Study Guide

The Idiot Part 3, Chapter 4

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Part 3, Chapter 4

  • Myshkin and Rogozhin get back to Myshkin's house only to discover a whole bunch of dudes already gathered there, drinking champagne in honor of Myshkin's birthday.
  • Myshkin is pretty psyched to see everyone, but it's kind of weird that they all just invited themselves over and broke out his liquor, no?
  • Ippolit is there, feeling better, and drinking even though he's not supposed to be. He's there with Burdovsky, and both of them are super-polite to Myshkin.
  • Radomsky suddenly collars the prince and says he needs a private chat. They decide to wait until after the party ends, since
  • Radomsky is worried about attracting undue attention. It's all very mysterious.
  • Myshkin tells Radomsky that Ippolit is now living with him, and this really ticks Radomsky off for some reason.
  • Ippolit pipes up and it's clear that he's half-crazed from the fever and alcohol.
  • Then, a drunk Lebedev starts a long speech. At first it seems to be about "interpreting the Apocalypse"—basically, trying to make sense of the Book of Revelation in the New Testament of the Bible, where the end of the world is described in all sorts of confusing imagery.
  • But then, Lebedev comes to his main point—which is something that Dostoevsky has been harping on throughout the book. Lebedev tells the story of a dude from the starvation days of the twelfth century who survived by eating sixty monks and six babies. Yeah, ewww is right. But then, instead of just keeping this crime to himself, he went and turned himself in, even though back in those days it would mean all sorts of torture and horrors for him.
  • For Lebedev, the point of this story is that back then, mankind had a deeper and more innate sense of right and wrong which would not allow him to do horrible things without feeling guilt and remorse. Whereas nowadays (that is, in Dostoevsky's nineteenth century) people are much more driven by materialist and earthly wants than by some spiritual sense of right and wrong. So, it's basically a drunker and more colorful rehash of the argument that the Epanchins were having a few chapters ago in their house. And for Dostoevsky, it's a theme that recurs in almost all of his novels.
  • So, yeah. Lebedev wraps it up and everyone gets some food.
  • A few people get mad at his theory, especially since Lebedev himself isn't exactly depriving himself of material pleasures or anything.
  • Ganya goes over and sits with Rogozhin. It's unclear why.
  • Meanwhile, Radomsky again asks Myshkin why he's allowing Ippolit to live there. Myshkin is all, why are you so hung up on this kid? Radomsky answers that he is sick of looking at his ugly mug. Okay, then.

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