Not a Piano Key to be Played, but a Human

For the whole work of man really seems to consist in nothing but proving to himself every minute that he is a man and not a piano-key to be played!  And this being so, can one help being tempted to rejoice that it has not yet come off, and that desire still depends on something we don’t know?

Fyodor Dostoevsky, Notes from Underground

An 1864 Russian novel I read and discussed in a book club in nearby Ann Arbor yesterday.  The Underground Man asserts a person’s right to be human, with all the “unreasonable” emotions that involves, in the face of reformers’ efforts to conform human behavior to their idea of rationality and “the good.”  Also, a revolution in the novel, with the first anti-hero and the emergence of the unreliable narrator.  Really quite an amazing achievement in the art of writing.  I’m still marveling and will be re-reading after picking up many great insights from the book club members’ discussion.

Warren Dunes state park

Warren Dunes, Michigan

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12 thoughts on “Not a Piano Key to be Played, but a Human

  1. Nancy

    This is one I haven’t read. Thanks.
    That photo from Warren Dunes brings back memories: out first family camping trip was there. Gary took our son for a walk while I set up camp. Chris was excited to see the lake for the first time ever and insisted he show me. on the way He fell down the sandy river bank and I couldn’t get to him. I had to get Gary and leave our son behind. He dictated the tale to his preschool teacher- his first story. He was a writing major at GVSU.

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    1. Tom Schultz Post author

      Warren Dunes is an exciting place to see Lake Michigan. Whether you’re driving to the beach or following the river trail, the great blue expanse of the lake just seems to suddenly emerge. Very beautiful, especially with a west wind to toss the whitecaps on to the shore for as far as you can see!

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    1. Tom Schultz Post author

      Thanks for both compliments. And for the share on Twitter. Just around the next bend in the river in the picture, it flows into Lake Michigan. There’s a sandy beach and then a vast expanse of blue to the horizon. Plus, some 100 foot high dunes, piled up over the centuries by the prevailing west wind.

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    1. Tom Schultz Post author

      I’ve read a few of his novels, but not that one. Loved Brothers Karamazov, but it takes a while to work through it. The chapter on the Grand Inquisitor is one of my favorites in lit.

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    1. Tom Schultz Post author

      And right around the bend in the river, it flows into Lake Michigan, a vast expanse of blue stretching to the horizon. Until you actually visit, I hope you’ll frequent my blog and keep posting your thoughts. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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