Notes from the Underground


By Fyodor Dostoyevsky

cover image of Notes from the Underground

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Fyodor Dostoyevsky's Notes from the Underground is both a fictional and philosophical work. It is considered by many critics as an early existentialist novella. The narrative takes the form of notes written by an unnamed narrator and is divided into two parts. In the first part entitled "Underground," the protagonist is presented as a pessimist misanthrope who comments on a number of philosophical concepts such as the duality between determinism and free will. Basing his criticism on the work of Nikolay Chernyshevsky, he attacks modern schools of thought that purport to be founded solely on logical reasoning, namely utilitarianism and positivism. The second part of the book, entitled "Apropos of the Wet Snow," is closer to fiction than to philosophical analysis. It rather seems to serve as a practical part for the theories exposed in the former through relating some events that happened to the narrator when he was a young man. The narrator often finds difficulty in socializing and even in interacting with the different people around him. Total misunderstanding and mistrust make him feel alienated in society. His feeling of indecision keeps on haunting him until the very end of the narrative when it is revealed that he has even been hesitating to conclude his notes.

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Notes from the Underground