In 1844 Dostoevsky published his first work, Poor Folk, and it was an instant success. Russian literary critic Belinsky went as far as to designate the previously unknown author as the successor of the great Nikolai Gogol. Twenty years later, Dostoevsky published Notes from the Underground, and his Russian critics did not know what to make of it. In retrospect, it is clear that with this work Dostoevsky comes out of the shadow of Gogol and every other writer. Even now, almost a hundred and fifty years after its publication, after we have experienced Kafka, Camus, and Faulkner in literature, Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Wittgenstein in philosophy, Kandinsky, Klee, and Picasso in painting, and Schönberg, Bartok, and Stravinsky in music, Dostoevsky’s work is barely comprehensible on first reading. It is so profoundly original and revolutionary that, had Dostoevsky never published again, his fame as a writer would have been assured. Yet, as Konstantin Mochulsky remarks, this work is just “the philosophical preface to the cycle of his great novels.” 1