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Notes from the Underground

Notes from the Underground

by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Notes from the Underground Questions

Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.

  1. Should we read the "Author's Note" as Dostoevsky's genuine message to us, or is that, too, part of the fictional work? What purpose does it serve? What effect does it have on the way we read the novel?
  2. In the first half of the text, how does the Underground Man transition from one section to another? Does this tell us anything about his mindset or character?
  3. Is there any aspect of the Underground Man that we identify with as readers? If so, what aspects and why? If not, how can we be expected to deal with a story that seems so foreign to us?
  4. How is our interpretation of the events in Part II swayed by the fact that the Underground Man narrates them in hindsight? What is the added value of hearing his retrospective comments? And, if his opinions have changed, are they more enlightened or more degraded?
  5. Speaking of change, does the act of narration bring about any changes in the Underground Man? Is he any different at the end of his Notes than he was when we started?
  6. Dostoevsky said of his structuring: "The first chapter contains what appears to be chatter; but suddenly, in the last two chapters this chatter turns into an unexpected catastrophe." What do you make of the two-part division of Notes?

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