He couldn’t carry on later

Saturday, June 23rd, 2018

There’s a scene in Dostoevsky’s The Idiot that left 14-year-old Nassim Nicholas Taleb obsessed with the author:

Prince Myshkin was giving this story. Actually, it was autobiographical for Dostoyevsky.

He said he was going to be put to death. As they woke him up and were taking him to the execution place, he decided to live the last few minutes of his life with intensity. He devoured life, it was so pleasurable, and promised himself, if he survives, to enjoy every minute of life the same way.

And he survived. In fact, it was a simulacrum of an execution, and Dostoyevsky… effectively that says the guy survived. The lesson was he no longer did that. It was about the preferences of the moment. He couldn’t carry on later. He forgot about the episode. That marked me from Dostoyevsky when I was a kid, and then became obsessed with Dostoyevsky.


  1. Faze says:

    This is what happened to Dostoyevsky in real life: the Czar arrested him, and had him and his comrades taken out to be shot, only to give them clemency at the last moment.

    There is something Dostoyevskian about Taleb, with his many voices and registers, sometimes contradictory, sometimes angry and spiritual; also his digressiveness, and combat against invisible enemies. He is a one-man Brothers Karamazov.

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