Sidharth Vardhan

The Tragedy of being too good – a review of ‘The Idiot’

(Review by Sidharth Vardhanof Fyodor Dostoevsky’s novel ‘The Idiot’First written on April 25, 2015’) An ideal idiot Most of my favorite characters are either pure evil or complex anti-hero type; the stereotype Mr. Goody-two-shoes has never appealed to me; however Prince Myshkin, the idiot in the novel, is now going to be an exception. He has suffered from idiocy due to epilepsy (FD too suffered from epilepsy attacks) all his childhood and early youth – and thus gets the technical title of ‘Idiot’. Perhaps it was due to this idiocy that he has not adopted the so-called common sense – the ‘normal’ way of looking at the world which is formed by slow corruption of our sense of compassion on pretext of what is called self-defense in a cruel world. Myshkin is full of compassion – which is very clear from stories he tells (the stories you tell, tell a lot about yourself.) His goodness (unlike Evegeine’s calculated goodness and Ptitson who allows himself only small evils) makes him indifferent to harm being done to himself if it means happiness of someone else. If you try to insult or hurt him; he would feel sorry for circumstances that made you do

The Dream of a Ridiculous Man – Dostoyevsky’s Christmas Carol

(A review by Sidharth VardhanOf ‘The Dream of a Ridiculous Man’First written on November 30, 2015) “Only perhaps in our children, in their earliest years, one might find, some remote faint reflection of this beauty.” Fyodor Dostoyevsky (Dream of a Ridiculous Man) Do you remember losing that treasured innocence that we were born with? that old childish ‘innocence’ (there might be a better word to describe it, but my vocabulary is poor) – the nausea of which we live with for rest of our lives? We know, or at least we think we know, that it can’t be helped, and we would consider someone a weakling, a divine fool or ridiculous if he or she retained that innocence beyond a certain age. We even laugh at our own foolishness of old days: “They hardly remembered what they had lost, in fact, refused to believe that they had ever been happy and innocent. They even laughed at the possibility of this happiness in the past, and called it a dream.” Fyodor Dostoyevsky (Dream of a Ridiculous Man) Yet, we look at children, ever cheerful, and feel sorry for the loss they are bound to suffer one time or another in their

The demons within us

(Review by Sidharth Vardhan ofDemons by Fyodor Dostoevsky Also translated into English as ‘Possessed’) Wanna start with a 1984 like quote, here is one from ‘Demons’: “‘He suggests a system of spying. Every member of the society spies on the others, and it’s his duty to inform against them. Every one belongs to all and all to every one. All are slaves and equal in their slavery. In extreme cases he advocates slander and murder, but the great thing about it is equality. To begin with, the level of education, science, and talents is lowered. A high level of education and science is only possible for great intellects, and they are not wanted. The great intellects have always seized the power and been despots. Great intellects cannot help being despots and they’ve always done more harm than good. They will be banished or put to death. Cicero will have his tongue cut out, Copernicus will have his eyes put out, Shakespeare will be stoned that’s Shigalovism. Slaves are bound to be equal. There has never been either freedom or equality without despotism, but in the herd there is bound to be equality, and that’s Shigalovism!”  Fyodor Dostoyevsky (Demons) ‘Demons’ kind of

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