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Notes from Underground & The Double

4.19 of 5 stars 4.19  ·  rating details  ·  3,686 ratings  ·  149 reviews
‘It is best to do nothing! The best thing is conscious inertia! So long live the underground!’ Alienated from society and paralysed by a sense of his own insignificance, the anonymous narrator of Dostoyevsky’s groundbreaking Notes from Underground tells the story of his tortured life. With bitter sarcasm, he describes his refusal to become a worker in the ‘ant-hill’ of soc ...more
Paperback, 287 pages
Published July 30th 1972 by Penguin Classics (first published 1972)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Ian Heidin-Seek
I Am the Lowest and the Worst

I am 40
I am naughty
I am sick
I am angry
I am ugly
I am superstitious
I am undesirable
I am different
I am indifferent
I am petty
I am nothing
I am unstable
I am rude
I am impudent
I am timid
I am frightened
I am vengeful
I am lazy
I am dirty
I am secret
I am wretched
I am self-loathing
I am humiliating
I am humiliated
I am nasty
I am irritable
I am irritating
I am snarling
I am spiteful
I am unseemly
I am disgusting
I am disgusted
I am repulsive
I am ignoble
I am immoral
I am evil
I am guilty
I am sha
Hey wait, are you a misanthrope? Do you feel betrayed and disappointed with life? Are you a bitter, bitter man? Why narrator, I never would have guessed! Why don't you spend the next hundred pages telling me about it? That sounds like loads of fun.
3.5 stars.

These novellas were my first ever Dostoyevsky reads, and it was an interesting and somewhat challenging experience. For this review, I will be reviewing each story individually.

Notes from Underground - 4 stars.

This novella was the one I wanted to read the most by Dostoyevsky. I always thought it sounded very interesting, although some people had told me it was challenging. It is narrated by an unnamed protagonist, a retired civil servant living in St. Petersburg. The novella is split i
A genius of a book written by a mind that can effortlessly delve into the nuts, bolts and avagadros of the psyche.

Regard this extract:

Every man has reminiscences which he would not tell to everyone, but only to his friends. He has other matters in his mind which he would not reveal even to his friends, but only to himself, and that in secret. But there are other things which a man is afraid to tell even to himself, and every decent man has a number of such things stored away in his mind. The mor
I've only read Notes from Underground for class, so my review is restricted to that:

I immediately enjoyed this book more than Crime and Punishment. Maybe I should go back and read that again sometime to see if the distance of years and not being forced to choke through it would help, but that's beside the point.

Dostoyevsky really impressed me with this one. The character is so well fleshed out and he's such a cranky, arrogant jerk it's hard not to laugh as he spews all his opinions like a grump
Damn it, this one gave headaches...and stomachaches - from laughing.

Dostovyesky's a man who likes to think so much, I think. His lead character has natural queerness, and we could be friends, in fact, best of friends.

If all men would think like this man, well I don't really know, I'll have a hard time picking who's the best lol.

Seriously speaking though, it's easy for him to be disagreeable, but at some parts, I can't help but agree in his views. The book didn't really follow a plot like the usu
Dostoyevsky's 'Notes from Underground,' is often called the first truly existential work of literature in the history of the west. Yet I think it is read today for the very seem reasons we always read Dostoevsky: for his command over intensity, his genuine and masterly sense of atmosphere, and his ability to psychologize those who are suffering. 'Notes from Underground,' is a true masterpiece in that it recreates the truth of genuine alienation and hatred. It laid the basis for all great works o ...more
9/3/11 Lightbulb: must remember to consider Dostoyevsky's time imprisoned in Siberia as more than a footnote finding mention in his novels. Probably life-changing to his views on FREEDOM, FREE WILL and determinism! Which, potentially completely changes my assessment of this work.

Posted March 2011

(1) Why did the narrator consistently do everything AGAINST his own self interest? One finds throughout the novel that the narrator vacillates on almost every idea. Th
Adrian Colesberry
I read this last year sometime in some electronic form or other. The slow deliberate exploration of character is amazing. Reminds me very much of the Kafka character in A Letter to My Father. Weak, aware of his own weakness, defiant of the culture that calls him weak, but still unable to rise above. Terrific character study.
Elliot Chalom
I never thought I'd read Dostoyevsky. Not because I didn't want to read him- I just never thought about it. I don't generally read classics, I don't read Russian lit, and the idea of reading "Dostoyevsky" frankly would intimidate me. Nothing about this author , this book (actually two books) or anything I'd heard about either changed my mind. Yet I found myself reading Notes from Underground & The Double. How did that happen?

My mother had an older cousin, almost more like an aunt to her, a w
In both stories his characters make huge mistakes they pay for for the rest of their lives.

Notes from Underground is about a man so bound by 19th c. societal standards that he will not allow himself to be with the woman he loves because she is a prostitute. The female character, Liza, is compelling, gentle, sadly naive, and deserving of success.

The Double, is about a lonely man trying to climb the social ladder in Moscow. He meets someone exactly like himself with the same name and likeness wh
Steve Porter
Unable to recall if I'd ever read the second of these novellas (The Double), I decided to return to the world of Dostoevsky for the first time in many years. I still think of him as one of the true greats of world literature and my favourite Russian writer. He does psychological anguish better than anybody and gets right to the very 'soul' of his characters. The Double is no exception. The only thing that left me wondering a little is why Mr Golyadkin's doppelganger appears real to other charact ...more
Neurotic, Claustrophobic, Angsty, Vital. This novel shows just how Dostoevsky created such psychologically rich works, by moving between the mental extremes of marginalized figures. An incredible, short read.
I found this book attractively repulsive. Loved it, the main character makes you irritated as he comes to life through the ironically crunchy pages drenching with his thoughtful ignorance.
Professor Childermass
I've read the Double, but not Notes from the Underground. The Double is a pretty amazing story, though like everything he writes a little challenging to wade through at times
Geoff Sebesta
Notes from the Underground reads like a livejournal entry from a hundred and fifty years ago.
This volume combines two of the great Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky's iconic stories: Notes from Underground and The Double; both are thematically linked by their study of the human consciousness in a decidedly tragic-comedic fashion.

In the first novella, Notes from Underground, Dostoyevsky recounts in an extended monologue the thoughts and feelings of the eponymous Underground Man who rambles and rages against the oppressive society "above ground" with bitter irony and how, because he doe
There is little that the underground man said that I took to be true (in his fictional world that is). He had such a distorted perception of everything that even the clock seemed to personal joy in tormenting him. I think he was being most honest when he was speaking to Liza at his home. He says “I had been humiliated, so I wanted to humiliate somebody else” (115). The underground man feels as if everyone is humiliating him and looks down on him. He claims that his servant is resentful and his c ...more
This is a very compelling book on mankind. I would look forward to re reading it too. I need to check the edtion which i have read...perhaps tis is not the same....

Notes from Underground & The DoubleNotes from Underground & The Double by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a very compelling book on mankind. I would look forward to re reading it too. I need to check the edtion which i have read...perhaps tis is not the same....

View all my reviews
Dr Nick
Did you ever have a moment in your life when you act in such a way that you dont recognise yourself - as if you were looking in from outside? Well old FD seems to have or rather young written alongside Poor Folk when he was 26. That very 20th century form the existential novel seems to have a forebear here in Dostoevsky's second work and first traditional novel.

It was a critical failure at the time apparently particularly amongst the left intelligentsia who had seen (and overstated I think) in D
David Sarkies
I'm glad that I'm not the only person that found this book hard to follow at times, but since it is a collection of thoughts from a man who is trapped in his own feelings of self-worthlessness it is understandable. Dostoyevsky is a write that one needs to be able to focus to be able to read an understand clearly, if it is possible to clearly understand much of his writings. It is not to say that he is not as he seems to be able to catch the essence of the human condition, particularly being a R ...more
Boy, oh boy, was this certainly painful to read. Not only was the constant contradictory ideology the main character kept switching about hard to read, but the amount of second hand embarrassment I went through was unbearable. (Or was that just me?)

Nevertheless, it reminded me a lot of Albert Camus's ,The Stranger. The character is obviously very conflicted and at times the reader might experience that loss at well. Either you love this character for his, ahem, uniqueness. Or, to place it mildly
Tom Holt
I will need to read this book again. In "Notes from the Underground", the main character does not know himself at all, and yet knows himself perfectly at the same time. He is a depressed man who sadistically attacks his own self-image and attempts to nurse his self-inflicted wounds with short bouts of narcissism. He isolates himself 'underground' in his shabby apartment and cloisters himself off from any real human contact. He feels inferior to nearly everyone he encounters, including his own s ...more
Apropos of the wet snow - so beautiful - sometimes I'm him, sometimes her - but that was before.

The frightened and wounded expression on her face was followed first by a look of sorrowful perplexity. When I began calling myself a scoundrel and a blackguard and my tears flowed (the tirade was accompanied throughout by tears) her whole face worked convulsively. She was on the point of getting up and stopping me; when I finished she took no notice of my shouting: "Why are you here, why don't you g
I don’t have a lot to say about this one, partly because I had to return my copy to the library before I had time to finish ‘The Double’. ‘Notes from Underground’, however, is one of the oddest and most interesting works of nineteenth century fiction that I’ve ever read.

It’s split into two parts: the first is something of an unhinged philosophical polemic written by a man who finds himself defined by shame, inertia and an aloofness from society at large. The second part is a little story in whic
AE Reiff
III. (Part II here:


There are beings in the underground not to be dug up, but covered, as if to say that "all that can be seen from outside is a big hole; that, however, really leads nowhere" (Muir tr. Kafka, The Burrow). The real entrance "at a thousand paces from this hole lies covered by a movable layer of moss." This entrance is far from the decoy and has many exits, so if we come to the underground it is to things hidden, buried, not to be
Rossrn Nunamaker
The version I read only included Notes From Underground (Bantam 1974, translated by Mirra Ginsburg).

Dostoyevsky's portrayal of the solitary man is striking and powerful. The reader feels pained for this man, frustrated by him, sorry for his pitiful existence, and can hardly stand his very being as he tries to exert his 'power' over others.

There is no question that Dostoyevsky can express inner-demons, desires, motivations, and drivers for better, or more often, worse.

His style is tough, especial
This book is broken into two parts. The first part is a rambling narrative that I almost couldn't get through because it seemed to be going nowhere. However, the contraditory anti-hero produced so many profound statements that I knew I had to suffer through to catch the hidden gems. The second part suddenly broke into a story that captivated me. Overall, the narrator made me sick, but it was the kind of sick I couldn't look away from.

Fav. quotes:
"Men like that, men of action, doers, quite genuin
I should begin by saying that I did not read The Double. Notes from Underground was plenty for me to chew on for the time being. This story is written from the perspective of an absolutely and intentionally hateable anti-hero who is fueled by his own unstable and contradictory ideas about his own self worth. It was difficult to read, like watching a train crash in slow motion, wincing your way through every slow drawn out crunch. While I did not find it pleasant to read, I do think the story was ...more
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Fyodor Mikhaylovich Dostoyevsky (Russian: Фёдор Михайлович Достоевский), sometimes transliterated Dostoevsky, was a Russian novelist, journalist, and short-story writer whose psychological penetration into the human soul had a profound influence on the 20th century novel.

Dostoevsky was the second son of a former army doctor. He was educated at home and at a private school. Shortly after the death
More about Fyodor Dostoyevsky...
Crime and Punishment The Brothers Karamazov The Idiot Notes from Underground Demons

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“We have all lost touch with life, we all limp, each to a greater or lesser degree.” 29 likes
“..., twice two is four is not life, gentlemen, but the beginning of death.” 19 likes
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