Many people can, and do, of course, get through their entire lives without feeling that they must confront and try to understand Dostoevsky's novel ”The Idiot.• But when one does confront it, one must perforce attempt to understand it or be a harmed a great deal by the refusal. (Dante lets us know in our reading of ”The Divine Comedy• that we are likely to be made much the worse for embarking on the journey unless we keep on once we have begun. "Pensa lettor," he warns; the Medusa, that hardening of heart that shuts us up in our own confines, can turn us to stone if we do not engage ourselves with the spiritual meaning of his allegory and not remain content with the letter.
Cowan, Louise, "The Idiot" (2021). Russian Novel. 20.