The Idiots by Joseph Conrad
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"The Idiots" is a short story by Joseph Conrad, his first to be published. It first appeared in The Savoy in 1896. The story was included in the Conrad collection Tales of Unrest, published in 1898. Set in Britanny, the story describes a couple whose children have intellectual disability; the strain on the family leads eventually to murder. The story was written during Joseph Conrad's honeymoon; he rented a house on Île-Grande, on the north coast of Brittany, from May to August 1896. His wife Jessie later wrote that "much of our Île-Grande life is in that short story.... The stone-cutters are in it, our landlady is in it, and the feeling of our surroundings, perhaps a little more sombrely than the reality", and explained how the story originated: while being driven from Lannion to Île-Grande, the driver pointed out "the idiots", saying "Four - hein. And all in the same family. That's a little too much. And the priests say it's God's will!" Conrad had a poor opinion of this story, writing that it was "an obviously derivative piece of work"; he did not name a model, but critics have supposed that it was influenced by Guy de Maupassant.