Notes From The Underground By Fyodor Dostoevsky

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I want now to tell you, gentlemen, whether you care to hear it or not, why I could not even become an insect.

I tell you solemnly, that I have many times tried to become an insect. But I was not equal even to that.

I swear, gentlemen, that to be too conscious is an illness—a real thorough-going illness.

For man’s everyday needs, it would have been quite enough to have the ordinary human consciousness.

That is half or a quarter of the amount which falls to the lot of a cultivated man of our unhappy nineteenth century, especially one who has the fatal ill-luck to inhabit Petersburg, the most theoretical and intentional town on the whole terrestrial globe.

(There are intentional and unintentional towns.) It would have been quite enough, for instance, to have the consciousness by which all so-called direct persons and men of the action live.

I bet you think I am writing all this from affectation, to be witty at the expense of men of action; and what is more, that from ill-bred affectation, I am clanking a sword like my officer.

But, gentlemen, whoever can pride himself on his diseases and even swagger over them?

Though, after all, everyone does do that; people do pride themselves on their diseases, and I do, maybe, more than anyone.

We will not dispute it; my contention was absurd. But yet I am firmly persuaded that a great deal of consciousness, every sort of consciousness, in fact, is a disease.

I stick to that. Let us leave that, too, for a minute.

Tell me this: why does it happen that at the very, yes, at the very moments when I am most capable of feeling every refinement of all that is “sublime and beautiful,” as they used to say at one time, it would, as though of design, happen to me not only to feel but to do such ugly things, such that …

Well, in short, actions that all, perhaps, commit; but which, as though purposely, occurred to me at the very time when I was most conscious that they ought not to be committed. 

AuthorFyodor Dostoevsky
Language English
No. of Pages168
PDF Size0.5 MB

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