Cheap Happiness or Lofty Suffering? | Fyodor Dostoyevsky, 1864



"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 be better that she should keep the resentment of the insult for ever? Resentment--why, it is purification; it is a most stinging and painful consciousness! Tomorrow I should have defiled her soul and have exhausted her heart, while now the feeling of insult will never die in her heart, and however loathsome the filth awaiting her--the feeling of insult will elevate and purify her ... by hatred ... h'm! ... perhaps, too, by forgiveness .... Will all that make things easier for her though? ..."

And, indeed, I will ask on my own account here, an idle question: which is better--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 my soul. Never had I endured such suffering and remorse, yet could there have been the faintest doubt when I ran out from my lodging that I should turn back half-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 about the benefit from resentment and hatred in spite of the fact that I almost fell ill from misery."


Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Notes from the Underground, 1864


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