Books and Movies Reviews

Notes from the underground

The UM starts out talking about the office he worked in when he was twenty-four: apparently he hated everyone there and likewise, they hated him. The narrative then derails while the UM describes the Russian national character, which he believes eliminates fools and elevates Romantics who appreciate the “sublime and beautiful.”
Returning to his description of his life, he notes that he had no friends and was always alone, spending most of his time reading. He admits to satisfying his private desires in various “dens of vice.”
The UM then describes an incident in a bar one night in which an army officer moved him away from a billiard table as though he were a piece of furniture. He said nothing to the man, but fostered deep seething resentment for this insult. He would run in to this same officer in the street, and try to stare him down, but would always end up stepping out of the way for him (the officer never recognized him). He writes the officer a long letter listing his grievances, but does not send it. Instead he decid es to meet the officer in the street and bump against him instead of stepping aside. The event, when it happens, is anticlimactic: he and the officer bump shoulders, and the officer continues on his way, seeming not to have noticed. The officer is late r transferred, and the UM never sees him again.
The UM then describes how he would spend most of his time either depressed or dreaming of grand lives for himself, all of which involve becoming an important charitable man, beloved by all. He remains caught between two extremes–a hero or a hermit–with no middle ground between the two.
Sometimes, the UM immersed himself so deeply in the “sublime and beautiful” that he would be filled with a great love for mankind, and a deep desire to see others. On these days, he would generally go to visit his supervisor, with whom he was friendly, a lthough the visits were always disastrous–he would feel nervous and un…


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