Dostoevsky’s Notes from Undergound - Reactions to an Overdeterministic Existence

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Dostoevsky’s Notes from Undergound - Reactions to an Overdeterministic Existence Some of the works cited are missing Dostoevsky presents his Notes from Undergound as the fragmented ramblings of an unnamed narrator. On the surface, the character’s narration appears disjointed and reaches no conclusive end ing until the author intercedes to end the book. However, a close examination of the underground man’s language reveals a progression in his collected ravings. After expressing dissatisfaction with the notion of determinism, the underground man perceives the irony of his ultra-deterministic reality. Through his narrative, the underground man discovers the truth about his predestined, fictional existence. Dostoevsky’s work is divided into two sections; throughout the first section, “Underground,” the narrator discusses and resists determinism. The underground man compares deterministic life to a mathematical formula, two times two equals four. He suggests that, according to the deterministic model, life conforms to a set of predestined events and actions, and its outcome is inevitable. The underground man condemns the formula, asserting, “After all, two times two is no longer life, gentlemen, but the beginning of death”(24). In his essay Narrative and Freedom, critic Gary Saul Morson elaborates upon the narrator’s statement, adding, “For life to be meaningful and for work to be more than robotic, there must be something not just unknown but still undecided” (Morson 196-7). According to the underground man, the pre-existence of the solution implies that no other conclusion may be reached; once one embarks on life, one cannot escape the inevitable outcome of death. Morson emphasizes the underground man’s res... ... middle of paper ... ...nd man initially believes that by identifying the cause of his defectiveness, he will be able to correct his seemingly doomed life. Instead, he discovers that his real defect, his existence as fiction, prevents him from ever altering his circumstances. After heralding self-awareness as the key to controlling his own life, he finds that self-awareness only allows him to perceive how little control he could ever have. Works Cited and Consulted Berger, Peter L. The Sacred Canopy: Elements of a Sociological Theory of Religion. New York: Anchor Books, 1990. Escher, M.C. “Drawing Hands.” Cover of Norton edition of Notes from Underground. Katz, Michael R., ed. Notes from Underground. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2001. Chernyshevsky, Nikolai. “What Is to Be Done?” Katz 104-123. Dostoevsky, Fyodor. “Notes from Underground.” Katz 3-91 Morson Todorov

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