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Notes from Underground; The Double (Penguin Classics) Paperback – July 30, 1972


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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reprint edition (July 30, 1972)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140442529
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140442526
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.2 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,100,995 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English, Russian (translation)

About the Author

Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821–1881), one of nineteenth-century Russia’s greatest novelists, spent four years in a convict prison in Siberia, after which he was obliged to enlist in the army. In later years his penchant for gambling sent him deeply into debt. Most of his important works were written after 1864, including Notes from Underground, Crime and Punishment, The Idiot, and The Brothers Karamazov, all available from Penguin Classics.


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Customer Reviews

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See all 12 customer reviews
His characters are alive.
Charles Katis
In it, Dostoyevsky very skillfully portrays one man's lonely descent into madness -- and manages to be screamingly funny while doing so.
Bill R. Moore
Penguin classic has included two of Fyodor Dostoevsky's greatest short pieces of fiction in one volume.
C. M Mills

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 2, 1999
Format: Paperback
I put down this book in an uneasy state. From his obsessive compulsive behavior when faced with any minor social situation to his ultimate, passionate, desperate encounter with the prostitute, Liza, the nameless Underground Man, in my opinion, is a culmination of all of Mankind's deepest, most cursed darknesses and fearful flaws. His seclusion from society allows him to comment on society "looking through the cracks" and thus gives the reader a morbidly realistic and accurate view of what our society truly is made of: boldly masked cowards. For anyone who's willing to think and to accept Dostoevsky's cynicism as possible reality, I highly recommend this terrifically intricate book. Whether you finish the book with passionate love and pity for the character or profound hate for him, it is worthwhile all the same.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 20, 1999
Format: Paperback
There is no greater writer than Dostoyevsky. He captures emotions in his works and this is what makes him timeless. Though this may me a "lonely" book, it takes you to a desolate place and teaches you of the coldness of reality. I was moved by this piece, and also found great humor in some of the darkest moments in the story.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 30, 1998
Format: Paperback
Dostoyevsky's dark and genius satire spares none of his intellectual enemies the whip.
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".
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Bill R. Moore on March 2, 2010
Format: Paperback
Though largely famous for long novels, Fyodor Dostoevsky wrote a number of notable novellas, of which The Double is an early example and Notes from Underground is the masterpiece. This collection includes both, which is not only convenient but a positive bargain. It is an ideal place to start for those curious about Dostoevsky but intimidated by his thick masterpieces and also has a wealth of supplemental material to attract the more dedicated.

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.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By C. M Mills on July 11, 2007
Format: Paperback
Penguin classic has included two of Fyodor Dostoevsky's greatest short pieces of fiction in one volume.
"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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Charles Katis on August 5, 2008
Format: Paperback
To commence, I am blown away by the scale of Dostoevsky. His characters are alive. His St. Petersburg is bustling and his words eloquent. As a first time Fyodor reader, I see no better place to start. This penguin classics edition contains expertly translated copies of "Notes from Underground", "The Double" and some extra history of the author (time line etc...). "Notes from Underground" starts with the rambling of an anonymous character who shares his sadness and angst of being oppressed by society. Albeit a tedious start, "Notes from Underground" continues to the second part, detailing his reappearance in society and the inherent problems. "The Double" (although I knew most of the plot because of some other reviews) was more chilling, with more drama and impact. It explores the life a man possessed by his twin double. A twin myself, although fraternal, imaginative thoughts added to the mysterious nature of the story. The themes of both stories are existentialist and further probe the human consciousness. If you have read my other reviews, this is a great follow-up or precursor to "The Stranger" by Albert Camus.
Thank you for reading,
C.K.
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