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I remember starting this book when I was a sixth-former, the memorable opening chapter introducing us to the fragile Prince Myshkin (the 'idiot' of the title) returning to St Petersburg by train after long years of ill health abroad. He finds himself at the centre of other people's familial and romantic intrigues; as an innocent, he rarely looks for dishonesty or manipulation and is forgiving when he encounters it. I got a bit tired of some of the other characters (especially the other men, who are almost all pretty unpleasant) but enjoyed it through to the ambiguous end.

Interested to note that the only French-language periodical mentioned by name as circulating among the top salons in Russia is L'Independance Belge.

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