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Notes from the Underground

I
I am a sick man. ... I am a spiteful man. I am an unattractive man. I believe my
liver is diseased. However, I know nothing at all about my disease, and do not
know for certain what ails me. I don't consult a doctor for it, and never have,
though I have a respect for medicine and doctors. Besides, I am extremely
superstitious, sufficiently so to respect medicine, anyway (I am well-educated
enough not to be superstitious, but I am superstitious). No, I refuse to consult a
doctor from spite. That you probably will not understand. Well, I understand it,
though. Of course, I can't explain who it is precisely that I am mortifying in this
case by my spite: I am perfectly well aware that I cannot "pay out" the doctors by
not consulting them; I know better than anyone that by all this I am only injuring
myself and no one else. But still, if I don't consult a doctor it is from spite. My liver
is bad, well--let it get worse!
I have been going on like that for a long time--twenty years. Now I am forty. I
used to be in the government service, but am no longer. I was a spiteful official. I
was rude and took pleasure in being so. I did not take bribes, you see, so I was
bound to find a recompense in that, at least. (A poor jest, but I will not scratch it
out. I wrote it thinking it would sound very witty; but now that I have seen myself
that I only wanted to show off in a despicable way, I will not scratch it out on
purpose!)
When petitioners used to come for information to the table at which I sat, I used
to grind my teeth at them, and felt intense enjoyment when I succeeded in
making anybody unhappy. I almost did succeed. For the most part they were all
timid people--of course, they were petitioners. But of the uppish ones there was
one officer in particular I could not endure. He simply would not be humble, and
clanked his sword in a disgusting way. I carried on a feud with him for eighteen
months over that sword. At last I got the better of him. He left off clanking it. That
happened in my youth, though. But do you know, gentlemen, what was the chief
point about my spite? Why, the whole point, the real sting of it lay in the fact that
continually, even in the moment of the acutest spleen, I was inwardly conscious
with shame that I was not only not a spiteful but not even an embittered man, that
I was simply scaring sparrows at random and amusing myself by it. I might foam
at the mouth, but bring me a doll to play with, give me a cup of tea with sugar in
it, and maybe I should be appeased. I might even be genuinely touched, though
probably I should grind my teeth at myself afterwards and lie awake at night with
shame for months after. That was my way.
I was lying when I said just now that I was a spiteful official. I was lying from
spite. I was simply amusing myself with the petitioners and with the officer, and in
reality I never could become spiteful. I was conscious every moment in myself of
many, very many elements absolutely opposite to that. I felt them positively
swarming in me, these opposite elements. I knew that they had been swarming
in me all my life and craving some outlet from me, but I would not let them, would
not let them, purposely would not let them come out. They tormented me till I was
ashamed: they drove me to convulsions and--sickened me, at last, how they
 
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