PART FOUR

1

ABOUT a week had gone by since the meeting of two characters in our story on the green bench. One fine morning, at about halfpast ten, Varvara Ardalionovna Ptitsyna, who had been out visiting friends, returned home, immersed in melancholy reflection.

There are people who are hard to describe in a phrase which will present them in one stroke at their most typical and characteristic; they are the people usually dubbed 'ordinary' or 'the majority', and who actually do make up the huge majority of any society. In their novels and stories, writers for the most part try to take certain social types and present them vividly and skilfully--types who are very rarely encountered in real life precisely as they are drawn, but who are nevertheless almost more real than reality itself. Podkolyosin* as a type may well be an exaggeration, but he is by no means a figment of the imagination. How many intelligent people, learning of Podkolyosin through Gogol, immediately began to discover that scores, nay hundreds of their close acquaintances and friends were awfully like Podkolyosin? They knew before Gogol wrote that these friends resembled Podkolyosin, but what they didn't yet know was that that was their name. In real life, bridegrooms very rarely leap out of windows before their wedding, because apart from anything else, it is an awkward form of exit; yet all the same, how many bridegrooms, even intelligent and worthy men, have been ready to confess before their wedding that, in the bottom of their heart, they were Podkolyosins. Nor does every husband exclaim at every turn: 'Tu l'as voulu, George Dandin!'* But heavens, how many millions and billions of times has this cry from the heart been repeated by husbands all over the world after their honey-

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The Idiot
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Introduction vii
  • Note on the Translation xxiii
  • Select Bibliography xxv
  • Chronology of Fyodor Dostoevsky xxvi
  • List of Characters xxix
  • Part One 3
  • Part Two 187
  • Part Three 341
  • Part Four 485
  • Explanatory Notes 653
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