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.