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Notes from Underground; the Double (Penguin Classics) Paperback – July 30, 1972
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In the space of barely a hundred and twenty pages, Dostoyevsky reduces l'homme de la nature et la verité to a snivelling anti-ideal paradox acting only out of "spite" and "wickedness".
Though an early piece and not as well-crafted as Notes or other subsequent masterworks, The Double manages to put a new spin on the doppelganger phenomenon. In it, Dostoyevsky very skillfully portrays one man's lonely descent into madness -- and manages to be screamingly funny while doing so.
A vivid depiction of the dark side of human nature, Notes is a great classic that perfectly evokes the feelings of isolation, despair, narcissism, and paranoia that continue to afflict the masses. Though very short, one feels on completing it that one has read a very profound book. It is one of the best and most essential short novels ever. Dostoevsky is known for stunning penetration into human nature, and his mastery showed here for the first time. Notes touches on many profoundly important issues: philosophical, religious, social, political, etc. Indeed, it was right at the heart of the era's prevalent intellectual modes and remains relevant today. It also works as a springboard for Dostoevsky's later, more ambitious novels. Part of the reason it works so well is that the narrator is so recognizably, touchingly, and pathetically human.Read more ›
"Notes from Underground" was published in 1864 shortly before the novelist produced his classic novel "Crime and Punishment". This shorter work informs the characterization of Raskolnikov in "Crime and Punishment." The anonymous narrator presents himself in print as a person who is deeply disillusioned with his life. He is a failure in life, love and quest for meaning in a St. Petersburg fog of bureacracy and poverty. He meets a prostitute named Lisa but she disappears in a swirling St. Petersburg fog. He views himself as an "insect". The work is a precursor of such works as Franz Kafka's "Metamorphosis" in which the main charcter is turned into a beetle. Dostoevsky is not for those seeking a cheerful, sunlit read on a lovely beach! The narrator of the tale is very skeptical of human goodness. He is distrustful of everyone believing that life is a succession of troubles until the final chapter ends in the obscurity of the grave.
The early story "The Double" is the most interesting of the two included in this Penguin Classics Edition. The tale focuses on a nonentity named Golyadkin who is tortured by the appearance of a man who is his exact image! (He is called Goldyadkin Jr!). Golyadkin is a wretch of an individual. He reminds this reader of a character out of Gogol who specialized in portraying the lives of St. Petersburg's poor caught in the web of Tsarist governmental ministries. The tale ends in a macabre way as Golyadkin is taken away to what is, probably, a mental institution.
Does Golyadkin Jr. exist or is he a figment of the imagination of Golyadkin Sr? We not know. This tale is written as the fog of St. Petersburg wraps the main character in obscurity and despair.Read more ›
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
Horrible copy, with writing on most of the pages. It was not as described.Published 16 months ago by David Berardelli
One of the great landmarks in Western literature, developing fundamental modern themes with a brilliance unmatched by anything written before, in Russia or in Western Europe.Published 21 months ago by Marco Solo
Dostoevsky is very hit or miss for me. These are stories were miss for me, probably because there was a bit less of a focus on relationships.Published on November 1, 2013 by Laura
This collection contains one of my favorite of Dostoyevsky's works,Notes from the Underground. With that beautiful air of complete cynicism and hate for everything in ones life,... Read morePublished on March 29, 2010 by Zarathustra
These two shorter works by Dostoevesky are astounding, groundbreaking works. A great place to start if you are a newcomer to the man and they are also fascinating to revisit when... Read morePublished on March 29, 2010 by Arckitekt
Dostoyevsky's 'Notes from Underground,' is often called the first truly existential work of literature in the history of the west. Read morePublished on May 30, 2007 by Steiner
Dostoyevski's underground man character, although conceived in 1864, presages by more than 50 years the alienation and disaffection that became so widespread in the 20th century,... Read morePublished on February 29, 2004 by magellan