character

Underground Man Quotes

20 of the best book quotes from Underground Man
  1. #1
    “It is clear to me now that, owing to my unbounded vanity and to the high standard I set for myself, I often looked at myself with furious discontent.”
  2. #2
    “Oh, gentlemen, perhaps I really regard myself as an intelligent man only because throughout my entire life I’ve never been able to start or finish anything.”
  3. #3
    “I am a sick man.... I am a spiteful man. I am an unattractive man. ”
  4. #4
    “Here it is, here it is at last, the encounter with reality. . . . All is lost now!”
  5. #5
    “ ‘Ha, ha, ha! Next you’ll be finding pleasure in a toothache!’ you will exclaim, laughing.
    ‘And why not? There is also pleasure in a toothache,’ I will answer.”
  6. #6
    “Who wants to want according to a little table?”
  1. #7
    “I sensed vaguely that she was going to pay dearly for it all. . . .”
  2. #8
    “It was the exercise of my power that attracted me most.”
  3. #9
    “What I was afraid of was that everyone present, from the insolent marker down to the lowest little stinking, pimply clerk in a greasy collar, would jeer at me and fail to understand when I began to protest and to address them in literary language. For of the point of honour – not of honour, but of the point of honour – one cannot speak among us except in literary language. You can’t allude to the “point of honour” in ordinary language. I was fully convinced (the sense of reality, in spite of all my romanticism!) that they would all simply split their sides with laughter.”
  4. #10
    “Of course boredom may lead you to anything. It is boredom sets one sticking golden pins into people, but all that would not matter. What is bad is that I dare say people will be thankful for the gold pins then. ”
  5. #11
    “Once, indeed, I did have a friend. But I was already a tyrant at heart; I wanted to exercise unbounded sway over him; I tried to instill into him a contempt for his surroundings; I required of him a disdainful and complete break with those surroundings. I frightened him with my passionate affection; I reduced him to tears, to hysterics. He was a simple and devoted soul; but when he devoted himself to me entirely I began to hate him immediately and repulsed him – as though all I needed him for was to win a victory over him, to subjugate him and nothing else. But I could not subjugate all of them; my friend was not at all like them either, he was, in fact, a rare exception.”
  6. #12
    “And the worst of it was, and the root of it all, that it was all in accord with the normal fundamental laws of over-acute consciousness, and with the inertia that was the direct result of those laws, and that consequently one was not only unable to change but could do absolutely nothing.”

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  1. #13
    “One night as I was passing a tavern I saw through a lighted window some gentlemen fighting with billiard cues, and saw one of them thrown out of the window. At other times I should have felt very much disgusted, but I was in such a mood at the time, that I actually envied the gentleman thrown out of the window – and I envied him so much that I even went into the tavern and into the billiard-room. ‘Perhaps,’ I thought, ‘I’ll have a fight, too, and they’ll throw me out of the window.’ ”
  2. #14
    “I invented adventures for myself and made up a life, so as at least to live in some way. […] I tried hard to be in love. I suffered, too, gentlemen, I assure you. In the depth of my heart there was no faith in my suffering, only a faint stir of mockery […], and it was all from ennui, […]; inertia overcame me. You know the direct, legitimate fruit of consciousness is inertia, that is, conscious sitting-with-the-hands-folded.”
  3. #15
    “You see, gentlemen, reason is an excellent thing, there’s no disputing that, but reason is nothing but reason and satisfies only the rational side of man’s nature, while will is a manifestation of the whole life, that is, of the whole human life including reason and all the impulses. ”
  4. #16
    “Man likes to make roads and to create, that is a fact beyond dispute. But why has he such a passionate love for destruction and chaos also? Tell me that! But on that point I want to say a couple of words myself. May it not be that he loves chaos and destruction (there can be no disputing that he does sometimes love it) because he is instinctively afraid of attaining his object and completing the edifice he is constructing?”
  5. #17
    “Good heavens, gentlemen, what sort of free will is left when we come to tabulation and arithmetic, when it will all be a case of twice two make four? Twice two makes four without my will. As if free will meant that! ”
  6. #18
    “I would rather my hand were withered off than bring one brick to such a building! […] Perhaps the thing I resented was, that of all your edifices there has not been one at which one could not put out one’s tongue. On the contrary, I would let my tongue be cut off out of gratitude if things could be so arranged that I should lose all desire to put it out. ”
  7. #19
    “I could never stand more than three months of dreaming at a time without feeling an irresistible desire to plunge into society. To plunge into society meant to visit my superior at the office... I was overcome by a sort of paralysis; but this was pleasant and good for me. On returning home I deferred for a time my desire to embrace all mankind. ”
  8. #20
    “In the first place I spent most of my time at home, reading. I tried to stifle all that was continually seething within me by means of external impressions. And the only external means I had was reading. Reading, of course, was a great help – exciting me, giving me pleasure and pain. But at times it bored me fearfully. One longed for movement in spite of everything, and I plunged all at once into dark, underground, loathsome vice of the pettiest kind. My wretched passions were acute, smarting, from my continual, sickly irritability I had hysterical impulses, with tears and convulsions. I had no resource except reading, that is, there was nothing in my surroundings which I could respect and which attracted me.”

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