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“"I am a sick man...I am a wicked man." Very potent...”

Written on: 02/03/2007 by Bojangles (143 reviews written)

Good Points
Very vivid and engrossing; short--one of Dostoevsky's shortest works--but extremely filling and broad. It will transport you to a completely different time and place and condition.

Bad Points
May be too "dark" for most people but if you're into that kind of thing, then this book is definitely for you. Also--at least within the English translated versions--the writing style can be opaque and quite "ancient", in the sense of Old English. But it's not as potent as Shakespeare; it has its quirks here and there. And, at times, even one sentence can span up to a page or more long! You really have to focus at times.

General Comments
"I am a sick man...I am a wicked man." Very potent words indeed. This is how Fyodor Dostoevsky's "Notes from Underground" begins. It is about a loner--the quintessential loner, the true misfit--and about his life, his thoughts, his habits, and his failed attempts at having meaningful relationships with others, at being "human" at the very core. It is narrated in the first person, and reads very much like a dearly personal journal. It is dark and dismal, and not for the faint of heart. You will fall in love with the main character, and you will be absorbed to the last drop in all his strifes and miseries and hopeless ambitions and pathetically lonely yet highly philosophical and wise thoughts and feelings. You will see the dark and desolate world through his eyes and soul, and you will become him. You will be appalled at his uncanny and nonsensical feelings of guilt, ineffectiveness, and uncompromising cynicism. It will become harder and harder to put the book down, and you will feel yourself changing more and more and becoming more and more like the nameless narrator. His thoughts will become your thoughts.

This book precisely showcases one of man's most sickening and widespread crisis's, and psychological faults, nevertheless inevitable: loneliness. What it can do to a person; how it can change them so drastically, and make them so numb and apathetic; how it can drive even the most composed and placid, to absolute irate insanity. The narrator was not this disturbed from the very beginning of course; instead, various events in his life shaped his person little by little until he finally was who he was meant to be--that is, the loner, the misfit, the "Underground Man".

Considered the first major literary work of Existentialism, "Notes from the Underground" will deeply haunt and engross you, and change the way you view the world and yourself, well beyond finishing it.

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