In The Heart of the Drunkard

Falstaff

And away he went, to drink the value of his cross …

I have been listening to Fyodor Dostoevski’s The Idiot on the iPhone, from Audible.com. It’s incredible. I just know I’ll have to read it as soon as I’m done with the audio.

[I do irk myself somewhat on having become such a fan of audiobooks, as well as eBooks. I’d considered myself a purist in this regard, but have now roughly — in two senses of the word — embraced both electronic … I will call them enhancements. But it’s not about one way or the author — or one way or the other, for that matter. It’s simply about getting good words out there, so they can do their metaphysical magic.]

The words in this case are those quoted in italics in the first line, above, and the story that follows. Prince Myshkin is telling Rogozhin a story of how a beggar pawning a tin cross to get money for getting more drunk lied to him, the prince, and told him it was silver. Lev Nikolaevich notes the drunk smiled at the thought he had cheated this gentleman out of a very small amount of money.

So we have a man drunk, who is begging, lying, selling the symbol of his salvation, and giggling inside about cheating Myshkin. And then of course he (the drunk) goes off to buy more booze. And the whole time — during the events of the tale and the recounting of it to the evil and lost Rogozhin — he (the prince) speaks no syllable against the man supposedly running a very short con on him. The story closes with this:

I’ll wait awhile before I condemn this Judas. Only God knows what may be hidden in the hearts of drunkards.

And that’s why the prince is also The Idiot, that is to say the best and kindest character in the entire book.

And that’s why I say The Idiot is incredible, and I can’t say all of why, let alone understand the reasons.

And that’s why, of course, among other more prosaic reasons, I shall never be Fyodor Dostoevski.

Recent

Sadie! Sadie!

Hadda dream that Zadie Smith asked me to babysit two kittens. She and her husband, an older Jewish man, had somewhere to go. He was

Read More »

Tolkien’s Errantry

‘Errantry’ JRR Tolkien   Commercially found in Adventures of Tom Bombadil Image: detail, Pauline Baynes’ illustration, for above [Where did JKR hear the buzz of Dumbledore …

Read More »

No It Won’t

I don’t think that quotation means what we think it means. Beauty will not save the world and anyway Dostoevsky didn’t say it and anyways

Read More »

Take Up Do

In my mid-20s — half an age (mine) and still nearly nil on maturity ago — I noticed a thing that at the time was

Read More »

Random

I’ve Said Too Much

There’s a danger of saying too much. There’s always that. I wrote previously and succinctly about stories. Here’s a longer exploration I’ve been working on, off and on,

Read More »

Trilemma

Bear no malice nor ill-will to any man living, for either the man is good, or naught: if he be good, and I hate him,

Read More »

Related

Plough Lines

“For sale: baby shoes” is a classified ad. “For sale: baby shoes; never worn” is a story. It’s Hemingway’s, in fact. * “The king is

Read More »

Less Is More

I don’t know. What happened next? So, so beautiful. This is why. You like me. This is it. Red White Blue What the fuck? What

Read More »