May 5, 2010

Notes from the Underground (Review)

I just finished listening to Notes from the Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky through the ChristianAudio Reviewers Program.

I have heard the name Fyodor Dostoevsky before.  I know that his works would be considered classic, I believe that I even have one of his books sitting on my shelf at home.  Being a lover of all things classic, I snatched up this opportunity immediately.

I wasn't sure what to expect from this Fyodor guy, so before I started listening I did a little research.  That turned out to be a better idea than I realized because the book is a little bit confusing, especially without a little foreknowledge.  If you are thinking about listening, then I will save you a little research time:  The book is composed of two main sections.  The first half is a composition of fictional "notes" that are laying out the philosophy of the unnamed "Underground Man".  The second half of the book displays these philosophies played out in this man's life.

As far as my experience with this book goes, I have to first point out that I loved the narrator.  He did an amazing job.  I felt as if I was actually listening to the character from the book.  This added to my experience and understanding of this book.

Secondly, I am not even going to attempt to describe the proper sociological and psychological aspects of this fictional man or the author's points that he is attempting to get across.  Instead, I feel the need to point out that  this felt like an insight into what my soul could have been without the saving grace if God.  Allow me to add a quote from the end of the book that might shed some light.
I believe I made a mistake in beginning to write them (the notes), anyway I have felt ashamed al lthe time I've been writing this story; so it's hardly literature so much as corrective punishment.  Why, to tell long stories, showing how I have spoiled my life through morally rotting in my corner, through lack of fitting environment, through divorce from real life, and rankling spite in my underground world, would certainly not be interesting; a novel needs a hero, and all the traits for an anti-here are EXPRESSLY gathered together here, and what matters most, it all produces an unpleasant impression, for we are all divorced from life, we are all cripples, every one of us, more or less.
(Read more on Google Books)

There is an insight in this guy's writing, but it is a chapter 1 sort of insight.  It is the insight that comes without the rest of the story.  The insight that is attained by looking within, looking a little without, but not looking to the God of the universe.

I believe that most classic works are worth a read ( or they wouldn't be classics, I suppose), and this one isn't an exception.  I would highly recommend using the Christian Audio version, I don't think I could have actually read through the entire thing.