Dostoevsky should be a guest on SKAT TV.

19/03/2011 by Christopher Buxton

Dostoevski should be a guest on SKAT TV. He would have noticed many similarities between the Russian 19th Century state and Bulgarian kleptocracy. His ears would be well tuned to the outpouring of romantic outrage.

Book 3 of Idiot begins by a reflection on a non functioning modern state where none of the modern technology works and administration is in the hands of men encouraged to be proud of their lack of practicality.

No such thing as hypocrisy when characters admit their villainous self interest shamelessly and even cheerfully.

The Idiot Myshkin is surrounded by normal madness. Tea parties become screaming matches. The struggle to achieve French Salon social decorum is sabotaged by the ready acceptance of the irrational and inconsistent.

Does the reader wish to beat Dostoevsky’s new women?

Reader hits a wall of pain, rather like a marathon runner,

Tolstoy rightly points out that once you’ve read fifty pages of Crime and Punishment, the reader knows what is going to happen. The same is true of the Idiot for all its convoluted romantic plots.

Angel comes to Moscow in the Idiot; the devil comes to Moscow in Master and Margarita. Not much else changes in Mother Russia – or in Bulgaria!

Capital punishment – knowing the time and nature of your death – fascinates the characters, particularly Ippolit, who remains alive at the end of the book despite his promises. There was no capital punishment in “savage” Russia at this time although there are references to horrifying executions in previous centuries.

Capital punishment is irrelevanbt in a society where there are no evil characters – not even Rogozhin is evil in spite of his diabolic name. He is merely someone who indulges his instincts – and must be forgiven.

People have so much time to indulge their distempered passions. And if they don’t have money, they borrow it. Without the daily worry of work, they can stand outside the bedrooms of cold objects of desire for days on end without sleeping.

Instinct is preferred over reason. Characters appear uninvited at social functions and spout pages of elemental passion. Despite this in the end, their patient listeners are indifferent.