Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Notes from the Underground (1864) by Fyodor Dostoyevsky


I am a sick man. ... I am a spiteful man. I am an unattractive man. I believe my liver is diseased. However, I know nothing at all about my disease, and do not know for certain what ails me. I don't consult a doctor for it, and never have, though I have a respect for medicine and doctors. Besides, I am extremely superstitious, sufficiently so to respect medicine, anyway (I am well-educated enough not to be superstitious, but I am superstitious). No, I refuse to consult a doctor from spite. That you probably will not understand. Well, I understand it, though. Of course, I can't explain who it is precisely that I am mortifying in this case by my spite: I am perfectly well aware that I cannot "pay out" the doctors by not consulting them; I know better than anyone that by all this I am only injuring myself and no one else. But still, if I don't consult a doctor it is from spite. My liver is bad, well--let it get worse!
[Picture credit and full text of Dostoyevsky's Notes from the Underground]

According to Wikipedia, Notes from the Underground "is considered the world's first existentialist work. It presents itself as an excerpt from the rambling memoirs of a bitter, isolated, unnamed narrator (generally referred to by critics as the Underground Man) who is a retired civil servant living in St. Petersburg."

Some commentary and literary criticism about this novel is listed here:

Full text, author information, commentaries at Online Literature Network
Classicnotes literary criticism and text
Sparknotes
Wikipedia
More to come.

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