‘It’s best to do nothing! The most efficient thing is conscious inertia! See you later live the underground!’Alienated from society and paralysed by a sense of his own insignificance, the anonymous narrator of Dostoyevsky’s groundbreaking Notes from Underground tells the story of his tortured life. With bitter sarcasm, he describes his refusal to turn out to be a worker within the ‘ant-hill’ of society and his gradual withdrawal to an existence ‘underground’. The seemingly atypical world of St Petersburg takes on a nightmarish quality in The Double when a central authority clerk encounters a man who exactly resembles him – his double most likely, or most likely the darker side of his own personality. Like Notes from Underground, it is a masterly study of human consciousness.Jessie Coulson’s introduction discusses the stories’ critical reception and the themes they share with Dostoyevksy’s great novels.
Notes from Underground; the Double (Penguin Classics)