This is the first of a pair of articles that consider the relationship between Dostoevsky’s novella Notes from the Underground and Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Acknowledging Shakespeare’s well-known influence on Dostoevsky and paying close attention to similarities between the two texts, the author frames the comparison by reflecting on his own initial encounter with Dostoevsky in David Magarshack’s 1968 English translation. A discussion of previous Anglophone scholarly attempts to explore the resonance between the texts leads to a reading of textual echoes (using Magarshack’s translation). The wider phenomenon of Hamletism in the nineteenth century is introduced, complicating Dostoevsky’s national and generational context, and laying the groundwork for the second article—which questions the ‘universalist’ assumptions informing the English translator-reader contract.


Shakespeare, Dostoevsky, Hamlet, Hamletism, underground, nihilism


Catteau, Jacques. Dostoevsky and the Process of Literary Creation. Translated by Audrey Littlewood. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1989.

Cooperman, Stanley. “Shakespeare’s Anti-Hero: Hamlet and the Underground Man.” Shakespeare Studies 1 (1965): 37-63.

Denby, David. “Can Dostoevsky Still Kick You in the Gut?” The New Yorker 11 June 2012 (accessed 7 June 2018). .

Dostoevsky, Fyodor>. Winter Notes on Summer Impressions (1863). Translated by David Patterson. Evanston: Northwestern UP, 1988.

Dostoevsky, Fyodor. Zapiski iz Podpol’ya (1864). Letchworth: Bradda Books, 1974.

Dostoevsky, Fyodor. The Best Short Stories of Fyodor Dostoevsky. Translated by David Magarshack (1968). New York: Random House, 2001.

Dostoevsky, Fyodor. Notes from Underground (1864). Translated by Michael Katz. New York: Norton, 2001.

Dostoevsky, Fyodor. Notes from Undergound (1864). Translated by Kyril Zinovieff and Jenny Hughes. Richmond: OneWorld Classics, 2010.

Eliot, T.S. The Sacred Wood (1920). Mineola: Dover, 1998.

Frank, Joseph. “Dostoevsky: The Encounter with Europe.” The Russian Review 22.3 (1963): 236-52.

Frank, Joseph. “Nihilism and Notes from Underground” (1961) in Fyodor Dostoevsky: Modern Critical Views, ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House, 1989.

Jones, John. Dostoevsky. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1985.

Lantz, Kenneth. The Dostoevsky Encyclopedia. Westport: Greenwood Press, 2004.

Levin, Yuri [Iurii]. “Dostoevskii and Shakespeare” (1974) in Dostoevskii and Britain, ed. W.J. Leatherbarrow. Oxford: Berg, 1995.

Levin, Yuri. “Shakespeare and Russian Literature: Nineteenth Century Attitudes.” Oxford Slavonic Papers (New Series), 22, 1989.

Lord, Robert. Dostoevsky: Essays and Perspectives. London: Chatto and Windus, 1970.

Mochulsky, Konstantin. Dostoevsky: His Life and Work (1947). Translated by Michael A. Minihan. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1967.

Polevoy, Nikolai. Gamlet. Moscow (Courtesy British Library), 1837.

Rinkus, Jerome J. “Reflections on Turgenev’s ‘Hamlet and Don Quixote’” in Perspectives on Hamlet, ed. William G. Holzberger and Peter B. Waldeck. Cranbury: Associated UP, 1975.

Schaar, Claes. The full-voic’d quire below. Berlings: CWK Gleerup, 1982.

Shakespeare, William. Complete Works, ed. Stanley Wells and Gary Taylor. Oxford: Clarendon, 2005.

Simmons, Ernest J. Dostoevsky: The Making of a Novelist. London: John Lehmann, 1950.

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