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Notes from the Underground

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In 1864, just prior to the years in which he wrote his greatest novels — Crime and Punishment, The Idiot, The Possessed and The Brothers Karamazov — Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821–1881) penned the darkly fascinating Notes from the Underground. Its nameless hero is a profoundly alienated individual in whose brooding self-analysis there is a search for the true and the good in a world of relative values and few absolutes. Moreover, the novel introduces themes — moral, religious, political and social — that dominated Dostoyevsky's later works. Notes from the Underground, then, aside from its own compelling qualities, offers readers an ideal introduction to the creative imagination, profundity and uncanny psychological penetration of one of the most influential novelists of the nineteenth century. Constance Garnett's authoritative translation is reprinted here, with a new introduction.

96 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1864

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About the author

Fyodor Dostoevsky

3,334 books50.1k followers
Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky was a Russian novelist, short story writer, essayist, and journalist. His literary works explore human psychology in the troubled political, social, and spiritual atmospheres of 19th-century Russia, and engage with a variety of philosophical and religious themes. His most acclaimed novels include Crime and Punishment (1866), The Idiot (1869), Demons (1872), and The Brothers Karamazov (1880).

Many literary critics rate him as one of the greatest novelists in all of world literature, as multiple of his works are considered highly influential masterpieces. His 1864 novella Notes from Underground is considered to be one of the first works of existentialist literature. As such, he is also looked upon as a philosopher and theologian as well.

(Russian: Фёдор Михайлович Достоевский) (see also Fiodor Dostoïevski)

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Profile Image for Ben.
74 reviews957 followers
March 4, 2009
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 of life, via monologue. The second half, humiliating stories from when he was 24 (he is now 40). He is a fascinating character. A paranoid, ridiculous, introspective, analytical, abrasive, laughable, vengeful, antisocial, extreme, hypersensitive, pathological, delicate, hilarious, bottom-dwelling, pathetic, indecisive, crazy, loner of a man. He is an educated and intelligent man.

Both his thoughts and actions are paradoxical. He is emotionally tough, then emotionally sensitive and fragile. He stands for great unequivocal moral virtue, then cowers further in his morally rotten state. At one moment he has what seems to be great conviction and inner strength. At the next moment, wavering doubt and uncertainty. He is an individual, unaffected by people, choosing to live by himself -- He is hypersensitive to what others think, to the point of being paranoid. He lives in great poverty; he has manic spurts, dreams, and visions of megalomania. You want to feel sorry for him, because he's pitiful and full of pain. You want to hate him, because he is hateful and a burden on humanity. He is a contrarian against everything, even himself.

As previously mentioned, the beauty of this novel comes from the many various thoughts it can give birth to. It doesn't offer any easy answers or an obvious paradigm. There are no gifts in this book. New thoughts must be earned, but the opportunities are plenty. Below I’ve listed out some of the random-ass thoughts I had while reading, just to give you an idea of what I’m talking about. Those of you who read the book will probably disagree with some of them, and trust me, I don’t claim to be good with literary analysis, so you could probably convince me against some… after all they’re just thoughts. And don’t feel like you need to read them; maybe one or two to get the main thinkin’ point:

- The narrator is an angry man with strongly violent speech, reveries, and threats. Yet we never see him act in violence. Is he, or is he not, physically dangerous?

- What a shame it is that someone who has the capability of making great impact -- such as this man -- ends up being so insignificant. If anything, the world would be a better place without this guy. He uses his intelligence and intuition in all the wrong ways, bringing others down, including himself (or often, just himself) through his actions.

- Our underground man wavered too much. He had trouble making up his mind and once having made a decision, he'd change it. In regards to making difficult decisions, Yogi Berra once said, "When you come to the fork in the road, take it!" Sometimes, most -- or even all -- of the options available are better than not taking any, or changing your mind midway through. Our narrator even wavered or made stupid decisions when faced with simple situations – common sense scenarios that 99% of the population would respond to in a better fashion than the ridiculous, silly ways that he did. How can such a smart man be such a poor decision maker?

- I wonder how successful would he would be if his chemical imbalance where fixed (I guess it would have to be through pills) and he saw a good shrink. I wonder how much of his inner turmoil and unhappiness is caused by not being chemically stable. I wonder how much of his pathological condition is “fixable".

- He seems to be incapable of love, and even says so. Yet, he shows dashes of deep understanding of it, and so you think he can't be right about that (himself not being able to love)… but, wouldn't he know? Is he bullshitting? Maybe he’s serious, but just wrong about himself: perhaps he's capable of love but hasn’t yet, perhaps because nobody has ever loved him. He seems to want to love at times, but then he'll completely shun it: glorifying it at one moment and then spitting upon it the next. Could he have opened his heart to the innocent whore that he meets? Given their compliments in character, could they have provided one another with support, understanding, and love, had he just given it a chance? Or, perhaps he doesn't need those things -- ultimately he retreats from such opportunities and returns to his spite. Are things like support, human understanding, and love things that we all need? Maybe if he would just open up once, he would get the love he needs and change into a much better person in all aspects of his life.

- At one point in the book, our narrator states, "she is the cause of it all." Perhaps this one quote sums up a large portion of his problem: Instead of taking life by the horns and making the most of it, he's bitter and blames other people for his problems. He needs to take charge of the things he can control, instead of freezing himself with contempt.

- In the second half of the book the narrator seems to be completely honest about his ridiculous past actions, and his various shortcomings. There's something to be said for that kind of honesty. It goes hand-in-hand with his anti-social, anti-establishment persona. He doesn't feel a need to present himself as more acceptable to society than he really is (which is to say, not at all). I like this about him.

- If the narrator didn’t live in such poverty, could he gave gotten himself out of his figurative hole? If he had the basic necessities, would he have then had the level of conformability needed to start improving himself? If so, would he he then chose to improve himself?

- He states, “the most intense pleasures occur in despair” Is he actually enjoying his situation? Oh man, there are just so many ways to look at that…. That sentence alone describes the paradox of this book in so many ways. Go ahead, think about it some..
- This guy is a great example of how common sense and emotional stability are often more important than IQ. But he would probably make a semi-strong argument to the contrary.

- The stories of his foolishness (part 2 of the novel) took place 16 years before his writing about them. Was he wiser at the time of writing than he was when the actions took place? He articulates some recognition of shame and regret. Does he still behave ridiculously? We don’t have a strong idea of what his philosophies were 16 years ago (during part 2), and we don't know what his behavior was like at the time part 1 was written (at his "current" age of 40).

- "Real life oppressed me with its novel so much that I could hardly breathe.” Is his problem that he’s too introspective? Is his heavily introspective nature a reason he's such a mess? Perhaps his problem is that he's just too analytical, too much of a thinker, too caught inside his own head. Perhaps he's not in touch with his feelings enough, and that by avoiding them, when they inevitably come out (to live is to feel), they are so foreign to him that he doesn't know how to deal with them.

- He is known as a great anti-hero. Perhaps one can learn how to live by not being like this guy. But he does have some positive qualities: he's introspective, and prone to the kind of independent, critical analysis that leads to innovation. A great hero wouldn’t necessarily be the opposite of this guy… or would he? And what constitutes a "hero" anyway?

And so you see, after reading this, I feel a bit like the narrator: conflicting, contrary and paradoxical thoughts running in different directions, often without conclusions. It's frustrating, but there's an energizing element to taking on such thoughts. These listed contemplations probably differ from yours, but that's part of what makes this novel of paradox so good. Despite it being short, it's the kind of book I could read over and over again and still find it thought provoking and satisfying each time.

Society is persistent about filling our brains with the largely mindless: celebrity gossip, mtv, the newest trends, sitcoms, etc. -- hell just look around, examples are everywhere. Good books can bring us to our thinking place, which puts us in an opposite state. Getting to the thinking place, and staying there for a while, is not easy. It takes effort, but it's rewarding. The thinking place is were we grow as individuals and as a society.

This book can take you to your thinking place.

Profile Image for Nate D.
1,595 reviews1,027 followers
April 6, 2015
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 to have known him, in the end.
Profile Image for karen.
3,988 reviews170k followers
June 14, 2018
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!
Profile Image for Nataliya.
784 reviews12.5k followers
April 25, 2023
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 game, giving you the unsettling intense heavy glare that easily penetrates right into the darkest best-guarded secrets of your soul, the glare that clearly says 'been there, done that, been repulsed by what I saw.' And if he looks like he's judging you, it's because he is. And you deserve it, probably.

Fyodor Mikhailovich, you don't make liking you easy, do you?


This book is brilliant. Unpleasant and hard to read, disturbing and unsettling, and really brilliant. But before I go into my long-winded discussion, let me get this off my chest, for the honesty purposes and full disclosure:
I finally can admit - I don't "get" Dostoyevsky. Perhaps my mind is a tad too shallow for his literary depths; perhaps my inner ball of sunshine deep deep inside refuses to see the world through Dostoyevsky's disillusioned glare.

But I don't need to "get" him to know the greatness when I see it, to respect his sharp writing, his keenly observant eye that does not let anything slip away, and his scarily clear perceptions of people and the layers in which they dress up their otherwise petty and pathetic selves.
In this short and strange book, Dostoyevsky manages to create perhaps the most disturbing image of a human being in the entire 19th century literature. Let me jot down just a few of the epithets that came pouring into my head with every page I read: petty, bitter, miserly, resentful, selfish, pitiful, entitled, cruel, deeply unpleasant and frankly miserable. The person who finds disgusting satisfaction in little acts of petty nastiness. The person who perversely enjoys stewing in self-imposed misery and figurative self-flagellation over every perceived slight, building exquisite mountains out of molehills. The person who would thrive on humiliating others, but if unable to achieve that would just as happily thrive on self-humiliation and self-loathing. The person who in the confines of his little mind hides a true despot, but gets his sense of self-worth by assuming that everyone else is beneath his miserable but clearly enlightened and misunderstood self - despite the world pointing to the contrary. The person who'd quietly spit into your bowl if you haven't offered to share it with him - and then will internally torment himself for years over the act, feeling that the act of torment is enough to elevate him out of the mud.
The person who, in ramblings about how rotten society is helps it rot a little bit more.

In short, he created a character the sheer mention of whom makes me want to take a shower and wash all of the above off me.

He created a character that with all of the above scarily reminds you of so many people you know - and maybe sometimes even yourself.

And that's what really disturbing about it.

And this disturbing part is exactly what makes me from time to time abandon the fun bits of the Russian literature party and instead join Fyodor Mikhailovich in his dark gloomy corner for a minute or so. Because he makes me, unpleasant as it is, take a long critical look at myself, so that I can try to keep myself out of this "underground". Because he "gets" to me even if I don't quite "get" him.

Because it's not a story, it's a mirror, and you have to work hard to make it not be so.

I don't know how to rate this book. I did not enjoy it (how can you?) but it made a sizeable imprint on my soul. Stars are irrelevant here, so I'll randomly pick something. 4?

Written in Munich airport, stuck on an unscheduled 20hr layover, with almost no sleep and beginnings of jet lag.
Profile Image for Fergus, Quondam Happy Face.
1,029 reviews17.7k followers
September 21, 2023
As I burrowed anxiously into Fyodor Dostoevsky’s underground rant when I was eighteen, I was suddenly mushrooming in stature far beyond my pay scale.

How do you explain it to your senior year preppie-ish friends that you’re suddenly beyond them? You’re like Alice in the rabbit hole. I had been a bullied suburban kid, and now I was being harried by absurd abstractions.

And justifying it - by labelling it smart - but sotto voce, so no one heard me.

All my life, you see, my thoughts and emotions had had free reign over my headspace, simply because I suddenly thought they corresponded with those of some amazing writers.

In one fell stroke my thought thought itself out into a complete simplicity: and by the same stroke I was left far behind by the crowd, a disgrace. Bullies who had harassed me, now high school gridiron heroes, told me I had to get my act in gear. Why didn’t I get the picture?

Small town kids only thrive in their own small minds. For them, what you see is what you get. But they’re right, in a sense, except they all wanted more, too.

They wanted a BIG slice of the Pie.

And I had another 50 years to live before I’d see that. In the meantime I’d be just like Auden’s ambitious kid who one day, for the first time, “saw his (enormous) shadow - and ran.”

And running from your shadow is in fact becoming a REAL Underground Man.

Once a real grownup sees you’re doing it, you’re Royally Snookered. And you’re really underground. As Hesse said, you’re now Beneath the Wheel.

So you pay. As all pay, who aim too high.

But you know what?

If you pay that price as fully consciously and in the same way as you once thought you saw great men’s thoughts echoing your own, you may in fact pay it as a Conscious Sacrifice to a Greater Being.

A Being of ground-zero, true ethical substance.

The only hope of a secure foundation for our life.

For ONLY when our hopes have all been turned to dust, do we see.

That doesn’t seem like such a Great Leap to make when you’re reduced to Ground Level - that’s the beautiful irony of it.

For to the big shots, faith is a weak crutch - while to little schmoes like you and me, it’s a clear path to peace.

As the faith of the Russian Master who wrote this novella was for him.

For the writing about the Underground Man was just a pretense...

An excuse for him to reach out to pass the only available candle to ALL of us under-grounders:

Who have spent too long in the dark not to reach out ourselves - for the first glimmer of light in our grim lives -

The Light of true Being.
Profile Image for Lisa.
991 reviews3,320 followers
October 25, 2018
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 tirades, contradicting themselves at each moment, without thinking.

“I am this or that … or no, wait, I was lying, … I am that or the other… I am going to show them all, slap them in the face …“

Dostoyevsky’s misfit is far more eloquent than his modern alter egos, quite similar to authors like August Strindberg, darkly misanthropic and full of self-loathing, but with a sharp intellect and deep understanding of the world of the 19th century, which is undergoing deep and irreversible change.

The man from the underground is seriously shaken by the new scientific era, which he intellectually recognises, but hates because it leaves it to his own responsibility to define meaning in life. The new individual initiative which is required for success in the modern world is scary and diametrically opposed to the old structure, which gave him an unshakable place and aim:

“What stone wall? Why of course, the laws of nature, the deductions of natural science, mathematics. As soon as they prove to you, for instance, that you are descended from a monkey, then it is no use scowling, accept it for a fact … [...] … for twice two is a law of mathematics. Just try refuting it.”

It would take Orwellian dictatorship to put 2+2=4 in doubt again, but the man in the underground doesn’t, as a rule, stick to his own advice, and he curses and rants against the laws he cannot change, claiming that will give him a distinctive identity:

“He will launch a curse upon the world, and as only man can curse (it is his privilege, the primary distinction between him and other animals), maybe by his curse alone he will attain his object - that is, convince himself that he is a man and not a piano-key!”

He might of course just have proven that he is a piano-key that is capable of cursing, and he knows about the inconsistencies of his arguments. They follow him like a thread through all his interactions with other human beings.

He craves a distinguished position in society, but only manages to show superiority by humiliating and despising the company he seeks, and by subsequently falling into passionate remorse and emotional crisis. He can’t be part of a group on equal terms because he wants to rise above it intellectually while feeling inferior to it on a psychological level.

His relationship to women builds on the same oxymoron of romantic idealisation and disgust for reality. He despises women for giving the pleasure he craves. With the prostitute Liza, he has his final breakdown, losing all inhibitions and all sense of shame, pride and dignity. While seeing her helpless situation, her position as a victim of the patriarchal, sexually repressed and morally bigoted society, he still abhors the fact that she has been “used” like an object by other men, and he can’t consider her a subject, an individual, a human with a future anymore, once she has been sexually active with other men.

This is so common, so universal, so deeply felt in most sexually repressive, patriarchal societies: men force women to be sexually dependent, either within marriage or outside it, and then they blame them for not being pure anymore. As if purity and chastity have to be virtues. Once that ancient oxymoron is erased from sexual and religious education, we might see some real change. Consent between grown-ups would be a good commandment for sexual behaviour, but it would seriously shake the foundation of many marriages. It would force many men to be considering ways beyond physical and societal power to attract and keep the devotion of a woman. That sounds like work, and like having to leave the egomaniac bubble. Our man from the underground wouldn’t be up to it. So he will fail, and continue to ensnare himself in a frustrating grey zone between desire and shame.

Just like natural laws stay natural laws, whether you like them or not, sexuality will be there, whether you can deal with it or not.

Our protagonist can’t obviously, like so many other young men brought up in a confused state of mind, with pride and honour as a guideline, and sexual repression and misogyny taught from early childhood, caught in a modern world that offers too many different lifestyles for them to be able to choose, and too few dogmatic guidelines to stick to. Being instinctively egomaniac, their antisocial behaviour falls flat in a group and in a democratic environment, and they compensate the vacuum in their mind with illogical, yet powerful rants!

Don’t underestimate the danger of the voices from the underground. Dostoyevsky masterfully depicts the scary profile of a lost person, overlooked and ridiculed for his deficiencies, yet with enough anger in his heart to lash out, seemingly randomly and spontaneously. We need to have pity, and show respect, and care for those young people caught between modernity and patriarchy, to open our arms and integrate them as best we can. We can’t afford to let them rant in shame and frustration. There must be a place for them to fill “over the ground”, but they won’t take the first step to integrate - being emotionally too unstable.

Give those misfits a place at the table, and they won’t have to shout from the underground, they won’t have to insult women, they won’t have to engage in meaningless, yet deadly duels to save their face.

Give them a face. Like Dostoyevsky gave them a voice -from the underground.
Profile Image for Vit Babenco.
1,466 reviews3,632 followers
July 14, 2023
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 century must be and is morally obliged to be primarily a characterless being; and a man of character, an active figure – primarily a limited being.

A miserable rattrap turns into a confessional and the protagonist begins his confession to himself… Or in the modern terms the space under the floorboards is a sort of couch and the wretched hero is both a patient and a psychoanalyst…
This confession is a personal revolt but it is a rebellion of a bedbug against its aimless existence: a mutiny against those who have more to do than to suck blood…
Profile Image for Araz Goran.
824 reviews3,624 followers
January 11, 2020
كم هو وحيد وبائس ذلك الذي يختبئ في قبو، في قبو روحه، ذلك الذي لم يتكيف يوماً مع واقع ولا أستطاع أن يعرف كيف يعيش مع الناس، كان يمل أسرع مما كان يفقد فيه حاسة الثقة بالنفس، كان مجروحاً، ثم غدا آثما، ثم عصبياً، هائجاً، ناقماً على كل شيء، تسلل داء الوحدة والعزلة إلى روحه، كان أشبه بمن أستفاق في سجن، كان يرى أن الحياة سجن سخيفة، سجن مليء بأناس فوضويون، بقساة القلوب، ظل بطلنا في قبوه لمدة عشرين عاماً، منعزلاً عن الحياة والبشر، أصبح يرى الواقع مثل كومة هباء، لم يجبر نفسه يوماً فعل ما يجعله يعتقد خلاف ذلك، ما من أمر أجبره على الخروج من ذلك القبو العفن، بالوحدة والخطايا، والتأنيب ، وكما عبر نابكوف مرةً :

‏" لقد أخذت الوحدة تفسدني، وأخذت أحتاج إلى من يُلازمني ويعتني بي، وأصبح قلبي جهازاً هستيرياً لا يوثق به."

مر بطل قبونا - إن شئنا أن نسميه - بمرحلة الإنسحاب، ثم التكور على الذات، ثم النقمة على المجتمع، ثم الغضب، ثم التعب، وبعد ذلك الهذيان في الكتابة، كان شريراً بحق، لاذعاً، غير عابئ حتى بكرامته، أصبح يلقي بالخطب والمواعظ، تعب من إنتقاد ذاته، يعلم أنه تصرف في مرات عديدة ببلاهة، يلتقي بأصدقاء قدماء، لا يرونه سوى حشرة تداس، وفي أفضل الحالات تحول إلى موضع للسخرية في جلسة خمر، يا إلهي كم يفقد الإنسان نفسه حين لا يعود يتعرف على واقعه، يصبح ضحلاً، يُسمي أتفه التفاصيل التي يعملها إنتصاراً، يضخم من ذاته ثم ينكمش، فيتحطم في نهاية المطاف، ثم يلتقي بمن هو أدنى منه، فالويل لذلك الأدنى، الذي سيصب عليه جام غضبه ومواعظه الأخلاقية ورؤيته للإنسان الفاضل، من هو؟ مجرد هارب يبحث عمن يكون أدنى منه، مجرد خائف من مواجهة ذاته، القبو عبارة عن أرض يرقد فيها بطلنا بلا حياة، ولكنه أصبح يعرف كيف يحكي ويعبر عن ذاته أيما تعبير، أصبح موقناً بأن لا شيء أفضل من أن يحكي ويسخر ويغرق الورق بخموله النفسي ولا-واقعيته، مرارة حياته هو، صار يندب ماضية، وواقعه والمجتمع المادي الجامد الذي يعيش فيه، صار يعي أن حياته قد أنتهت في ذلك القبو المعتم، حياته ، شروده، غموضه تجاه الأشياء، أحلامه التي لم تكن يوماً سوى أحلاماً بسيطة، صارت توخزه، تجعله غاضباً على الدوام ..

هذه الرواية ربما تكون من أعمق ما كتب دوستويفسكي في مجال النفس البشرية وإزالة الموانع أمام التعرف على روح الإنسان الداخلية بمسحة شديدة من السوداوية، والرؤى المحطمة، والأسلوب اللاذع والتهكمي من مصير الإنسان وحياته وبواعثه، تحكي عن الهروب البشع أمام الحضارة والمادة، أمام المجتمع والواقع ، إما أن ينكمش الإنسان أو يتمادى في واقعيته، لا حل آخر، يظهر دوستويفسكي ��تعصباً، غاضباً من مجتمعه، غير آبهاً لسخرية الآخرين، ولا متطلعاً لترف الاعجابات، رواية صريحة، عميقة، مدهشة، ومرعبة أيضاً في تحليلها وواقعيتها ..

ذكرني بطل هذه الرواية ببطل رواية (الليالي البيضاء) ، اللذين يتجسدان بلا أسم ولا أوصاف، يخرجان من جحريهما نحو فضاء لا يعرفانه، يتخبطان في الواقع، يحكيان مثل ساذجين، خرجا من كتاب وظلا يثرثران، هناك ربط عجيب بين الروايتين، ومشاعر متشابهة لدى قراءة كليهما، هل يمكن أن يكون الشخص ذاته، راودتني هذه الأفكار فعلاً، هل هذا هو مصير الذي كتبه دوستويفسكي لصاحبنا في رواية (الليالي البيضاء)، هل وصل به الحال أن يرمي بطله في حفرة مثل هذا القبو وهو يشاهده يغضب ويثور، ويتخبط، لا أستبعد ذلك خصوصاً وأن كلاهما كان حالماً، حساساً، غريب الأطوار، وحيدين مثل سلحفاة، عاطفيين مثل أبطال الحكايات الغابرة، ربما تكون مذكرات القبو هذه هي الجزء التالي لحكاية العاشق، العاشق المخرّب، الذي خسر الحب ، خسر حياته، واقعه، وظل يكتب ويكتب، يكتب مثل من يحلم بالنجاة ..


" أيها السادة، سأخبركم حول الكيفية التي أضعتُ فيها فرصة النجاح في حياتي ...... بفعل الفساد الروحي والأخلاقي الذي أعاني منه، وبفعل الوقاحة الصلفة التي أتصف بها، وبفعل عدم تعودي على الحياة المُعاشة، وبفعل تراكم الغيظ وال��قد اللذين نميتُهما في قبوي "
Profile Image for mark monday.
1,678 reviews5,253 followers
April 18, 2016
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 of him, that naked vulnerability so openly displayed. and here he was, many years later, pretty much the same guy except the years had not been so kind to him. we struck up a conversation and talked about the old days. he asked if I wanted to leave the party and go back to his place, do some drugs; I agreed.

his place was a dump but my place is little better (just cleaner). he had piles of books stacked everywhere (mine are kept neatly, in bookshelves). the place had a goaty smell, and a musty one too, smelling like dust and old food and socks and sweat and semen (I keep my windows wide open all the time to avoid those scents). we sat on his ratty couch, side by side, and began to do line after line. he talked and talked and talked. it was amusing at first; his spiteful and malicious commentary made me smile. such an odd fellow, so energetic in his negative way, and yet surprisingly self-aware. he talked about how low he was, but that at least he recognized what he was, unlike everyone else, how he was such a worm, an insect, really that's how he described himself, his life so meaningless and his job so mundane and the only things he gained pleasure from were books, people were nothing to him, he was nothing to himself. at one point I asked him: but what do you do with your time besides reading? he sneered and said not a lot, he's online a lot, he likes the anonymity, the ability to speak his mind and tell people exactly what he thinks about them and their world views and their fake happiness and their stupid families and their stupid beliefs and opinions and their stupid way of ignoring how shitty everything really is, they live their fake lives just pretending they are happy, how we are all divorced from life, we are all cripples, every one of us, more or less, we are so divorced from it that we immediately feel a sort of loathing for actual "real life," and so cannot even stand to be reminded of it, at least he knows the real score, at least he knows how the world works even as he rejects it. he opened up his laptop to show me some of his favorite posts and I have to admit that they were sort of funny. he had a way with words for sure. he also had an enviable collection of porn on his laptop and we enjoyed that for a while, doing more lines and laughing about all of the stupid whores in the world and weren't they just pathetic and wasn't everyone just pathetic. we stripped down to our boxers because the room was stifling and a person can feel pretty hot when they are doing a lot of drugs and watching a lot of porn. at some point I passed out to the sound of his miserable ricocheting laughter, like sad little toy gun bullets popping pitifully.

I woke up early; the sun wasn't even out. I had fallen asleep on his couch sitting up and he had fallen asleep sideways: two things creating one perpendicular shape. I noticed a part of his leg touching my own leg; his naked flesh touching my own bare skin. I looked at that connection and recoiled, appalled. I jumped up from the couch and he moaned fitfully in his sleep, like a child or someone being tortured. I grabbed his laptop and smashed it into his head, again and again, making a red pulp. still feeling out of sorts, I went to his bathroom to shower. out of the showerhead poured mud, all over me. I bathed in the mud like it was water, rubbing it all over my face and body until I couldn't see any more of me. LOL what a night!

7 of 16 in Sixteen Short Novels
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,564 reviews36 followers
August 25, 2021
(Book 871 from 1001 books) - 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 form, or the underground man's diary, and attacks emerging Western philosophy, especially Nikolay Chernyshevsky's What Is to Be Done?

The second part of the book is called "Apropos of the Wet Snow" and describes certain events that appear to be destroying and sometimes renewing the underground man, who acts as a first person, unreliable narrator and anti-hero.

عنوانهای چاپ شده در ایران: «یادداشتهای زیرزمین»؛ «یادداشتهای زیر زمینی»؛ «یادداشتهای زیرزمینی با چهارده تفسیر»؛ نویسنده: فئودور داستایوسکی؛ انتشاراتیها (زوار، کتابهای جیبی، جامی، علمی فرهنگی، آرش)؛ ادبیات روسیه؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش روز بیست و یکم ماه سپتامبر سال1975میلادی

عنوان: یادداشتهای زیر زمینی؛ نویسنده: فئودور داستایوسکی؛ مترجم: رحمت الهی؛ تهران، زوار، 1333، در 235ص، قیمت: 45ریال؛ چاپ دیگر تهران، کتابهای جیبی، 1343، موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان روسیه - سده 19م

عنوان: یادداشتهای زیرزمین؛ نویسنده: فئودور داستایوسکی؛ مترجم: رحمت الهی؛ تهران، جامی، 1369، در 223ص؛ چاپ ششم 1387، در 223ص؛ شابک 9789642575305؛

عنوان: یادداشتهای زیرزمینی؛ نویسنده: فئودور داستایوسکی؛ مترجم: رحمت الهی؛ تهران، علمی فرهنگی، 1379، در 6، و 200ص؛؛ چاپ ششم سال1386؛ هفتم 1388؛ هشتم 1392؛ شابک 9789644452598؛

عنوان: یادداشتهای زیرزمین؛ نویسنده: فئودور داستایوسکی؛ مترجم: شهروز رشید؛ تهران، آرش، 1391، در 152ص؛ شابک 9786009299812؛ ترجمه از متن آلمانی؛

عنوان: یادداشتهای زیرزمینی با چهارده تفسیر؛ نویسنده: فئودور داستایوسکی؛ مترجم: حمیدرضا آتش برآب؛ تهران، علمی فرهنگی، 1394، در ده صفحه و546ص؛ شابک 9786001217760؛

داستایوسکی «یادداشت‌های زیر زمینی یا (زیرزمین)» را، در سال 1864میلادی، یعنی در سن پختگی، و پس از سرد و گرم چشیدن‌های بسیار، به ‌ویژه پس از آنهمه بلایی که سرشان آمد، از «بیماری»، «تهیدستی»، «زندان»، «تبعید» و دردسرهای بسیار دیگر، بنگاشتند؛ «یادداشت‌های زیر زمینی (زیرزمین)» را، بسیاری از «داستایوسکی‌» شناسان، کلید درک همه‌ ی آثار دیگر ایشان می‌دانند، نویسنده یا راوی، دیگر جوان نیستند، چهل ساله هستند، بلاهای بسیاری سرشان آمده، و دوام آورده و زنده مانده اند؛ «بیماری صرع»، «تهیدستی»، «به دوش داشتن بار هزینه‌ های زن و فرزندان برادرش»، «زندان»، و «تبعید»، در بدترین شرایط، این چنین آدمی، چگونه می‌توانند، همانند «تورگنیف» ثروتمند و اشرافی، یا «تولستوی» مالک و رعیت‌دار، خوشبین باشند، و در داستان‌ها با واژه های خویش به روی خوانشگرش لبخند بزنند؟

از متن: (میبینم که هنوز معتقدید: بالاخره بشر روزی، فضایلی را که مصالح و منافعش در آن است، درمییابد، و آنگاه که آخرین باقیمانده های عادات احمقانه ی گذشته، از یادش رفته، آنوقت عاقلانه رفتار خواهد کرد ...؛ اما غافل از اینکه، به همان نسبتی که زندگی بسیار عاقلانه ای درست میکنیم، در اثر همان خسته کننده بودن، و یکنواخت بودن آن، چه فکرها که برای مردم پیش نمیآید؛ آن سنجاقهای طلایی را نیز، «کلئوپاترا»، برای همان ملال آور بودن، و یکنواخت بودن زندگی، در سینه کنیزکان فرو میکرد ...؛ گاه بشر، دانسته و متعمداً، امری مضر و احمقانه، و حتی احمقانه ترین کار را، برای خود آرزو میکند، و انجام میدهد ...؛ او میخواهد این حق را داشته باشد که بتواند حتی احمقانه ترین کار را، برخلاف همه ی قوانین آرزو کند، و انجام دهد؛ نه اینکه مکلف باشد که فقط کارهای عاقلانه و خردمندانه بکند.)؛

و: (آقایانِ من، شما به وجود کاخهای بلورین، که هیچوقت فرو نمیریزند، و تا ابد باقی میمانند، اعتقاد دارید، یعنی در حقیقت به چیزی معتقدید، که احتمال نمیرود، و نمیتوان از آن سیر، و دلزده شد؛ به چیزی که ممکن نیست از آن خسته شد، و پنهانی بر ضدش درآمد؛ در برابرش مقاومت کرد، زبان را از دهان بیرون آورد، و به آن دهان کجی کرد؛ ولی من، از اینجور قصرهایی که میگویید، میترسم؛ میترسم که دوامی نداشته باشد) پایان

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 31/06/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 02/06/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for oyshik.
219 reviews692 followers
January 10, 2021
Notes from Underground by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

In this book, Dostoyevsky described the inner worlds of a man who did not find a place for himself in society. And then he began to pour out his anger, hatred, and fears from his dark dwelling underground. Moreover, the story did present some insights into life in Russia at that time. Till now, I've read a few Dostoyevsky books, and it's the least enjoyable to me. There was more psychological matter. And probably for this, it was difficult for me to grasp the story.
I say let the world go to hell, but I should always have my tea.

Profile Image for Glenn Russell.
1,379 reviews12k followers
March 5, 2018

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 I never managed to become even an insect. I'll tell you solemnly that I wanted many times to become an insect."----------The underground man's opening reflections form the first part of this short novel. He is forty years old, sits in his apartment, arms folded, brooding about life and death, telling us all about his underbelly-ish plight as a man-mouse, speaking about the subject giving him the greatest pleasure: himself.

"If man has not become more bloodthirsty from civilization, at any rate he has certainly become bloodthirsty in a worse, a viler way than formerly.” ----------The underground man spews out his view of others. If all humankind were to succumb to plague and die a horrible, anguished death, we can see in our mind's eye the underground man chuckling to himself and thinking every single minute of the excruciating pain of all those millions of men and women and children were well deserved. But, in all fairness, the underground man tells us he has a sensitive streak, being as insecure and touchy as a hunchback or dwarf.

"Two times two is four has a cocky look; it stands across your path, arms akimbo, and spits. I agree that two times two is four is an excellent thing; but if we're going to start praising everything, then two times two is five is sometimes also a most charming little thing."----------The underground man despises nature and the laws of nature. One can imagine how he would react if someone spoke of the philosophy of harmony or compassion – squinting his eyes, grinding his teeth and clenching his fists so hard blood would appear on his palms.

"Of Simonov's two guests, one was Ferfichkin, from Russian-German stock- short, monkey-faced, a fool who comically mimicked everyone, my bitterest enemy even in the lower grades--a mean, impudent little fanfaron who played at being most ticklish ambitious, though of course he was a coward at heart." ----------Here we have the underground man's reflections on encountering someone from his boyhood past. If you think the underground man would have less flattering things to say about you if he saw you talking in a railway station or eating at a restaurant, please continue reading. The underground man's hatred and bitterness reaches a high pitch by simply being around three of his former acquaintances. Has there ever been a more comical and compelling scene in all of literature?

"That night I had the most hideous dreams. No wonder: all evening I was oppressed by recollections of the penal servitude of my school years, and I could not get rid of them. I had been tucked away in that school by distant relations whose dependent I was and of whom I had no notion thereafter - tucked away, orphaned, already beaten down by their reproaches, already pensive, taciturn, gazing wildly about at everything. My schoolfellows met me with spiteful and merciless derision, because I was not like any of them. . . . I immediately began to hate them, and shut myself away from everyone in timorous, wounded, and inordinate pride."----------The underground man deals with a cab driver, a young prostitute and his servant. Such nastiness, such viciousness -- every single encounter vivid and memorable. Dostoyevsky at his finest.

"We're stillborn, and have long ceased to be born of living fathers, and we like this more and more. We're acquiring a taste for it. Soon we'll contrive to be born somehow from an idea. But enough; I don't want to write any more "from Underground" . . . "----------You may forget other works of literature you have read; however, I can assure you, once you have read the underground man's notes it will be an experience you will not soon forget.

May 21, 2017
Κατεβείτε σε αυτό το ΥΠΟΓΕΙΟ- σας συμβουλεύω ανεπιφυλακτα να κατεβείτε.
Θα συναντήσετε έναν αντί-ήρωα απομονωμένο,ευγενή,εγωκεντρικό που θα σας διαφωτίσει ως προς το παράδοξο και το τραγικό της ανθρώπινης ύπαρξης.

Η ελευθερία,η συναίσθηση,η αγάπη,η ανθρώπινη βούληση,το απρόβλεπτο και το αχάριστο της ανθρώπινης φύσης.

" Πρώτα πρώτα,δεν μπορούσα μα αγαπήσω,γιατι,το ξαναλέω,για μένα αγάπη θα πει να τυραννάς και να κυριαρχείς στην ψυχή του άλλου"

Με πολλή μαεστρία ο κάτοικος του υπόγειου μας εξηγεί πως ο άνθρωπος απο τη φύση του λατρεύει την απεριόριστη ελευθερία που τον οδηγεί στην καταστροφή.
Μέσα απο αυτό το αριστούργημα ο Ρώσος υπάλληλος του δημοσίου μας προσκαλεί στην υπόγεια φυλακή του για να μας εξηγήσει μέσα απο βιωματικές ιστορίες και σκέψεις πως ειναι ακριβώς ίδιος φόβος της αγάπης και της ελευθερίας.

Κατεβείτε με πολύ πάθος και καθόλου φόβο σε αυτό το πολυκαιρισμενο και σκοτεινό υπόγειο με απεριόριστη θέα στην ψυχή των ανθρώπων....
Ο δάσκαλος που το κατοικεί θα σας πει πως πρέπει να μισείτε θανάσιμα ότι φυλακίζει την ελευθερία της βούλησης και με όλη την μεγαλοπρέπεια την καλοσύνη και την μεγαλοψυχία που τον διακρίνει - παρά τις ταπεινώσεις και τις καταστροφές του-θα προσπαθήσει μόνο με το "βλέμμα μας" που το χει μεγάλη ανάγκη για να υπάρχει και να πρεσβεύει τα πιστεύω του,να βρει γαλήνη και χαρά, μιλώντας απο ένα Υπόγειο "κοτέτσι" γεμάτο ρεαλισμό που δεν διαφέρει καθόλου απο ένα " κρυστάλλινο παλάτι" γεμάτο θυσιασμενες μέσα στο ψέμα ζωές!!

Καλή ανάγνωση!!
Πολλούς ασπασμούς!!
Profile Image for Sherif Metwaly.
467 reviews3,515 followers
October 11, 2020

" أنا رجلٌ مريض، أنا رجلٌ شرير، أنا بالأحرى رجلٌ مُنفر. "

بهذ�� الجملة القصيرة، المعرِّية لنفسية بطل الرواية من أول لحظة، بدأتْ الرواية، وبدأ أول لقاء لي في رحاب خبير النفس البشرية الأعظم على مرّ التاريخ بشهادة معظم من قرأوا له. أن تفتح الصفحات الأولى من رواية فتجد في انتظارك هذا الاعتراف، لهو شيء مثير للاهتمام لدرجة أني ابتسمت!، نعم ابتسمت، فأنا: رجلٌ بسيط، أنا رجلٌ يحب الصدق، أنا بالأحرى رجلٌ مجنون.

حسنًا، لننشّط الخيال قليلًا..

أنا الآن أقف أمام منزلٍ قديم، يبدو مظلمًا وكئيبًا لدرجة لا تُطاق، الجوّ قارس البرودة والسماء تُمطر ندفًا من الثلج تتراكم على رأسي وكتفي لتحوّل لون معطفي البُنيّ إلى اللون الأبيض. أبحث عن جرس الباب، لا أجد، أهُمّ بالطَرقِ على الباب فأجده مفتوحًا، أدفعه وأدخل، هناك سلم يصعد لأعلى وآخر يهبط لأسفل، ألمح في نهاية السلم الهابط لأسفل بابًا يبدو مواربًا ويتسرب ضوءًا شاحبًا من خلفه، أهبط السلم، أطرق الباب عدة مرات، لا رد، أدفع الباب وأدخل، تقابلني رائحة عطن بشعة، وكأن هذا القبو مقبرةً تحوي عشرة جثث على الأقل، أهتف صائحًا: هل من أحدٍ هنا؟، لا رد، أسمع صوتًا ما، أتجه نحو مصدره، باب آخر!، أفتحه وأدخل، فإذا برجلٍ يجلس على منضدة موليًا ظهره تجاه باب الغرفة وتجاهي بطبيعة الحال، أهُمّ بإلقاء التحية، فيقاطعني صوتًا حزينًا قائلًا:-

" لم أكن أعرف فقط، كيف أصير شريرًا، وإنما ظللتُ لا أعرف كذلك كيف أصير أي شيء يُذكر على الإطلاق: لا شريرًا، ولا طيبًا، ولا دنيئًا، ولا شريفًا، ولا بطلًا، ولا حشرة. والآن، ها أنذا أنهي مسيرة حياتي في هذه الحفرة، ساخرًا من ذاتي وأنا أواسيها بهذا اليقين، الذي بقدر ما هو متشائم، فإنه لا يجدي فتيلًا، والذي يفيد بأنّ الإنسان الذكي لن يقوَ أبدًا على أن يكون شيئًا يٌعتد به، ما دام أن الأغبياء هم الذين يستطيعون أن يصيروا شيئًا معينًا."

لحظة اندهاش مشوبة بالريبة، وإذا بي أهُم بنزع معطفي والدخول لأرى هذا الذي يتكلم وجهًا لوجه، بينما هو يلتفت خلفه تجاه ذلك الفضولي الذي قطع عليه خلوته داخل قبر.. عفوًا، داخل قبوه.

أجلس على الجانب الآخر للطاولة، أنظر إليه، يا إلهي!، ما هذا الوجه الشاحب؟!، وكأنه لم يرَ الشمس يومًا!، تلجمني المفاجأة فأصمت، نسيت حتى أن ألقي التحية أو أستأذن قبل الجلوس. ما الذي أتى بي هنا أساسًا؟، كان ينبغي لي أن أصعد للدور الثالث كي أزور جدتي فإذا بي هنا في هذا القبو الكئيب، العطن الرائحة، جالسًا أمام ذلك الشخص الذي لا أعرفه، والذي لا يعرفني. مع ذلك، أشعر أني أود الجلوس، تمامًا مثلما أشعر أنه لا يريدني أن أرحل. لحظاتُ صمتٍ تمُرّ وأنا في حيرة، هل سيتكلم ثانيةً؟ هل أبادر أنا بالكلام؟، وبينما تدور الأسئلة المربكة في ذهني إذا به يقطع حبل أفكاري قائلًا:-
" أنا مُتعب ".

كانت " أنا متعب " هذه الضربة الأخيرة التي أودتْ بسدٍ ضخمٍ يحجز خلفه الكثير من الكلام المدفون داخل أعماق نفسٍ بشرية من أغرب ما رأيت، لا لا.. هي ليست نفسًا غريبة، هي واقعية، واقعية لدرجة مخيفة.

يبدأ الرجل في حكاية قصته، يبدأ بعرض فلسفته الغريبة تجاه الحياة، فلسفة لم أفهم معظمها، وأشك أنه كان مستوعبًا لما يقول، أعتقد أنه كان يهذي في أوقات عديدة، او يتعمد نقل حالة الارتباك التي عانى منها لسنواتٍ عديدة إليّ. ينتهي من عرض فلسفته، فيلمح علامات عدم الفهم على وجهي، يلمح العديد من التساؤلات التي أود طرحها عليه، فيبتسم ابتسامة حزينة، ويبدأ بحكاية مذكرات، أو بالأحرى مقتطفات من ماضيه، موضحًا لي كيف كان، وكيف كان من حوله، وكيف انتهى به المطاف هنا، في القبو.

تنهمر الحكايات والتفاصيل، ينقلني معه إلى ماضيه، وأمضي في رحلة من أغرب ما يكون، أشاهده وهو يتعامل مع الناس بسخرية مشوبة بقلة الحيلة والضعف، أشاهده يُهان ولا يجرؤ على رد الإهانة، يحاول أن يكون شخصًا ذو كبرياء وكرامة فما يلبث أن يحتاج إلى أحدهم كي يقرضه بعض النقود فيمسح بكرامته وكبرياءه الأرض، أشاهده يحاول الاندماج مع المجتمع فيلفظه الجميع بمنتهى القسوة، أشهد خادمه الذي من المفترض أن يعامل سيد البيت باحترام، ولكن حتى الخادم كان يهين ذلك المسكين المتخاذل، أشاهد كيفية معاملة أصدقاؤه له بمنتهى الجفاء على الرغم من محاولته أن يبدو لطيفًا معهم - ورباه، كم كان ذلك صعبًا عليه -، أشاهد ليزا، تلك الفتاة التي لا تقل بؤسًا عنه والتي جاءت قرب النهاية لتسمح لهذه النفس الحانقة بالتنفيس عمّا يعتمل في داخلها قبل أن تتخذ القرار فيما بعد بالعزلة التامة. نعم، شاهدت كل هذا ولم أستمع له فقط، فهذا الرجل لديه قدرة عظيمة على الوصف، فخرجت معظم التفاصيل وكأنها لوحات مرسومة لمشاهد من ماضيه، أشاهدها بعيني، وتتحرك تفاصيلها أمامي بينما أستمع للكلام في الخلفية .

لقد كانت رحلة عجيبة، لم أتفوه فيها بكلمة واحدة، إنما قمتُ بدور المستمع فقط.

لا أعلم متى اختفي من أمامي ذلك الشخص، انتهى كل شيء فجأة، نعم، فجأة، وصرت أتلفت حولي بعد انقطاع الصوت وانتهاء الحكايات باحثًا عمن كان يتكلم أمامي منذ قليل، فلم أجده، ووجدت نفسي وحيدًا داخل هذا القبو، أبحث عنه وعن نفسي. نفسي !.. لا ، لا لا يمكن ، يا إلهي، هل يُعقل أن من كان يتكلم أمامي لم يوجد أساسًا؟، يا إلهي، فمن كان يتحدث إذًا؟

ولم أعثر على الإجابة يومًا ..


Profile Image for Michael.
Author 2 books1,357 followers
March 19, 2019
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 day! The character of the Underground Man is like a child yelling "the emperor has no clothes!," except that he's also an emperor and is talking about himself and making the point that nobody else has any clothes either.

By the way, I read this in the Pevear and Volokhonsky translation, and while I've had my quibbles with their work in the past, this is terrifically well-done and captures more of the humor than I've seen in other translations.
Profile Image for Piyangie.
530 reviews491 followers
August 24, 2023
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, and even to laws of nature, and the underground man criticizes how these concepts dictate human action and behaviour. Dostoevsky's existentialist views are expressed in this part of the story. Existentialists believed and advocated independent choice of will of people and the freedom to exercise that will. They were of the view that without submitting to any outside force humans should be governed by their beliefs and desires.

The second part of the novella consists of the story proper. This part describes certain events that took place in the life of the underground man. This is where the readers gain a good understanding of his character. He is bitter and contemptuous and seems to be suffering from some sort of complex. His thoughts are so contradictory signifying his mental instability. At the same time, there is also a cunning and cruel nature. He seems to be taking immense pleasure at crushing who are helpless when he is unable to fight off his betters. This part of the story displays Dostoevsky's love for exploring human psychology.

The underground man is an anti-hero. He is not a character to be liked, nor pitied. This is my first Dostoevsky experience with such a character. And to be quite honest, I read all his thoughts and actions with utter disgust. This is one of the reasons I love Dostoevsky. He brings strong emotions out of the readers.

What stands out Dostoevsky is, of course, his writing. With the use of both monologue (first part) and descriptive (second part) forms, he writes this novella in a clever and engaging way. This was not a pleasant reading experience. The content was quite disturbing. But even then Dostoevsky manages to exercise humour to lighten the unpleasantness and unburden your mind.

Dostoevsky's creativity continually amazes me. The more I read him, the more I'm in awe of his ingenuity. This was not an easy read for me. My sensitive self was rebelling against the vile behaviour of the underground man. But yet something held me on. That is no doubt the skill of a great master. And no one can doubt that of Dostoevsky.
Profile Image for Ruxandra (4fără15).
239 reviews5,233 followers
December 26, 2020
cred că ironia lui Dostoievski, atât de fină, e cheia interpretării aici. naratorul romanului e o persoană absolut dezagreabilă și-l va exaspera pe cititor, însă merită să-i asculți povestea cu atenție (și, bineînțeles, distanțându-te de perspectiva lui). citind Însemnări din subterană, mi-am tot adus aminte de Suferințele tânărului Werther, marea deosebire fiind, totuși, că Dostoievski, față de Goethe, știa să spună o poveste bună cu mult umor.

Într-un roman e nevoie de un erou, iar aici sunt înadins adunate toate trăsăturile pentru un antierou și, mai ales, toate astea vor produce impresia cea mai neplăcută cu putință, deoarece ne-am dezobișnuit cu toții de viață, șchiopătăm cu toții în privința asta, unii mai mult, alții mai puțin. Ne-am dezobișnuit chiar într-o asemenea măsură,încât simțim uneori un fel de dezgust față de adevărata “viață vie” și de aceea nici nu suportăm să ne amintească cineva de ea.
Profile Image for Dream.M.
507 reviews90 followers
April 19, 2021
خوشبختی ارزان یا رنج متعالی؟
بدون لحظه ای تردید و سانتی مانتال بازی
خوشبختی ارزان رو باید دودستی چسبید.
دوستای خوشگلم، هیچ چیز قشنگ و متعالی در رنج وجود نداره. اینو برای گول زدن ادمهای رنج کشیده و بدبخت درست کردن تا امیدشون رو از دست ندن و بشه بیشتر استثمارشون کرد.
انسان یکبار به دنیا میاد و بعد از مرگ هم هیچی وجود نداره. پس دلتون به چیزی که توی دستتون نیست خوش نکنید.
Profile Image for Melina.
61 reviews59 followers
September 20, 2020
Μικρό στο μέγεθος αλλά τερ��στιο στην ουσία του το συγκεκριμένο βιβλίο. Ιδιαίτερα το πρώτο μέρος του, θυμίζει περισσότερο φιλοσοφικό δοκίμιο παρά οτιδήποτε άλλο. Ωδή στην ελεύθερη βούληση και στην ατομικότητα του ανθρώπου και κριτική στην επικράτηση του απόλυτου ορθολογισμού, της λογικής και των καθιερωμένων κοινωνικών νορμών, όπως υποδεικνύει ο δυτικός ευρωπαϊκός πολιτισμός.

Η λογική από μόνη της, λέει ο Ντοστογιέφσκι, δεν μπορεί να ορίσει τι είναι ηθικό και τι ανήθικο. Η λογική και η κρίση δεν είναι το παν, είναι ένα μέρος του παντός, ένα μέρος του συνόλου αυτού του πολυσύνθετου και πολύπλοκου οργανισμού που ονομάζουμε άνθρωπο, και είναι η ατομικότητά του και η ελευθερία του ο πυρήνας της ηθικής του. Και αλήθεια ποιος μπορεί να διαφωνήσει πως ένα τέτοιο θαυμαστό ον, όπως ο άνθρωπος, δεν γίνεται να αποτελείται μόνο από μια ουσία, και δη από κάτι τόσο στεγνό και κατηγορηματικό όσο η απόλυτη λογική;

Γράφει στο Υπόγειο: ‘’Η κρίση, κύριοι, είναι καλό πράγμα, αυτό είναι αναμφισβήτητο, μα η κρίση είναι μονάχα κρίση κι ικανοποιεί μονάχα τις λογικές ιδιότητες του ανθρώπου, ενώ η βούληση είναι εκδήλωση ολόκληρης ζωής, δηλαδή ολόκληρης της ανθρώπινης ζωής μαζί με την κρίση, τη λογική και όλα τα άλλα. Και μολονότι η ζωή μας, στην εκδήλωση αυτή καταντάει μια μικροαθλιότητα, πάντα ζωή είναι και όχι μονάχα το εξαγόμενο τετραγωνικής ρίζας. Είναι απόλυτα φυσικό πχ να θέλω να ζήσω για να ικανοποιήσω όλες μου τις ικανότητες και όχι μονάχα για να ικανοποιώ μια μόνο, την ικανότητα της κρίσης, δηλαδή κάπου το ένα εικοστό της συνολικής ικανότητάς μου της ζωής. Τι ξέρει η κρίση; Η κρίση ξέρει μονάχα εκείνο που πρόφτασε να μάθει’’.

Δεν υπάρχει μια μαθηματική εξίσωση όπου βάζοντας κάποιους μαγικούς συντελεστές θα πάρουμε σαν αποτέλεσμα την ηθική. Δεν υπάρχουν φυσικοί νόμοι που να υπαγορεύουν το καλό και το κακό. Διότι δεν υπάρχει αμιγώς καλό και αμιγώς κακό. Το καλό και το κακό συνυπάρχουν και είναι η ελεύθερή μας βούληση που μας επιτρέπει να επιλέξουμε σε κάθε περίσταση της ζωής μας αν θα πράξουμε το σωστό ή το λάθος.

"Ο άνθρωπος μπορεί εξεπίτηδες, συνειδητά να θέλει κάτι ακόμα και βλαβερό γι' αυτόν, κάτι πολύ ανόητο μάλιστα, και τούτο για να' χει το δικαίωμα να θέλει για τον εαυτό του κάτι, έστω κι εντελώς ανόητο, και να μην είναι δεσμευμένος με την υποχρέωση να θέλει μονάχα τα σωστά και λογικά. Αυτό το εντελώς ανόητο, αυτό το καπρίτσιο, μπορεί να είναι για μας το σημαντικότερο στον κόσμο, σ' ορισμένες μάλιστα περιπτώσεις. Και τελικά μπορεί να 'ναι η πιο ωφέλιμη απ' όλες τις ωφέλειες, ακόμα και στην περίπτωση που φανερά μας βλάπτει κι αντιβαίνει στα πιο γερά συμπεράσματα της κρίσης μας για τα συμφέροντά μας -γιατί εν πάση περιπτώσει διατηρεί για μας το κυριότερο και το προσφιλέστερο, δηλαδή την προσωπικότητα και την ατομικότητά μας."

Με τον ίδιο ακριβώς τρόπο συνυπάρχει η αγάπη με το μίσος, δεν υπάρχει σαφής διαχωρισμός, μπερδεύονται το ένα με το άλλο, αλληλοεπικαλύπτονται και το ένα περιλούζει το άλλο.

Γράφει στο δεύτερο μέρος του βιβλίου:
"Έφτασα σε σημείο, που τώρα κάποτε σκέφτομαι πως ο έρωτας ακριβώς έγκειται στο δικαίωμα που εκούσια δίνεται απ'το αγαπώμενο πρόσωπο να το δυναστεύσεις".

Ό άνθρωπος έχει συνεχώς ανάγκη να αποδεικνύει την ατομικότητα και την ελευθερία του, να αποδεικνύει δηλαδή πως είναι άνθρωπος και όχι ''ένα πλήκτρο σε ένα παγκόσμιο πιάνο που λειτουργεί υπό τους απόλυτους νόμους της φυσικής και των μαθηματικών''. Ακόμα και αν του τα δίνανε όλα και δεν υπήρχε τίποτα παραπάνω να αποζητάει, θα τα τίναζε όλα στον αέρα, θα αυτοκαταστρεφόταν απλά και μόνο για να τιμήσει το ύψιστο ιδανικό της ελευθερίας.

Για το Ντοστογιέφσκι, όπως χαρακτηριστικά γράφει: Το ‘’ Δυο και δυο κάνουν τέσσερα, μοιάζει με κάποιον αυθάδη που στέκεται στη μέση του δρόμου, με τα χέρια στη μέση και σου τον φράζει, σε προκαλεί. Συμφωνώ, δυο και δυο κάνουν τέσσερα, είναι έξοχο πράγμα. Όμως καμιά φορά, δυο και δυο κάνουν πέντε και αυτό είναι πιο χαριτωμένο."

Στη δεύτερη ενότητα περιγράφονται κάποια συμβάντα της ζωής του ανθρώπου που στην πρώτη ενότητα κάνει μια σκληρή αυτοκριτική. Οι δύο ενότητες συμπληρώνουν η μία την άλλη και συνδέονται με μια σχέση αιτίου - αποτελέσματος.

Πολλά, πάρα πολλά ακόμα μπορώ να γράψω για το τι αισθήματα και σκέψεις μου προκάλεσε αυτό το βιβλίο! Όμως θα κλείσω εδώ και θα παραθέσω ένα καταπληκτικό βιντεάκι, για αυτούς που έχουν θέληση και χρόνο, που νομίζω πως βοηθάει πολύ στην κατανόηση της φιλοσοφίας του Ντοστογιέφσκι και του Ντοστογιεφσκικού υπαρξισμού.

Profile Image for Paul Bryant.
2,218 reviews9,915 followers
April 10, 2015
Literary Characters React to Notes from the Underground


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.


Help, help! A hexistentialist! A horrible hexistentialist! Hex, hex! A hexistible horribilist! Oh my… I know it’s only a story. But, it is hard to be brave when you are a very small animal entirely surrounded by despair.


Well, it’s about this guy and he lives under some floorboards somewhere in a hovel, and he’s full of rage and horror and bile, like. Talks about toothache a lot. When I was reading this book I was thinking, I know this guy. This guy is my cousin. He’s a right misery. He’d split your head open for a tuppeny bit.



You've got a fiend in me
You've got a fiend in me
You got troubles and I got 'em too
There isn't anything I wouldn't do
To make everything twice as bad for you
'Cause you've got a fiend in me

Ha ha. That’s a parody. Did you get that? Friend – fiend! See? Okay, don’t knock yourself out.

Peter Pan

When the first baby laughed for the first time, its laugh broke into a thousand pieces, and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies. Now when the first baby fell out of its pram and banged its little head on the hard hard floor, it howled for the first time, and its howl broke into a thousand pieces, and they all went crawling around, and that was the beginning of Dostoyevsky.

Mary Poppins

I propose to dispense with the a spoonful of sugar, Mr Under the Floorboards. So it’s two Xanax on retiring and two at noon. Is that understood? Upon my soul, no more of that please. We are not a codfish.

Tony Soprano

I got a steel-jacketed antidepressant right here, just say so it’s yours.

Cher Horowitz

There’s like this creep who lives in the ground, I think like Lord of the Rings, what’s those things, bobbits? Anyway he hates everything and he doesn’t have the internet. At least the bobbits got to travel. Not this dude. I mean, this is like from history so you know, there is a severe lack of things like credit cards and betties to pay for with the credit cards. . Way back then people were barely alive. I can’t even believe there were any people back then. So he’s waaa waaa everything I think and everything I do is wrong but hey, I like having toothache. I know! He’s just totally clueless. Reading this really wigged me out. Okay, all right, reading Spark Notes on this wigged me out. I was Seriously? And this is good because?

Profile Image for Salma.
400 reviews1,118 followers
December 25, 2009
النسخة التي عندي مترجمة تحت عنوان "في سردابي" لعبد المعين الملوحي..._و هي معنونة في قبوي ترجمة سامي الدوربي و دار ابن رشد، أو الانسان الصرصار(أو رسائل من أعماق الأرض) في ترجمة ثالثة لا أدري لمن_ نسختي كانت _قبل أن أبيعها_ نسخة قديمة مصفرة الأوراق مطبوعة عام 1956... و قد اشتريتها من على بسطة الكتب القديمة...0

رواية عن رجل يتحدث عن نفسه بصيغة المتكلم قد قرف المجتمع و زيفه...0

هل أستطيع أن أدلي باعتراف صغير هنا... لطالما أحببت دوستويفسكي... لكن في روايته هنا أحسست به يعرفني منذ أمد بعيد

لا أحد يشك بأن الشخ��ية التي يتحدث عنها القابعة في سردابها هي شخصية مريضة حتماً و غير سوية و لا متوازنة على الإطلاق...
لكن سبب مرضها مرده إلا أنها لم تستطع أن تجاري المجتمع الحديث في مرضه أعني الحضارة المادية الحديثة و قوانين المجتمع و عاداته و نفاقه المثير للغثيان... فلا استطاعت هي أن تبقى سوية... على فطرتها... لأنه ليس بأمر يسير أن يبقى المرء على فطرة سوية في مجتمع مشوه... و لا استطاعت أيضا أن تجاري المجتمع و تقتل إحساسها بالقرف منه و من زيفه... فبرزت مريضة غير متوازنة على هذا الشكل...
و هذا سبب اعتزالها بعيدا في سردابها...0

طبعا هذا مرض الحضارة سيصيب الجميع في وقت ما _كما في وقت��ا الآن_ و سيفرز شخصيات لا متوازنة و غير سوية بفطر مشوهة... لكن الأشخاص المفرطي الإحساس هم أول من يسقطون صرعى بهذه الأمراض... 0
و الصادقون هم الذين سيحاولون أن يقفوا بوجهها... رغم أنها قد أصابتهم...0

إ"إني على يقين من أننا نحن معاشر أصحاب السراديب يجب أن نبقى دائما ملجمين بلجام يكم أشداقنا... نعم إننا نستطيع أن نعيش في سراديبنا أربعين عاماً لا ننبس ببنت شفة. و لكن حذار حذار، فنحن إذا خرجنا إلى النور و ولينا الأدبار هاربين من سراديبنا جئنا معنا بطوفان من الكلام. و ها نحن هؤلاء نتكلم و نتكلم و نتكلم"0

دوستويفسكي كان شخصا مفرطا الإحساس بحيث استطاع أن يكشف و يتنبأ بما سيكون عليه هؤلاء الأفراد... و من خلال ذلك يكشف بشاعة المجتمع أمام نفسه ليرى مدى قبحه...0
ربما على زمن دوستويفسكي لم يكن الأمر ملاحظا لهذه الدرجة _و باقتناصه برزت عبقريته_ 0

أما في عصرنا هذا فقد طمى الخطب حتى غاصت الركب... فكم شخصا نعرفه يعيش في قوقعته... و هل أجرؤ على القول بأن الانترنت أصبح بمثابة سرداب يلجأ إليه معظمنا هربا من المجتمع و المحيط الذي يخنقنا...0

كتاب رائع بحق... ��ثير من الجمل بهرتني... و كأنها تقرأ ما في دماغي... 0
Profile Image for Mohammed  Ali.
475 reviews1,140 followers
January 23, 2018
أحيانا يصادف الإنسان مواقف معينة، مختلفة ومتباينة، فتتولّد داخله مشاعر معينة، مختلفة ومتباينة أيضا .. فيحدث أحيانا أنّنا نستطيع التعبير عن هذه المشاعر، وأحيانا نفشل في التعبير عن ذلك .. وما أريد قوله الآن ما هو إلاّ فشل في التعبير، وإخفاق في تحويل المشاعر إلى كلمات فجمل فمعنى.
بدأت في قراءة هذه الرواية فوجدت كلمات أعرفها تصف شعورا أعرفه، بل وجدتني أحيانا هناك، بين الكلمات وبين المعاني، وجدت ما لم أستطع التعبير عنه، وجدت معاني أحسستها ولكن لم أستطع تكوينها وتجميعها .. وجدت تقريبا كلّ شيء أو حتّى نكون أكثر دقة وجدت العديد من الأشياء التّي فكرت فيها.. فماذا فعلت ؟
تركت هذه الرواية لمدة عام تقريبا، عام قلت لعلّي أنضج قليلا، أو لعلّ الأفكار والمشاعر التّي تولدت داخلي إثر قراءة هذه الرواية والتي وجدت مثيلاتها كائنات هناك منذ فترة تنضج، ووعدت نفسي بقراءة ثانية .. قرأتها ثانية وتهت ثانية وأظنّ أنّني سأتوه أكثر وأكثر.

لن أقول شيئا عن الرواية فإسم الكاتب يغني عن كل قول، ولكن ما سأقوله هو أنّ هذه الرواية تقرأ وتقرأ ثانية ولما لا مرة ثالثة.
المهم .. بهذه الرواية أنهي وأغلق تحدّي هذه السّنة وما أجملها من نهاية.
Profile Image for Garima.
113 reviews1,788 followers
December 30, 2017

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. Now, everything about that image is strictly metaphorical in nature but the important thing is that “I” felt like a small child. Reading philosophical discourses whether in the form of a story or endless ramblings drenched in satirical juices does that to me and Mr. Dostoevsky, by way of these notes written by his Underground Man, made me both wriggle and relish in my noetic limitations.
But it is precisely in this cold, loathsome half-despair, half-belief, in this conscious burying oneself alive from grief for forty years in the underground, in this assiduously produced and yet somewhat dubious hopelessness of one’s position, in all this poison of unsatisfied desires penetrating inward, in all this fever of hesitations, of decisions taken forever, and repentances coming again a moment later, that the very sap of that strange pleasure I was talking about consists.
Divided into two parts, the first part, Underground is the abode of our unnamed narrator where he engages himself in all sorts of monologues ranging from talks of some really strange pleasures to the inevitable and self-imposed sufferings which further leads to the dissection of the human nature in the wake of reasoning, logic, goal, and most significantly, wanting & free will. All this is provided with a peculiar but apparently rational justifications or I thought they were rational in an unconventional but tremendously comical way.
And suddenly you hid your face
In trembling hands and, filled with horror,
Filled with shame, dissolved in tears,
Indignant as you were, and shaken . . . Etc., etc., etc.
It’s in the second part, Apropos of the Wet Snow where the whole setting turns biting cold though a sense of relief can be experienced with the presence of scathing satire, charming wit and ingenious story-telling. Here the narrator opens the door of his past and recounts the outlandish tales of his life which can invoke all sorts of emotions in a reader and also serve as the basis of first part hence rendering a meandering pattern to this work. And once you’ll get around the whole thing, don’t get baffled on finding a part (or whole) of your personality within the startling words originated from some dark, horrid place. The influence of Gogol can be easily observed in these stories and a comfort can be found that Dostoevsky deftly picked up the threads of Russian Literature where Gogol must have left them (It’s funny that I’m drawing out these conclusions after reading one book each by both authors so you can tell me if I’m wrong or exaggerating). In any case, I was left pleasantly surprised on finding that my preconceived notions were crushed and dusted and a new, although a little confused perspective was gained on contemplating the questions which our Underground Man has asked in this book.

I’m now asking an idle question of my own: which is better – cheap happiness, or lofty suffering? Well, which is better?

I’m hoping to find the answers in Dostoevsky’s chefs-d'oeuvre Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamzov which I’ll surely read soon but till then I need to work on materializing a new and grown-up image of myself. Books will help.
Profile Image for jessica.
2,555 reviews35.7k followers
September 6, 2018
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 everything. most of the time, i just wanted to shout ‘preach, sis!’ but there were moments where i thought ‘wow, who hurt you!?!’ which leads us to part two, where the narrator shares various stories of his youth which showcase just how alienated he actually is from the world. the narrator himself is very dislikable and bitter and selfish and lonely. but wow, its shockingly easy to relate to him! its also one of the best representations of anxiety i have ever seen portrayed in a character. hes one of those characters where you are glad to get finally rid of him at the end of the story, but are somehow glad you got to know him.

this was such a wildly insane and exhaustively weird book, but its also brutally honest. you definitely have to be in the right sort of mindset to read this because this will take everything out of you, but its worth it!

side note - i might bump this up to 4 stars after i have a think, because 3 stars feels a little too harsh at the moment.

3.5 stars
Profile Image for Luís.
1,947 reviews611 followers
April 18, 2023
On what was to be a particularly dark day, Dostoyevsky decided to portray the most despicable man he could imagine.
This fact is how we could summarize the Basement. The man Dostoyevsky imagined is not an assassin nor even a petty criminal. On the contrary, he is a vile being in every way. An anonymous person in whom no one has ever been interested and will never be interested. Insignificant. His only way to exist is to annoy others. He does not conceive of existence otherwise.
Having a toothache is a pleasure for him: it gives him a good reason to complain, moan and prevent others from sleeping. For him, friendship or love has only one meaning, and he claims it proudly: to accept being morally tortured by the other. So we avoid it like we avoid dog poop on the sidewalk. And even that gives him a form of enjoyment.
Inevitably, there is a prostitute with a somewhat childish face. We are in Dostoyevsky. And the way he will behave with her is even lower than you'd expect.
Did Dostoyevsky need to dig deep into the human soul to compose his character? No. He took it all off and left an egoist alone amid men.
And yet even this man can hope for redemption; the end tells us if he repents deep within himself. And if we accept this interpretation, this book probably represents the apogee of this strange and tortured current that was Christian existentialism.
Profile Image for Henry Avila.
469 reviews3,256 followers
February 24, 2021
This the alleged hero hates the world and himself even more, they seem indifferent though, an unknown anti-hero no I take that back the term should be a stupid man who does everything to sabotage his life a masochist maybe ? As examples : the only woman silly enough to love him, Liza a prostitute needing a friend and savior, pours her emotional feelings seeking love but rejected... Can you imagine, the loathsome creature... his childhood a loose word which is quite inaccurate, the orphan's sufferings , loneliness a better one, the "friends" from old school days he annoys greatly they despise him to the fullest degree at a strained dinner party, drunk and out of control doing all to cause anger . His servant Apollon, an older gentleman with a mutual society of high emotions both intensely feel pain and uneasiness when together an absurd concept still, the poverty stricken man with a lackey, the narrator deliberately took a lower paying government job...acts insane in rages, his self -hate causing the inevitable downfall , punishment for the simple reason he doesn't deserve to be happy, his early years with no parents brings so many agonies to mind. An unbelievably strange human however, likes to hurt his soul for some perceived transgression committed in the distant past. Russian literature is full of the dark sufferings yet there can be nothing besides it on earth as good; The emotional ever changing but always negative in results like the cynical bureaucrat living in filth the apartment so small the poor are amazed, the man's pathetic notes are really memoirs of a life not well spent or worth living. Dostoyevsky novella a mixture of the bizarre and the weird can a person exist alone in this wide Earth turning his back to people wanting no love he says yet on the contrary needs it desperately we almost feel sorry for the almost man , the sad narrative of the human spirit going bad and very wrong. Some readers if not a majority will ask what is this? Others reading between the lines thinking there must be something there or else a hidden meaning the great writer is trying to convey the simple notion ...people are not individuals but a tribe. They thrive in a group as history shows, civilization began because of this, together everything is possible even contentment. A case of what if he had chosen another path things would've been a lot brighter ...
Profile Image for BookHunter محمد.
1,433 reviews3,351 followers
February 14, 2023

مملة بشكل كبير لأنها لا تحتوي أحداث بقدر ما تحتوي أفكار. بعد الخمسين صفحة الأولى التي كانت سرد لنفسية بطل الرواية المعقد النفسية بدرجة كبيرة جاءت الأحداث الرئيسية باهتة و باردة و مسرفة في السرد المتواصل كأنه منهج علمي وضع للتدريس أو مقال طويل في صحيفة. يأتي بعدها موقف أخر لا علاقة له بالأول ثم تنتهي الرواية نهاية بائسة لا تليق أبدا بدوستويفسكي صاحب الكتابات العظيمة.
Profile Image for Jim Fonseca.
1,101 reviews7,203 followers
May 25, 2022
It’s been a while since I read anything by good old Fyodor. How’s this for opening lines? “I am a sick man. I am a spiteful man. I am an unattractive man.”

Our crazy guy, 40-ish, has received an inheritance so he has retired from his job as a bureaucrat/clerk. “I was a spiteful official. I was rude and took pleasure in being so. I did not take bribes, you see, so I was bound to find a recompense in that, at least.” He’s the type of guy who enjoys taking offense for nothing and after a while he genuinely becomes offended.


Then he goes on to say, not really, actually I have good urges but they ‘can’t come out.’ At one point he says “I want to tell you how…why I could not become an insect…” and I wondered if this line may have been an inspiration to Kafka for Metamorphosis? Surely Kafka had read a lot of Dostoevsky.

The story is heavy on psychology and philosophy and this work is one of the earliest existential novels.

We are treated to a discourse on how people ease their own suffering by inflicting it on others, such as a man with a toothache who moans all night keeping everybody else awake.

Then we get a discourse on how people act contrary to their best interests. They do perverse things just to exercise their free will. And how do we know what’s in anybody’s ‘best interest’ anyway?

Obviously this guy has no friends. In fact he likes the idea that people think of him with loathing because that’s what he feels about himself “I hated my face for instance: I thought it disgusting.” He tells us he goes out at night to indulge in ‘horrible voices.’

These musings make up the first half of the book. The second half is mostly the tale of a long drunken night, so I’ll say SPOILERS FOLLOW, although surely this is not a book that anyone reads for its plot.

The next section revolves around a dinner that he invites himself to. It’s his old schoolmates who have no use for him and the feeling is mutual. Why does he go? At the dinner he gets drunk, insults everyone, and shows himself to be the fool that he is. He talks about challenging people to a duel and lucky for him he’s such a drunken ass that no one takes him seriously.

Then he goes to a prostitute and starts trying to talk her out of the life she is leading. He tells her of the pleasures of leading a normal life and having a family. Even though she tells him he ‘sounds like a book,’ he succeeds in inspiring her to think about giving up her profession. When the poor girl shows up at his door, he changes his tune and goes on a monologue about how love is tyranny.

That’s too bad because the only help for this kind of guy is a good caring woman. But what are the chances of any sane person getting involved with him? Get thee to the couch.


Unlike many of the author’s other major works, this is a short work only about 135 pages, so to the extent that we can call it a novel, it’s a novella. Worth a read because it helps us a bit in understanding some of the folks we run into on street corners.

Top picture, actor Harry Lloyd in a British theater production of the story from theguardian.com
The author (1821-1881) on a Russian stamp from Wiki
Profile Image for J.L.   Sutton.
666 reviews926 followers
July 8, 2019
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 years because it is not one dimensional. At one level, it's a capitulation, a giving up of whatever this life has to offer. At another level, it's an affirmation that despite whatever comes crashing down on us, we have greatness in us and we will persevere. Yeah, and there's the suffering for whatever course we take.

“I say let the world go to hell, but I should always have my tea.”

“I swear to you gentlemen, that to be overly conscious is a sickness, a real, thorough sickness.”

“To love is to suffer and there can be no love otherwise.”

“It was from feeling oneself that one had reached the last barrier, that it was horrible, but that it could not be otherwise; that there was no escape for you; that you never could become a different man; that even if time and faith were still left you to change into something different you would most likely not wish to change; or if you did wish to, even then you would do nothing; because perhaps in reality there was nothing for you to change into.”

For better or worse, Notes from Underground (along especially with The Idiot and the Grand Inquisitor section of Brothers Karamazov) are go to works for me!
Profile Image for Fernando.
685 reviews1,127 followers
August 14, 2018
"Dostoievski, el único psicólogo, dicho sea de paso, que me ha enseñado algo. Dostoievski ha sido una de las mayores suertes de mi vida, más incluso que mi descubrimiento de Stendhal." Friedrich Nietzsche, El ocaso de los ídolos

Amargado, resentido, contestatario, recalcitrante, ácido, irónico, irreverente, negativo, acomplejado, cruel, pesimista...
Estos pueden ser algunos de los adjetivos calificativos que el lector puede darle al narrador de "Memorias del subsuelo", uno de los libros más difíciles de reseñar del inmortal Fiódor Dostoievski, a quien tanto admiro.
Este hombre cuarentón, refugiado en su cuchitril dispara dardos venenosos contra la sociedad de su época, contra la famosa "Inteligentsia" rusa, tan de boga en esos años, contra los intelectuales atildados y políticamente correctos sin dejar de chorrear ácido por los cuatro costados.
Dostoievski, quien venía juntando presión debido a sus problemas personales, a los desengaños que la literatura le propinó a mazazos y con la carga de haber saldado su deuda luego de esos interminables cuatro años de prisión en Siberia ("Esa noche tuve pesadillas horribles. No era extraño, pues durante el día había recordado los años de cárcel que habían sido mis años de estudio"), puso en este narrador todos sus pensamientos más negativos, crueles y despóticos sabiendo que muchas de las personas que en ese 1864 leyeran este manifiesto, tomarían el guante y posiblemente se sintieran ofendidas ante palabras tan hirientes pero también certeras que se les propinaba.
"Quienquiera oír que oiga", dijo don Fiódor mientras despotricaba contra medio mundo, contra los hipócritas, los débiles, los chicos buenos, contra los pacatos y los aduladores de cuarta categoría. Nadie se salvó de su crítica, a la que disfrazó de ex empleado atrincherado en un mugroso cuarto subterráneo.
Las palabras del narrador del subsuelo son de carácter anticipatorio, dado que vislumbran lo que en pocos años más sucedería en Rusia entre las distintas clases sociales. Dice lo que muchos piensan pero pocos se atreven a decir; habla con paradojas ("Ustedes creen en el palacio de cristal, al que no se le podrá sacar la lengua ni amenazar a escondidas. Pues bien, yo desconfío de ese palacio, porque justamente es de cristal e indestructible" o "Evidentemente, no puedo romper la pared con la cabeza, por que mis fuerzas no me alcanzan para ello; pero me niego a aceptarla simplemente porque sea de piedra y yo no tenga fuerzas para romperla").
El hombre del subsuelo es inconformista, no se soporta ni a sí mismo y vomita su rencor y su odio a los cuatro vientos sin temor, pero a la vez, es un hombre que más allá de saber que está en una posición desventajosa, cree firmemente en la voluntad del hombre, en sus intereses y los sopesa con dignas dosis de razón y deseos.
Este personaje tan peculiar, con sus ideas tan radicales y extremas será el puntapié de partida para otros personajes de tintes bastante similares que Dostoievski creará para sus novelas futuras. Anticipa una mente tan retorcida como autocompasiva como es la de Rodion Románovich Raskólnikov en "Crimen y castigo", compare ideales revolucionarios con Piotr Verjovenski, y Nikolai Stavroguin de "Los demonios", tiene puntos en común con el costado más oscuro de Iván y Dmitri Karamazov y posee afinidades con Arcady Dolgoruki de "El adolescente", quien desarrollará una interesante teoría denominada "idea-rincón".
Siempre, en las novelas de Dostoievski nos encontramos con personajes emparentados con el subsuelo. El caso de Smerdiakov en "Los hermanos Karamazov" es uno de los más emblemáticos. Svidrigáilov en "Crimen y castigo" es taimado, raro e impredecible y el príncipe Sokolski de la novela "El adolescente" puede ser frívolo y cruel. Esta es la personalidad que también se autoimponen los mismos personajes ya que forman parte de la polifonía creada por Dostoievski en sus novelas.
Hay una frase de uno de sus libros que aparece en otra de sus novelas llamada "La aldea de Stepanchikovo" que dice "Un alma ruin, al salir de la opresión, comienza a oprimir". Creo que esto es lo que le sucede al narrador de este libro y decide ponerlo en práctica en la segunda parte "A propósito de la nieve derretida", en donde narra tres hechos que le sucedieron a la edad de 24 años.
Aquí todo se desarrolla en tres grandes escenas, en primer lugar cuando se encuentra con sus compañeros del trabajo, cuando estos tres deciden hacer una comida de despedida a uno de ellos y cuando luego de distintas situaciones que no lo dejan bien parado, termina en un febril y desvariado encuentro con una joven prostituta a la que quiere aleccionar en la vida. Posteriormente, sigue todo esto en su propia habitación involucrándose su propio criado en la confusión general.
Pero puede observarse que la segunda parte del libro es completamente distinta de la primera. A mí personalmente me gusta muchísimo más la primera puesto que en ella se lo nota totalmente jugado y sin vuelta atrás, metido en una salsa como él dice en "hecha de contradicciones, de sufrimientos y de amargos análisis".
Anoté alrededor de treinta frases que se dicen y algunas de ellas, sirven para reconocer la maestría de Dostoievski a la hora de penetrar en lo más profundo del alma humana.
Algunas de ellas son realmente profundas:
"Uno, en el fondo, no cree en su sufrimiento, casi se ríe, pero, aún no creyendo, y sufre de verdad."
"No digo que la civilización hace al hombre más sanguinario, pero sí mucho más perverso, más cobardemente sanguinario."
"El hombre, a veces, desea apasionadamente sufrir."
"El hombre siempre enumera sus pesares, pero no siempre se detiene a pensar en su felicidad."
"El hombre es estúpido por naturaleza, totalmente estúpido. Y es más ingrato que estúpido: es difícil encontrar otro ser más ingrato que él."
"Cuando la voluntad se enfrente con la razón, podremos razonar y ya no desear, porque a un ser que razón le es imposible desear algo estúpido, o ir en contra de la propia razón."
"¿Qué buscamos? ¿Qué queremos? Nosotros mismos no lo sabemos. Es más, si nuestros deseos se cumplieran, no nos sentiríamos felices."

Puedo afirmar que dentro de todo lo que he leído, un solo libro se asemeja a este: me refiero a "La caída", de Albert Camus, quien admiraba con devoción al genial novelista ruso, aunque difiere en la variedad de temas tratados y el tenor de este libro no es tan cargado y visceral como el de Dostoievski.
Fiódor Dostoievski resume en la que considero la mejor frase de este libro lo que significó su obra en su momento y aún hoy, en nuestros días y nos da la real dimensión de quién fue verdaderamente como escritor y ser humano:
"En lo que a mí respecta, a lo largo de mi vida no he hecho más que llevar al extremo todo lo que ustedes dejaron por la mitad."
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