The Idiot

nach Fjodor Michailowitsch Dostojewski
übersetzt von Swetlana Geier. Spielfassung: Karin Henkel und Rita Thiele

To be a good person, selfless and altruistic, was probably considered as idiotic during Dostoevsky’s time as it is today. Prince Myshkin returns to St. Petersburg from a sanatorium in Switzerland, where he was treated for epilepsy. Being extremely naive, innocent, and emphatic, he is a “beautiful person” in the most positive sense, as Dostoevsky himself wrote. But the people around him feel unsettled by his behaviour and never miss a chance to tell him exactly what they think – that he is nothing but an idiot. And even people who claim to love him don’t stop tormenting him. There is the merchant Rogozhin whom he meets on his way home, and who entangles him in his brutal love story with Nastassya Filippovna. There is his relative the General’s wife with her three daughters, the youngest of which, Aglaia, overwhelms him with her ambivalent desires. There is the deeply unfortunate Nastassya whom he seeks to save in vain. Walter Benjamin wrote about the novel that “[t]he entire development of the book is like the collapse of a huge crater”. And indeed, Prince Myshkin – unable to free himself from the overwhelming characters around him – cannot prevent the disaster.

Photos © Klaus Lefebvre