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Notes from the Underground (Dover Thrift Editions)

ISBN-13: 978-0486270531 ISBN-10: 048627053X Edition: New edition

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"Notes From a Dead Horse" by Fyodor Dostoevsky
From the acclaimed translators Pevear and Volokhonsky comes a new translation of the first great prison memoir: Fyodor Dostoevsky’s fictionalized account of his life-changing penal servitude in Siberia. See more
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Product Details

  • Series: Dover Thrift Editions
  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications; New edition edition (February 21, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 048627053X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486270531
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.2 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (82 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #14,987 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Dostoevsky’s Underground Man is a composite of the tormented clerk and the frustrated dreamer of his earlier stories, but his Notes from the Underground is a precursor of his great later novels and their central concern with the nature of free will.
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Russian

Customer Reviews

One of my favourite books ever!
Salah
An outstanding example of Dostoyevsky's psychological skills, depicting a character motivated by many contradictory impulses are found in the novel.
fmeursault@yahoo.com
Don't let the world, 'rambling' confuse you, this book is very serious and thought provoking.
David Vidaurre

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

59 of 63 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 17, 1997
Format: Paperback
A seemingly in-depth look into the life of a depressive recluse. The main character gives us many views on everyday people and their actions that should cause us, the reader, to evaluate our own understanding of the people who surround us. (Example: Why people will moan for days before seeing a dentist.)

The writing is absolutely brilliant. Dostoyevsky does not seem to have created this character but instead pulled him from the street. The character was not one dimensional, an attribute that I found personally refreshing . The thoughts and emotions are complex and real and were constantly understated, adding to the impression that the book was written by the character himself, who lacks writing experience needed to capture these feelings.

The main character views himself cut off and removed from society, rejected by all in nearly every way. He has become so obsessed with this notion that he has created this exact situation as a result of searching for justification of this impression. He has in fact created most of his own misery, and only continues to propagate more. Yet he seem himself as miserable and rejected and finds pride in this image. He imagines himself to be pitiful and also to be strong and fiercely independent as a result of his social isolation. He feels he poses a strength of spirit for being able to endure the loneliness and envisions himself as a martyr.

This fuels his ego and he plans heroic acts in order to show the proof of his worth or to win attention and love. He however lacks the courage to complete the monumental self serving tasks he set before himself. Through a strange twist of logic these failures are also seen as something to be admired. It only makes him more pitiful and thus a greater martyr.
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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful By M. S. Bowden on March 15, 2006
Format: Paperback
`Notes From The Underground' is a formidable work of philosophy and of psychology, not to mention its worth as a novel. In the space of around one hundred pages, Dostoyevsky manages to expound theories on reason, alienation, suffering, and human inaction. The book's importance and influence on generations of writers cannot be over-emphasised; Sartre and Camus are only two examples of people who have been directly influenced by this book.

The book is presented in two parts. Part one `Underground' is written in the form of the nameless narrator's rambling thoughts on reason and his claim that throughout history, human actions have been anything but influenced by reason. Underground Man's charge is that man values most the freedom to choose to act in opposition to reason's dictates. Dostoyevsky's critique of reason then, although it demands attention and is somewhat difficult to follow, sets the philosophical foundations for the rest of the book.

Part two `A Propos of the Wet Snow' is much easier to read, as the narrator recounts three episodes which happened when he was fifteen years younger and working as a civil servant in St. Petersburg. The first considers an incident in which an army officer insults him and goes on to detail Underground Man's subsequent internal anguish at his inability to commit an act of retribution. The second episode takes place at a farewell dinner for an acquaintance named Zverkov. The narrator is utterly disgusted with the company in which he finds himself but despite this, he is unable - even though he desires it - to make them realise this. The third episode details Underground Man's brief, painful and emotional relationship with a prostitute.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Medusa on June 5, 2008
Format: Paperback
Even though Doetoevsky's underground man perceives himself as a deep, conscious, brilliant man, he still knows that he is skeptical of every thought or feeling he might have. He tries to convince himself of being smarter than any body he encounters, but in reality he has a deep feeling of inferiority that ultimately manages to isolate him from people and society.
The underground man never had any experiences of love or emotional relationship, thus he relies in his youth on literature and drama where he gets high expectations of ideal relationships and morals. However, real life interactions and relationships traumatize him with reality that he doesn't know how to accept.

In his forties, the underground man doesn't crave human interactions or attention any more, or have passionate ideas about any thing like he did in his youth, and he knows no other way than anger and bitterness to deal with people. Even though his intimidating way of dealing with people brings him humiliation and pain, he still enjoys thinking that he is practicing his free will. Ironically, the humiliation he brings down on himself is empowering and satisfying to the underground man. As long as he has choice and free will, he is still alive and active like others, regardless of the consequences of the choices he makes.

Whether Dostoevsky wrote notes from Underground as a scream against rationalism and utopianism, or if he was symbolizing his own alienation from the modern Russian society, he just did a great job. Every detail in the book is worth reading.
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