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Notes from the Underground [Paperback]

Fyodor Dostoyevsky , Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

June 20 2010
An Unabridged Edition with both Parts I and II Including A "Note from the Author"-

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Dostoevsky’s Underground Man is a composite of the tormented clerk and the frustrated dreamer of his earlier stories, but his Notes from the Underground is a precursor of his great later novels and their central concern with the nature of free will.
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821–1881) was a Russian author whose best-known works includeNotes from the Underground, Crime and Punishment, The Idiot, and The Brothers Karamazov.

Norman Dietz, a writer, an actor, and a solo performer, has recorded over 150 audiobooks, many of which have earned him awards from AudioFile magazine, the ALA, and Publishers Weekly. Additionally, AudioFile named Norman one of the Best Voices of the Century. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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5.0 out of 5 stars Everything Dostoevksy writes is a Masterpiece! Oct. 14 2003
This is my third novel by Fydor Dostoevksy and I don't think I could rate it any less or more than the other two. All of his books seem to be landmarks in literature. All of them unique in thier own way. None of them can be overlooked. All of them are also way ahead of there time. And they are all not for the closed-minded 'logical' reader.
Notes From Underground is one of Dostoevsky's shorter works, it is very intriging so you will find that you finish it very quickly.
The first part of the novel offers little to no plot. It is basically just philosophical rambling from the first-person narrorator. Don't let the world, 'rambling' confuse you, this book is very serious and thought provoking.
In the second part of the novel we are introduced to some characters beside the narrorator and we see the reason for the rambling in the first part of the novel.
I think that most people who read Dostoevsky can relate to his feelings around other people. He is alone, he feels like people are judging him. People don't want him around, but he is too proud to admit any of this.
The novel deals with how much we can know before it becomes dangerous. When we know too much we might find things that we do not want to know. Does this mean we should stop our search for truth? What if in our search we discover that there is no truth? This is a very thought provoking novel.
I highly reccomend this latest translation, it is very easy to read, much better than the old translation of Crime and Punishment that I read. I am in fact considering re-reading these novels just because these new Translators do a very good job.
Buy this book alongside Hunger by Knut Hamsun as they deal with a lot of the same ideas and were written very close to each other in a timeline.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Rants from the underground Aug. 14 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
It is hard to down-play a classic (i.e., something I read in junior college), but taking a step into the hero's mind is not worth the walk. Internal monologues about abstract concepts such as awareness just don't make it in these days of fast-action, plot (I know, I know, plot is the evil conspiracy of the author and society to dictate what we think), and narrative.

I may be only one, but I found this book very difficult to pick up and very easy to put down.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.3 out of 5 stars  118 reviews
56 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Story and toughts of a self made social outcast. Jan. 17 1997
By A Customer - Published on
A seemingly in-depth look into the life of a depressive recluse. The main character gives us many views on everyday people and their actions that should cause us, the reader, to evaluate our own understanding of the people who surround us. (Example: Why people will moan for days before seeing a dentist.)

The writing is absolutely brilliant. Dostoyevsky does not seem to have created this character but instead pulled him from the street. The character was not one dimensional, an attribute that I found personally refreshing . The thoughts and emotions are complex and real and were constantly understated, adding to the impression that the book was written by the character himself, who lacks writing experience needed to capture these feelings.

The main character views himself cut off and removed from society, rejected by all in nearly every way. He has become so obsessed with this notion that he has created this exact situation as a result of searching for justification of this impression. He has in fact created most of his own misery, and only continues to propagate more. Yet he seem himself as miserable and rejected and finds pride in this image. He imagines himself to be pitiful and also to be strong and fiercely independent as a result of his social isolation. He feels he poses a strength of spirit for being able to endure the loneliness and envisions himself as a martyr.

This fuels his ego and he plans heroic acts in order to show the proof of his worth or to win attention and love. He however lacks the courage to complete the monumental self serving tasks he set before himself. Through a strange twist of logic these failures are also seen as something to be admired. It only makes him more pitiful and thus a greater martyr. When these failures are personally humiliating he retreats within in himself. Hating everyone and again fortifying his independence, claiming that all who depend on others are weak. Only to re-emerge more hungry for the affections of a companion.

An emotional ebbing between pride of independence and ability to bravely endure the suffering quickly switching to the opposite pole of resenting people in general. Sustaining himself on the imagined praises or pity that he thinks would be lavished upon him if he were to be seen by others as he sees himself.

A terribly tragic tale that emphasis the importance of perspective and removing one's self from a problem in order to perhaps gain a helpful assessment of it. The ideas and emotions presented give a haunting impression. The book should be read slowly and turned over in ones mind again and again.
26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Which is better - cheap happiness or exalted suffering?" March 15 2006
By M. S. Bowden - Published on
`Notes From The Underground' is a formidable work of philosophy and of psychology, not to mention its worth as a novel. In the space of around one hundred pages, Dostoyevsky manages to expound theories on reason, alienation, suffering, and human inaction. The book's importance and influence on generations of writers cannot be over-emphasised; Sartre and Camus are only two examples of people who have been directly influenced by this book.

The book is presented in two parts. Part one `Underground' is written in the form of the nameless narrator's rambling thoughts on reason and his claim that throughout history, human actions have been anything but influenced by reason. Underground Man's charge is that man values most the freedom to choose to act in opposition to reason's dictates. Dostoyevsky's critique of reason then, although it demands attention and is somewhat difficult to follow, sets the philosophical foundations for the rest of the book.

Part two `A Propos of the Wet Snow' is much easier to read, as the narrator recounts three episodes which happened when he was fifteen years younger and working as a civil servant in St. Petersburg. The first considers an incident in which an army officer insults him and goes on to detail Underground Man's subsequent internal anguish at his inability to commit an act of retribution. The second episode takes place at a farewell dinner for an acquaintance named Zverkov. The narrator is utterly disgusted with the company in which he finds himself but despite this, he is unable - even though he desires it - to make them realise this. The third episode details Underground Man's brief, painful and emotional relationship with a prostitute.

Dostoyevsky is refreshing in this book thanks not only to his incredibly powerful prose, but also for the intense but subtle way in which the stories reflect and indeed embody his philosophical theories. This dark and pessimistic portrayal of the nature of man may not sit very comfortably with many readers, however the ideas expressed in `Notes From The Underground' are as relevant and worthy of deliberation now as I am sure they were in 1864.
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Paradox...conflict... Irony..Good work June 5 2008
By Medusa - Published on
Even though Doetoevsky's underground man perceives himself as a deep, conscious, brilliant man, he still knows that he is skeptical of every thought or feeling he might have. He tries to convince himself of being smarter than any body he encounters, but in reality he has a deep feeling of inferiority that ultimately manages to isolate him from people and society.
The underground man never had any experiences of love or emotional relationship, thus he relies in his youth on literature and drama where he gets high expectations of ideal relationships and morals. However, real life interactions and relationships traumatize him with reality that he doesn't know how to accept.

In his forties, the underground man doesn't crave human interactions or attention any more, or have passionate ideas about any thing like he did in his youth, and he knows no other way than anger and bitterness to deal with people. Even though his intimidating way of dealing with people brings him humiliation and pain, he still enjoys thinking that he is practicing his free will. Ironically, the humiliation he brings down on himself is empowering and satisfying to the underground man. As long as he has choice and free will, he is still alive and active like others, regardless of the consequences of the choices he makes.

Whether Dostoevsky wrote notes from Underground as a scream against rationalism and utopianism, or if he was symbolizing his own alienation from the modern Russian society, he just did a great job. Every detail in the book is worth reading.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The "cultivated" man must be a coward and a slave. Jan. 31 2006
By OAKSHAMAN - Published on
_This is the first book to accurately describe the mind-set and situation of the modern man. This is because the sort of 19th century man that Dostoevsky described here is modern man- the differences are only superficial. A Western European could not have written a book like this- he would have been too close to the problem, since western European rationalism is the problem. A Russian like Dostoevsky was still close enough to Feudalism and the land that he could feel in his bones that something was profoundly wrong.

_The "underground" writer of these tales is a man that has come to loath himself. He loathes himself because he knows that he is not a true human being in any sense. He knows that he is a cog in a machine. He is told that logic, rationalism, and materialism are everything. He has been told that he has no free will that everything is predetermined by natural laws and statistics. He has even been told that he is no more than an evolved ape, so even his religion has been stripped from him. All that is important is profit and comfort- and to serve the machine in his own minor soul killing way as a petty bureaucrat. This is what has convinced him that it is better to resign from society and live as a recluse. Far better not to contribute to the great, inescapable soul-killing system.

_But that is just it- Dostoevsky is making a point in order to forcibly shake his reader out of his or her complacency. He is trying to demonstrate the unnatural nature of a materialistic life lived neurotically and pettily from the head and not the heart. He is also trying to point out those events in ordinary life that hint at there being something more- things that cannot be described with a formula or a chart. Dostoevsky had found the truth in his deep mystic faith in God. This book was a wake-up call to put others on the transcendent path by demonstrating just how inhuman the modern westernized mind-set was.

_This is not an existential novel- it is a transcendent one. This book demonstrates what a hell results when you forcibly amputate the Holy from Holy Russia. It is what happens when you exile the sacred from all our lives.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars notes......... Nov. 8 2001
By Jimena - Published on
This is the first book of a series of novels that form Dostoievsky's "second period" works, which includes "Crime and Punishment", "Karamazov Brothers", "The Idiot" and others. Though a short novel compared to the ones mentioned, we can find here the seeds of many subjects Dostoievsky was to develop further in his subsequent works.
The book is divided into two parts. In the first one, the main character -an obscure student whose name is not even mentioned- introduces himself as a sick and spiteful man. He makes a long diatribe against subjects such as free will, rationalism and romanticism. He attempts to explain his ideas of life and the quest of being, relating man with a piano keyboard: man does not want to think of himself as an instrument that can be played by a superior force without having the power to use his will; rather he has to demonstrate he is a human being with an inner and singular self and not just a piece that belongs to a bigger mechanism.
In the second part, this troubled man engages in telling us his difficulties to relate to other people. Here the author brings some characters into the scene, whose principal role is to show the main character's incapability to interact in society. The scene in which he delivers a wordy speech to a young prostitute in a dark cubicle is particularly touching.
Dostoievsky is great. What else may I say?.
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