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Notes from Underground

Fyodor Dostoevsky (Artist: Selimkhanov)

Dostoevsky by Artist Selimkhanov

Summer Online Workshop

for Adults and Older Teenagers

I invite you to join me for two consecutive Tuesdays in July to discuss Notes from Underground. This novella sums up many of Dostoevsky’s ideas and images that evolved over two decades. Its anti-hero, as Dostoevsky calls him, reflects on the relationship between free will and determinism, irrationalism and materialism, and the idea that human imperfection is a law of nature and the cause of human suffering. Notes from Underground is often seen as Dostoevsky’s major philosophical achievement and as a prelude to his longer novels.

The novella is very difficult and irritating to read, and requires adult-level maturity. The class has been designed for adults and teenagers aged 16 or older. Here is a link to a wonderful essay in The New York Times by Lee Siegel that includes an account of the dangers of reading Dostoevsky’s Notes from Underground as a high school freshman:

Click here to register.

Class Format: The class will meet on two Tuesdays, July 22 and 29, 2014, from 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm CDT. Each session will consist of a 20 to 30 minute lecture by the teacher, followed by a group discussion.

Estimated Cost: $50.00. Please read the terms of payment here.

Number of Students: Minimum 5 students, maximum 16 students.

Technical requirements: All participants must have a PC or Macintosh with internet access and a supported browser to participate in courses. High-speed internet is strongly recommended. A microphone and a headset are required for live webinars. Headsets are strongly encouraged to reduce echo.

Text: There are several excellent translations for Notes from Underground. Please avoid the Pevear/Volokhonsky translation. I will be using this new translation by Natasha Randall:

Michael R. Katz’s translation available in Norton Critical Edition is also highly recommended:

Another good choice is David Magarshack’s translation in Great Short Works of Fyodor Dostoevsky:

Film: Notes from Underground directed by Gary Walkow, 1998 (highly recommended)