NOTES FROM UNDERGROUND

26 Oct
Dell publishing Company 1960 Paperback edition/three short novels 511 pages in total Translated from Russian by Constance Garnett Fiction or so we’re led to believe - *

Dell publishing Company 1960
Paperback edition/three short novels 511 pages in total
Translated from Russian by Constance Garnett
Fiction  *

Notes was first published in 1864 in the Russian literary magazine Epoch which was owned and operated by Fyodor Dostoyevsky and his brother Mikhail. This existentialistic novella of 140 pages depicts an unnamed narrator (often referred to as ‘underground man’) who has chosen to retreat from society to write all the woes that beseech his grim and darkly lived life.

The underground man is sick, hopeless, sad, very opinionated, dislikes himself and is offensive without apology. To have to listen to this neurotically self-absorbed, tortured intellectual, page after page after page is exhausting, but where the underground man wears thin, Dostoyevsky is exhilarating. At times, I had the most eerie feeling that this fictional character was looking right at me. I was reading words, for God’s sake. And yet, the feeling of something ‘actual’ was ever present.

Written in two parts, the discursive part one in which we are privy to the man, takes place in the 1860s; then to the more dramatic part two where he begins to recall his past. The nameless narrator takes us back to 1840 where we catch a glimpse of his youth. Of his life. And as we enter part two, having thoroughly extinguished all hope of ever finding any semblance of tribute, we begin to slowly slide down the rabbit hole and into the snare set for us by Dostoyevsky and his underground man. Brilliant, I tell you. Simply brilliant!

“Which is better – cheap happiness or exalted suffering?”

David Denby, staff writer for The New Yorker wrote a superlative piece about this book back in 2012. Take a look if you‘re interested.

*When I snapped the photo of my books for this review, it was my intent to read both Notes From Underground, and Crime and Punishment then review them here.  I’ve since received Tartt’s Goldfinch – started reading it last night and into the wee hours of this morning. I don’t think I’ll be reading Crime anytime soon.

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