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Notes from Underground; The Grand Inquisitor

4.19  ·  Rating Details  ·  636 Ratings  ·  45 Reviews
Dostoevsky's NOTES FROM THE UNDERGROUND is a psychological study of the deepest darkest skeletons in the closet of the human mind. The first novel from Dostoevsky's mature "second period" works, divided in two parts, presents an unnamed protagonist, a twisted angry student, and his worldview. It is one proud man's cry for help and perverse rejection of the world around him ...more
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Jim Elkins
Jun 22, 2016 Jim Elkins rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: russian
What is Psychological Complexity?

Why revisit "Notes from Underground" now? First, because the psychology of the first part, in particular, is so complex that it continues to evade readers. I know I did not understand much of what the narrator was proposing when I first read “Notes from Underground” in high school or college, and I was curious how much sense it could make to me now. In particular I wondered if it could be a model for psychological complexity in contemporary fiction.

Second, it is
Josh Karaczewski
May 07, 2014 Josh Karaczewski rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If this was published today, "The Asshole" might be an appropriate title for its mercurial, unpleasant, unreliable narrator. Ever wonder why that guy in the office is so mean, and always revels in bringing everybody down? This book will give you some insight into what might be going on in that asshole's head. It may not help you to sympathize with him, but it could turn some of your annoyance to pity.

A demanding read that will require you to reread sections for understanding (I certainly had to)
Paul Gaya Ochieng Simeon Juma
There at times when am sitted watching a movie with my pals and midway through I want to abandon it. At that point, one of my friends who has had the opportunity to watch the movie before advises me to be patient, the action has not yet started.

A reader of Dostoevsky's novels must always be patient to enjoy his books.

Here's another masterpiece of his. Notes from underground, the story of a retired civil servant who is trying to find love and happiness among his friends.

The book is deeply phil
Dostoevsky is a master at uncovering the depths of humanity. He does not hold back, but goes at it (humanity) with every bit of strength and affection he has (or had). To him humanity is not something to be looked down upon nor to be exalted to the place of glory.

He is satiric, playful, dark, despairing, hopeful, and everything in between. He captures life as it is and not as what some may hope it is or despair of.

Notes from Underground is an insightful and enjoyable read. He castigates those
Fyodor Underground
Fellow Dostoevsky fans!

I have set up a Tumblr blog, where I, as the underground man, will be posting each paragraph of Notes From Underground. If you are interested, you can find it here
Alex Lopez
Aug 11, 2015 Alex Lopez rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2015
"What's better? Cheap happiness or exalted sufferings?" That will stick with me for a long time. Such a clear picture of how important it is to be honest with ourselves. Everybody to some extent is suffering an internal battle one way or another. Thank you Dostoyevsky
Linda Burr
this was a really strange book...i loved the brother's karamozov when i read it years ago...this book is difficult to explain except to say that the main character/narrator is so turned in on himself that it makes reading his words difficult. there were 'truths' in his ramblings but mostly felt like reading the musings of someone insane. very disturbing, weird book.
Kelly Anderson
Dec 10, 2014 Kelly Anderson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is my first taste of Dostoyvesky and I am completely impressed. Considering the body of work that has been praised for so long, I am delighted that I have so much to look forward to. Where to start?
Bill Viall
Nov 11, 2008 Bill Viall rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the true seminal books in my life, which completely altered my course. It's a remarkable work, that is a rather chilling literary prologue to the Terrible Twentieth.
Apr 07, 2012 Chrissie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: t-reads
Mostly, I just like that I read Notes from the Underground while actually underground.

Solid subway reading--easy to read in short chunks without losing the thread.
Sam Haughton
Jan 06, 2013 Sam Haughton rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The most concise (read: shortest) display of Dostoevsky's mastery of character, mood, theme, and satire. 115 pages of pure brilliance.
Dasha Smirnova
Mar 11, 2013 Dasha Smirnova rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The very essence of his philosophy and understanding of human nature.
Grumpy (but oh so eloquent) Russian literature doesn't exactly fit in with the usual genres of summer reading I'd go for, but I'm so glad I've finally gotten around to reading this. The bulk of this combined book is the short novel Notes From The Underground; a scathing and thoroughly miserable satire based around the memoirs of Dostoyevsky's famed anti-hero protagonist. His 'Underground Man' is the epitome of misanthropy, and has chosen to isolate himself from the rest of 19th century Russian s ...more
aPriL does feral sometimes
Although I am a little amused at the intense emo of it all (actually Crime and Punishment shocked me especially because that was the first FD novel I read and my understanding was it was fictional autobiography and the mad wanting to run away from his human nature and all the self hatred and disgust at ordinary people, so much like being a teenager today, but by aping the supposed Superman Napoleon seemed so incredibly delusional but yet true to certain teenage boys). This novel I understand pre ...more
"Of course, I cannot break through a wall by battering my head against it if I really do not have the strength to break through it, but I am not going to resign myself to it simply because it is a stone wall and I am not strong enough.
As though such a stone wall really were a consolation and really did contain some word of conciliation, if only because it is as true as two times two makes four. Oh, absurdity of absurdities! How much better it is to understand it all, to be conscious of it all,
Greg Thompson
Jun 01, 2007 Greg Thompson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
From the beginning, Dostoevsky sucks readers into a character who seeks to justify himself with a faulty logic driven by menacing bitterness. The first half of the book is an overwhelming philosophical "writing" by the narrator. It is difficult to understand, yet what the simultaneously sucks the reader in and disgusts the reader is the bitterness driving this man. He is a complex entity, full of brokenness and loneliness, yet it is his hatred that permeates in the reader, almost infecting the r ...more
john Adams
Oct 26, 2009 john Adams rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
Notes From the Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky

I don't get. Maybe it's me? Maybe I am over it? But this book, to me, was basically one man's journey into self-obsessed indulgence. Maybe that's all there is to“existentialism.” The question I have that makes me wonder if I don't get it is simply—why? Why does he have to be an self-obsessed asshole? Why can't he be a Buddhist? If the philosophy argues that all that matters is your subjectivity (granted self-obsessed asshole fits perfectly) why can'
John E. Branch Jr.
If you really want to be an existential anti-hero—which may not be very popular in this bright and hopeful 21st century but was an acceptable inclination for disaffected American teens in the 60s and 70s—you will have to live up to the standards set by Dostoyevsky's Underground Man.

And if you're looking for a good biting way to ridicule the cult of celebrities, pop stars, film actors, and the like, try fitting all that to the Grand Inquisitor's scheme of things, in which man requires to be led b
Apr 21, 2010 April rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
The chapter that the publisher cut and never made it into the book was what put this book on the all time greats in history. Its purpose was to convince the reader that the freedom to choose is worth the awful risks involved (he admits that most people will abuse it), and that Christ is the only answer when agency goes awry. Unfortunately the publisher completely altered the message of the book by cutting out the ending. I wonder what Dostoevsky's reaction was to that. I'm sure he knew that the ...more
Mar 30, 2009 John rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
All I read here was notes from underground, I didn't bother with the other one. It's funny, I started reading this after finding it on my shelf where it has been since freshman year of college, when I never really read it, just skimmed it. And once I started it again, I had the exact same reaction I remember having in college. Maybe it's just this translation, but it is really hard to stay with this. Not that it isn't interesting, but my mind tends to wander and I have to force myself back to it ...more
Jul 16, 2008 Erik rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dostoevsky is such a brainiac. It's amazing to see such a mind in action. I don't know if his intent is lost in translation, but you kind of see how humans don't think like this anymore. He's just so extrapolated in his existentialist whims. The first few lines "I am a spiteful man" sucked me in, but I felt it was misleading. This book was so DRY to me. And well...that's Dostoevesky. But I felt Crime and Punishment was just an incomparably better work than Notes or the Grand Inquisitor. Haven't ...more
Ian Mathers
Jan 08, 2015 Ian Mathers rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
Notes from Underground itself is my least favourite thing in this particular volume (well, written by Dostoyevsky at least); his letters and satirical bits at the end are great, and "The Grand Inquisitor" lives up to its reputation. The Notes, though... if anything they're too effective, and Dostoyevsky's skill at putting us in a feverishly self-reflexive, deeply unpleasant and unhappy little man makes for a somehow simultaneously nerve jangling and tedious read. I guess I see what he's going fo ...more
Jun 23, 2015 Mimicha rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
I must disclose that I only read the Notes from Underground portion. I kept thinking that this should be made into a play. I still would find it incredibly depressing but I think it would translate well onto stage. The main character was incredibly unlikeable. This book epitomizes the stereotype of depressing, Russian literature with in-depth, dark philosophy. Fortunately, it was not long.
Gary Godefroy
Compelling, thought provoking, but a chore to read. In Part 1 of 2 parts there is not a single person's name mentioned, not even the narrator. It's a self analysis of his hyper-sensitivity, hyper-insecurity, self-absorption, and self-loathing, In Part 2 his antisocial behavior is displayed in a thoroughly dysfunctional meeting with 4 childhood acquaintances and later a prostitute.
Cristal Wright
Very philosophical. The main character gives you a lot to think about. While this character has many similarities to Dostoevsky's other character in Crime and Punishment, Raskolnikov, this novel has more depth for thinking and brings the reader onto his level in order to understand the turmoil he endures by just being himself.
Tristan Williams
Jul 17, 2014 Tristan Williams rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Imagine if Holden Caulfield were Russian, didn't have a family, and was a bit more off his rocker. That's Notes from Underground. The Grand Inquisitor is just a damn good excerpt from Brothers Karamazov.
i read this book really spread out timewise because i had a hard time really getting into it, although i really enjoy dostoyevsky. intriguing and heady but not exactly a page-turner.
Philip Burnett
Read this on an attempted thru-hike of the wind rivers. When we were stuck in the tent it offered really good comic and philosophical relief to all three party members.
Oct 22, 2007 Jason is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: any and everyone who thinks.
i have yet to get all the way through this one. many a false start has prolonged the completion of this read. talk to ya'll later... i gotta get reading. :o/
Mollie the Cat
I registered a book at!
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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.

Dostoyevsky was the second son of a former army doctor. He was educated at home and at a private school. Shortly after the death
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