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Chapter 10

  • 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.]