The apology and confession of a minor mid-19th-century Russian official, Notes from Underground is a half-desperate, half-mocking political critique and a powerful, at times absurdly comical, account of man’s breakaway from society and descent ‘underground’.
About the Author
Fyodor Dostoevsky's life was as dark and dramatic as the great novels he wrote. He was born in Moscow in 1821, the son of a former army surgeon. A short first novel brought him instant success, but his writing career was cut short by his arrest for alleged subversion against Tsar Nicholas I in 1849. Sentenced to a firing squad, dressed in a death shroud, he faced an open grave and awaited his execution when, suddenly, an order arrived commuting his sentence. He then spent four years at hard labor in a Siberian prison, where he began to suffer from epilepsy, and he only returned to St. Petersburg a fall ten years after he had left in chains. His prison experiences coupled with his conversion to a conservative and profoundly religious philosophy formed the basis for his great novels. His marriage to Anna Snitkina, following a period of destitution brought about by gambling, gave Dostoevsky the emotional stability to complete CRIME AND PUNISHMENT. THE IDIOT, THE POSSESSED, and THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV. He died in 1881.
"You read every shimmering, tormented word, mesmerised. This is Dostoevsky in distillation, a prelude not just to his leading works, but to the entire 20th century... How is it possible to have a character who evokes aspects of Hitler and Pooter, who is hilarious yet disturbing, and both villain and victim? Because Dostoevsky was a genius, and the narrator of Notes From Underground his most protean character, with whom you never quite know how you stand" * Sunday Times * "Dostoevsky's is a genuinely disembodied voice, speaking for all sufferers and victims" * Guardian *