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'The best thing is to do nothing! Better conscious inertia! So, long live the underground!'Alienated from society and paralysed by a sense of hose own insignificance, the anonymous narrator of Dostoyevsky's groundbreaking Notes from Underground tells the story of his tortured life. With bitter irony, he describes his refusal to become a worker in the 'anthill' of society and his gradual withdrawal to an existence 'underground'. The seemingly ordinary world of St Petersburg takes on a nightmarish quality in the The Double when a government clerk encounters a man who looks exactly like him - his double perhaps, or possibly the darker side of his own personality. Like Notes from Underground, this is a masterly tragi-comic study of human consciousousness.Ronald Wilks's extraordinary new translation is accompanied here by an introduction by Robert Louis Jackson discussing these pivotal works in the context of Dostoyevsky's life and times. This edition also contains a chronology, bibliography, table of ranks and notes on each work.'Notes from Underground, with its mood of intellectual irony and alienation, can be seen as the first modern novel . . . That sense of the meaninglessness of existence that runs through much of twentieth-century writing - from Conrad and Kafka, to Beckett and beyond - starts in Dostoyevsky's work' MALCOLM BRADBURY
Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821-û1881) spent four years in a prison in Siberia, after which he was obliged to enlist in the army. His novels, including Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov, rank among the greatest of the nineteenth century in any language.
Ronald Wilks has translated volumes by Chekhov, Tolstoy, and Gogol for Penguin Classics.
Robert Louis Jackson is B. E. Bensinger Professor Emeritus of Slavic Languages and Literatures at Yale.