Notes From The Underground
Notes from the Underground (1864) is a short novel by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Considered perhaps the first existentialist novel, the first anti-hero novel, and Dostoevsky's first great novel, Notes is a prolonged screed by a bitter, isolated narrator, a retired civil servant from St. Petersburg. It was originally published in two parts in January and February of 1864 in Epoch, a Russian journal which Dostoevsky and his brother produced. The first part is a monologue or a diary of sorts, and it features the narrator's attack on Western philosophy. The second part is titled "Apropos of the Wet Snow," which is a narrative of the events which lead up to his alienation from society.
Critics are unsure if Dostoevsky was portraying his actual views in Notes from the Underground, or whether it's a satire of the popular philosophies of the day. Certainly the narrator's tone is dreary, and which would match Dostoevsky's life at the time: he was financially ruined, his literary reputation was falling apart, and his wife was on her deathbed. Whatever the reality, the narrator, often called the Underground Man, has influenced literary characters and philosophy ever since the book's publication. Both Nietzsche and Sartre cite it as a brilliant book. And Ellison's The Invisible Man, Wright's The Man Who Lived Underground, Heller's Catch-22, and Bret Easton Ellis's American Psycho all owe direct debt to Dostoevsky's work.
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February 01, 2013
Strongly recommend this book, especially if you're new to his writing, or if you're already a fan you'll enjoy this as well.