Notes from Underground, The Double and Other Stories (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)
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Notes from Underground, The Double and Other Stories (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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by Fyodor Dostoevsky
     
 

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Notes from Underground, The Double and Other Stories, by Fyodor Dostoevsky, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of

Overview

Notes from Underground, The Double and Other Stories, by Fyodor Dostoevsky, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:

  • New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars
  • Biographies of the authors
  • Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events
  • Footnotes and endnotes
  • Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work
  • Comments by other famous authors
  • Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations
  • Bibliographies for further reading
  • Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate
All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.

Often considered a prologue to Dostoevsky’s brilliant novels, the story “Notes from Underground” introduces one of the great anti-heroes in literature: the underground man, who lives on the fringes of society. In an impassioned, manic monologue this character—plagued by shame, guilt, and alienation—argues that reason is merely a flimsy construction built upon humanity’s essentially irrational core. Internal conflict is also explored in “The Double,” a surreal tale of a government clerk who meets a more unpleasant version of himself and is changed as a result.

In addition to these two existential classics, this collection also includes the psychologically probing stories “The Meek One,” “The Dream of a Ridiculous Man,” and “White Nights.”

Deborah A. Martinsen is Assistant to the Director of the Core Curriculum at Columbia University and Adjunct Associate Professor of Russian and Comparative Literature. She is the author of Surprised by Shame: Dostoevsky's Liars and Narrative Exposure.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781593080372
Publisher:
Barnes & Noble
Publication date:
09/01/2003
Series:
Barnes & Noble Classics Series
Pages:
512
Product dimensions:
4.13(w) x 6.75(h) x 1.28(d)

Read an Excerpt

From Deborah A. Martinsen's Introduction to Notes from Underground, The Double and Other Stories

Master psychologist, social critic, and metaphysical thinker, Dostoevsky continually surprises readers with his dramatic and penetrating insights into the human mind and heart. The stories collected in this volume span most of Dostoevsky’s career, yet their protagonists are similar—all of them solitary men living in St. Petersburg, Russia’s capital from 1712 to 1917. St. Petersburg was Tsar Peter the Great’s planned city, his “window on the West.” Yet Peter achieved his vision at great human cost. Located on hostile swampland, this “Venice of the North” was built on the bones of the laborers who hauled granite to shore its riverbanks and canals. Popular rumors of Peter as Antichrist warred with the official version of Peter as world builder and gave rise to a myth of duality that came to surround the city as well as the tsar.

By the mid-nineteenth century, when Dostoevsky began his writing career, Aleksandr Pushkin and Nikolay Gogol had already immortalized St. Petersburg’s duality in verse and prose. In Pushkin’s narrative poem The Bronze Horseman (1833), a devastating flood symbolizes the revolt of the elements against the city and its inhabitants. The flood serves as a backdrop for the conflict between the impersonal, imperial state and a humble individual who loses everything, including his mind, as a result of the natural disaster. Gogol’s St. Petersburg tales focus more on the city as Russia’s administrative and social capital and highlight the disjunction between its attractive appearance and its cruel realities. Dostoevsky evokes his predecessors’ contributions to the myth and provides additional psychological and philosophical depth. St. Petersburg, in the words of the underground man in “Notes from Underground,” “is the most abstract and premeditated city on the whole earth.” In the tradition of Dickens and Balzac before him, Dostoevsky makes his city emblematic of Western urban civilization and also of Russia’s self-consciousness vis-à-vis the West.

The protagonists of these collected stories are all St. Petersburg loners whose isolation marks their alienation from human community and what Dostoevsky called “living life.” They are narcissists who suffer from shame and feel excluded from communities to which they long to belong. They feel inadequate and out of place. They fear rejection or failure, and choose isolation as a defense against their fears. In “The Double,” Golyadkin, whose name derives from the Russian word for “naked” or “insignificant,” voices shame at his very identity: “What a little fool you are, what a nonentity [Golyadka]—that’s the kind of last name you have!” The St. Petersburg dreamer calls himself a “type . . . an original . . . a ridiculous man!” The underground man calls himself “sick,” “spiteful,” “unattractive.” The pawnbroker refuses to defend his regiment’s honor for fear of appearing “stupid.” The dreamer of the final story in this collection calls himself “ridiculous.”

By exposing his protagonists’ deep sense of personal shame, Dostoevsky gives readers a key to understanding their stories. We see that their solitude is their major defense, but not their only one. They also protect their fragile egos by objectifying themselves, dreaming, rationalizing, dominating others, and adopting a shell of numbing indifference. In deploying these standard defenses against shame, they become not only realistic, nineteenth-century St. Petersburg “types” but also our contemporaries.

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Notes from Underground, The Double and Other Stories (Barnes & Noble Classics Series) 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 31 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have only read 'Notes From the Underground', but can already tell that I will be reading much more Dostoyevsky in my lifetime. This is not an exciting book; it is a journal of a confused/enlightened man's thoughts. However, it causes the reader to think, pause, and take an introspective look at themself and analyze who they really are. This novella relies on existentialism, so it is smart to have a background on the idea before reading this. Dostoyevsky also frequently references his contemporaries, so a bit of knowledge about his peers at the time is helpful.

This is a must read for anyone interested in philosophy! This novella will cause you to think like never before, and, in that way, is somewhat frightening. Fear not, this book is a classic and should be read by everyone.
Guest More than 1 year ago
An undeniably powerful amalgamation of Dostoevsky's best short classics. Each instilled a life lesson upon me. For instance- 'The Double'- taught me that even in times of distress, and dire circumstances, one must not give in to his/her enemies one mustn't show a scintilla of fear or trepidation because that can lead to that person's imminent demise. You see that in our Mr. Golyadkin senior. He was not shrewd enough to undertake the task at hand. 'The Double' helped me hone my skills in socializing with people, and molded me into a more imperturbable person. 'White Nights' is a tale both beautiful, yet commiserating at the same time. 'White Nights' taught me that when you have an amazing opportunity in your grasp, you should not waver, you should pounce at it with immense alacrity. However in ' White Nights' the protagonist does not display that enthusiam, and sadly loses his love. In 'Notes From The Underground', the protagonist was a bibliophile who remained aloof from society, and for that reason was mocked viciously for it. His stubborness left a very aweful picture to his former colleagues. Even though he did not act like Mr. Golyadkin, and actually spurred for a fight in the end, he was however like the protagonist in 'White Nights', he let go the only great thing that came right into his lap. The difference that I learned between 'White Nights' and 'Notes From The Underground' is that after the girl left the underground man's home, he could have gone to her, because he knew where she lived, but he just gave up right away, while in 'White Nights' the protagonist had to stop seeing her, for he was too late in his actions, but the underground man still had a chance. So in 'Notes From The Underground', I learned that even if u still have a little window of opportunity, you should go for it and not give up so easily. 'The Meek One' was a shocking piece of work. I learned the same leasson in' The Meek One' as i did in 'White Nights'-never wait too long to make a move, never vacillate because even five minutes can make such a huge difference upon a person, as what was needed in 'The Meek One' but never was used, and because of the husband's lackluster, it led to the poor girl's suicide. 'The Dream Of a Ridiculous Man' gave me a very detailed outline of how the world gradually evolved into our modern world today. Dostoevsky beautifully explained it, and it is one of my favorite short stories by him. I would absolutely recommend this book to any one, Fyodor Dostoevsky is my favorite author of all time!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Wow! I picked up this $5 book the other day, never having read Dostoevsky before, and I can now say, that along with Nietzsche and Tolkien, Fyodor is my new favorite author. These stories are bleak, funny and thought provoking; for $5 you really cannot beat it.
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