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Julian Meynell's Books

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Notes from Underground

Notes from Underground - Ben  Marcus, Andrew R. MacAndrew, Fyodor Dostoyevsky I read this book for the first time over 20 years ago and returned to reread it. It is a brilliant book. It's so clever and complex that I hardly know what to say about it. It is better than the Brothers Karamazov and clearly one of the best books ever written.

Extremely well written. The main character is superbly well drawn. The book is divided into two parts. The first part is essentially a philosophical rant that anticipates Nietzsche and existentialism and is a critique of humanitarianism. The second part is the main character, who is about 40 reminiscing about things that happened to him when he was about 24.

The main character is a pure antihero. Full of malice and spite. However, for much of the book you can't help sympathizing with him. It is only when he meets the character Liza and tears her apart emotionally, that he goes so far, that your sympathy breaks down.

Dostoyevsky is willing to go places and take you there that other writers just will not do. I hardly know what to say about the book. Dostoyevsky has the ability to make you laugh, cringe and think with a single sentence. The book is mysterious in that it is difficult to even know, just how much the main character is meant to be right and justified.

Brilliant book. Amazing. But almost defies interpretation.