Study Guide

The Idiot Part 1, Chapter 9

By Fyodor Dostoevsky

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Part 1, Chapter 9

  • (Okay, brain snack time, boys and girls, as the fun really starts. Dostoevsky's novels are best known for one thing and one thing only: the crazy screaming matches between a bunch of tense people all jammed into a small room together. It's a special treat of anger, resentment, and secrets coming out into the open, all flavored with some claustrophobia sauce. Get psyched, cause that delicious mishmash of horror is coming your way in the next few chapters.)
  • Nastasya walks in and everyone else is way too dumbfounded to say or do anything. They've never met her before and this isn't really how they thought that meeting would happen. Ganya is convinced she is only there to mock them all.
  • She puts on a happy guest face and starts making small-talk.
  • Ganya introduces her to his mom and sister, who are totally freaking out, but try to do a little bit of small talk back…
  • …when Nastasya takes a look at Ganya's totally embarrassed, crazed, unhappy, and generally miserable face and starts laughing at him.
  • Myshkin sees that Ganya is about to lose it completely and tells him to calm down, at which point Ganya does totally lose it, but unloads on Myshkin, almost beating him up.
  • At the point Myshkin and Nastasya are introduced, and he busts out some of his trademark mystical mumbo jumbo about how he recognized her not just from the portrait but because he feels like they somehow already know each other.
  • (Dudes, not for nothing, but that whole Mary Magdalene situation applies not just to Marie the Swiss village girl, but also to Nastasya. Just sayin'.)
  • Nastasya is distracted enough to fall under the mystical spell for a bit, but just as things are calming down, in comes General Ivogin.
  • Old Mr. Crazy McPompousPants himself.
  • Ganya is about to die of shame and anger and starts to wonder whether the money is worth going through all embarrassment. Hint—it's not.
  • Ivolgin is drunk already, but still cuts a somewhat respectable figure, until he starts in with his usual over-inflated rigmarole.
  • The rest of the family tries their best to get him to go away, but it's no use. Nastasya is smart enough to see that he is an easy target so she begs him to stay and talk more.
  • Ivolgin starts telling a story about how he used to be BFF with General Epanchin, until he had an altercation with his family's governess on a train: she threw his cigar out the window, and he in turn threw out her lapdog.
  • Nastasya is all, oh, that's such a funny coincidence, because I just read the exact same story happened to an English woman in Belgium! It was in the newspaper! I can't believe that same thing also happened to you!
  • General Ivolgin tries to come up with some explanation, but obviously he is just lying. It's quite possibly the worst significant-other-meeting-the-family situation anyone has ever heard of…
  • … until the doorbell rings again. Who could it be? Obviously someone who will make this get-together spiral even more out of control. Stay tuned.

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