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Notes from the Underground & The Gambler

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  700 Ratings  ·  43 Reviews
One of the most profound and disturbing works of nineteenth-century literature, Notes from the Underground is a probing and speculative work, often regarded as a forerunner to the Existentialist movement. The Gambler explores the compulsive nature of gambling, one of Dostoevsky's own vices and a subject he describes with extraordinary acumen and drama. Both works are new t ...more
Paperback, Oxford World's Classics, 320 pages
Published January 18th 2001 by Oxford University Press, USA
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At the end of last year I finally completed another one of my life reading goals. That is to say I finished the classic Crime and Punishment. Having found this masterpiece to be a fascinating piece of literature I decided that I would have to tackle another work of Dostoyevsky's and so when I stumbled upon Notes from the Underground and The Gambler at my library I picked up the volume and began to read.

There is something about the nature of suffering that the classic Russian authors seem to unde
Mar 11, 2008 marked it as to-read
Recommended to Cheryl by: tommy
The more I read this, the more I can identify with the narrator. He's not crazy at all, just too conscious. And, like he mentions in the first couple of pages, it's an illness.
Seth Kupchick
Feb 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I'm wary to even write about Dostoevsky because he's one of those novelists that gets discussed to gauge one's depth and it's almost like his work has become secondary to his name, at least for my generation, and I don't feel like namedropping on 'goodreads,' just to score some political points. These were the first Dostoevsky novels I read probably because they were shorter than "Crime and Punishment," "The Brothers Karamazov," and "The Idiot," but I'm being harsh on myself, because I think any ...more
Sep 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, 2014
The edition I read included both Notes from the Underground and The Gambler, which seemed like a useful comparison. Both novellas are, in a word, bonkers. There is the disturbing, thrilling instability of the underground man - the reader cannot trust him, but at the same time his self-lacerating cycles of thought feel so brutally honest (and so, how much do we trust ourselves and our own narratives?). In The Gambler we see an underground man climb out from under the floorboards, only to find tha ...more
Oct 14, 2014 rated it liked it
A Dostoyevsky Force Majeure! The sheer shamefulness of life...your heart is rendered for the narrator as he wrestles his inner demons and the 'men of action'. The standard themes of respectable decrepitude, existentialism and bravado are explored in uncomfortable detail. Shorter than other works but he is pitiless in this one, if you know what I'm talking about.
Maya Rock
Jan 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Kind of trippy. The arc of this reminded me of Good Morning, Midnight. I just loved it. The paranoid, socially inept narrator, and lust for attention and dignity of a world he scorns. Fun. Short.

Oh I haven't read the Gambler, just NOTES.
Timothy Brown
Feb 11, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: tip-top
since kierkegaard came more then a century before this it's not "a forerunner of existentialism", but it is amazing!
David Bisset
Mar 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating duo

The Notes begins with rather bizarre, but the second section is more entertaining - and also enlightening in a rather Russian way! It does not seem to me, however, an existentialist work. The Gambler is a fine novella with diverse characters, and lots of gambling! Dostoevsky often ceded to the allure of the casino; so his depictions of the agony and ecstasy of are undoubtedly accurate.
Jan 05, 2015 rated it liked it
“…the best definition of man is – a creature who walks on two legs and is ungrateful.”

“Notes from the Underground”, which is considered as the first existentialist novel, is the story of an anti-social person who is disconnected from the society and while hiding himself from others in a place underground criticized society bitterly and described his ideas. Dostoevsky is the master of digging deep in to peoples mind and psychoanalysis of his characters. And by using this ability combined with gen
Dec 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classic-fiction
Well, there is nothing I can say about Dostoevsky that others haven't said many times over, but these two stories are so provoking that I feel like I have to write something...
I'm not sure at what point you realise that the man from the underground is pretty unhinged. maybe 10 pages in, maybe less. He starts out with an extended argument about the human will being the central element of human life as opposed to reason (the basic existential position). And it kind of makes sense, but he goes on a
David Williamson
This is the third time I’ve read Notes From Underground, the first two times I felt it was a book full of great lines (‘Man is the ungrateful biped’) and ideas but as a whole difficult and disjointed. However, this time around I found I had not read it with the right perspective or plain didn’t get it the first two times. The book still jars in places, this I think is due to the structure of how it is written; how does one write a madman’s soliloquy over a 100 pages long without getting into som ...more
Mar 03, 2015 rated it liked it
When you read Dostoyevsky, you often feel like you are handling a bomb: perhaps inert, but the strange nature of it gives you the feeling it could blow up in your hands.
This book might be the most bomb like. From the first page, you are reading the potent words of a genius... Or a madman...
The book is two books fused into one. The first part is the long and sometimes tedious rant of a misanthropic curmudgeon. He rants for a while and you feel like you are reading some basement dwellers blog. Por
Feb 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
“Notes from the Underground” is that classic bad-ass and social angst short fiction of Dostoyevsky. When you’re starting to feel hate against the world at one point, give yourself some time-off, this is a very good companion. You might at the end consider staying there the rest of your life like the nameless underground man, but are you up to tormenting yourself and abandon everything else because there’s no better feeling than remorse? The underground man is one of the many typical neurotic, se ...more
Sierra Swenson
Feb 28, 2015 rated it it was ok
"I am a sick man...I am a wicked man."
Yes you are. Yes you are.
The Underground Man really is a little creepy. He's vain, self-centered, deranged, cruel, spiteful, and a hundred other terrible things. In the last half of the book we get a glimpse into his poetic genius and think that maybe he might not be...oh wait, nope, he's still a dishrag. A big, stinky dishrag.
I'm giving it two stars because the drama was enthralling and some of the writing was beautiful, but for the most part, I don't real
Jun 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book is difficult and not much happens and after almost every single action, no matter how small, or sometimes with no action whatsoever, the story will wildly digress into pages and pages of reflections about reflections about thoughts about feelings bouncing back and forth like mirrors facing each other.

But at the same time that's what makes it so fascinating. That's how thought really is. For me, anyway. It's hard to tell if the book crawls into your brain and makes you think thoughts or
Sep 13, 2008 added it
Shelves: fiction
second time around reading this. I finished it some time ago but didn't get around to writing something about it. Yet one question remains. I understand that the underground man is a "sick" man, yet what is the impetus for his sickness? Is it that he realizes his position in society or that he recognizes that only interpretation stands in regard to how one should live 'the good life'? And ultimately, is his sickness similar to the hyperbolic actions and thought he expresses throughout the novel?
Harry Burnside
Apr 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
I started this short novel with some despair as the first few pages seemed like Psychobabble philosophies. However when the story itself started to unfold I was mesmerised with it. My feelings towards the nameless protagonist swung round 360 degrees. A man of confusion, demoralised and sad and never recognising the wisdom at times he had within himself.
His words of advice to Liza the prostitute are riveting.
As with other Dostoyevsky books I have read I found it very powerful.
Feb 12, 2012 rated it it was ok
This was OK. But, I might find that I really like it if I were to read it again. It is Dostoyevsky, after all.

"Notes from the Underground" is an experimental piece in two parts. One part is the character's journal entry describing a disastrous day in which he meet with some school mates as a reunion. The second part tells the same story in 3rd person narrative.
Jan 14, 2015 rated it liked it
I got about 3/4 of the way through on a very long walk in new shoes and, not only did I want to sock the protagonist in the jaw with the intensity of a Tea Party Rally, I got a blister the size of LA County on my heel. This book would have two stars, but I gave it three for the writing. The writing is great. The story is a blister the size of LA County on my heel.
Scottsdale Public Library
Dos’ breakthrough short novel is confessional, raw, and naked. Taking place in the author’s own city of St. Petersburg, Russia, it reads more like a diary than a story. Broken into 2 distinct parts, the first confronts and challenges the reader on fronts political, moral, and ethical. Part II follows The Underground Man through a journey of self-effacing revelation.

-Rob W.-
Christopher Wagoner
Sep 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
Laugh out loud funny at times :) Much like Voltaire, he is a satirist with wicked wit. True, the plot is kind of weak, but it's mostly a framework around which Fyodor hangs his acerbic observations.
Nov 04, 2016 rated it liked it
The three stars is for the Oxford World's classics translation of "Notes from the Underground", made by Jane Kentish, which reads a bit flat. The Gambler fares better, and I reread this short novel which I read a few days ago in another translation.
Feb 04, 2012 rated it liked it
Aaah, I have not started Gambler, but am still on Underground... very dark indeed. The underground man is disturbed for sure, and he's analyzing the human mind and reasoning to the point where everything is (to my mind) going in circles. But that's how we think sometimes, anyways.
Jan 05, 2015 rated it did not like it
I find nothing more painful than Russian literature, and I don't know why I thought this would be any different. I couldn't slog through it. In fact, I have failed to finish reading this book more often than any other. As treatises on disaffectation go, I choose the French, hands down.
Maja Z
Aug 11, 2014 rated it liked it
I just remember the impression I had after reading it.
It was good. Meditative book.
Onder Cetin
Mar 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
I did not read the Gambler but Notes was thought provoking!
Peter Mathews
Sep 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Natalie
Touched a raw nerve.
Jul 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I quoted this book extensively before reading it, and finishing it took nothing away from its brilliance.
Brajesh Singh
Jun 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I love the writing style of Dostoyevsky. I am liking this novel.
Jul 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing
2 in 1 = AMAZING
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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
More about Fyodor Dostoyevsky...

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“Whatever distinguishes one lump of flesh from another when we're alive, we're all the same once we're dead. Just used-up shells.” 9 likes
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