Notes From Underground Mass Market Paperback – Nov 2 2004
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
About the Author
Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821-81) was educated in Moscow and at the School of Military Engineers in St. Petersburg, where he spent four years. In 1844 he resigned his Commission in the army to devote himself to literature. In 1846, he wrote his first novel, which won immediate critical and popular success. At the age of twenty-seven he was arrested for belonging to a socialist group and condemned to death, but at the last moment, his sentence was commuted to prison in Siberia. In 1859, he was granted full amnesty and allowed to return to St. Petersburg. In the fourteen years before his death on January 28, 1881, Dostoyevsky produced his greatest works including Crime and Punishment, The Idiot, and The Possessed.
Ben Marcus is the author of The Age of Wire and String, a collection of stories, and the novel Notable American Women. Editor of The Anchor Book of New American Short Stories, he is on the faculty of Columbia University and has received a Whiting Award and a National Endowment for the Arts grant. His essays have appeared in Time, Feed, Tin House, McSweeny’s, Bomb, Grand Street, the Pushcart Prize anthology, and Conjunctions.
Andrew R. MacAndrew (1911-2001) was a professor at the University of Virginia and an acclaimed translator of Russian literature. In addition to fiction by Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Gogol, and others, he translated A Precocious Autobiography by poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko.
What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
the underground man is an interesting character because throughout the novel he liberally depreciates himself and celebrates his own misery. he says that he is doomed to be miserable because of his intelligence, because he has the capacity to critically observe the world, and yet because of this very fact he says that he can never be an insect. this reminds me of a quote from Nietzsche 'even a man who despises himself respects himself as one who despises'. but overall, this over critical approach to living hinders the underground man so that he is quite passive throughout the novel, despite his words, which i suppose could be considered an action of sorts. and it's because of this passivity that he fails at connecting with others, isolating himself with his thoughts. now it could be argued that his refusal to act is an expression of his utilizing his freedoms. he acts in a way that is not accepted by society, which is why he is so isolated, but by isolating himself, he is demonstrating that he has the capacity to exercise free thought and action, to not blindly follow the status quo. his outcast status is the ultimate freedom, and yet he's so miserable, which would tie into the intelligence bit.Read more ›
I may be only one, but I found this book very difficult to pick up and very easy to put down.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
We start with `White Nights', a story of selflessness in which a young man helps a girl connect with her love even though he loves her too. Though this story has the grave tone common of 19th century Russian literature, it has a tinge of hopefulness in the man's sacrifice. This is the young and idealistic Dostoyevsky, before he was jailed for having `revolutionary ideas' and sentenced to death only to be pardoned moments from being shot. Obviously this had a great impact on his mind and went a long way towards destroying any hopefulness he had. The transition is seen in the three stories selected from The House of the Dead, his first successful work. Written in 1862, or about a decade after his imprisonment, these stories tell of senseless murderers and corporal punishers. Almost entirely devoid of emotion, we can see a Dostoyevsky who has gone inward and narrates simply and pragmatically. Life has become a matter of survival, with no room for the sentimentality of the protagonist in `White Nights'.
Then in the main event, Notes from Underground, the emotion is back, but it has been transformed into anger and hatred in the form of the bitter and isolated narrator. There is much existentialist (this work is considered the founding work of existentialism) rambling in the first part, as he debates with us, the reader (even though these are his memoirs, not a two way discussion) about logic and determinism, arguing that man will not always do what's best for himself, as propounded by the utopians of the time, but will often act in direct antagonism towards themselves to display `individualism'. And, as he is an `individual', he cannot act properly in society, which is why he is now isolated and bitter. Then he gets into a proper narrative in Part II, as he demonstrates his ideas to us with stories from his earlier life. There are three parts to this, but the most interesting is the last: his brief encounter with a prostitute, where he shows the inkling of decency and love towards her, but rejects her when she returns it. Despite feeling much revulsion for the narrator to this point, there is a sense of poignancy at this end for him, and perhaps reflects both Dostoyevsky's struggle with society after his imprisonment, and our admiration for him despite his nihilistic views.
The collection closes with Dream of a Ridiculous Man, a story written just a few years before his death. In it, a man decides life is meaningless and wants to commit suicide. He chances upon a little girl whose mother needs help, but he brushes the girl away. He then goes home, feels guilty, falls asleep, and has a dream. In the dream he goes to a utopia where everyone is happy until heteaches them to lie and ruins the society. He awakens a changed man who only wants to love others as himself. Near the end of his life, Dostoyevsky had found God.