Dostoevsky's most revolutionary novel, Notes from Underground marks the dividing line between 19th- and 20th- century fiction, and between the visions of self each century embodied. One of the most remarkable characters in literature, the unnamed narrator is a former official who has defiantly withdrawn into an underground existence. In full retreat from society, he scrawls a passionate, obsessive, self-contradictory narrative that serves as a devastating attack on social utopianism and an assertion of man's essentially irrational nature.
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.
Pevear and Volokhonsky's translation is the only translation that counts. They are the only translators who succeed in making Dostoevsky accessible to a 21st century audience, thanks to their ruthless attention to detail at the expense of alterations which can dilute Dostoevsky's unique and flowing style of writing. The great appeal this book retains even today is in part due to Pevear and Volokhonsky, as well as to Dostoevsky himself. Furthermore, Richard Pevear's substantial introduction is essential reading. It explains the purpose of the book and the historical significance of its ideas. Dostoevsky was writing at a time when Russia had reason to be optimistic, but the warning signs in his fiction perhaps leave us clues as to why Russia still has social problems today - and why, less than 40 years after Dostoevsky's death, Russia embraced Communism and destroyed the society in which Dostoevsky had lived