This month's book selection sponsored by One Silent Winter was the Idiot, a classic Russian novel. As with many Russian novels it is a dark look into 19th century Russia.
Fyodor Dostoyevsky is best known for his novels Crime and Punishment, The Idiot and The Brothers Karamazov. His literary works explore human psychology in the troubled political, social and spiritual context of 19th-century Russian society. He is often acknowledged by critics as one of the greatest and most prominent psychologists in world literature. The Idiot looks into the life of a troubled prince.
Twenty-six-year-old Prince Lev Nikolayevich Myshkin returns to Russia after spending several years at a Swiss sanatorium. Scorned by the society of St. Petersburg for his trusting nature and naivete, he finds himself at the center of a struggle between a beautiful kept woman-- Nastassya Filippovna--and a virtuous and pretty young girl--Aglaya Yepanchin, both of whom win his affection. Myshkin is torn between his romantic love for Aglaya Yepanchin and his compassionate love for Nastassya Filippovna, but in the end he loses both of them. Unfortunately, Myshkin's very goodness precipitates disaster, leaving the impression that, in a world obsessed with money, power, and sexual conquest, a sanatorium may be the only place for a person such as he.
This was a very well written novel, characteristically Russian in its somber timbre. Within the first few pages, the author had set your view of the characters. You felt that you knew them well. Like a symphony, the action rose and fell, sweeping you along until the bitter conclusion.
Throughout the book many of the conversations revolved around tea. Tea was taken with all meals and pretty much any other time of the day. Samovars were present in all the homes, Tea was appealing to the Russian life-style because it was a warm and hearty brew. They preferred a strong, dark brew which was sweetened with sugar, jam or honey.