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Notes from Underground

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4.16  ·  Rating details ·  64,189 ratings  ·  4,150 reviews
Dostoevsky’s most revolutionary novel, Notes from Underground marks the dividing line between nineteenth- and twentieth-century fiction, and between the visions of self each century embodied. One of the most remarkable characters in literature, the unnamed narrator is a former official who has defiantly withdrawn into an underground existence. In complete retreat from society, he scr ...more
Paperback, 136 pages
Published September 1994 by Vintage Classics (first published 1864)
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James Spencer No, he's not literally living underground; he's not looking up through the cracks at the rest of the world. I think it is a metaphor for his…moreNo, he's not literally living underground; he's not looking up through the cracks at the rest of the world. I think it is a metaphor for his alienation from society while existing on the fringes of that society. In other words I agree completely with your understanding of Dostoyevsky's use of the phrase.(less)

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Average rating 4.16  · 
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 ·  64,189 ratings  ·  4,150 reviews


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Nate D
Jan 20, 2009 rated it liked it
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 t
...more
karen
Jun 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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...

come to my blog!
Ben
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 o
...more
Nataliya
May 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
Imagine 19th century Russian literature as a loud boisterous party. Here's Pushkin, basking in the center of attention, charming up all the ladies. Here are Chekhov and Gogol at the heart of a passionate intellectual argument. Here's Count Tolstoy, busily serving canapés while rejoicing in the pleasure of work, stopping only to chat about the pleasures of countryside with Turgenev.

But where's Dostoyevsky? Oh, there he is, sitting by himself in a dark corner, dead broke after a high-stakes cards
...more
Lisa
Bravo, Dostoyevsky! This is the perfect, absolutely accurate and universal portrait of the insecure, self-conscious egomaniac - pitiful and dangerous, on a negative quixotic rampage against himself, society and the laws of nature he despises but cannot change.

There are so many of these angry men (and women), and they don’t speak from the underground anymore. With modern technology, they have conquered the virtual world, spewing out their self-pity and hatred in long, inconsistent, frustrated ti
...more
mark monday
Mar 12, 2016 rated it did not like it
Recommended to mark by: Andrew Schirmer
so I came across this guy at a party that I had known in college, many years ago. I remembered him clearly: that brilliant, pretentious guy with his stories and his sarcasm and his nihilism. our classmates mocked him and so did I, but I enjoyed him too. he was a funny fellow, entirely self-absorbed, smart and well-read and amusingly melodramatic in his comments about the world and his life; he wore his pathos blatantly, like some kind of robe or badge or shield. I always thought that was brave o ...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
871. Записки из подполья = Zapiski iz podpol'ia = Letters from the Underworld = Notes from the Underground = Notes from Underground, Fyodor Dostoevsky
Notes from Underground, is an 1864 novella by Fyodor Dostoevsky. Notes is considered by many to be one of the first existentialist novels. It presents itself as an excerpt from the rambling memoirs of a bitter, isolated, unnamed narrator, who is a retired civil servant living in St. Petersburg. The first part of the story is told in monologue
...more
Glenn Russell
Aug 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing



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 hear it, why
...more
Michael
Feb 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely brilliant and penetrating analysis of human nature in all its vainglorious ridiculousness. Dostoyevsky is especially insightful in taking down what I'll loosely call "rationalism"--the belief (somewhat popular then and surprisingly popular now) that people act in a rationally self-interested way, especially if they're made aware of where their self-interest lies. This book should be required reading for nearly every economics department in the US, where such fantasies still rule the d ...more
Garima

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. N/>Thus
...more
jessica
Jul 27, 2018 rated it liked it
im trying to become more of a classics person and ive found that foreign classics, especially russian, is the easiest way to do that. not only do i feel cultured, but the writing style and themes are so interesting - particularly with this book.

if i could rename this book, it would be ‘the impossible rant of a cranky recluse.’ lol. the narrator spends part one of this book rambling about the shortcomings of humanity, how he despises modern society as it is, and his contempt for just about every
...more
Paul Bryant
Apr 05, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
Literary Characters React to Notes from the Underground


Eeyore

This Accounts for a Good Deal. It Explains Everything. In Life, you see, we can't all, and some of us don't. Gaiety. Song-and-dance. Here we go round the mulberry bush. This book is telling everybody “We can look for the North Pole, or we can play 'Here we go gathering Nuts in May' with the end part of an ants' nest. It's all the same to me." Amusing in a quiet way, but not really helpful.

Piglet

Help, help! A hexistent/>
...more
J.L.   Sutton
Jul 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Fyodor Dostoevsky is one of my favorite authors.

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As an undergrad, I did my honors thesis on Dostoevsky and suffering using Notes from Underground, Brothers Karamazov, Crime and Punishment, The Devils and The Idiot. To increase my suffering, I also took Russian my senior year!

I've probably read Notes five or six times. It is a quick read, but I get something different from it every time (and at every period in my life) that I read it. This text is Existentialism writ large, but it's had power for over 150
...more
Vit Babenco
Dec 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A novelette Notes from Underground is a conspicuous harbinger of existential novel.
It is like a warning to the future society of hypocritical and conforming featureless worms into which the world is gradually turning these days.
And now I am living out my life in my corner, taunting myself with the spiteful and utterly futile consolation that it is even impossible for an intelligent man seriously to become anything, and only fools become something. Yes, sir, an intelligent man of the nineteenth centu/>
And
...more
Piyangie
Apr 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: russian-lit
I found Dostoevsky's Notes from Underground to be quite a different work from his other works. Dostoevsky's writing style adopted in this novella and the dominating existentialism has much to contribute to this difference.

The novella is of two parts. The first part consists of a bitter rambling of an unnamed narrator who is called the "underground man" (he is understood to be a retired civil servant living in St. Petersburg). This bitter rambling extends to Petersburg society and civilization
...more
Rowena
Oct 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
MJ Nicholls
New:

“ . . . 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 kno
...more
Lyn
Jul 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
I first met the Russian on the loading docks. Filling trailers with freight out in the weather, in the humid heat and then again in the freezing cold was not a career, not a job anyone especially wanted, it was a job to fill in the gaps, work that paid a wage and filled a need as necessary as the empty trailers that backed into the dock one after the other.

I had seen him in the break room, out on the picnic tables - always alone. He scribbled incessantly in an old thesis book, would pause long moments
...more
Arnie
Jun 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone paying attention
When I read it at 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.
Shivam Chaturvedi
You see, this man Dostoyevsky calls you witness to a killing, a killing that he himself intends to perform. You are apprehensive, frightened even, but you walk in nevertheless. There in front of you lies this despondent figure of a man whom this convener intends to slaughter. Settled in rather uncomfortably, you prepare for the death blow to fall. But it doesn't; the victim is not shown the mercy of an easy execution.

Instead Dostoyevsky strangles him, squeezes the very life out of hi
...more
Khashayar Mohammadi
Dec 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I once read somewhere: "during the 19th century, the Prussians were turning their writers into philosophers, while the Russians were turning their philosophers into writers."

I think that pretty much sums of Dostoyevsky
Steven Godin
Master Russian Dostoevsky has probably written one of the best short novels of all time with this 1864 study of a solitary man. From the darkness of an underground dwelling, a former civil servant, and the unreliable narrator is intoxicated with spite for the outside world and writes an embittered monologue narrated from his St Petersburg basement. The lower this alienated antihero sinks, the loftier his intellectual pontifications, critiquing contemporary philosophies on rationalism and free wi ...more
Sara Alaee
Obsessive, sick, horrific, painful… Did I like it?!...Should I like it?!...
Dostoyevsky depicts one of the most disturbing and unsettling images of a human being in this book. I don’t get it!… Not that I don’t get what he says. I do!… It’s just that I don’t want to see the world through a lens of despair that presents a disillusioned version of reality. “If the heightened consciousness showers one with agony and self-loathing, frustration and humiliation, then what is ignorance!?” I clearly
...more
Elham
Jul 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am a man. I am forty. I am sick. My soul is sick. My thought is sick. My conscience is sick. My desires are suppressed. I am undesirable. I am unchangeable. I am unrecognizable. I am nothing. I am a typical man. I fell in love twice. I fell in love because of ennuie. I am not social. I inhabit my literary world. I hate my stupid friends. I suffer.

And, indeed, I will ask on my own account here, an idle question: which is better—cheap happiness or exalted sufferings? Well, which is better?
...more
Srđan
Jan 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Have you ever tried thinking of a really hard-to-grasp topic only to reach some kind of a barrier in your mind? It's like, you can only reach a certain point of thought and if you try to think beyond that, your stream of thoughts either goes in a wrong direction or just completely vanishes.
Well, somehow, Dostoyevsky is able to reach beyond the barrier and he's even able to present it through this dark glimpse of life and suffering that is oh so relatable.
Cheryl
"Because I only like playing with words, only dreaming, but, do you know, what I really want is that you should all go to hell. That is what I want. I want peace; yes, I'd sell the whole world for a farthing, straight off, so long as I was left in peace."

I ponder his words as I sit in his disturbed and confused underground mind, this mind supposedly brilliant, yet also a heap of self-destruction; these words which offer some profundity, some lackluster chit-chatter. It makes me consider how we all wa
...more
Jasmine
'Ah, gentlemen! What will become of your will once the whole business ends up with tables and arithmetic, when only twice two is four is in demand? Twice two will make four without my willing it. So much for your will!'
(p. 29)
Elie F
Jul 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Better Passive Consciousness?

After reading this genius novel, I waited for a week before trying to write a review of some sort, because there is so much in there and I had to digest it first. Indeed, the underground man is sick, malicious, irredeemable, yet still I relate to him deeply, and not just on a spiritual level, but I realize to my surprise that I actually behave like him in concrete terms.

The underground man rails against the laws of nature, against social norms, against science, and again
...more
Anya (~on a semi-hiatus~)
I am a despicable woman...I am a jealous woman. I am a greedy woman. I believe my brain is sick from all the ill thoughts I silently stash in its dankest recesses, hiding them from the judgemental eyes of the polite society. I subsist on a diet of antidepressants and multivitamins. I feel bored and lonely in this sea of people. I am sad often. I cry.
“For a woman, all resurrection, all salvation, from whatever perdition, lies in love; in fact, it is her only way to it.”

I desperately feel the ne/>
...more
Prashasti
Mar 25, 2019 rated it liked it
Recommended to Prashasti by: Shivam Chaturvedi
I feel completely drained.
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Never too Late to...: 2019 April: Notes from Underground by Fyodor Dostoyevsky 22 39 Nov 05, 2019 11:15AM  
Reading 1001: Notes from the Underground, by Dostoevsky 2 21 Sep 17, 2019 01:02PM  
eBook: Human irrationality 1 4 Dec 31, 2018 11:34PM  
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Fyodor Mikhaylovich Dostoyevsky (Russian: Фёдор Михайлович Достоевский), sometimes transliterated Dostoevsky (see Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky/Fyodor Dostoevsky/Feodor Dostoevsky) or Dostoïevski (see Fiodor Dostoïevski/ Fyodor Mikhaylovich Dostoyevsky (Russian: Фёдор Михайлович Достоевский), sometimes transliterated Dostoevsky (see Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky/Fyodor Dostoevsky/Feodor Dostoevsky) or Dostoïevski (see Fiodor Dostoïevski/Fiódor M. Dostoievski/Fédor Mikhaïlovitch Dostoïevski), was a Russian novelist, journalist, and short-story writer whose psychological penetration into the human psyche 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 of his mother in 1837 he was sent to St. Petersburg, where he entered the Army Engineering College. Dostoyevsky's father died in 1839, most likely of apoplexy, but it was rumored that he was murdered by his own serfs. Dostoyevsky graduated as a military engineer, but resigned in 1844 to devote himself to writing. His first novel, Poor Folk appeared in 1846.

That year he joined a group of utopian socialists. He was arrested in 1849 and sentenced to death, commuted to imprisonment in Siberia. Dostoyevsky spent four years in hard labor and four years as a soldier in Semipalatinsk, a city in what it is today Kazakhstan.

Dostoyevsky returned to St. Petersburg in 1854 as a writer with a religious mission and published three works that derive in different ways from his Siberia experiences: The House of the Dead , (1860) a fictional account of prison life, The Insulted and Injured, which reflects the author's refutation of naive Utopianism in the face of evil, and Winter Notes on Summer Impressions, his account of a trip to Western Europe.

In 1857 Dostoyevsky married Maria Isaev, a 29-year old widow. He resigned from the army two years later. Between the years 1861 and 1863 he served as editor of the monthly periodical Time, which was later suppressed because of an article on the Polish uprising.

In 1864-65 his wife and brother died and he was burdened with debts. His situation was made even worse by his gambling addiction. From the turmoil of the 1860s emerged Notes from the Underground, a psychological study of an outsider, which marked a major advancement in Dostoyevsky's artistic and creative development.

In 1867 Dostoyevsky married Anna Snitkin, his 22-year old stenographer. They traveled abroad and returned in 1871. By the time of The Brothers Karamazov (1879-80), Dostoyevsky was recognized in his own country as one of its great writers.

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“I say let the world go to hell, but I should always have my tea.” 2496 likes
“I swear to you gentlemen, that to be overly conscious is a sickness, a real, thorough sickness.” 1045 likes
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