… Freud … on the occasion of his seventieth birthday paid the extraordinary tribute to Dostoevsky acknowledging … that everything he had discovered was already to be found in Dostoevsky's works
Dostoevsky [was] the only psychologist … from whom I had anything to
learn: he belongs to the luckiest finds of my life, even more so than the discovery of Stendhal. This deep man …
The whole second half of a man's life is usually made up of nothing but the
habits accumulated in the first half.
Stavrogin is an immense and bewildering character. In the opinion of Konstantin Mochulskii, he is "Dostoevsky's greatest artistic creation." He is complex and mysterious—and frightening because plausible. There is much more to him than the obvious Byronic dimension, and we are clearly confronted by more than just another Russian hero who is bored, passive, and las de vivre. He is strikingly handsome, powerful, and brilliant—exceptional in every way—but a miserable failure as a human being. In the excluded chapter "At Tikhon's," Tikhon tells Stavrogin, "I was horrified to see your great unused powers had been so deliberately turned toward filth" (434). How can a person of such intelligence and talent fail so abjectly in life and do so little good but so much evil? This question obviously fascinated Dostoevskii who probed Stavrogin deeply, looking for the answer, and ended up with a character whose complexity is rare even for Dostoevskii.