Prince Myshkin has just returned to Russia after several years in a Swiss sanitarium and soon finds himself in a complicated love triangle. Myshkin's honesty, goodness, and integrity are shown to be unequal to the moral emptiness of those around him.
This new abridgement was completed exclusively for Mission Books by Russian Studies scholar Thomas Beyer to keep the important religious themes of the novel intact. This edition of The Idiot is an excellent way for the admirer of Dostoevsky to refresh himself, or to introduce Dostoevsky to a friend who has yet to experience the joy of reading his works.
I am heartbroken. Simon Vance is the gold standard of reading Dostoevsky, but he ruins his own performance by losing track of which characters are supposed to have which voices. Completely pulls you out of it, and mischaracterizes individuals at key moments. I offer the following example, though it isn't the only one.
Rogozhin and the Prince, and the contrast between them, is a central theme of the novel. Irony vs Candor, self loathing passion vs sincerity without self awareness. In the first chapter, Vance gives a *perfect* performance for these two. The two characters are nearly the same age, and Vance gives them a voice that is similar in physical tone and age, but polar opposites in emotional tone. Rogozhin is a dark, brooding sneer, and the Prince a light warm entreaty.
Then, the next time Rogozhin appears, Vance appears to confuse the character with an old man, and then forever after, whenever Rogozhin speaks, he is given a boisterous old man's voice, inexplicably. Completely ruins the subtlety of the character. After a very intimate scene between Rogozhin and the Prince was butchered with this voice, I had to abandon audiobook completely to avoid ruining the novel.
So frustrating, because Vance is *so* good. Check out his reading of "Notes From the Underground" to get an Idea of how good Vance can be when he doesn't have to juggle multiple characters.