While confronting Dostoevsky's Notes from Underground seems a difficult task initially, one must be able to transcend the elaborate diction and parodies, and comprehend the author himself, while also taking root the message Dostoevsky had originally intended in the time it was addressed. Understanding the author himself, along with the period in which the work was written, augments one's overall discernment of the passage. In the age he wrote, Dostoevsky must have seemed eccentric and outlandish; nevertheless, looking back on him from today with a literary understanding of modernism, he appears ahead of his time. His central premise, although difficult to determine amongst the satire, is humanity's necessity for freedom and religion, specifically Christianity.
In the first part of Notes from Underground, the narrator's jeering monologue, Dostoevsky insists "civilization has made mankind if not more bloodthirsty, at least more vilely, more loathsomely bloodthirsty" (Dostoevsky 1305). He is adamant about man's ability and need to choose right or wrong. Put another way, according to Dostoevsky, the freedom of choice is what makes us human, despite the consequences and destruction our selections might cause. When he begins to reflect about a man who enacts a fit of vengeance "like an enraged bull with lowered horns," he calls him "a genuine, normal person, just as tender Mother Nature wished to see him when she lovingly gave birth to him on earth" (Dostoevsky 1311). His seemingly delusional reasoning is sum mated when Dostoevsky asks "What sort of free choice will there be when it comes down to tables and arithmetic, when all that's left is two times two makes four" (Dostoevsky 1323). Moreover, Dostoevsky again asks the reader "How much better is it to understand it all, to be aware of everything, all the impossibilities and stone walls" (Dostoevsky 1313).
Subsequently, according to the author, "twice two makes five is sometimes a very charming thing too" (Dostoevsky 1305). It is this "freedom" that is so crucial to man. According to the footnote, chapter ten, which was badly maimed by an administration censor and was subsequently never restored by Dostoevsky, infers the need for faith in Jesus Christ. This conclusion drawn by Dostoevsky contradicts the typical Russian thinking of the middle stages of the 19 th century.
The archetypal Russian of the time was an intellectual detached from emotion, spiteful, irrational, and unmoved by modern humanity. This character is exactly what we see in the second half of the work. According to the character, "I didn't associate with anyone; I even avoided talking, and I retreated further and further into my corner. At work in the office I even tried not to look at anyone" (Dostoevsky 1329). It is in these segments, chapter ten of part one and the whole of part two, that we see Dostoevsky's religious convictions.
The self-criticism in the second half is in fact a criticism of society as a whole. He says, "We don't even know where this 'real life' lives nowadays, what it really is and what it's called" (Dostoevsky 1379). In addition to this condemnation of civilization, Dostoevsky examines the revolutionary and socialist tendencies of the time and speaks out against them. Clearly, Dostoevsky's work is not the satiric parody devoid of any meaning that many literary novices might assume.
According to his underground character is the second half of the piece, "Leave us alone without books and we " ll get confused and lose our way at once - we won't know what to join, what to hold on to, what to love or what to hate, what to respect or what to despise. We " re even oppressed by being men" (Dostoevsky 1379). This is Fyodor Dostoevsky's call for reform against the 19 th century philosophy of human nature and progress, along with the utopian optimism that was so prevalent. His disapproval of these allusions is a cry against the nefarious socialism and liberalism that was taking over his country at this time.
To have the freedom to choose, while accepting Christ, against all other convictions, is the only true course for man to follow. Works Cited Dostoevsky, Fyodor. Notes from Underground. The Norton Anthology of World Literature. 2 nd Ed. Maynard Mack.
New York, London: WW Norton & Company, 2002. 1301-1379.