Best quotes from The Idiot

By Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Richard Pevear, Larissa Volokhonsky

112 Quotes    4.2 


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Beauty will save the world

God knows what is in me in place of me.

Mas, não obstante, eu acrescento que em qualquer pensamento genial ou no novo pensamento humano, ou simplesmente até em qualquer pensamento humano sério, que medra da cabeça de alguém, sempre resta algo que de maneira nenhuma se pode transmitir a outras pessoas, embora voc6e tenha garatujado volumes inteiros e passado trinta e cinco anos interpretando o seu pensamento; sempre restará algo que de maneira alguma desejará sair do seu crânio e permanecerá com você para todo o sempre; e assim você acaba morrendo sem ter transmitido a ninguém talvez o mais importante da sua idéia.

Why did you come in to-night with your heads in the air? 'Make way, we are coming! Give us every right and don't you dare breathe a word before us. Pay us every sort of respect, such as no one's ever heard of, and we shall treat you worse than the lowest lackey!' They strive for justice, they stand on their rights, and yet they've slandered him like infidels in their article. We demand, we don't ask, and you will get no gratitude from us, because you are acting for the satisfaction of your own conscience! Queer sort of reasoning!... He has not borrowed money from you, he doesn't owe you anything, so what are you reckoning on, if not his gratitude? So how can you repudiate it? Lunatics! They regard society as savage and inhuman, because it cries shame on the seduced girl; but if you think society inhuman, you must think that the girl suffers from the censure of society, and if she does, how is it you expose her to society in the newspapers and expect her not to suffer? Lunatics! Vain creatures! They don't believe in God, they don't believe in Christ! Why, you are so eaten up with pride and vanity that you'll end by eating up one another, that's what I prophesy. Isn't that topsy-turvydom, isn't it infamy?

Christ   Christianity   Conceit   God   Liberal   Nihilism   Pride   Russia   Vanity

I must add... my gratitude to you for the attention with which you have listened to me, for, from my numerous observations, our Liberals are never capable of letting anyone else have a conviction of his own without at once meeting their opponent with abuse or even something worse.

In every idea of genius or in every new human idea, or, more simply still, in every serious human idea born in anyone's brain, there is something that cannot possibly be conveyed to others.

To kill for murder is a punishment incomparably worse than the crime itself. Murder by legal sentence is immeasurably more terrible than murder by brigands. Anyone murdered by brigands, whose throat is cut at night in a wood, or something of that sort, must surely hope to escape till the very last minute. There have been instances when a man has still hoped for escape, running or begging for mercy after his throat was cut. But in the other case all that last hope, which makes dying ten times as easy, is taken away for certain. There is the sentence, and the whole awful torture lies in the fact that there is certainly no escape, and there is no torture in the world more terrible.

Pass us by, and forgive us our happiness

It wasn't the New World that mattered...Columbus died almost without seeing it; and not really knowing what he had discovered. It's life that matters, nothing but life — the process of discovering, the everlasting and perpetual process, not the discovery itself, at all.

The prince says that the world will be saved by beauty! And I maintain that the reason he has such playful ideas is that he is in love.

There is something at the bottom of every new human thought, every thought of genius, or even every earnest thought that springs up in any brain, which can never be communicated to others, even if one were to write volumes about it and were explaining one's idea for thirty-five years; there's something left which cannot be induced to emerge from your brain, and remains with you forever; and with it you will die, without communicating to anyone perhaps the most important of your ideas.

Lack of originality, everywhere, all over the world, from time immemorial, has always been considered the foremost quality and the recommendation of the active, efficient and practical man.

One man doesn't believe in god at all, while the other believes in him so thoroughly that he prays as he murders men!

I think that if one is faced by inevitable destruction -- if a house is falling upon you, for instance -- one must feel a great longing to sit down, close one's eyes and wait, come what may . . .

A fool with a heart and no sense is just as unhappy as a fool with sense and no heart.

Fools   Heart   Sense

I almost do not exist now and I know it; God knows what lives in me in place of me.

And meanwhile, even in spite of all my desire, I could never imagine to myself that there is no future life and no providence. Most likely there is all that, but we don't understand anything about the future life and its laws. But if it is so difficult and even completely impossible to understand it, can it be that I will have to answer for being unable to comprehend the unknowable? True, they say, and the prince, of course, along with them, that it is here that obedience is necessary, that one must obey without reasoning, out of sheer good behavior, and that I am bound to be rewarded for my meekness in the other world. We abase providence too much by ascribing our own notions to it, being vexed that we can't understand it. But, again, if it's impossible to understand it, then, I repeat, it is hard to have to answer for something it is not given to man to understand. And if so, how are they going to judge me for being unable to understand the true will and laws of providence? No, we'd better leave religion alone.

Such power!" Adelaida cried all at once, peering greedily at the portrait over her sister's shoulder.
"Where? What power?" Lizaveta Prokofyevna asked sharply.
"Such beauty has power," Adelaida said hotly. "You can overturn the world with such beauty.

Is it true, prince, that you once declared that "beauty would save the world"? Great Heaven! The prince says that beauty saves the world! And I declare that he only has such playful ideas because he's in love! Gentlemen, the prince is in love. I guessed it the moment he came in. Don't blush, prince; you make me sorry for you. What beauty saves the world? Colia told me that you are a zealous Christian; is it so? Colia says you call yourself a Christian.'
The prince regarded him attentively, but said nothing.

Bah! You want to hear the vilest thing a man’s done and you want him to be a hero at the same time!

Listen, Parfyon, a few moments ago you asked me a question, and this is my answer: the essence of religious feeling has nothing to do with any reasoning, or any crimes and misdemeanors or atheism; is is something entirely different and it will always be so; it is something our atheists will always overlook, and they will never talk about THAT. But the important thing is that you will notice it most clearly in a Russian heart, and that's the conclusion I've come to! This is one of the chief convictions I have acquired in our Russia. There's work to be done, Parfyon. Believe me, there's work to be done in our Russian world!

Let me add, however, that in every idea of genius or in every new human idea, or, more simply still, in every serious human idea born in anyone's brain, there is something that cannot possibly be conveyed to others, though you wrote volumes about it and spent thirty-five years in explaining your idea; something will always be left that will obstinately refuse to emerge from your head and that will remain with you for ever and you will die without having conveyed to anyone what is perhaps the most vital point of your idea.

It is easier for a Russian to become an Atheist, than for any other nationality in the world. And not only does a Russian 'become an Atheist,' but he actually BELIEVES IN Atheism, just as though he had found a new faith, not perceiving that he has pinned his faith to a negation. Such is our anguish of thirst!

We degrade Providence too much by attributing our ideas to it out of annoyance at being unable to understand it.

Nastasha Filippovna,' said Myshkin softly and as it were with compassion, 'I told you just now that I would take your consent as an honor, and that you are doing me an honor, not I you. You smiled at those words, and I heard people laughing about us. I may have expressed myself very absurdly and have been absurd myself, but I thought all the time that I... understood the meaning of honor, and I am sure I spoke the truth. You wanted to ruin yourself just now irrevocably; for you'd never have forgiven yourself for it afterwards. But you are not to blame for anything. Your life cannot be altogether ruined. What does it matter that Rogozhin did come to you and Gavril Ardalionovitch tried to deceive you? Why will you go on dwelling on it? Few people would do what you have done, I tell you that again. As for your meaning to go with Rogozhin, you were ill when you meant to do it. You are ill now, and you had much better go to bed. You would have gone off to be a washerwoman next day; you wouldn't have stayed with Rogozhin. You are proud, Nastasha Filippovna; but perhaps you are so unhappy as really to think yourself to blame. You want a lot of looking after, Nastasha Filippovna. I will look after you. I saw your portrait this morning and I felt as though I recognized a face that I knew. I felt as though you had called to me already... I shall respect you all my life Nastasha Filippovna.

It is an unchristian religion, in the first place!' the prince resumed in great agitation and with excessive sharpness. 'That's in the first place, and secondly, Roman Catholicism is even worse than atheism - that's my opinion. Yes, that's my opinion! Atheism merely preaches a negation, but Catholicism goes further: it preaches a distorted Christ, a Christ calumniated and defamed by it, the opposite of Christ! It preaches Antichrist - I swear it does, I assure you it does! This is my personal opinion, an opinion I've held for a long time, and it has worried me a lot myself. ... Roman Catholicism believes that the Church cannot exist on earth without universal temporal power, and cries: Non possumus! In my opinion, Roman Catholicism isn't even a religion, but most decidedly a continuation of the Holy Roman Empire, and everything in it is subordinated to that idea, beginning with faith. The Pope seized the earth, an earthly throne and took up the sword; and since then everything has gone on in the same way, except that they've added lies, fraud, deceit, fanaticism, superstition wickedness. They have trifled with the most sacred, truthful, innocent, ardent feelings of the people, have bartered it all for money, for base temporal power. And isn't this the teaching of Antichrist? Isn't it clear that atheism had to come from them? And it did come from them, from Roman Catholicism itself! Atheism originated first of all with them: how could they believe in themselves? It gained ground because of abhorrence of them; it is the child of their lies and their spiritual impotence! Atheism! In our country it is only the upper classes who do not believe, as Mr Radomsky so splendidly put it the other day, for they have lost their roots. But in Europe vast numbers of the common people are beginning to lose their faith - at first from darkness and lies, and now from fanaticism, hatred of the Church and Christianity!

Sometimes you dream strange dreams, impossible and unnatural; you wake up and remember them clearly, and are surprised at a strange fact: you remember first of all that reason did not abandon you during the whole course of your dream; you even remember that you acted extremely cleverly and logically for that whole long, long time when you were surrounded by murderers, when they were being clever with you, concealed their intentions, treated you in a friendly way, though they already had their weapons ready and were only waiting for some sort of sign; you remember how cleverly you finally deceived them, hid from them; then you realize that they know your whole deception by heart and merely do not show you that they know where you are hiding; but you are clever and deceive them again—all that you remember clearly. But why at the same time could your reason be reconciled with such obvious absurdities and impossibilities, with which, among other things, your dream was filled? Before your eyes, one of your murderers turned into a woman, and from a woman into a clever, nasty little dwarf—and all that you allowed at once, as an accomplished fact, almost without the least perplexity, and precisely at the moment when, on the other hand, your reason was strained to the utmost, displaying extraordinary force, cleverness, keenness, logic? Why, also, on awakening from your dream and entering fully into reality, do you feel almost every time, and occasionally with an extraordinary force of impressions, that along with the dream you are leaving behind something you have failed to fathom? You smile at the absurdity of your dream and feel at the same time that the tissue of those absurdities contains some thought, but a thought that is real, something that belongs to your true life, something that exists and has always existed in your heart; it is as if your dream has told you something new, prophetic, awaited; your impression is strong, it is joyful or tormenting, but what it is and what has been told you—all that you can neither comprehend nor recall.

What matters," said the prince at last, "is that you have a child's trusting nature and extraordinary truthfulness. Do you know that a great deal can be forgiven you for that alone?

Nós todos somos gente boníssima a ponto de sermos cômicos

We must name the eminent and fascinating Prince N. - once the vanquisher of female hearts all over Europe.

It's life that matters, nothing but life—the process of discovering, the everlasting and perpetual process, not the discovery itself, at all.

Do you know, to my thinking it's a good thing sometimes to be absurd; it's better in fact, it makes it easier to forgive one another, it's easier to be humble. One can't understand everything at once, we can't begin with perfection all at once! In order to reach perfection one must begin by being ignorant of a great deal. And if we understand things too quickly, perhaps we shan't understand them thoroughly.

In every idea emanating from genius, or even in every serious human idea -- born in the human brain -- there always remains something -- some sediment -- which cannot be expressed to others, though one wrote volumes and lectured upon it for five-and-thirty years. There is always a something, a remnant, which will never come out from your brain, but will remain there with you, and you alone, for ever and ever, and you will die, perhaps, without having imparted what may be the very essence of your idea to a single living soul.

He entered a confectioner's shop to rest, once. He was in a state of nervous excitement and perturbation; he noticed nothing and no one; and he felt a craving for solitude, to be alone with his thoughts and his emotions, and to give himself up to them passively. He loathed the idea of trying to answer the questions that would rise up in his heart and mind. "I am not to blame for all this," he thought to himself, half unconsciously.

Yes, the laws of self-preservation and of self-destruction are equally powerful in this world. The devil will hold his empire over humanity until a limit of time which is still unknown. You laugh? You do not believe in the devil? Scepticism as to the devil is a French idea, and it is also a frivolous idea. Do you know who the devil is? Do you know his name? Although you don't know his name you make a mockery of his form, following the example of Voltaire. You sneer at his hoofs, at his tail, at his horns—all of them the produce of your imagination! In reality the devil is a great and terrible spirit, with neither hoofs, nor tail, nor horns; it is you who have endowed him with these attributes! But… he is not the question just now!

Occasionally I was so much better that I could go out; but the streets used to put me in such a rage that I would lock myself up for days rather than go out, even if I were well enough to do so! I could not bear to see all those preoccupied, anxious-looking creatures continuously surging along the streets past me! Why are they always anxious? What is the meaning of their eternal care and worry? It is their wickedness, their perpetual detestable malice—that's what it is—they are all full of malice, malice!

Let me add to this that in every idea emanating from genius, or even in every serious human idea—born in the human brain—there always remains something—some sediment—which cannot be expressed to others, though one wrote volumes and lectured upon it for five-and-thirty years. There is always a something, a remnant, which will never come out from your brain, but will remain there with you, and you alone, for ever and ever, and you will die, perhaps, without having imparted what may be the very essence of your idea to a single living soul.

The impudence of Ignorance

There is nothing so annoying as to be fairly rich, of a fairly good family,
pleasing presence, average education, to be "not stupid," kindhearted,
and yet to have no talent at all, no originality, not a single idea
of one's own—to be, in fact, "just like everyone else."
Of such people there are countless numbers in this world—far more
even than appear. They can be divided into two classes as all men
can—that is, those of limited intellect, and those who are much cleverer.
The former of these classes is the happier.
To a commonplace man of limited intellect, for instance, nothing is
simpler than to imagine himself an original character, and to revel in that
belief without the slightest misgiving.
Many of our young women have thought fit to cut their hair short, put
on blue spectacles, and call themselves Nihilists. By doing this they have
been able to persuade themselves, without further trouble, that they
have acquired new convictions of their own. Some men have but felt
some little qualm of kindness towards their fellow-men, and the fact has
been quite enough to persuade them that they stand alone in the van of
enlightenment and that no one has such humanitarian feelings as they.
Others have but to read an idea of somebody else's, and they can immediately
assimilate it and believe that it was a child of their own brain.
The "impudence of ignorance," if I may use the expression, is developed
to a wonderful extent in such cases;—unlikely as it appears, it is met
with at every turn.
... those belonged to the other class—to the "much cleverer"
persons, though from head to foot permeated and saturated with
the longing to be original. This class, as I have said above, is far less
happy. For the "clever commonplace" person, though he may possibly
imagine himself a man of genius and originality, none the less has within
his heart the deathless worm of suspicion and doubt; and this doubt
sometimes brings a clever man to despair. (As a rule, however, nothing
tragic happens;—his liver becomes a little damaged in the course of time,
nothing more serious. Such men do not give up their aspirations after
originality without a severe struggle,—and there have been men who,
though good fellows in themselves, and even benefactors to humanity,
have sunk to the level of base criminals for the sake of originality)

Lepiej być nieszczęśliwym i wiedzieć, niż być szczęśliwym i żyć w nieświadomości.

Moje słowa nie odpowiadają moim myślom, a to poniża moje myśli.

Nie jestem tchórzem. Tchórzem jest ten kto się boi i ucieka a ja się boję, ale nie uciekam.

First you have to buy powder, pistol powder, not the damp, and not as coarse as for a cannon. Then you have to put the powder in first, and get some felt off a door. And then you have to put the bullet in afterwards, and not the bullet before the powder, or it won't go off. Do you hear, Keller? or else it won't go off. Ha-ha! Isn't that a magnificent reason, friend Keller?

Why, you are so eaten up with pride and vanity that you'll end by eating up one another, that's what I prophecy.

As soon as you have finished telling us anything, you seem to be ashamed of what you've said," Aglaia observed suddenly. "Why is that?

And I fancy, besides, that we seem like such different people ... through various circumstances, that we cannot perhaps have many points in common. But yet I don't believe in that last idea myself, for it often only seems that there are no points in common, when there really are some ... it's just laziness that makes people classify themselves according to appearances, and fail to find anything in common.... But perhaps I am boring you? You seem ...

At such times I felt something was drawing me away, and I kept fancying that if I walked straight on, far, far away and reached that line where the sky and earth meet, there I should find the key to the mystery, there I should see a new life a thousand times richer and more turbulent than ours.

Delicacy and dignity are taught by one's own heart, not by a dancing master.

God has such gladness every time he sees from heaven that a sinner is praying to Him with all his heart, as a mother has when she sees the first smile on her baby's face.

The essence of religious feeling does not come under any sort of reasoning or atheism, and has nothing to do with any crimes or misdemeanors. There is something else here, and there will always be something else - something that the atheists will for ever slur over; they will always be talking of something else.


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