Adult Fiction, Book reviews and recommendations

Notes from the Underground

Author: Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Reviewed by: Stephen Kelly
Branch: Newbridge Library

Its nameless hero is a profoundly alienated individual in whose brooding self-analysis there is a search for the true and the good in a world of relative values and few absolutes. Moreover, the novel introduces themes — moral, religious, political and social — that dominated Dostoyevsky’s later works.

Notes from the Underground,then, aside from its own compelling qualities, offers readers an ideal introduction to the creative imagination, profundity and uncanny psychological penetration of one of the most influential novelists of the nineteenth century.

What I particularly liked about this book was Dostoyevsky’s brilliant satire on the fragile human mind, and how it fantastically describes an ego maniac angry at the world. My favourite character was the nameless narrator as the novel dwells on his
mental struggle with himself and how his nihilistic traits overcome him.

All of the characters in the novel are described particularly well as Dostoyevsky wonderfully depicts the social landscape of 1860’s Russia with its embrace of other European schools of thought and each character is depicted vividly. The story always kept me
guessing, for example, the narrator’s discussion with himself on how he thinks society should be structured always kept me entertained and pondering what he might say next. My favourite part of the book was the narrators meeting with an officer who once disrespected him a pub and how he tries to assert his equality with the officer by confronting him.

The scenes in the book are particularly sad as this novel is one of the first works of existentialist philosophy that can be quite
depressing but interesting nonetheless. The story constantly gripped my attention as it magnificently paints an image of a man who fights with himself to rationalise existence.

While Notes From Underground is not currently available on Bolinda Borrowbox other titles from Fyodor Dostoyevsky such as Crime and Punishment are available here.


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