The central idea of The Idiot, according to its author, was "to depict a completely beautiful human being." More prosaically, the novel was intended to shore up Dostoyevsky's professional and financial state. The portrait of Prince Myshkin, a holy fool, was created in desperation amidst the squalid poverty engendered by the Russian writer's compulsive gambling. Dostoyevsky's entire future depended on the success of his next novel, which began as one story and ended as quite another. After publishing the first part of The Idiot in The Russian Messenger, Dostoyevsky had no idea how to continue the story. The second part, in fact, is a quite different novel. The author's notebooks reveal at least eight plans for the tale, with numerous variations on each plan. A unique document of the creative process, this volume is illustrated by facsimiles of original pages from the notebooks, offering a rich source of information about the development of Dostoyevsky's enigmatic novel.