The Idiot tells the story of a man who sees the world differently than most people do. It begins in the United Kingdom when he finishes a college degree in fine art. Feeling disconnected from his family and former life, he decides to journey around the country.
Living somewhat of a vagabond existence, he starts out with a friend named Jan. As they travel around, they either find part-time work or rely on government aid. When Jan’s life takes her in a different direction, this man continues to follow his path. At one point he meets a beautiful German woman named Hilda and in time he marries her. Hilda has children of her own.
When they decide to move to Ireland, they take off with the kids and travel around seeking a place to live. After settling in a house in Carraigulla, the man seems to develop a deep connection with nature and in time he slowly detaches from his family.
Only finding odd jobs to do, he spends much time writing. He writes so beautifully about the land, I can picture it clearly in my mind. His relationship with people however seems vague and somewhat disconnected. He connects more with the voices in his head than others.
When his family leaves him, he doesn’t seem too upset about it. After 13 years, he decides that it is time for him to move on from Ireland. Moving to Taiwan to teach English makes him gainfully employed, however the dense population and the separation from nature are not good for him. Finding a girlfriend who also has a mental disorder really keeps him on his toes. Hilda was much easier and a more understanding partner.
While he realizes that the voices in his head are most likely from having paranoid schizophrenia, he still has some very stimulating philosophical conversations with them. These conversations tend to be about good and evil. While he admits that there are times where the conversations make no sense, he still seems to gain more from having them, than not.
Remembering back to a time when he believes he was given a head injury by his father, he suspects that this is the cause of the disease. He also realizes that the difference between himself and his girlfriend is that he can recognize that he is delusional while she cannot do so for herself.
This self-awareness helps him to continue to function and to know his limitations. By sharing his story, he teaches us about the importance of looking inside ourselves and figuring out what is real.
The Idiot is an extremely interesting, beautifully written book. I am so glad that I had the chance to read it. Even though it is a small book, the author covers a great deal of thought-provoking areas of interest. In spite of his detachment from people, by sharing his story he will be touching the lives of many people who read this book.
(Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views)