Notes From Underground Critical Essays

Notes From Underground Critical Essays-73
Is it all the circumstances he is in and the position from which he sees the world?

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Equally noteworthy is the rhetoric, whereby language is manipulated for its effect.

The Underground Man uses language melodramatically, enabling him to interact with the reader-as-analyst and invite her or him to play his game.

Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, whose Dostoevsky translations have become the standard, give us a brilliantly faithful edition of this classic novel, conveying all the tragedy and tormented comedy of the original.

Hello :) So, what is the mataphor of the underground?

Writers have been animating their characters with psychological insight as early as Sophocles, and Freud himself acknowledged his debt to literature.

(5) Nor is it unusual to find this trait in Dostoevsky, whose work and psyche have been explored by Freud.At all the critical moments of his confession he tries to anticipate the possible definition or evaluation others might make of him, to guess the sense and tone of that evaluation, tries painstakingly to formulate these possible words about himself by others, interrupting his own speech with the imagined rejoinder of others.(3)The result of this constant interaction is that the "genuine life of the [Underground Man's] personality is made available only through a dialogic penetration of that personality, during which it freely and reciprocally reveals itself."(4) What is suggested here is the psychoanalytic method, which might well be described, to use Bakhtin's words, as the "dialogic penetration of a personality." If Bakhtin would read Notes from Underground as a dialogue between the protagonist and his reader, it is also, more specifically, possible to read the text as the interaction of a patient and his analyst.The reader must assume not simply the role of imaginary listener, but the more active role of analyst as well, carefully reading the clues provided by Dostoevsky in order to understand the Underground Man's psychic composition.I say that in all seriousness - I'd have derived pleasure from this too. (8)The choice of metaphor is noteworthy: the underground Man identifies himself with deformed beings: the dwarf, the hunchback.Later he will develop the metaphor of the mouse in much the same way.In order to situate the game as it is orchestrated by Dostoevsky, it is helpful to consider Bakhtin's insights into the mechanism used to animate the Underground Man: his preoccupation with, and dependence on, the impression he makes on those around him.Although Bakhtin notes that "Dostoevsky's [Underground Man] is not an objectified image but an autonomous discourse, pure voice; we do not see him, we hear him",(2) this "pure voice" operates in a very particular way: ...[w]hat the Underground Man thinks about most of all is what others think or might think about him; he tries to keep one step ahead of every other consciousness, every other thought about him, every other point of view on him.According to Freud, "the patient, who is suffering so much from his symptoms and is causing those about him to share his sufferings, who is ready to undertake so many sacrifices in time, money, effort and self-discipline in order to be freed from those symptoms...this same patient puts up a struggle in the interest of his illness against the person who is helping him."(10) But this paradoxical aspect of human nature was already evident to Dostoevsky, and was an integral part of his Underground Man well before Freud would recognize it as a symptom of resistance.Dostoevsky has not only illustrated in a clear and systematic way certain neurotic tendencies which Freud himself would identify and explore in his own patients, but he has also anticipated the methodology which would come to be known as 'psychoanalysis'.It is not unusual to find that still another literary text anticipates Freudian psychoanalysis in interesting ways.


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