Notes from Underground

Notes from Underground Part 1, Chapter 11 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The underground man says that it’s best simply to do nothing, to live in “conscious inertia” underground. He tells his readers that he doesn’t believe “one word, not one little word” of what he’s written, but writes because he has nothing to do underground by himself. He imagines his readers criticizing him for wanting to seem like he doesn’t care about them, but still trying to impress them with his wit and clever jokes.
The underground man’s hyper-consciousness results both in his boredom (lack of action) and isolation underground. He irrationally contradicts himself, saying that he doesn’t believe in his own writings, but still uses his writing to have someone (an imagined reader) to talk to.
Themes
Thought vs. Action Theme Icon
Loneliness, Isolation, and Society Theme Icon
Reason and Rationality Theme Icon
Literature and Writing Theme Icon
The underground man asks why he is even addressing his readers, and says that he has no plans to print these confessions of his. He says that he is writing only for himself and will “write down whatever comes to mind,” without “any order or system.” In any case, he says that writing offers him some relief from his boredom. He says that it is currently snowing out, and that the snow reminds him of an episode. So, he prepares to tell, in part two, “a tale apropos of wet snow.”
The underground man writes in order to alleviate his boredom, but perhaps also to alleviate his loneliness. Through writing, he can have a kind of conversation with both himself and his readers. His writings reflect his penchant for the irrational and illogical, as they ramble on without any logical “order or system.”
Themes
Loneliness, Isolation, and Society Theme Icon
Reason and Rationality Theme Icon
Literature and Writing Theme Icon