Study Guide

The Idiot Part 1, Chapter 12

By Fyodor Dostoevsky

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Part 1, Chapter 12

  • Myshkin ends up in some gross hole in the wall, where Kolya's dad is waiting for him.
  • Myshkin gives him money to pay the tab, but then immediately is all, hey, can you get me into Nastasya Philipovna's house?
  • The general boasts that he and Nastasya are totally BFF and he can get Myshkin in to her party no problem.
  • They leave and start wandering around the city, with the general claiming that Nastasya lives in this building—no, that one over there—no, around the corner. It's pretty clear that he is just a totally wasted, half-crazy idiot, who cannot stop talking about imaginary friends and a very romantic and important completely made-up past.
  • Myshkin at first goes along with this nonsense, but then even he slowly catches on to the fact that General Ivolgin is a few crayons shy of a full Crayola set.
  • They wind up at an apartment of some woman who clearly doesn't know the general—and whom he doesn't seem to know either.
  • Somehow he B.S.'s his way into convincing her that he knows the owner of the apartment. Then the two men leave.
  • Next they somehow end up at the house of some creditor where they run into Kolya. Kolya is all, dad, that lady is going to be totally mad if you show up since you owe her a bunch of money. But the general insists and no one stops him. They have a super-awkward run-in with this woman.
  • Finally the general leaves, and Kolya tells Myshkin that he really wants him to meet his friend Ippolit, who is not there. Ok then.
  • Maybe later. Kolya also pours out his heart to Myshkin about the state of cultural decline. He's kind of a like a nineteenth century Holden Caulfield, this guy, all bummed about all the phonies around him. Yes, it's hard to grow up and realize that people are frequently hypocritical. Welcome to teen angst, Kolya.
  • Then Kolya tells Myshkin that General Ivolgin actually doesn't know Nastasya at all and would not be able to get him into her party.
  • But, hey, all is not lost. Because the prince is way underdressed for a formal party and because he is kind of a weirdo himself, Kolya thinks that Nastasya will let him in without an invitation. She's into the whole alternative scene. Which, at the time apparently just means a guy wearing daytime clothes to a nighttime event. Oooh, crazy.

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