by Fyodor Dostoevsky
The Idiot Philosophical Viewpoints: The Non-Divine Christ Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Part.Chapter.Paragraph)
The prince's gaze was so gentle at this moment, and his smile was so entirely free from even a shade of concealed hostility, that the general suddenly stopped, and somehow suddenly looked at his visitor in a different way; the whole change of view occurred in an instant. (1.3.21)
Here is a great example of Myshkin's totally disarming and even charming honesty. He is such a breath of fresh air that he can't help but make everyone immediately drop their defenses before him. But isn't there something inhuman in being quite this blank—with a face completely free of any shade of nuance?
"All this is very strange and interesting," said Mrs. Epanchin. "Now let's leave the donkey and go on to other matters. What are you laughing at, Aglaya? and you too, Adelaida? The prince told us his experiences very cleverly; he saw the donkey himself, and what have you ever seen?" (1.5.50-53)
This is one of the clear indicators in the text that the prince is compared directly with Christ. Jesus is closely associated with donkeys—he is described as riding one into Jerusalem. But the novel's ambivalence toward its Christ figure is evident even here in Aglaya's laughter. This makes the story less of a spiritual memory and more of a modern-day ridiculousness.
"You're not angry with me for something?" [Myshkin] asked suddenly, as if in perplexity, and yet looking straight into their eyes. […]. "That it's as if I keep teaching […]. "If you're angry, don't be," he said. "I myself know that I've lived less than others and understand less about life than anyone. Maybe I sometimes speak very strangely.…"
And he became decidedly embarrassed.
"Since you say you were happy, it means you lived more, not less; why do you pretend and apologize?" Aglaya began sternly and carpingly. "And please don't worry about lecturing us, there's nothing there to make you triumphant. With your quietism one could fill a hundred years of life with happiness. Show you an execution or show you a little finger, you'll draw an equally praiseworthy idea from both and be left feeling pleased besides. It's a way to live." (1.5.106-111)
Ah, Myshkin trying to teach people stuff. You've gotta love Aglaya's defense of the prince as some kind of stoned dude, looking at anything at all and saying "whoa, deep." Execution, little finger, there's always some moral to be drawn out of it somewhere.