Notes from the Underground
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Notes from the Underground

4.14 of 5 stars 4.14  ·  rating details  ·  59,174 ratings  ·  2,036 reviews
In 1864, just prior to the years in which he wrote his greatest novels — Crime and Punishment, The Idiot, The Possessed and The Brothers Karamazov — Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821–1881) penned the darkly fascinating Notes from the Underground. Its nameless hero is a profoundly alienated individual in whose brooding self-analysis there is a search for the true and the good in a w...more
Paperback, 96 pages
Published February 21st 1992 by Dover Publications (first published May 1st 180)
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oh, dear. this is not a character that it is healthy to relate to, is it?? he is a scootch more pathetic than me, and more articulate, but his pettinesses are mine; his misanthropy is mine, his contradictions and weaknesses... i have to go hide now, i feel dirty and exposed...
Nate D
Mar 27, 2014 Nate D rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who overthink, people who think.
Recommended to Nate D by: dfw
Shelves: read-in-2009, russia
1. Irritated by Underground Man.
2. Amused by Underground Man.
3. Sick of Underground Man.
4. Want to fly to St. Petersburg, travel back in time, and punch Underground Man right in the face.
5. Pity for Underground Man.
6. Horrified by Underground Man.
7. Further reading of Underground Man's monologue almost physically painful. I almost wanted to cover my eyes, but this would have posed problems for reading.
8. Glad to be free of the Underground Man, but glad to have known him, in the end.
More than anything, this book should make you think. And not about trivial shit either, but about big, important conditions of life and how best to view and react to them. I have "should" italicized in that first sentence for a reason: If you don't give yourself time to think -- if just skim through the book quickly -- then you won't get anything out of it.

It's narrated by a guy living underground, in poverty. You are reading his notes. The first half, his ramblings, thoughts and philosophies of...more
I did two things after finishing with this book.
- 1)Strengthened my resolve to finish Crime and Punishment and read the rest of Dostoyevsky's works without any inner grumbling.
- 2)Looked up Albert Camus' background and profile on the internet.
Yes Dostoyevsky was one of Camus' influences. If you read Notes from Underground right after Camus' The Fall, it becomes all the more obvious.

Well anyway here's a word of advice.
Do not read this book on a cold, practical day. Do not read this on a day w...more

Shall the world go to hell, or shall I not have my tea? I say let the world go to hell, but I should always have my tea.

Thus Spoke Dostoevsky

There were many things for me to get excited about after finishing this novella (It’s a trap!) but the first and an essentially timeworn image which appeared in my mind was that of a small child, sitting in a corner after being rebuked by an elder for giving little or no thought about the world with its countless complexities and contradictions around her....more
Stephen P
I am writing this review because I have just finished and writing is the only thing I can do at this moment. The book has shaken me where reading any other book in the future has come into question. Maybe I should have waited till the heat simmered and collected my thoughts but this too would counter what I have just read, experienced and been shaken by. Let's start with the simple and easy and get it out of the way. The book is told in first person by a narrator who was not raised by parents or...more
MJ Nicholls

“ . . . we’ve all grown unaccustomed to life, we’re all lame, each of us more or less. We’ve even grown so unaccustomed that at times we feel a sort of loathing for real “living life,” and therefore cannot bear to be reminded of it. For we’ve reached a point where we regard real “living life” almost as labor, almost as service, and we all agree in ourselves that it’s better from a book. And why do we sometimes fuss about, why these caprices, these demands of ours? We ourselves don’t know why...more
Riku Sayuj
Short, brisk, Scathing and dark as dark can be. I hope you experience some of the uplifting depression this book gave me... It does pull you out in the end but around the middle of the book, it buries you deeper than you ever thought possible.
Emilian Kasemi
Dostoyevsky was the first to analyze the human soul. He realized the importance of an aspect of the personality that a few years later Sigmund Freud revealed it was the case of an element so darkly,yes, but knowable, that is the unconscious.
The underground as the title suggests doesn't describe a social condition (even if miserable), but instead represents the soul of the narrator. His unconscious, his weaknesses, his frustrations, his neuroses.
Dostoevsky, a master on investigating the darkest...more
Ian Paganus
Place Holder

Notes from Underground is a small but influential work.

In particular, it is the inspiration for the Howard Devoto (of Magazine fame) song "A Song from under the Floorboards" from "The Correct Use of Soap" (later covered by the solo artist Steven Patrick Morrissey).

The song begins, "I am angry, I am ill and I'm as ugly as sin", which is partly based on the first paragraph of the novel.

The name of the novel takes a bit of a liberty with the original Russian title.

In the English, it con...more
Oct 28, 2013 Arnie rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone paying attention
When I read it and the height of my existential angst college days, I felt I had never identified with a character so strongly. I don't underline books, this might be the only one, I underlined about 90% of it.
Jason Koivu
Madness...This is madness, I tell you!

Or worse, it's philosophy, some sound, some twisted in counterintuitive logic.

In the first part of Notes for Underground the narration reads like the journal of a rambling genius or psychopath. It's difficult to decide. This section had my mind wandering in a whirl of amazement, boredom and confusion. If the entire book went on this way, as slim as it is, I doubt I would've finished it, or if I had, you'd not see a four star rating up there.

The second part...more
Seth Peterson
Possibly my favorite book ever. Bitter, depressing, cynically hopefull and hopelessly ignorant, the Underground Man is every part of myself that I wish wasn't there. The first part is a dizzying philosophical meandering; the second a train wreck of a life captured in one devastating story. A must-read.
Feb 28, 2008 Alex rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: civilization's discontents
Shelves: favorites
Dostoevsky's Underground Man promises to be the life of any party.

Over the course of this thin little book, the unnamed protagonist swirls through self-conscious agonies and flights of egotism, never afraid to contradict himself or lay bare his own self-loathing. One part book-bound Don Quixote, and one part George Costanza, this insecure little bureaucrat rages against his lot as one of the rabblement, but is completely impotent to meaningfully exercise his will. Through the intellectual labyri...more
Never be fooled by book size when it comes to Dostoevsky! This novella was just under 100 pages long so I figured it would take me just a couple of hours to read. I was obviously wrong but I enjoyed the read. The prose is extremely dense so I had to read it slower than I read other books. The protagonist was fascinating (peculiar, even) and I enjoyed reading his introspective thoughts about different issues. I will definitely be re-reading this one.
David Lentz
Dostoyesky's anti-hero is the the first of a long line of existential anti-heroes that followed later in the 20th century. Clearly, here is a man who is alienated from his bretheran. He has burrowed so deep internally that he can not connect with outsiders. He is trapped by his superior intellect and his heightened consciousness showers him with agony. He has no clue how to relate to men and women of any social status. He is alone. He foreshadows the players in the dramas of Samuel Beckett and S...more
Jan 29, 2008 Tom rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: writers and poets
Notes from Underground is one of the most challenging little books I've read since my stint with Faulkner a few years ago. Dostoyevsky demands your complete attention. This book is no typical fun, summer read. However, if you stick with it, some of Dostoyevsky's insights into the human condition will not only make you say "that's me!" (though you probably won't admit it), they might even make you laugh.

One of the reasons this book is so difficult is due to the narrator. He is obviously a genius...more
Jim Coughenour
"I am a sick man... I am a wicked man. An unattractive man. I think my liver hurts."

I first read Notes from Underground as a very serious college student; then in my 30s in my merry flaneur stage. Reading it a third time in Pevear and Volokhonsky's excellent translation has been a bit of a shock. What I first read as a profound existential tract now strikes me as a cartoon. Still, Dostoevsky's parody of an impoverished resentful intellectual ("a foul, obscene fly – more intelligent, more develo...more
I first read this novel in college during a period of especially intense teenage intellectual angst. I don't remember why I picked it up; it was a whim. Immediately I recognized the narrator.

Dostoevsky's unnamed narrator/protagonist is intelligent, sensitive, idealistic -- and morally paralyzed. His intellect and pride, rather than freeing him from the grubbiness of society, have trapped him inside himself. He is unwilling to share his life with less thoughtful people, but this has just made him...more
Glenn Russell
Dostoevsky leads us into the deepest recesses of human consciousness, a mire of stinky sewers, feted pits and foul-smelling rat holes -- . novel as existential torment and alienation. Do you envision a utopia founded on the principals of love and universal brotherhood? If so, beware the underground man. And what is it about the underground? Well, ladies and gentlemen, here are several quotes from the text with my comments:

"I would now like to tell you, gentlemen, whether you do or do not wish to...more
I am trying to live my life as if I believed the protagonist of this book is deluded.
النسخة التي عندي مترجمة تحت عنوان "في سردابي" لعبد المعين الملوحي..._و هي معنونة في قبوي ترجمة سامي الدوربي و دار ابن رشد، أو الانسان الصرصار(أو رسائل من أعماق الأرض) في ترجمة ثالثة لا أدري لمن_ نسختي كانت _قبل أن أبيعها_ نسخة قديمة مصفرة الأوراق مطبوعة عام 1956... و قد اشتريتها من على بسطة الكتب القديمة...0

رواية عن رجل يتحدث عن نفسه بصيغة المتكلم قد قرف المجتمع و زيفه...0

هل أستطيع أن أدلي باعتراف صغير هنا... لطالما أحببت دوستويفسكي... لكن في روايته هنا أحسست به يعرفني منذ أمد بعيد

لا أحد يشك بأ...more
The memorable words “I am a sick man. I am a wicked man. I am an unattractive man” introduces us to the bitter and misanthropic narrator of Notes from the Underground. Through this underground man, Dostoyevsky warns against the influence of western enlightened thoughts on Russia. The unreliable narrator, a veteran of the Russian civil service, through his distorted ramblings, criticizes logic and reason and enlightened self-interest. This reflects Dostoyevsky's turning away from such ideas after...more
Shooting from my hip, I'd guess that Notes From The Underground emerged via the tradition of epistolary novels and the recent triumph of Gogol's Diary of a Madman. There is little need here to measure the impact and influence of Dostoevsky's tract. Nearly all of noir fiction is indebted. The monologue as a novella continues to thrive, finding its zenith, perhaps, in the work of Thomas Bernhard.

Notes is a work for the young. Its transgressions can't begin to shock anymore. Its creative instabilit...more
يقول دوستويفسكي في أحد قصص هذا الكتاب متحدثاً عن أيامه في السجن :"أردت أن أدرك المستويات المختلفة من الأحكام والعقوبات, وكافة أشكال العقاب وموقف المساجين منها. حاولت أن أضع نفسي في في الحالة الذهنية للمساجين الذين ستُطبق عليهم العقوبة...".
من هذه المقولة وغيرها يمكننا الجزم بأن دوستويفسكي لم يحمل القلم ليعبر عن الربيع, عن المرح, عن مباهج الحياة. كلا, بل هي المعاناة البشرية التي شغلت ذهنه وسخر قلمه لوصفها واضعاً أياها تحت المجهر ليراها ويشعر بها أسعد القراء طراً. كما أن البؤس الموزع بسخاء في طيات...more
It will sound strange but before attempting to write any of my reaction to this story, I had to research what makes a review a review-- what they're for-- what they're supposed to be. Is it supposed to be solely based on the technical merits of the writing and what was achieved by the author through his use of language?
Or does one's opinion play a factor in reviewing?
Finding this helped:

The most important trait that qualifies you to be a reviewer was summarized by George Bernhard Shaw, who was
August 4th 2010 - Today I wore my pockety pair of pants, the better to smuggle this book into the bathroom stall at work and read. I don't care who knows it! I'm sure Underground Man would identify.
Nutshell: proto-hipster suffering from hepatic encephalopathy throws tantrums and advances retrograde polemics.

Some of Dostoevsky's ugly politics leak out of the diaper of the fiction here, especially the pocvennicestvo ideas. I understand that Chernyshevsky is vulnerable to critique, for instance, but utopian socialism's "Crystal Palace" should not be rejected simply because it might be "dreadfully boring" (26). (This is incidentally one of the objections to the altertopia in Clarke's Childhood...more
"Real life oppressed me with it's novelty so much that I could not breath"
notes from the underground is, exactly what it's name implies, notes from the underground.
It follows the narration of an incredibly isolated individual with paranoid and hysterical tendencies who is immensely loathsome and miserable. Deep in his own hole in the underground he shares notes on what it's like to be alive and isolated and human. He is spiteful and hateful and an insufferable person. He is ill that is for sur...more
Venkat Narayanan
A spiteful book. A jolly-good book. An irritating book. A book of lies. A book of truth. A nauseating book. A disgusting book. A squeamish book. A book of extraordinary genius. A book of pitiful existence of man. A book which makes the reader feel grotesque. A book of psychology. A book of philosophy. A book to ponder. A sledgehammer of a book. A book I threw against the wall. A book I retrieved back and kept on reading. A funny book. A book which makes your darkest dreams look like cute-bunnies...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
More about Fyodor Dostoyevsky...
Crime and Punishment The Brothers Karamazov The Idiot Demons The Gambler

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“Talking nonsense is the sole privilege mankind possesses over the other organisms. It's by talking nonsense that one gets to the truth! I talk nonsense, therefore I'm human” 1692 likes
“Man only likes to count his troubles; he doesn't calculate his happiness.” 1594 likes
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