In Notes from the Underground, the Underground Man has retreated from reality to a world of books. He lives in literary fantasies – duels, chivalry, impractical love affairs, redemption – and then (not surprisingly) has difficulty reconciling these dreams with real life. He goes so far as to conclude that we all live in books, that in fact we all need books to tell us how to live. Notes itself is steeped in literary references and clichés, and reflects Dostoevsky's disdain for the Western European ideals seeping into his country. Nowhere is this more clear than in the Underground Man's discussion of romanticism. He argues that French and German romantics are silly and idealistic, while Russian romantics are able to appreciate "the sublime and beautiful" while remaining grounded in the real world.
What the Underground Man calls "hyper-consciousness" is really an inability to distinguish the literary world from reality.
Despite common opinion, the real climax of Notes from the Underground occurs when Liza tells the Underground Man that he speaks "somehow like a book."