Wednesday, February 24, 2010

he is a man and not a piano-key

As I have made clear before, Russian lit holds a special place in my heart. Now, I'm usually more of a Tolstoy gal than Dostoevsky, but you can't deny that this guy was a genius.

"I am a sick man...I am a wicked man."

Thus begins Notes From the Underground, a tale told to us by an unnamed man who attempts to explain how he could go from a seemingly normal and stable citizen to the depraved creature he is now. The first half is his ranting at us, explaining his philosophy.

"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."

His issues with society and with human nature really make you think. A lot. About conformity, logic, imagination, intellect, and so many other issues. Every page has big idea that really challenged me.

"Man only likes to count his troubles; he doesn't calculate his happiness."

The second half of the book recounts an incident with the narrator and several of his old classmates that end up having dinner together. Our narrator makes a pretty big fool of himself and ends up bearing his soul to a whore. That incident reminded me a lot of the scene in the Catcher in the Rye where Holden has the prostitute over in his hotel room.

The writing style and the characters were familiar and fit right in with Dostoevsky's other works. This is a short piece but it packs a powerful punch. Read it.

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