Notes from the Underground | Fyodor Dostoevsky

  • Notes from Underground © 1864
  • Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, trans. © 1993
  • Borzoi: Alfred A. Knopf
  • 126 pages

I’ve met the underground man before. After years of pastoring, I’ve seen traces of him in all sorts of people—even myself. I’ve witnessed the painfully thorough introspection that causes otherwise rational people’s thoughts to cycle through an internal feedback loop. I’ve been privy to the inflated sense of pride that imagines absurd revenge scenarios in response to the slightest unintentional personal infraction. There’s plenty of underground man in our world today.

It’s uncanny how a nineteenth century Russian man is reflected so clearly in our capitalistic western culture. Perhaps the rejection of any sort of utopian vision is the common thread. The idea that the world isn’t getting better and better draws strange people together.

This was my first foray into Dostoyevsky (I’m ashamed to say). He’s created a compelling character that elicits empathy while simultaneously thoroughly frustrating the reader. This sort of tortured complexity will keep me coming back to Dostoyevsky for a long time.

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