedy, inner division, the abyss . . . [but most importantly] the attainment of light through darkness.”31 It is wrong for us to underestimate the difficulty of the task ahead, but it is even worse to allow it to force us into some form of pessimism.

Myshkin as an Affirmation of Life

“There was only one Christian, and he died on the cross.”32 These words from Nietzsche remain a constant challenge to his readers. What did he mean by this? What was his presentation of Christianity? In what ways did he find Christ admirable? Nietzsche’s conception of Christianity is not, in fact, irrelevant to our current meditation: Nietzsche’s Christ was fundamentally informed by Dostoevsky’s presentation of Christ in The Idiot.33 Of course, Nietzsche may not have agreed with the content of Myshkin’s life.34 Yet as existentialist philosopher Walter Kaufmann noted, the elements of Christ which Nietzsche admired stemmed from the “Jesus…of Dostoevsky’s Idiot.”35 36 In truth, Nietzsche’s celebration of the “one Christian” includes many lessons that the Christian can glean for their own faith.

In order to understand what Nietzsche saw as the contribution of Christ, and in extension Myshkin, it is important that we distinguish between the Christianity of the Scriptures and Nietzsche’s Christianity. In Nietzsche’s mind, the Christian message was desecrated by the Pauline focus on faith alone.37 Nietzche believed that the doctrine of “sola fide” leads to a soteriology where “faith takes the place of action,”38 where faith in Christ becomes a substitute for the Christlike life. To Nietzsche, sola fide promotes a dangerous passivism which draws one away from the will to power, and prevents people from striving for perfection expressed through the individual’s affirmation of his own values.

Nietzsche would have found this passive understanding of Christianity to be in contradiction to Dostoevsky’s Myshkin. Myshkin’s Christlike nature lay not in his redemptive power, but rather in his constant affirmation of his own values despite their consequences and outcomes on his surroundings. In fact, Dostoevsky’s presentation of a Myshkin who does not save anyone is something that Nietzsche would have found greatly appealing. After all, Nietzsche argued that the traditional interpretation of Christ as “redeemer” was ultimately “dangerous . . . enticing, intoxicating, overwhelming, and undermining,” preferring to limit the true Christian message to a state of being in which one fully imposes and lives out one’s own values.39

With this framework in mind, it is clear why Nietzsche found problems with contemporary Christianity. It is too easy for Christians to place our faith and values in the background of our lives, hoping that mere belief in God will save us. By doing so, we fail to live out and affirm our values in a Myshkin-esque way. We are not bold with our faith. If push came to shove, many Christians, perhaps even ourselves, would abandon our outward expression of faith to preserve our interests, relying on inward faith to save us. This is what Nietzsche finds despicable and cowardly in Christianity, and what he saw Myshkin fighting against. Myshkin represents the man willing to stay true to his values regardless of the consequences to him and those around him. That is what Nietzsche, and perhaps we too, should admire.40

Myshkin a Synthesis of the Christian Ideal

The three interpretations that I have provided so far deviate from the orthodox reading of Myshkin as the “truly perfect and noble man.”41 So let us now examine this orthodox interpretation. Can Myshkin be interpreted as Christ and, if so, what can the reader take away from such a reading?

Here we must distinguish the concept of being Christlike from being presented as Christ. While Dostoevsky had Christ in mind in his presentation of Myshkin, there is a constant fear within his works of recreating or adding anything to the Christian narrative. Take the Inquisitor’s comments to Christ: “Thou hast no right to add one syllable to that which was already uttered by Thee before.”42 Despite being said by the Inquisitor, there is good reason to suggest that Dostoevsky shared a similar sentiment in his works. If one were to turn to Guardini’s brilliant exposition on Myshkin and Christ, he argues that Dostoevsky’s genius is that while he maintains numerous Christlike connections to Myshkin, the fact that no one is saved makes it such that “nothing of the divine is mimicked” and allows us to separate between Myshkin and Christ.43

So if Myshkin is Christlike, in what ways is he so?

One of the main traits that Myshkin and Christ share is their love for those around them. Just as Christ dined with the tax collectors and sinners (Matt. 9:10-17), Myshkin is willing to reach out and care for those who are considered outcasts. Of course, as we have analysed previously, Myshkin’s care may have stemmed from pity or oblivion. However, let us grant, for a moment, that to Myshkin, pity and love are indistinguishable, and that everything he did for Marie, Nastasya, and General Ivolgin was done out of goodwill and for their benefit. If so, we should all aspire towards this care towards all. Too many times we focus on our own interests and attempt to stay with those whom society praises and avoid those whom society frowns upon, afraid of guilt by association. However, in these times, do we not forget Christ’s words: ‘For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost’ (Luke 19:10)? Are we not acting out of prejudice and letting fear get in the way of doing what is right?

Another similarity between Myshkin and Christ can be found in their willingness to “turn the other cheek” (Matthew 5:39). Both were ridiculed, insulted, and judged, yet they didn’t let the wrongdoings of those around them hinder them from continuing their mission of love and kindness. I am not oblivious to the challenge of such a calling. Dostoevsky appears to use The Idiot to challenge us as to how far we should go in our love and forgiveness for others. In many aspects, the answer seems to be unclear. Intuitively, there appears to be a point where any more forgiveness, any more turning of the cheek would be prohibitive. Yet is this point merely an arbitrary distinction that we make to lighten our burden of the cross which Christ asks us to bear? I am not sure whether I can promote either position. We have discussed in this essay the gravity that the calling of the sublime has on us. In fact, let us remember the words of Ledebyev’s nephew: “You’ve managed to offer your friendship and money . . . now it’s impossible for an honourable man to take it under any circumstances.” Even the most unscrupulous members of society in St. Petersburg appear to develop their consciences, albeit slightly twisted ones, from interacting with Myshkin’s “turning of the cheek.” Should the hope for redemption demand us to turn the other cheek? Or is turning the other cheek regardless of the circumstance so manifestly absurd that it is prohibitive to attempt such a ‘turning of the cheek’? To this, Dostoevsky gives us no resolution.

A final area that I would like to touch upon is whether Myshkin can be read as ridiculous, and if so, is it a similarity that is shared with Christ. According to literary critic Slav Gratchev, it was Dostoevsky’s unwillingness to depict Myshkin as ridiculous which sacrificed Myshkin’s literary answerability. Given Dostoevsky’s affinity for Don Quixote, there was a clear temptation for Dostoevsky to recreate the quixotic hero.44 However, this attempt to marry Don Quixote to the Christian narrative is where the problem lies. While Myshkin could be placed under the trials and tribulations that Don Quixote faced, the key difference between the two literary figures was their comicality. Myshkin, being a representation of Christ, could not be presented as ridiculous.45 However, I argue that Gratchev’s conception of “comical” or “ridiculous” comes from a very Anglicised or Western conception of the term. While we have negative connotations with the word “ridiculous,” and perhaps these connotations do apply to Don Quixote, this is not the case in Dostoevsky’s fiction. Take his short story The Dream of a Ridiculous Man: reading the story does not lead one to the conclusion that the main character was a “ridiculous” or “comical” man, at least based on common conceptions of the term. Rather, what “ridiculous” seems to entail for Dostoevsky, both in The Dream of a Ridiculous Man and in The Idiot is a synthesis of an otherworldliness, a childlike innocence, and a dismissal of societal conventions. Of course, when it comes to any synthesis, it is difficult to determine how much of each category is applicable to the synthesis. Nevertheless, it can be maintained that somewhere in between those three ideas lay both Christ and Myshkin. After all, one can turn to Christ’s command to be like a child (Matt. 18:3). Christ is not telling us to take part in anti-aging science to preserve our lives, but rather to embody the positive characteristics of children which are rare in today’s world, authenticity, humility, honesty, and forgiveness. It is this definition of ridiculous that I am most comfortable using to describe Myshkin and Christ. By taking away its negative connotations, one is left with a pure and unadulterated form of ridiculousness.

With this analysis in mind, despite the alternative interpretations analysed above, it is still possible to read Myshkin as a Christlike figure. I have examined a few ways in which a Christlike reading challenges the Christian in his walk with God and the gravity of God’s calling for us. In some sense, a Christlike reading leaves the reader with more questions than answers — questions that even Dostoevsky fails to resolve. However, these questions need answering — perhaps not answers in the strictest sense of pen and words on paper, but rather a living answer, one that is resolved by example, an imitatio Christi.

Conclusion

As we have seen, Myshkin is perhaps one of the most paradoxical characters in Dostoevsky’s works, fitting a plethora of different interpretative approaches and perspectives. While this lack of a univocal reading could be seen as a flaw of Dostoevsky’s work, I argue that it is the work’s greatest strength. One facet of the beauty of literature is the fact that it touches and challenges us from different perspectives, and Myshkin unquestionably fulfils such a criterion. Whether one is an atheist or Christian, Myshkin provides us with moral and aesthetic challenges, helping us consider what it means to be a positively good person in today’s world. Regardless of which interpretation you lean towards, we can all find value in resisting toxic pity and embracing a Christlike ridiculousness in our pursuit of goodness, love and truth.

Notes:

1 Dostoevsky to N. N. Strachov Feb 1869, From Letters of Fyodor Michailovitch Dostoevsky to his Family and Friends. Translated by Ethel Colburn Mayne.

2 While this analysis is mostly done from a Christian lens, I argue that this work can also be greatly edifying for the atheist as well.

3 Dostoevsky to Sofia Alexandrovna Jan 1868, From Letters of Fyodor Michailovitch Dostoevsky to his Family and Friends. Translated by Ethel Colburn Mayne.

4 Tucker, Janet G. “Dostoevsky’s ‘Idiot’: Defining Myshkin.” New Zealand Slavonic Journal, 1997, 23. http://www.jstor.org/stable/23806792..

5 Robin Feuer Miller, Dostoevsky and ‘The Idiot’, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1981. 47. As cited in Tucker.

6 Dyer, Amber. “Dostoevsky’s Idiot: Prince Myshkin as Anti-Christ” Symposium 2 (2021): 49-65 http://www.ramify.org/lc_dyer.pdf

7 Ibid., 51.

8 Dostoevsky, Fyodor. The Idiot. Translated by Constance Garnett (Dover Thrift Edition, 2003) 181-185

9 Lesser, Saint and Sinner, 211.

10 Dyer, Myshkin as Anti-Christ, 52.

11 Rousseau, Jean-Jacques. The Social Contract. Translated by Maurice Cranston. (Penguin Books, 1968.) 2. For more similarities between the two characters see Dyer’s article.

12 See Guardini, Romano, and Francis X. Quinn. “DOSTOYEVSKY’S IDIOT, A SYMBOL OF CHRIST.” CrossCurrents 6, no. 4 (1956): 359–82. http://www.jstor.org/stable/24456697. There he argues that Christ embodies the Christ-like archetype intimately, an argument I will develop later on in this article.

13 Dostoevsky, The Idiot, 59.

14 Dyer, Myshkin as Anti-Christ, 57.

15 For a detailed analysis of Dostoevsky’s dialectics, see Blank, Ksana. Dostoevsky’s Dialectics and the Problem of Sin. Studies in Russian Literature and Theory. (Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 2010.)

16 I will not go into depth about how Myshkin represents the other-worldliness, partly because to do so would be somewhat tangential, and partly because it is rather obvious from reading The Idiot. However, I will give an example of such other-worldliness for clarity. While John is the Gospel that Dostoevsky refers to most, Myshkin’s other-worldliness takes on a Lukan theme, especially if one were to follow Guardini’s statement that ‘every human value takes on such importance in Myshkin’s eyes that when they are opposed to money, the latter simply counts for nothing’ (361). The theme of material wealth vs heavenly wealth is a concept intimate to the Lukan narratives and is something which can be used to tie Myshkin’s anti-materialism to the Lukan Christ.

17 Tucker, Defining Myshkin, 23.

18 Lesser, Saint and Sinner, 212-213.

19 Fyodor Dostoevsky, “The Elder Zosima and His Guests” in The Brothers Karamazov, Translated by David McDuff. (Penguin Books Ltd, 2003) 367-372

20 Blank, Dostoevsky’s Dialectics, 16.

21 Ibid., 20.

22 Ibid., 45.

23 “We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)

24 Berdyaev, Nicolas. Dostoievsky: An Interpretation. Translated by Donald Attwater. (Semantron Press, 2009) 30-31

25 Examples of such art are Raphael’s Sistene Madonna, Holbein’s The Body of the Dead Christ in the Tomb, Claude Lorrain’s works in particular Acis And Galatea etc.

26 Goerner, Tatiana. “THE THEME OF ART AND AESTHETICS IN DOSTOEVSKY’S ‘THE IDIOT.’” Ulbandus Review, vol. 2, no. 2, 1982: 80. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/25748072. Accessed 26 June 2023.

27 Ibid., 79.

28 Berdyaev, Dostoievsky: An Interpretation, 25.

29 Tucker, Defining Myshkin, 31.

30 Burgum, Edwin Berry. “Romanticism.” The Kenyon Review 3, no. 4 (1941): 479–90. http://www.jstor.org/stable/4332291. Though writing mainly about Romanticism in literature, his contribution here is greatly illuminating as to the the similarities and differences between different strands of Romanticism.

31 Berdyaev, Dostoevsky: An Interpretation, 221.

32 Nietzsche, Friedrich. The AntiChrist. Translated by H.L. Menchken (Dover Publications Inc., 2018) 38

33 There have been numerous studies on the philosophical connections between Nietzsche and Dostoevsky. See Stellino, Paolo. Nietzsche and Dostoevsky: On the Verge of Nihilism. (Bern: International Academic Publishers, 2015); Stepenberg, Maia. Against Nihilism: Nietzsche Meets Dostoevsky. (Montreal: Black Rose Books, 2019)

34 Especially his sentiment of pity, “A man loses power when he pities” (Nietzsche, Antichrist, 6)

35 Kaufmann, Walter. Nietzsche: Philosopher, Psychologist, AntiChrist. (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1968) 341 This idea is also noted in Stellino. On the Verge of Nihilism. 2015.

36 I will not go in depth into the argument as to whether Nietzsche read The Idiot.

37 Ephesians 2:8-9

38 Kaufmann, Nietzsche, 345-346.

39 Nietzsche, Friedrich. On the Genealogy of Morals & Ecce Homo. Translated by Walter Kaufmann and R. J. Hollingdale. (Random House, Inc, 1967) 35.

40 One can perhaps suggest that Zarathustra’s proclamation that ‘if only [Jesus] had remained in the wilderness and far from the good and righteous . . . he himself would have retracted his teaching’ would also be applicable to Myshkin as well. (Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, 59)

41 Dostoevsky to Sofia Alexandrovna Jan 1868, From Letters of Fyodor Michailovitch Dostoevsky to his Family and Friends. Translated by Ethel Colburn Mayne.

42 Dostoevsky. The Brothers Karamazov, 326.

43 Guardini, Dostoevsky’s Idiot, A Symbol of Christ, 382.

44 Dostoevsky, “Letter to Sofia Alexandrovna.”

45 Gratchev, “Myshkin as a Tragic Interpretation of Don Quixote”, 141.

– Dedicated to Rose Webster my most wonderful and ridiculous friend.