By the time Dostoevsky was 40, he had spent four years in prison and a further four years in the army as punishment for his part in a political conspiracy. His health was broken. He was gaunt, fervid, anxiety-ridden, and close to bankruptcy. It was in this state he wrote
Notes from the Underground, a masterpiece of the psychology of theoutsider.
The book, published in 1864, marks a turning point in Dostoevsky's writing: it announces the moral, political, and social ideas that he will further examine in Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov. The book opens with a tormented soul crying out, "I am a sick man...I am a spiteful man." This is the cry of an alienated individual who has become one of the greatest anti-heroes in all literature.
Walter Zimmerman strikes an intellectual, angst-ridden note in his performance of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Notes from the Underground, a foundation text among existential writers like Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre.
The first part of this novella sees the jaded narrator musing philosophically on whether human action is motivated by reason as well as the concept of suffering. In the second part, we get a more dramatic portrait of the "Underground Man". Here we see him obsess over a cruel officer and cruelly spew his anguish upon a young prostitute.
The narrator in Dostoevsky’s novella is meant to be fascinating but not fully sympathetic. Zimmerman deftly conveys both his intelligence and his arrogance.
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