- idiot. The “idiot” is Dostoevsky’s own version of “holy fool”, or the fool in the name of God. Initially designed as someone extremely bad, the idiot turned out to be someone extremely good. So, Dostoevsky discarded any trace of dark and shadow, and left only light and bright in him: the idiot, in this novel, is, from the start to the end, only and fully the bright light. And, once the character was sketched, Dostoevsky put him in the Russian contexts in order to generate some unexpected perspectives.
- Lyov Nikolayevitch Myshkin. He is the “idiot”: the hero is coming from Switzerland, where he was sent by Pavlishtchev, back to Russia, because his guardian died and he wants to enter in the possession of the Pavlishtchev’s fortune. As a psychological portrait, Myshkin is the personification of Christ, of “Self”, of “Essence”. On the other hand, even if all the portraits of the novel are psychological, there is also a physical portrait of the prince Myshkin: he “was a young fellow, also of about twenty-six or twenty-seven years of age, slightly above the middle height, very fair, with a thin pointed, and very light coloured beard; his eyes were large, blue, and had an intent look about them, but with that quiet heavy expression which some people affirm to be a peculiarity as well as evidence of an epileptic subject. His face was decidedly a pleasant one for all that, refined, but quite colourless, except for the circumstance that at this moment it was blue with cold.” (1887: 6 – the English translation)
- Fiodor Dostoïevsky (1887): “L’idiot”, Libairie Plon
- Fedor Dostoieffsky (1887): “The idiot”, Brentanos