A quarter of an hour later I was rushing up and down the room in frenzie_mpatience, from minute to minute I went up to the screen and peeped throug_he crack at Liza. She was sitting on the ground with her head leaning agains_he bed, and must have been crying. But she did not go away, and tha_rritated me. This time she understood it all. I had insulted her finally, but
… there's no need to describe it. She realised that my outburst of passion ha_een simply revenge, a fresh humiliation, and that to my earlier, almos_auseless hatred was added now a PERSONAL HATRED, born of envy … . Though I d_ot maintain positively that she understood all this distinctly; but sh_ertainly did fully understand that I was a despicable man, and what wa_orse, incapable of loving her. I know I shall be told that this i_ncredible—but it is incredible to be as spiteful and stupid as I was; it ma_e added that it was strange I should not love her, or at any rate, appreciat_er love. Why is it strange? In the first place, by then I was incapable o_ove, for I repeat, with me loving meant tyrannising and showing my mora_uperiority. I have never in my life been able to imagine any other sort o_ove, and have nowadays come to the point of sometimes thinking that lov_eally consists in the right— freely given by the beloved object—to tyrannis_ver her.
Even in my underground dreams I did not imagine love except as a struggle. _egan it always with hatred and ended it with moral subjugation, an_fterwards I never knew what to do with the subjugated object. And what i_here to wonder at in that, since I had succeeded in so corrupting myself,
since I was so out of touch with "real life," as to have actually thought o_eproaching her, and putting her to shame for having come to me to hear "fin_entiments"; and did not even guess that she had come not to hear fin_entiments, but to love me, because to a woman all reformation, all salvatio_rom any sort of ruin, and all moral renewal is included in love and can onl_how itself in that form.
I did not hate her so much, however, when I was running about the room an_eeping through the crack in the screen. I was only insufferably oppressed b_er being here. I wanted her to disappear. I wanted "peace," to be left alon_n my underground world. Real life oppressed me with its novelty so much tha_ could hardly breathe.
But several minutes passed and she still remained, without stirring, as thoug_he were unconscious. I had the shamelessness to tap softly at the screen a_hough to remind her … . She started, sprang up, and flew to seek he_erchief, her hat, her coat, as though making her escape from me … . Tw_inutes later she came from behind the screen and looked with heavy eyes a_e. I gave a spiteful grin, which was forced, however, to KEEP UP APPEARANCES,
and I turned away from her eyes.
"Good-bye," she said, going towards the door.
I ran up to her, seized her hand, opened it, thrust something in it and close_t again. Then I turned at once and dashed away in haste to the other corne_f the room to avoid seeing, anyway … .
I did mean a moment since to tell a lie—to write that I did this accidentally,
not knowing what I was doing through foolishness, through losing my head. Bu_ don't want to lie, and so I will say straight out that I opened her hand an_ut the money in it … from spite. It came into my head to do this while I wa_unning up and down the room and she was sitting behind the screen. But this _an say for certain: though I did that cruel thing purposely, it was not a_mpulse from the heart, but came from my evil brain. This cruelty was s_ffected, so purposely made up, so completely a product of the brain, o_ooks, that I could not even keep it up a minute—first I dashed away to avoi_eeing her, and then in shame and despair rushed after Liza. I opened the doo_n the passage and began listening.
"Liza! Liza!" I cried on the stairs, but in a low voice, not boldly. There wa_o answer, but I fancied I heard her footsteps, lower down on the stairs.
"Liza!" I cried, more loudly.
No answer. But at that minute I heard the stiff outer glass door open heavil_ith a creak and slam violently; the sound echoed up the stairs.
She had gone. I went back to my room in hesitation. I felt horribly oppressed.
I stood still at the table, beside the chair on which she had sat and looke_imlessly before me. A minute passed, suddenly I started; straight before m_n the table I saw … . In short, I saw a crumpled blue five- rouble note, th_ne I had thrust into her hand a minute before. It was the same note; it coul_e no other, there was no other in the flat. So she had managed to fling i_rom her hand on the table at the moment when I had dashed into the furthe_orner.
Well! I might have expected that she would do that. Might I have expected it?
No, I was such an egoist, I was so lacking in respect for my fellow-creature_hat I could not even imagine she would do so. I could not endure it. A minut_ater I flew like a madman to dress, flinging on what I could at random an_an headlong after her. She could not have got two hundred paces away when _an out into the street.
It was a still night and the snow was coming down in masses and falling almos_erpendicularly, covering the pavement and the empty street as though with _illow. There was no one in the street, no sound was to be heard. The stree_amps gave a disconsolate and useless glimmer. I ran two hundred paces to th_ross-roads and stopped short.
Where had she gone? And why was I running after her?
Why? To fall down before her, to sob with remorse, to kiss her feet, t_ntreat her forgiveness! I longed for that, my whole breast was being rent t_ieces, and never, never shall I recall that minute with indifference.
But—what for? I thought. Should I not begin to hate her, perhaps, eve_omorrow, just because I had kissed her feet today? Should I give he_appiness? Had I not recognised that day, for the hundredth time, what I wa_orth? Should I not torture her?
I stood in the snow, gazing into the troubled darkness and pondered this.
"And will it not be better?" I mused fantastically, afterwards at home,
stifling the living pang of my heart with fantastic dreams. "Will it not b_etter that she should keep the resentment of the insult for ever?
Resentment—why, it is purification; it is a most stinging and painfu_onsciousness! Tomorrow I should have defiled her soul and have exhausted he_eart, while now the feeling of insult will never die in her heart, an_owever loathsome the filth awaiting her—the feeling of insult will elevat_nd purify her … by hatred … h'm! … perhaps, too, by forgiveness … . Will al_hat make things easier for her though? … "
And, indeed, I will ask on my own account here, an idle question: which i_etter—cheap happiness or exalted sufferings? Well, which is better?
So I dreamed as I sat at home that evening, almost dead with the pain in m_oul. Never had I endured such suffering and remorse, yet could there hav_een the faintest doubt when I ran out from my lodging that I should turn bac_alf-way? I never met Liza again and I have heard nothing of her. I will add,
too, that I remained for a long time afterwards pleased with the phrase abou_he benefit from resentment and hatred in spite of the fact that I almost fel_ll from misery.
… . .
Even now, so many years later, all this is somehow a very evil memory. I hav_any evil memories now, but … hadn't I better end my "Notes" here? I believe _ade a mistake in beginning to write them, anyway I have felt ashamed all th_ime I've been writing this story; so it's hardly literature so much as _orrective punishment. Why, to tell long stories, showing how I have spoile_y life through morally rotting in my corner, through lack of fittin_nvironment, through divorce from real life, and rankling spite in m_nderground world, would certainly not be interesting; a novel needs a hero,
and all the traits for an anti-hero are EXPRESSLY gathered together here, an_hat matters most, it all produces an unpleasant impression, for we are al_ivorced from life, we are all cripples, every one of us, more or less. We ar_o divorced from it that we feel at once a sort of loathing for real life, an_o cannot bear to be reminded of it. Why, we have come almost to looking upo_eal life as an effort, almost as hard work, and we are all privately agree_hat it is better in books. And why do we fuss and fume sometimes? Why are w_erverse and ask for something else? We don't know what ourselves. It would b_he worse for us if our petulant prayers were answered. Come, try, give an_ne of us, for instance, a little more independence, untie our hands, wide_he spheres of our activity, relax the control and we … yes, I assure you … w_hould be begging to be under control again at once. I know that you will ver_ikely be angry with me for that, and will begin shouting and stamping. Spea_or yourself, you will say, and for your miseries in your underground holes,
and don't dare to say all of us— excuse me, gentlemen, I am not justifyin_yself with that "all of us." As for what concerns me in particular I hav_nly in my life carried to an extreme what you have not dared to carr_alfway, and what's more, you have taken your cowardice for good sense, an_ave found comfort in deceiving yourselves. So that perhaps, after all, ther_s more life in me than in you. Look into it more carefully! Why, we don'_ven know what living means now, what it is, and what it is called? Leave u_lone without books and we shall be lost and in confusion at once. We shal_ot know what to join on to, what to cling to, what to love and what to hate,
what to respect and what to despise. We are oppressed at being men—men with _eal individual body and blood, we are ashamed of it, we think it a disgrac_nd try to contrive to be some sort of impossible generalised man. We ar_tillborn, and for generations past have been begotten, not by living fathers,
and that suits us better and better. We are developing a taste for it. Soon w_hall contrive to be born somehow from an idea. But enough; I don't want t_rite more from "Underground."
[The notes of this paradoxalist do not end here, however. He could not refrai_rom going on with them, but it seems to us that we may stop here.]