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Dostoevsky’s Notes from Underground: A Commentary, Part I

Notes From Underground is a new type of literature. It defines Dostoyevsky as a modern author. There is no hero of gigantic stature. Our narrator is an antihero, loaded with contradictions. It is difficult to get a sense of what is going on. The story is a narrative; first in the present and then back to the past. In retrospect, the book is an understanding of why Russia was coming apart. It is a vision of a society having a nervous breakdown. Just as an individual can break down, so can a society. This novel began as a parody of another novel What is to be Done that is loaded with all the pet theories of the day. This was the book to read if you wanted to be a revolutionary. Lenin loved this book. Dostoyevsky was appalled at the direction his country was heading. The three principles in vogue: First, a complete and total reliance on reason. Reason alone can solve all problems. Second, absolute determinism. Everything is determined scientifically. Third, determinism will produce a happy society. When the censors edited the book, they left the rantings of the main character; bur removed all references to Christ and the role of suffering.

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