Notes from Underground

Fyodor Dostoevsky is a name that is not very easy to pronounce. Unless you happen to be one of those who has read him. Then that name attains a halo. So much so that I tried convincing my visiting mother in law that the pesky squirrel she feeds daily (and grows unruly every day, the squirrel I mean) should be given the name FD. Of course it did not stick and we shooed away the decidedly american squirrel but I think you get the point. I am in awe of his writing. I have only read two of his works. Notes from Underground and The Brothers Karamazov. And each has been a revelation.

Notes from Underground is a book about a hyper sensitive conscientious man who cannot justify his actions because of all the various thoughts that wash through him, one as fleeting as the other, but each with its own arguments and counter arguments. A man who is so driven to madness by his own analysis of himself that his actions make no sense to anyone but to him. To him they make so much sense. This book is a peek under the hood of a thinking mind.  A mind that I would hesitate to call fragile.

But it is just not about the mind. It is also about the heart. A struggle of a man’s love when he cannot love himself.  Sounds cliched but not when treated by Dostoevsky.

The book’s narrator is unreliable. It is a narration as seen through the eyes of the protagonist, an extremely agitated individual. It is a sense of restlessness and angst that ought to be in anyone. I do not say that everyone should act on it, but if anyone is so smug as to his reason to exist he is missing the point of life. And this lack of a fundamental reason to exist will result in indecision or derision of any action leading to ultimate cynicism in the case of some and Zen in some.

Either ways the author is a formidable icon in the annals of literature. A master story teller and a true analyst of the brain and heart of a human.

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