Friday, February 25, 2011

Notes from Underground by Fyodor Dostoyevsky - Book Review #123

Friday, February 25, 2011
Notes from Underground
by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

A predecessor to such monumental works such as Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov, Notes From Underground represents a turning point in Dostoyevsky's writing towards the more political side. In this work we follow the unnamed narrator of the story, who disillusioned by the oppression and corruption of the society in which he lives withdraws from that society into the underground. A dark and politically charged novel, Notes From Underground shows Dostoyevsky at his best.

Notes from Underground is a very short, but a very attention demanding book. If you just skim it, you will be left with nothing. However, if you give it a time and try to digest it properly, thinking it through, you will be left with hundred of very important questions (Dostoyevsky will not give you any answers) and a horrible recognition of yourself in the main character. I believe that everyone can find something or probably everything to relate to the Underground man, though not everyone would admit it even to themselves.

Every man has some reminiscences which he would not tell to everyone, but only to his friends. He has others which he would not reveal even to his friends, but only to himself, and that in secret. But finally there are still others which a man is even afraid to tell himself, and every decent man has a considerable number of such things stored away.
That is, one can even say that the more decent he is, the greater the number of such things in his mind.

I guess I’m only able to admit it here, under the disguise of the digital world. Though, if I’m admitting it, am I already not like the main character? Questions.

Questions… Does emotional stability more important than level of IQ? If the Underground man wouldn’t be in such poverty, would it give him a piece of mind? Would he have a better chance of emotional peace in the twenty first century in civilized country with Prozac and shrink’s help available?

Dostoyevsky drew a full, realistic picture of a Superfluous Man. How many are there people like that? Aren’t we all feel or actually are sometimes Superfluous Men? Questions.

Questions… And one of the most important questions is – should we even bother to ask these questions to ourselves? Because as Fyodor Mikhaylovich Dostoyevsky said:

What's better – cheap happiness or lofty suffering? Well, tell me – which of the two is better?


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