Dostoevsky's classic, Notes From Underground maintains the transient ability to pass through the realm of classic literature and into the incendiary realm of the literary fiends who feed on accumulated grotesqueries. This transmutability is painfully not shared with the fabricated persona of the Underground Man one of the most pathetic yet endearing characters ever to exist in prose. As his title suggests, the Underground Man shuns humanity yet simultaneously and with a forceful dynamic believes that humanity is superior to him. The narrative voice is constantly in conflict with itself with equally robust ideologies cannibalizing themselves and pushing themselves forward so as to create an infinite stasis that he cannot transcend. The atomic theme of alienation and of the outcasts that society engenders is one constructed seamlessly well by Dostoevsky and the romanticism of the persona objectively watching itself is one admitted in earnest. The persona's shunning of humanity is similar to the irony of a little boy lashing out at an animal and laughing--the irony being that the little boy hurts as well. No other literary character is so absolutely self-effacing and filled utterly with inconsistent bile.
[...] From the beginning the dialogic text begins its ridiculous autonomic remonstrance of itself. He takes a perverse pleasure in the mercurial whims of his bodily ailments and claims that he is a sick, spiteful, and unattractive man. He claims that his liver is diseased but refuses to go to a doctor out of spite. The indelible patterning of his thought process is set up from this first paragraph. The soul force of an idea emerges and is displaced immediately by its dark other. [...]
[...] The narrative digresses for the persona to discuss “Russian Romanticism” which is distinct from Western European Romanticism because the Russian Romantic would not “lift a finger for his ideal.” This reasserts the foremost conflict that torments the Underground Man throughout the retelling of his past: the inability to align his literary persona with a natural reality and sociability in the real world. The disjoint between this preconceived literary persona and the world mirrors the relationship between a false Russian culture and its people. [...]
[...] The only other way to achieve this will free of an attached objective consciousness is to give up one's pride in a climacteric moment of pain and humiliation. The Underground man lacks the spiritual capacity to do this and therefore retreats into his underground, however, he is not entirely singular, as Dostoevsky himself suggests that others like him exist. Especially in the contemporaneous realm there are those who pride themselves on being overtly intellectual and yet in reality cannot exist in a way that is human. [...]
[...] Ultimately, the precepts of a Western European culture that impose themselves upon Russia culturally alienate its own people. The Underground Man himself, feeling defeated by the extrinsic world, retreats into his own phantasmagorical dreams that closely resemble specifically culled moments from Romantic novels and poetry. His dreams are a combination of Napoleonic motifs and occurrences from Lord Byron's poem, Manfred. Both references exclusively attend to the dynamic shift in the belief of the human conscience as introduced by the Romantic ideal of the “anti-hero.” After dreaming in this ecstatic fashion for months he has the desire to “rush into society” and the reader sees that the twenty-four year old Underground Man is not yet entirely suffused in the underground. [...]
[...] They awaken in the awkward rhetoric of having slept with each other and the prostitute tells him that her name is Liza. The Underground Man, feeling power hungry and disillusioned from the events of the prior night, gives Liza an elaborate speech about how shameful and unhealthy it is to be a prostitute. The moralizing of a young prostitute itself is a theme that often recurs in European literature. Liza is moved by the speech but when she replies she says that it sounds as if it was taken from a book. [...]
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