I should have respected myself because I should at least have been capable of being lazy; there would at least have been one quality, as it were, positive in me, in which I could have believed myself. Question: What is he? Answer: A sluggard; how very pleasant it would have been to hear that of oneself!
It would mean that I was positively defined, it would mean that there was something to say about me. “Sluggard”–why, it is a calling and vocation, it is a career.
Do not jest, it is so. I should then be a member of the best club by right, and should find my occupation in continually respecting myself.
from Notes from the Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky
Back of the book: The apology and confession of a minor mid-19th-century Russian official, Notes from the Underground is a half-desperate, half-mocking political critique and a powerful, at times absurdly comical, account of man’s breakaway from society and descent ‘underground’.
About the Contributor
While still in his twenties, John Purcell opened a second-hand bookshop in Mosman, Sydney, in which he sat for ten years reading, ranting and writing. Since then he has written, under a pseudonym, a series of very successful novels, interviewed hundreds of writers about their work, appeared at writers’ festivals, on TV (most bizarrely in comedian Luke McGregor’s documentary Luke Warm Sex) and has been featured in prominent newspapers and magazines. Now, as the Director of Books at booktopia.com.au, Australia’s largest online bookseller, he supports Australian writing in all its forms. He lives in Sydney with his wife, two children, three dogs, five cats, unnumbered gold fish and his overlarge book collection.