Currently reading

The Art of Fiction: A Guide for Writers and Readers
Ayn Rand, Tore Boeckmann, Leonard Peikoff
The Name of the Rose
Umberto Eco
Ghostwritten
David Mitchell
To the Lighthouse
Virginia Woolf
The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
Edward Gibbon, Daniel J. Boorstin, Gian Battista Piranesi, Hans-Friedrich Mueller
Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid
Douglas R. Hofstadter
Perfect Wrong Note - Learning to Trust Your Musical Self
William Westney
The Prince
Niccolò Machiavelli
The Varieties of Religious Experience
William James
Twenty Questions: An Introduction to Philosophy
G. Lee Bowie, Robert C. Solomon

The Idiot

The Idiot - Usually in a book you find a character that you identify with--someone whose motives you understand. I didn't find that character in The Idiot. The unifying trait of all of them is the way their lives are directed by passion. None of them are rational--whether blinded by love, money or vice; whether good or evil, they each act to slowly bring about their own ruin. It's tragic and disconcerting to watch them slowly come unravelled.Though Prince Myshkin is the "idiot" the book is named for, he is definitely not, at least at the time the story takes place, an idiot. He's innocent and good, but is consistently (and disconcertingly) brazenly honest. It is shocking. When he bares his soul to people who care nothing for him, it's almost too much. The Idiot is a blood on wool contrast of his goodness and the depravity every other character where the end result is the same for everyone. This story, like most serialized Russian novels, is episodic and probably unnecessarily long. Among the many tangents are, as are so often found in Russian literature, philosophical and religious ponderings, commentary on the stratification of Russian society and descriptions of contemporary historical events. Through it all there is a beautiful, tragic love story where human flaws are shown raw and unpolished. The ending is insane. It's bizarre. Surreal. It's worth reading the whole book for the ending.