The lofty and the beautiful
I started on Notes from Underground while I was reading Madras, Chennai and the Self. But I was growing bored, I craved a story. Ah, but this is no regular tale of fiction.
Dostoevsky’s masterpiece is an examination of human character. It’s intense – it reads like an exceptionally long spoken word. An excerpt from the book would serve as an excellent monologue. It is written in first person by our scorned antihero, a learned man, of the underground. He is brazen, egoistic, and has no sense of control over himself. Some of his critical observations of humankind are not amiss, and made me laugh along sheepishly in agreement. The first part of the book – Underground, feels like a tumbling of words, like a sinner’s at the confessional. It starts off defensive, and takes on a tone of desperation as words come gushing forth. I did rather favour the second portion: On the Occasion of Wet Snow, which was a recollection of his life. It was easier to read, I was not kept on a constant emotional peak as in the first part. We see him struggle as a character, no longer hiding behind profound statements. We witness the peak of his self-imposed insanity. You can be derisive, but it is true – I have in my own life merely carried to the extreme that which you have never ventured to carry even halfway; and what’s more, you’ve regarded your cowardice as prudence, and found comfort in deceiving yourselves.
Read it. Trust me.