How the narrative dynamics of The Idiot shape and inform its ethics is the focus of this article by Alexander Spektor. The Idiot is one of the most radical of Fedor Dostoevskii's novelistic experiments inasmuch as it questions the integrity of the self created through the process of narrative representation and interpretation. Dostoevskii achieves this effect by contrasting the idea of the inherent distance between sign and meaning with Myshkin's initial belief in the possibility of the transcendental signifier. The reader is gradually forced to accept that any form of participation in the big dialogue of the novel is bound to cause intense rivalry for the control of its meaning, which ultimately leads to physical violence either against the self (Ippolit and Nastasia Filippovna) or against others (Rogozhin). Dostoevskii undermines the integrity of any narrative formation of the self, including the self of the reader, by framing it within nonverbal acts of violence and compassion. Hence, The Idiot can be read as a Bildungsroman, in which the protagonist, Prince Myshkin, traverses the distance between the novel's is—an attempt to secure positive ethical meaning (within an established) narrative—and the novel's ought, the silent and nonsensical acts of compassion that, ultimately, defy signification. To make sense of The Idiot requires the reader to participate in an ethically compromised endeavor. Forced to do justice to the text, the reader also has to bear responsibility for the violence inherent in any narrative construction of the self.