Notes from Underground by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Madness...This is madness, I tell you!
Or worse, it's philosophy, some sound, some twisted in counterintuitive logic.
In the first part of Notes for Underground the narration reads like the journal of a rambling genius or psychopath. It's difficult to decide. This section had my mind wandering in a whirl of amazement, boredom and confusion. If the entire book went on this way, as slim as it is, I doubt I would've finished it, or if I had, you'd not see a four star rating up there.
The second part of Notes... takes a standard, first person storytelling approach and felt more in the style of Crime and Punishment, only perhaps more personal. Perhaps too personal for my tastes, because I had the misfortune of hating the narrator. He is a coward, a coward who yearns to be courageous, but in all the wrong ways. He wishes to strike down those that have wronged him, but after listening to his self-absorption, imagined slights, and impossibly high and complicated morals, I myself wished to strike him down with a solid backhand, one I hope would wake him up to his own idiocy. Likely it would only get me added to his hate list.
Did you notice what happened there? I felt the urge to hit a fictional character. Well played, Dostoevsky, well played. That is the writer's genius, to craft a character I felt was real enough to touch. I don't know what he looks like other than being a small man, but I know the man's inner self, and that is knowing more about a man than anything I could glean from the outside. Ah, if only all characters were created equally well...
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