Dostoevsky, I need to digest you.

I regret including Notes of the Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky in this Reading Decathlon… it’s a novel that one needs to ruminate on. Click here to download a copy from Project Gutenberg.

I keep reading lines over and over again, trying to understand if the Underground Man is just jaded or really ‘crazy’ from being alienated by society.

His self loathing was actually… relatable, which made it all more difficult for me to read.

Because the Underground man is both irrational and analytical, I couldn’t just rush through the ‘plot’. The plot was his brain. His brain needs to be picked on and dissected. Digested with some fava beans and a nice chianti.

I’m going to return to you Notes of the Underground with a clearer, less competitive mindset. (Most likely gonna use it as a pre-game to Dostoevsky’s more well-known book Crime and Punishment.)

Here are some my favorite quotes doe.

“It was not only that I could not become spiteful, I did not know how to become anything; neither spiteful nor kind, neither a rascal nor an honest man, neither a hero nor an insect. Now, I am living out my life in my corner, taunting myself with the spiteful and useless consolation that an intelligent man cannot become anything seriously, and it is only the fool who becomes anything. Yes, a man in the nineteenth century must and morally ought to be pre-eminently a characterless creature; a man of character, an active man is pre-eminently a limited creature.”

“I’ve only taken to an extreme that which you haven’t even dared to take halfway.”

“How much better it is to understand it all, to recognise it all, all the impossibilities and the stone wall; not to be reconciled to one of those impossibilities and stone walls if it disgusts you to be reconciled to it; by the way of the most inevitable, logical combinations to reach the most revolting conclusions on the everlasting theme, that even for the stone wall you are yourself somehow to blame, though again it is as clear as day you are not to blame in the least.”

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

“A cultivated and decent man cannot be vain without setting a fearfully high standard for himself, and without despising and almost hating himself at certain moments.”

“Every man has some reminiscences which he would not tell to everyone, but only to his friends. He has others which he would not reveal even to his friends, but only to himself, and that in secret. But finally there are still others which a man is even afraid to tell himself, and every decent man has a considerable number of such things stored away. That is, one can even say that the more decent he is, the greater the number of such things in his mind.”

What did you guys think of Notes of the Underground? Did you think Underground Man was a bit of an asshole? Pretentious? Relatable? Spiteful? Righteous? Absurd? Let me know.

Until tomorrow!




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