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[personal profile] hazel_piper
Dostoevsky's style is very straightforward and conversational. It feels as though the narrator is speaking directly to the reader. The narrator very cleverly directs the reader by periodically stopping the narrative to repeat the listener's "comments" and to tell their "actions."

The narrator's view of humanity is bleak. In Part One, the narrator is focusing on the negative qualities of man--spite, pride, revenge, war, self-absorption.

Dostoevsky uses the motif of "two times two." This motif serves more than one purpose: 1) It "holds" the narrator's comments together, providing continuity and continually reminding us that his comments are all connected and return to the beginning {prof comment in margin: nice}. 2) Inevitableness--in some things, it will always be the same, just as two times two will always be four (even though "two times two makes five is sometimes also a very charming little thing"). Reiteration of two times two emphasizes the narrator's point in the unchanging ways of man in some areas (ie: civilization is supposed to make man civil and yet he is still swimming in bloodshed--the nature of man was not changed by civilization).

"Apropos of Wet Snow" moves us from the dialogue of the older Underground Man to the events of his "youth" (flashback through dialogue)

The Underground Man talks of spite. On page 17: man becomes bloodthirsty in a nastier, more repulsive way; page 6: becoming sunk in the morass and bogged down by it--pleasure at some revolting deed; page 11: man with toothache; etc. In "Apropos," the Underground Man shows instances from his own past--the tormenting of Liza, joining the fairwell party, etc.

Page 31-2: The romantics--understand and see everything, never reconcile and never balk at anything, yield to everything, treat everyone diplomatically, have a goal, preserve themselves and their idea of the "beautiful and sublime." The Russion romantic is far different from the English romantic writers. Blake and Wordsworth were interested in reform and in man being more than what he is-->idealizing. The Underground Man fits part of his "romantic" description. As a young man, he believed he knew more, saw more, and understood more--but here it ends. He could not fulfill the rest; he wanted others to suffer as he suffered (could not treat all diplomatically). The "beautiful and sublime" he could see only in his dreams and even then they were anything but ideal (ie: his version of love).

Part One shows us the nature of man. Man is contradictory with many motivations. Man doesn't always do what is good for him because he wants to exercise free will. Part Two shows us man's contradictory behavior through the example of the younger Underground Man. Part One and Part Two show the rational self and the irrational self and how they relate.

Rozanov: "Thought and Art in Notes From Underground"

Rozanov discusses the concepts of individuality and irrationality. He comments that man behaves irrationally to retain his individuality. Man will do things to ensure that things are not the same all the time. The Underground Man breaks the monotony of his life by doing things like obsessing about the policeman or tormenting Liza. He seems irrational because he spends so much time plotting and worrying about bumping into the policeman but it is simply his way of retaining his individuality. He doesn't want to be another faceless body in the crowd--he wants respect, he wants the policeman to know that he, too, can bump into someone {prof note in margin: good view}. And this "rebellion" against samesness can be seen everywhere. Coleridge's "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" has a good example of a man behaving irrationally to break the uniformity. In "Rime," an albatross stays with their ship for nine days--always doing the same things over and over again until the mariner shoots it with his crossbow. The Mariner had no rational reason to kill the albatross--he was simply reacting to the fact that every day was the same.

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September 2011

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