Top positive review
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Well Worth Reading
on 5 December 2017
Considered to be one of the first existentialist works, this novella was first published in 1864, long before such books became more popular and written. Here we have a narrator who is definitely an anti-hero and certainly, as you read this, you find to be quite unreliable.
The tale is set out in two parts and in the first we find out more about the thoughts and the character of our narrator, who can be nasty out of spitefulness, not because he really wants to be, he just needs to out of his compulsions. Thus, although we can see him carrying out certain actions, even he realises that they are not really something he is proud of, but just cannot stop.
In the second part we find out how he acts within different scenarios, and once again we see his contradictory attitudes, and thus whilst we can see good in him, we can also see the bad. With Russia undergoing changes within, with more influences from its European neighbours being taken on board so there were lots of discussions about the good and bad of European and Russian ideas and ideals, which was most probably the inspiration for this novella.
There are some interesting juxtapositions with the themes and ideas brought up here, and shown through the narrator we see these being acted out. Always a thoughtful read this does bring up the realities and problems with the idea of what free thought and actions are, and comparing this to a more collectivist idea.
If you are reading existentialist novels of the 20th Century and enjoying them, then it is a good idea to go back to the previous century and look at things such as this tale.