Dostoevsky, Notes From Underground: A List of Ten

Fyodor Dostoevsky

  1. Nabokov often displayed his contempt for Dostoevsky (whom he nicknamed Dusty) categorising him as one of the mediocre and overrated people.
  2. Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, which I read as a teenager, a dozen times, remains one of my favourite books.
  3. Having read Crime and Punishment, The Idiot and The Gambler as a teenager, I associated Dostoevsky with my youthful reading history. I’ve waited far too long to return to his work.
  4. Notes From Underground which I’ve read twice this week might be my favourite Dostoevsky but that could just be post-literal glow.
  5. Howard Devoto based Magazine’s Song From Under the Floorboards on Notes From Underground.
  6. Viktor Shklovsky suggested that the nameless hero of Notes From Underground is nameless because ‘I’ is all of us.
  7. Structurally Notes From Underground is possibly perfect. That is why an immediate second reading felt  essential, to try to unravel how Dostoevsky composed this extraordinary novel.
  8. The counterbalance of despair and the blackest humour in Notes From Underground is deceptively brilliant. It reminds me equally of Sartre’s Nausea, and Rémy Belvaux’s satirical film Man BItes Dog (1992).
  9. Nietzsche read Notes From Underground in French translation, and was a self-declared Dostoevsky fan.
  10. Notes From Underground is one of the books regularly credited with marking the beginning of the modernist movement in literature.