Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Fyodor Dostoevsky's Notes from Underground. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.
Notes from Underground: Context
Notes from Underground: Plot Summary
Notes from Underground: Detailed Summary & Analysis
Notes from Underground: Themes
Notes from Underground: Quotes
Notes from Underground: Characters
Notes from Underground: Symbols
Notes from Underground: Theme Wheel
Brief Biography of Fyodor Dostoevsky
Historical Context of Notes from Underground
- Full Title: Notes from Underground
- When Written: 1864
- Where Written: St. Petersburg
- When Published: 1864
- Literary Period: Realism, but many of the novel’s features anticipate modernism and existentialism.
- Genre: Philosophical novella
- Setting: St. Petersburg, Russia
- Climax: The structure of the novella’s plot, which contains little action, is somewhat anti-climactic. However, there are several minor climaxes: when the underground man finally bumps into the officer in part one, when he makes a fool of himself at Zverkov’s party, and when tries to give money to Liza near the end of the novella.
- Antagonist: While the underground man struggles against people like the officer in part one or Simonov and Zverkov, these minor antagonists stand in for mainstream society itself, which is the main antagonist in the underground man’s life. In addition, one can see him as often struggling against himself and his own overly active mind.
Extra Credit for Notes from Underground
The Overfed Man. The underground man has been hugely influential on many characters in modern fiction, and has even been the subject of parody. Woody Allen, for example, wrote a humorous essay entitled “Notes from the Overfed,” written after reading Dostoevsky and a “Weight Watchers” magazine on the same plane flight. It begins, “I am fat. I am disgustingly fat. I am the fattest human I know.”