№11 2021

УДК / UDK: 821.111

Author: Ira Nadel
About the author:

Ira Nadel, PhD, Professor, University of British Columbia, 2329 West Mall, V6T 1Z1 Vancouver, Canada.


E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 


This chronological survey of English translations of Notes from Underground covering the years 1913–2014 evaluates the treatment of the text from various, often contradictory, perspectives. Well-known and unknown translators and editors offer sometimes opposing versions of the text aided by various ancillary materials which range from biographical information to a detailed chronology of Dostoevsky’s life plus excerpts from contemporary documents and modern critical evaluations. A number of the translations are designed expressly for students, others for those with limited or no knowledge of Dostoevsky, Russian history or the Russian language. No single introduction or translation emerges as the most insightful or accurate, although those of the last two decades are more idiomatic. Influencing this is often the background of the editor or translator. American editors focus on the context of Dostoevsky’s creation, English or Russian editors concentrate on the core elements that emphasize either the Russian literary tradition or late 19th century Russian politics and its importance for Dostoevsky’s conception of the story. Almost all editors consider the narrative experimentation of the work and the structural differences between Parts I and II. A number of the editors also address the Existential quality of the text, while translators confront the difficulties of capturing Dostoevsky’s sometime idiosyncratic prose.

* See the Russian translation of the article online at:

Keywords: Dostoevsky, Notes from Underground, translations, narrative, literary history, St. Petersburg, style, anti-hero.
For citation:

Nadel, Ira. “Notes from Underground: In English.” Literature of the Americas, no. 11 (2021): 82–133. 


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