Fyodor DOSTOEVSKY   |   Constance GARNETT   |   Fedor DOSTOIEFFSKY

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(DOSTOEVSKY, Fyodor) DOSTOIEFFSKY, Fedor. The Idiot. London: William Heinemann, 1913. Octavo, original red cloth.

First edition with the "pioneering" Constance Garnett translation in English that profoundly influenced Hemingway, Virginia Woolf and many others, with Dostoevsky preferring "The Idiot to all his other works," an eloquent and powerful work that "embodies his most intimate, cherished and sacred convictions," in original cloth.

The Idiot displays the greatest "hallmarks of Dostoevsky's genius—the probing of the depths of the mind and the revelations of the startling contradictions in men's souls" (Hornstein, 160). "The novel is the most personal of all his major works, the book in which he embodies his most intimate, cherished and sacred convictions… It is only in The Idiot that Dostoevsky includes an account of his ordeal before the firing squad… Also afflicted with the epilepsy from which Dostoevsky suffered, Prince Myshkin is overcome, at the onset of this disease, with the same ecstatic intuition of supernatural plenitude that Dostoevsky both cherished as a divine visitation and feared as the harbinger of madness" (Frank, Dostoevsky IV:316).

Dostoevsky "preferred The Idiot to all his other works… it possesses, in exemplary directness, the ancient riddle of the tragic hero" (Steiner, Tolstoy or Dostoevsky, 171-8). Culminating in what is "beyond question one of the most powerful finales in world literature" (Kjetsaa, 227), the novel references Rousseau, Shakespeare, Pushkin, Gogol and Cervantes, and especially cites Flaubert's Madame Bovary, which "appears directly in The Idiot as Nastasya Filippovna's reading material in the last days of her life" (Knapp, Dostoevsky's The Idiot, 44). Together with Tolstoy, Dostoevsky was "integral to the flowering of the Russian novel in the 19th century… in them was assembled much of the light that we possess on the nature of man" (Steiner, 8). Containing Constance Garnett's "pioneering" first translation in English as the second volume in her series: The Novels of Fyodor Dostoevsky. "The breadth and impact of Garnett's translation work… makes her an extraordinary figure in 20th-century literature… her Dostoevsky in particular made an enormous impact on Virginia Woolf" (Oxford Guide to Literature in English Translations, 595, 29). "In A Moveable Feast, Hemingway recounts scouring Sylvia Beach's shelves for the Russians and finding in them a depth and accomplishment he had never known… 'In Dostoevsky there were things believable and not to be believed, but some so true they changed you as you read them'… Hemingway recalls telling a friend, a young poet named Evan Shipman, that he could never get through War and Peace—'not until I got the Constance Garnett translation'" (New Yorker). Preceded by the 1887 edition with the translation of Frederick Whishaw. Originally published in Russian in 1868-69. (1887 edition) LEG, 18; Harris 48. Small owner signature. Bookseller ticket.

Text very fresh with renewed front free endpaper; light expert restoration to spine ends of original cloth. A handsome near-fine copy.

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