I write only for myself (Dostoevsky)

Every man has reminiscences which he would not tell to every one, but only to his friends. He has other matters in his mind which he would not reveal even to his friends, but only to himself, and that in secret. But there are other things which a man is afraid to tell even to himself, and every decent man has a number of such things stored away in his mind. The more decent he is, the greater the number of such things in his mind. Anyway, I have only lately determined to remember some of my early adventures. Till now I have always avoided them, even with a certain uneasiness. Now, when I am not only recalling them, but have actually decided to write an account of them, I want to try the experiment whether one can, even with oneself, be perfectly open and not take fright at the whole truth. I will observe, in parenthesis, that Heine says that a true autobiography is almost an impossibility, and that man is bound to lie about himself. He considers that Rousseau certainly told lies about himself in his confessions, and even intentionally lied, out of vanity. I am convinced that Heine is right; I quite understand how sometimes one may, out of sheer vanity, attribute regular crimes to oneself, and indeed I can very well conceive that kind of vanity. But Heine judged of people who made their confessions to the public. I write only for myself, and I wish to declare once and for all that if I write as though I were addressing readers, that is simply because it is easier for me to write in that form. It is a form, an empty form—I shall never have readers. I have made this plain already….

From Fyodor Dostoevsky’s novel Notes from Underground. English translation by Constance Garnett.

4 thoughts on “I write only for myself (Dostoevsky)”

  1. As soon as I read the first sentences I thought to myself, “This has to be the Underground Man.” It’s one of the most amazing, enthralling voices in all of literature; it’s everywhere in modern fiction.


    1. I love the book too. Caught some grief on twitter for supposedly attributing these lines to FD and not the underground man…although I think the context is pretty clear that it’s from the novel. Whatever.


  2. Reblogged this on Sassania's Blog and commented:
    Every man has reminiscences which he would not tell every one but only to friends.

    The great Russian writer Fyodor Dostoevsky reminisces about his past adventures and experiences and displays a deep insight of the human mind….read on


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