Notes from Underground: A Norton Critical Edition / Edition 2

Notes from Underground: A Norton Critical Edition / Edition 2

by Fyodor Dostoevsky, Michael R. Katz
3.8 5
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Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
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Notes from Underground: A Norton Critical Edition 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Last night I talked to my housemate, a psychology PhD who studies social scientist Rene Girard. Girard posits the belief that societal consciousness requires a scapegoat to break from frustration and violent anger. This scapegoat for example, Joan of Arc or Martin Luther King Jr (or the supreme example) Jesus Christ, is used to purge the society's social unrest, so that it can function and break an uncomfortable cycle which would spin out of control. This is mirrored also in tribal consciousness of course as natives sacrifice an innocent one such as a virgin to an ¿angry¿ God, which lifts the burden of guilt from all. We talked about the role that the brief book Notes from Underground (90 pages) has played in the modern consciousness. What I think we took away from the conversation was that Dostoevsky marked a turn from collective consciousness, to a realization that we (as individuals) are the problem. That we really don¿t have to view a scapegoat such as a homosexual or a Jew as the source of our problems. That we should be looking within ourselves for society¿s flaws, not hating or destroying lives, and especially not succumbing to the scapegoat tendency of the mob. The beauty of the book is that it opens up a person to honesty and unpretention that should be expected from a self-conscious thinking person. Dostoyevsky takes us in cycles in this two-part book. Part I: Underground, is a kind of philosophical treatise on his own complex paradoxical psyche. He starts a line of reasoning admitting his flaws, then turns it around into the kind of discursive reflection that one can experience as an internal monologue. It is highly valued by philosophers, social scientists and literati, because it is far-reaching, pulling beautiful reflections from multiple disciplines, and it is a highly stylized, honest and dramatic first person narrative. The second part: Apropos of Wet Snow, keeps us at arms length, but acts out the unbelievable passions of the Underground Man. This is done from first person point of view as the man takes on a group of Russian men who have little if none respect for him, and in his defeated and vengeful state he seeks out a prostitute and attempts to rehabilitate and redeem her, wanting to pull her up from what he sees is her hopeless and disgusting fate. The book is terrible in its honesty and wondrous in its honest and relentless wit. A true masterpiece by one of the top five novelists of all time and is accessible in its short form. I recommend the Norton Critical Edition, because it has responses to the work by authors such as Ralph Ellison, Woody Allen and Jean-Paul Sarte, including literary criticism, sources for some of Dostoyevsky¿s material and letters from the author to his friends. A sheer masterwork of reflection and an astounding example of first person narrative, which as a bonus, includes a wealth of content that is significant and far-reaching for all mankind and for all time.
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