Notes from the Underground
by Fyodor Dostoevsky
Notes from the Underground Suffering Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Part.Chapter.Paragraph). We used Constance Garnett's translation.
…tearing and consuming myself till at last the bitterness turned into a sort of shameful accursed sweetness, and at last – into positive real enjoyment! Yes, into enjoyment, into enjoyment! I insist upon that. I have spoken of this because I keep wanting to know for a fact whether other people feel such enjoyment? I will explain; the enjoyment was just from the too intense consciousness of one's own degradation; it was from feeling oneself that one had reached the last barrier, that it was horrible, but that it could not be otherwise; that there was no escape for you; that you never could become a different man; that even if time and faith were still left you to change into something different you would most likely not wish to change; or if you did wish to, even then you would do nothing; because perhaps in reality there was nothing for you to change into. (1.2.2)
The Underground Man's fondness for suffering explains the whole endeavor that is his Notes from the Underground; speaking to his imagined audience is an act of self-inflicted torture, since it forces him towards a higher level of consciousness (and, as he established, consciousness and suffering go hand-in-hand).
"Ha, ha, ha! You will be finding enjoyment in toothache next," you cry, with a laugh.
"Well, even in toothache there is enjoyment," I answer. I had tooth-ache for a whole month and I know there is. In that case, of course, people are not spiteful in silence, but moan; but they are not candid moans, they are malignant moans, and the malignancy is the whole point. The enjoyment of the sufferer finds expression in those moans; if he did not feel enjoyment in them he would not moan. (1.4.1-2)
The Underground Man makes a decent point. We all have to admit that "misery loves company" is difficult to refute.
What is to be done with the millions of facts that bear witness that men, consciously, that is fully understanding their real interests, have left them in the background and have rushed headlong on another path, to meet peril and danger, compelled to this course by nobody and by nothing, but, as it were, simply disliking the beaten track, and have obstinately, willfully, struck out another difficult, absurd way, seeking it almost in the darkness. (1.7.1)
As soon as we stop drooling over this prose, we'll get a thought to you. Okay. The Underground Man highlights people's tendency to dive headlong and consciously into the unknown, even at their own peril and risk of suffering, just because they dislike the "beaten path."