Book Review: Notes from Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Upon a first reading of Notes from Underground, I found myself feeling confused and unable to verbalize what I was supposed to have taken away from this book. After some further reflection, I’ve come to realize that it would be better to classify it as a philosophical study rather than a novel. There is no apparent “hero’s journey” as we are accustomed to seeing in many classic and modern works of fiction alike; rather, everything that happens in this tale involves only the Underground Man and his relationship with his neuroses. 

It is because of this that I was puzzled after reading Notes from Underground. The Underground Man reaches no satisfying resolution to his character arc, leaving the reader yearning for catharsis yet receiving none. It is especially frustrating because his character arc is all the story depends on; and his anxious shuffling from one idea to the other plants a sense of never ending stress in the reader as well. 

That being said, it is still a brilliant story; deemed the first existentialist novel by countless thinkers and historians. I am regrettably uninformed in regards to the historical context of Notes from Underground, but I believe that the real merit in this book can be identified through analyzing the social climate in which it was written, and the philosophies that Dostoevsky incorporated into it. Once again, I lack the knowledge on existentialism to provide a full review as of now, but there are so many layers to this work that are waiting to be explored.

Notes from Underground is a pretty short read, and if one were looking into Dostoevsky for the first time, I would surely recommend this one to them. It’s a good introduction to his work, and it’s genuinely just such a stimulating novel. I consider it one of my favorite books of all time.

-Katie Z.

Notes from Undergound by Fyodor Dostoevsky is available to check out from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Libby.

1 thought on “Book Review: Notes from Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.