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The Double (Food For Thought)

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A government official Golyadkin has a formative discussion with his Doctor Rutenspitz, who fears for his sanity and tells him that his behaviour is dangerously antisocial. He prescribes 'cheerful company' as the remedy. Golyadkin resolves to try this, and leaves the office. He proceeds to a birthday party. He was uninvited, and a series of faux pas lead to his expulsion fr A government official Golyadkin has a formative discussion with his Doctor Rutenspitz, who fears for his sanity and tells him that his behaviour is dangerously antisocial. He prescribes 'cheerful company' as the remedy. Golyadkin resolves to try this, and leaves the office. He proceeds to a birthday party. He was uninvited, and a series of faux pas lead to his expulsion from the party. On his way home through a snowstorm, he encounters his double, who looks exactly like him. A new evolving relationship is formed.


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A government official Golyadkin has a formative discussion with his Doctor Rutenspitz, who fears for his sanity and tells him that his behaviour is dangerously antisocial. He prescribes 'cheerful company' as the remedy. Golyadkin resolves to try this, and leaves the office. He proceeds to a birthday party. He was uninvited, and a series of faux pas lead to his expulsion fr A government official Golyadkin has a formative discussion with his Doctor Rutenspitz, who fears for his sanity and tells him that his behaviour is dangerously antisocial. He prescribes 'cheerful company' as the remedy. Golyadkin resolves to try this, and leaves the office. He proceeds to a birthday party. He was uninvited, and a series of faux pas lead to his expulsion from the party. On his way home through a snowstorm, he encounters his double, who looks exactly like him. A new evolving relationship is formed.

30 review for The Double (Food For Thought)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Florencia

    Through the bureaucratic ocean of papers, there lies Josef K., bored with unanswered arguments. Behind an unapologetic desk, Bartleby sits in silence, preferring nothing. As a fearful door opens, Bashmachkin leaves the smothering atmosphere of the office, ready to meet with the others. All set to forget the tasteless morning coffee and the men trying to make their way through scheme and flattery, and recover the humanity once lost. The sun is setting. A gentle breeze with a scent of in Through the bureaucratic ocean of papers, there lies Josef K., bored with unanswered arguments. Behind an unapologetic desk, Bartleby sits in silence, preferring nothing. As a fearful door opens, Bashmachkin leaves the smothering atmosphere of the office, ready to meet with the others. All set to forget the tasteless morning coffee and the men trying to make their way through scheme and flattery, and recover the humanity once lost. The sun is setting. A gentle breeze with a scent of independence caresses their faces. Golyadkin, our protagonist, is waiting for them. The world of the oppressed rests in Dostoyevsky's prose. The essential analyst of the human nature. Briefly, The Double is about Mr. Golyadkin and his doppelgänger, Mr. Golyadkin Jr., someone who has been born under a stressful snowstorm. This novella has many elements that can be found in Gogol's work. His influence on Dostoyevsky is well-known. However, this writer dealt with those same themes with an innovative style that traces clear boundaries. He even did that with his own work. For me, this was nothing like the novels I have read before. Universal themes like oppression, sorrow, alienation, work and loneliness are always treated from different angles and original ways of execution. Originality perceived by the mind of Sábato: we all are the sum of what we have read. Topics don't change; the way we deal with them might. When I read The Brothers Karamazov, my eyes contemplated Dostoyevsky's genius, word by word. My copy is all written. I highlighted hundreds of sentences that tried to enlighten the intricate path toward the mind. A modest attempt at understanding. However, the times I underlined something on The Double was for the main purpose of keeping up with the story. Actions. Names. I din't find many memorable reflections that left me at awe. The ones I found were at the beginning, mostly. So, what then? It was all in the interpretation. The development of facts, the story itself was what left me staring at an invisible point, drawing in the air, pondering about my own existence and the futility of things. The fragility of one of the most precious things we own. Our mind. A set of cognitive faculties. A place. A process. Sanity. His position at that moment was like the position of a man standing over a frightful precipice, when the earth breaks away under him, is rocking, shifting, sways for a last time, and falls, drawing him into the abyss, and meanwhile the unfortunate man has neither the strength nor the firmness of spirit to jump back, to take his eyes from the yawning chasm; the abyss draws him, and he finally leaps into it himself, himself hastening the moment of his own perdition. (39) We cannot own our mind. Under certain circumstances—sad, nerve wracking, shameful circumstances—, it reacts as it pleases. Or the best way it can. It is the main source of who we are and yet, a trivial fact has the power to break it. A single act. An accumulation of traumatic acts. A life of unfortunate events. A pile of obedient frustrations. The meek silence of unwanted, inevitable solitude. The desire of success in a suffocating environment with people that have already been chosen over you. The search of identity in an alienated world. You can't be alone too much. These are just some of the observations that emerge from The Double, a true work of art that portrays a man's psychological struggle using a brushstroke of unforgiving reality. We are placed inside Golyadkin's head. We are privileged spectators of his mind. We see it work. We see it weep. We see it shocked, unable to move. We shout, because we know what to do (even though we probably would react the same way if we were in his shoes, you never know). A privilege that thrills and frightens. There's much emotion in Dostoyevsky's descriptive and cautious writing. So much, it's difficult to bear. Sep 29, 15 * Note: Months ago, I watched a 2013 film starring Jesse Eisenberg, based on this novella. Artistically exquisite. Keep it in mind! ** Also on my blog.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Bill Kerwin

    Nabokov considered this “Dostoyevsky’s best work,” but, then again, Nabokov didn’t like Dostoyevsky: he also called the novella “an obvious and shameless imitation of Gogol's "Nose." “The Double” is indeed a great work, though far from Dostoyevsky’s greatest (too full of repetitions, verbal and structural, too often willfully obscure), and—I would argue—it is great precisely because of the manner in which it obviously and shamelessly imitates Gogol. In “The Double,” the twenty-five year old Nabokov considered this “Dostoyevsky’s best work,” but, then again, Nabokov didn’t like Dostoyevsky: he also called the novella “an obvious and shameless imitation of Gogol's "Nose." “The Double” is indeed a great work, though far from Dostoyevsky’s greatest (too full of repetitions, verbal and structural, too often willfully obscure), and—I would argue—it is great precisely because of the manner in which it obviously and shamelessly imitates Gogol. In “The Double,” the twenty-five year old Dostoyevsky sought to discover his own path as a writer by imitating—to the point of parody—the style and themes of Gogol, a writer he dearly loved. He took Gogol’s typical protagonist—a middle class bureaucrat of the rank of “titular councillor—and speculated: how would a Gogol hero like this—a lonely egoist obsessed with rank, humiliated by slights, isolated in suspicion and near poverty—react if he encountered a man who looked and acted exactly like himself and who began, little by little, to take over his life, his apartment, his acquaintances, even his duties as titular councillor? Dostoyevsky concluded such a man would certainly go mad, and decided to document—from the protagonist’s point of view—his agonized descent into delusion. In his exaggerated imitation of Gogol, Dostoevsky so thoroughly identifies with the councillor's point of view that his “parody” becomes an implied criticism. Gogol—as he did in “The Overcoat,” “The Nose,” and “The Diary of a Madman”—would have abased his hero, ridiculed him, exploited him as a figure of fun and as an excuse for violent shifts in tone and mood, all the psychological insight he possessed subordinate to satiric intent and dramatic effect. Dostoyevsky however was too compassionate a writer, too empathetic a man, to objectify his hero in this way. Instead, he identifies with him thoroughly, creates an experience so immediate and so real that the reader is forced to experience the consciousness of a madman, alternately consumed by shame and filled with elation, disoriented and alienated in a hostile and ambiguous world. Where Gogol would have presented the reader with an absurd situation, a philosophical dilemma, Dostoevsky instead immerses him in a psychological crisis. And this psychological crisis, for those familiar with Dostoevsky’s later work, hints at the existential and theological crises yet to come.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Manuel Antão

    If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review. Mise en Abyme: "The Double" by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (Original Review, 1981-03-23) Hammett I take to have a brilliant literary mind and to be well read in Literature. I take him to be able to know what a Byronic Hero is, what others thought about that, to have his own thoughts about it, as well as lots of other things (like about detective stories), of course. And I take him to h If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review. Mise en Abyme: "The Double" by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (Original Review, 1981-03-23) Hammett I take to have a brilliant literary mind and to be well read in Literature. I take him to be able to know what a Byronic Hero is, what others thought about that, to have his own thoughts about it, as well as lots of other things (like about detective stories), of course. And I take him to have an idea of what a parable is and how it differs from a story, or what an archetype or double is. Take the 'double': all he has to do is READ Poe's William Wilson, or Dostoevsky’s “The Double” to get what it is as Literature. Or to read Hamlet to know how a “mise en abyme” works. He knows these things and uses them WITH THE MIND OF A BRILLIANT WRITER. A mind that processes literature not as a critic or simple reader, but as a creator of it.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Steven Godin

    The morbidly sensitive and pretentious clerk Golyadkin, already clinically deranged by the social pressures of his office and by unrequited love, suffers a growing persecution mania, which leads him to encounter another man looking exactly like him who is the leader of a conspiracy against him. He is finally driven to a madhouse by a series of encounters with this being, who is sometimes clearly his own reflection in a glass, sometimes the embodiment of his own aggressive fantasies, sometimes an The morbidly sensitive and pretentious clerk Golyadkin, already clinically deranged by the social pressures of his office and by unrequited love, suffers a growing persecution mania, which leads him to encounter another man looking exactly like him who is the leader of a conspiracy against him. He is finally driven to a madhouse by a series of encounters with this being, who is sometimes clearly his own reflection in a glass, sometimes the embodiment of his own aggressive fantasies, sometimes an unpleasant ordinary mortal who happens to have the same name and appearance, and sometimes, in some supernatural way, himself. Dostoevsky's voices are woven subtly together so that one hardly has time to register their differences in the flow of reading: an illusion of objectivity is thus created. Nonetheless, it does not go far enough to dispel an underlying, ghostly, whispering anxiety: is the double real or not? The real interpretive problem for the reader is deciding whether the double exists in the world, or only as a figment of Mr Golyadkin’s imagination. Is he mad? Does he have some sort of identity disorder? Is he the victim of some elaborate prank? or is it all simply true? It makes for a fascinating psychological study, whether or not there is a natural explanation within the narrative. Since the whole work is from Golyadkin’s perspective, albeit in the third person, the reader is trapped claustrophobically in his panicked and chaotic mindset. Other characters appear to see the double, but there is always the possibility that we are seeing their reactions through Mr Golyadkin’s eyes. This is more or less the blueprint for later doppelganger narratives, often referenced in theory on the topic, and although the idea of the double is probably as old as humanity, Dostoevsky seems to have been one of the first writers to develop the idea. Structurally, the narrative works so well, and is less dense than some of his other novels. He really keeps you on your toes right up to it's finale. Reading this, lead me to José Saramago's modern take on the doppelgänger, which I marginally prefered.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Tara

    “Numb and chill with horror, our hero woke up, and numb and chill with horror felt that his waking state was hardly more cheerful...It was oppressive and harrowing...He was overcome by such anguish that it seemed as though someone were gnawing at his heart.” The Double is a vivid, relentless depiction of one man’s downward spiral into the impulsivity, indecision, tormenting confusion and ultimate chaos of severe mental illness. Golyadkin’s agonizing descent, fueled by alienation, paranoia and self-loathing, “Numb and chill with horror, our hero woke up, and numb and chill with horror felt that his waking state was hardly more cheerful...It was oppressive and harrowing...He was overcome by such anguish that it seemed as though someone were gnawing at his heart.” The Double is a vivid, relentless depiction of one man’s downward spiral into the impulsivity, indecision, tormenting confusion and ultimate chaos of severe mental illness. Golyadkin’s agonizing descent, fueled by alienation, paranoia and self-loathing, is incredibly gripping. Deftly plotted, harrowing, insidious, and heartbreaking, this supposedly “minor work” of Doestoevsky’s is anything but. This nuanced, meticulous character study is dark and disturbing, the unbearably harsh inner landscape relieved only rarely by faint glimmers of humor. Dostoevsky, the master psychologist, so perfectly delineates the complexities of a mind that’s rapidly unraveling, consuming itself in front of the readers’ very eyes, that, though horrifying, it’s nearly impossible to look away. Golyadkin frantically bounces back and forth between one extreme and another, and at times this bizarre, erratic behavior would almost be comical if it weren’t for the fact that it’s so horribly sad. Trivial incidents are hideously magnified or minimized, distorted beyond all recognition, lost. Increasingly, he can “not think of anything, though his thoughts catch at everything like brambles.” His mind finally becomes so detached from itself that it splits, torn and fragmented, utterly disconnected, yet still bleating in distress. What made this often extremely dismal tale so poignant and touching was Dostoevsky’s palpable compassion for his wretched character; it illuminates a miserable fellow human being deserving of our sympathy and understanding. For while, at least on the surface, Golyadkin may not be Dostoevsky’s most relatable creation, he certainly broke my heart. I’ll always remember him struggling desperately to come to grips with his own mind, to reassure himself that everything would be okay even when his progressively feverish grasping for sanity secured nothing more substantial than mocking emptiness and thin air. His plight, his undeniable suffering, etched itself on my heart. I won’t soon forget that piercing, plaintive scream, a mind in unendurable pain, crying out for help, for any kind of respite or relief from its own worst enemy: itself.

  6. 5 out of 5

    B0nnie

    I have no desire to meet my doppelgänger. Hell would be a place filled with our own doubles, I think. There are many literary examples of a double showing up and causing mayhem: Superman. Xander (from Buffy). The Nutty Professor. Captain Kirk met his double twice, in The Enemy Within and Mirror Mirror. It always seems to come down to the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde idea: one of the personalities is strong and powerful, and the other kindly, but also too meek and indecisive. There follows a struggle to see which one I have no desire to meet my doppelgänger. Hell would be a place filled with our own doubles, I think. There are many literary examples of a double showing up and causing mayhem: Superman. Xander (from Buffy). The Nutty Professor. Captain Kirk met his double twice, in The Enemy Within and Mirror Mirror. It always seems to come down to the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde idea: one of the personalities is strong and powerful, and the other kindly, but also too meek and indecisive. There follows a struggle to see which one is the better man. Whatever happens next, the moral is that we need both aspects to be a whole person. Mr. Golyadkin in The Double is confronted with his doppelgänger. This situation is different than those I've mentioned, for there is no split between the weak and strong personality traits. The guy is all weak. I guess that makes this more of a parody. Before the encounter, he is shown to be vain and petty and ineffective. He goes on fake shopping trips for expensive goods which he never actually buys, seemingly to impress store clerks and himself of his own importance. So when Golyadkin does meet his double, it really is his double. There is no need to get back to another dimension and somehow integrate. The enjoyment of this book is the comical situations that arise from these meetings. Yet it is nightmarish at the same time because the man is simply going insane. We are only ever in Golyadkin's head, 3rd person limited, and the clues from the other characters make it fairly clear that there really is no double. Written in 1846, The Double is Dostoyevsky's second novel and it wasn't well received. He revised the novel in 1866 and that is the version we read today. It's a complicated psychological study. And it's fun. What more could you want?

  7. 4 out of 5

    Caterina

    Creepy precursor to Kafka? This surreal early Dostoevsky novella started as an almost slapstick black comedy whose hapless, paranoid, wussy little “hero” suddenly acquires a double — a slick, devious sociopath who sets out to undermine him and usurp his life. We never really know if this is a psychotic delusion, a psychological “shadow” ... or even the Devil himself. Anxiety escalates to an almost unbearable level — while the exaggerated dramatic narrative never totally loses its dark sense of Creepy precursor to Kafka? This surreal early Dostoevsky novella started as an almost slapstick black comedy whose hapless, paranoid, wussy little “hero” suddenly acquires a double — a slick, devious sociopath who sets out to undermine him and usurp his life. We never really know if this is a psychotic delusion, a psychological “shadow” ... or even the Devil himself. Anxiety escalates to an almost unbearable level — while the exaggerated dramatic narrative never totally loses its dark sense of humor. I read the George Bird translation in Great Short Works of Fyodor Dostoevsky.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Lori

    So I feel really bad giving this book two stars, but I just cannot justify another one. I just can't. Here's the thing - It's written in such an odd voice! The main character, obviously in need of medical treatment, tends to throw the person's name to whom he is speaking into the conversation wayyyyy too much. It's quite distracting, really. Not only that, but he starts and restarts his sentences constantly. I felt as tho the book should have come with a de-coder of sorts just to be a So I feel really bad giving this book two stars, but I just cannot justify another one. I just can't. Here's the thing - It's written in such an odd voice! The main character, obviously in need of medical treatment, tends to throw the person's name to whom he is speaking into the conversation wayyyyy too much. It's quite distracting, really. Not only that, but he starts and restarts his sentences constantly. I felt as tho the book should have come with a de-coder of sorts just to be able to understand what he was trying to say. I had no idea what I was reading about for the first, ohhhhh, 50 pages or so. After that point, the story seemed to come together a little (only a little) more, but to be honest, I still really have no clue what was going on. Perhaps that was the point? Having the reader question whether it was the main character or themselves who were really the crazies? Either way, it confused the hell out of me. I am pretty sure I have missed something here. I must have. But I cannot bear to reread it to find out what I missed. And I'm a little upset, too. I usually like books that mind-f**k me! Mr. Dostoevsky, I am sorry, really, I am, Mr. Dostoevsky. I tryed, Mr. Dostoevsky, I say... Mr. Dostoevsky, I really did try.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Luís C.

    "The Double" (Двойник). It is an early work of Dostoyevsky, written when he was 25 years old; a work that met with failure. A very ambitious project for the time? the novel made us get into the intricacies of the psyche Golyadkin, a ministry official in St Petersburg. His daily which is divided between her St. Petersburg apartment on rue Six Boutiques and department where he works, is brutally disrupted when a "double" appears in his life, an event that will lead gradually to madness.< "The Double" (Двойник). It is an early work of Dostoyevsky, written when he was 25 years old; a work that met with failure. A very ambitious project for the time? the novel made us get into the intricacies of the psyche Golyadkin, a ministry official in St Petersburg. His daily which is divided between her St. Petersburg apartment on rue Six Boutiques and department where he works, is brutally disrupted when a "double" appears in his life, an event that will lead gradually to madness. Golyadkin, whose name comes from the Russian root "Gol", meaning "bare", "naked" and "poor" feels pursued by an identical replica of the person who has the same name as him, who was born in same place as him and who will follow him home to his workplace, causing misunderstandings and detestable situations. A strange story where already read Dostoevsky obsessions; it is a fantastic story model. But the reading is difficult because we have to penetrate the brain of the hero; As the sentences are often transcripts of intimate thoughts of the hero, foreshadowing in some way the "stream of consciousness" dear to some American authors. Difficult to share the hero's madness or the strangeness of reality. An interesting novel, at the edge of social and fantasy novel.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Amalie

    Things to remember when reading Dostoyevsky's The Double! (a) Find a decent (if possible, a great one) translation. (b) Remember D always explores new territories of the human mind so this isn't another book like (not so flamboyant)"Crime and Punishment" or "The Brothers Karamazov". (c) This has a lot of influence of Gogol in the language and style so it does feel a bit like a odd contemporary nightmare. Tradition of doppelganger started here. (e) Remember, Golyadkin is a very unreli Things to remember when reading Dostoyevsky's The Double! (a) Find a decent (if possible, a great one) translation. (b) Remember D always explores new territories of the human mind so this isn't another book like (not so flamboyant)"Crime and Punishment" or "The Brothers Karamazov". (c) This has a lot of influence of Gogol in the language and style so it does feel a bit like a odd contemporary nightmare. Tradition of doppelganger started here. (e) Remember, Golyadkin is a very unreliable narrator, worse than Humbert Humbert. (f) This is not a failure or weird and insane as the early literary critics considered, I guess they had not been not smart enough to understand.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Junta

    A Graphical Representation of Some Dostoyevsky Protagonists, or Why I Didn't Like The Double So Much With Dostoyevsky novels, what I seem to value more than in novels by other authors is the main protagonist - the things they say, the things they do, their likes and dislikes, their philosophies and idiosyncrasies, their thoughts and feelings, probed to th A Graphical Representation of Some Dostoyevsky Protagonists, or Why I Didn't Like The Double So Much With Dostoyevsky novels, what I seem to value more than in novels by other authors is the main protagonist - the things they say, the things they do, their likes and dislikes, their philosophies and idiosyncrasies, their thoughts and feelings, probed to the deepest depths and laid out onto the pages. Thus when the protagonist is someone I can relate to or feel a personal interest in, such as in Crime and Punishment or White Nights, boom, I'm taken. On the other hand, I struggled to enjoy The Double and can't say I liked it too much - I feel like my reading of a Dostoyevsky novel is largely subjective so I fail to appreciate the novel as a whole if it revolves around a miserable man whom only pesters me with his words, thoughts and actions. May 25, 2015 January 2016 Edit: Hmm, looking at this again now I think I may have been too nice to the White Nights chap, but no changing it now - good reminder of my previous thoughts.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jack Tripper

    "Resides at the very apex of all that is absolute, patience-testing wank." This was written by some online critic (Jimmy Vespa) describing the British comedian Stewart Lee's stand up act, but I think it applies here. He then goes on to say "Seriously, when there is the comedy equivalent of the Nuremberg trials, this bastard is gonna be hung from the highest fucking lamp post, pelted with wasps' nests and dog turds, and eventually blasted with a flame thrower." Now I wouldn't go that f "Resides at the very apex of all that is absolute, patience-testing wank." This was written by some online critic (Jimmy Vespa) describing the British comedian Stewart Lee's stand up act, but I think it applies here. He then goes on to say "Seriously, when there is the comedy equivalent of the Nuremberg trials, this bastard is gonna be hung from the highest fucking lamp post, pelted with wasps' nests and dog turds, and eventually blasted with a flame thrower." Now I wouldn't go that far with Dostoyevsky (or Stewart Lee, who I love), as I enjoyed Notes from Underground and, even though I was a jaded high-schooler at the time, Crime and Punishment, but this nearly qualifies as torture. See how long you can last. (From one of the first conversations in the story, between the main character and his doctor) "I like quiet, Krestyan Ivanovitch. In my flat there's only me and Petrushka....I mean my man, Krestyan Ivanovitch. I mean to say, Krestyan Ivanovitch, that I go my own way, my own way, Krestyan Ivanovitch. I keep myself to myself, and so far as I can see I am not dependent on any one. I go out for walks, too, Krestyan Ivanovitch." "What? Yes! well, nowaday's there's nothing agreeable in walking: the climate's extremely bad." "Quite so, Krestyan Ivanovitch. Though I'm a peacable man, Krestyan Ivanovitch, as I've had the honour of explaining to you already, yet my way lies apart, Krestyan Ivanovitch. The ways of life are manifold...I mean...I mean to say, Krestyan Ivanovitch...Excuse me, Krestyan Ivanovitch, I've no great gift for eloquent speaking." That last line made me hope and pray that it was all just a joke, and that there'd be no more of this unbearable nonsense, but my prayers were in vain. Not only is the constant use of the other's name in a conversation one of my biggest pet peeves, but when those conversations are impossible to follow, I'm nearly forced to give up. I didn't though, since a doppelganger story by Dostoyevsky seemed right in my wheelhouse, but I was horribly, horribly wrong. Later in the story I did have some vague, elusive notion of what was going on, which boiled down to "the main character has a double that is ruining his life." But at no point was I able to follow the dialogue or thought processes of the main character. "But it's a portrayal of a crazy person," you say. "It's supposed to be nonsense." Maybe so, and if Dostoyevsky's goal was to create a nonsense story, he succeeded. Unfortunately I have to have at least some connection to the story or characters in order to enjoy it. YMMV.

  13. 4 out of 5

    David Schaafsma

    I read The Double because of Stephen Godin’s fine review, though given the noir I have been reading, The Gambler might have been a better, grittier choice for a short Dostoevsky novel. But it’s angsty enough for my purposes, a reread for me. “A Petersburg Poem,” he subtitles it. First published in 1846, an early—his second--work, Dostoevsky considered it a failure, revised it and republished it twenty years later, and still thought it was structurally a failure. But he liked the idea, and I did, I read The Double because of Stephen Godin’s fine review, though given the noir I have been reading, The Gambler might have been a better, grittier choice for a short Dostoevsky novel. But it’s angsty enough for my purposes, a reread for me. “A Petersburg Poem,” he subtitles it. First published in 1846, an early—his second--work, Dostoevsky considered it a failure, revised it and republished it twenty years later, and still thought it was structurally a failure. But he liked the idea, and I did, too. The Double is a doppelganger tale, the story of Yakov Petrovich Golyadkin, a government clerk who believes that a fellow clerk has taken over his identity and is out to bring him to ruin. From the first I thought it echoed his reading of Gogol (such as Diary of a Madman, or The Nose), but it has a kind of darkly lyrical tone as we see Golyadkin go slowly mad. Madness is a central theme in Dostoevsky’s work, and it was there from the first. Psychological character study is one of the things he does best. I was engaged in this in part because I had just read Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips noir comics series, Kill or Be Killed, where Dylan, who kills one bad person a month, is either a) crazy, b) possessed by a demon, or c) a heroic vigilante killer, doing the thing we don’t have the guts to do, ridding the world of our worst guys. You get to choose. In Dostoevsky’s story, you are pretty sure the guy is losing it, but the doppleganger shifts, residing in people he meets on the street, or in the mirror. But here’s the thing that makes it greater than Gogol: Dostoevsky honors this author he loves, but doesn’t play the character study for laughs, as Gogol often seems to; Dostoevsky cares about his hero, and this is evident in his strong conclusion, especially. Nabokov didn’t think Dostoevsky was a great writer, but he thought The Double was “a perfect novel,” an assessment not quite shared through history, but it is a good early book. Nabokov liked it so much that he used the doppleganger theme in several of his own works. I think I should have listened to Darwin8u and read the Pevear translation instead of the Constance Garnett, which led me to about a 3.5 rating for most of it. I disagree with Nabokov and think Dostoevsky is one of the greatest writers ever. If you have never read him, and can only read one, choose Crime and Punishment or The Brothers Karamazov, but this one is shorter and satisfying. I might like to read it against Pale Fire or Lolita on the madness/doppleganger theme.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Chrissie

    I am a Fyodor Dostoyevsky fan, but this is not one of his best books. For me his very best are Crime and Punishment and The Idiot. I like his lines. Check out some of Dostoyevsky’s quotes here at GR: https://www.goodreads.com/author/quot.... This book is about a man going insane. Today we would probably label him a schizophrenic. Dostoyevsky, what he does so magnificently is get you into another person's head. He does that here. That is why I think the book is worth reading. The central character, Yakov Petrovich Golyadkin, believes there is another person that I am a Fyodor Dostoyevsky fan, but this is not one of his best books. For me his very best are Crime and Punishment and The Idiot. I like his lines. Check out some of Dostoyevsky’s quotes here at GR: https://www.goodreads.com/author/quot.... This book is about a man going insane. Today we would probably label him a schizophrenic. Dostoyevsky, what he does so magnificently is get you into another person's head. He does that here. That is why I think the book is worth reading. The central character, Yakov Petrovich Golyadkin, believes there is another person that looks just like him. He has a doppelgänger! The doppelgänger is Golyadkin Jr. Only this guy, Golyadkin, Jr., is socially adept, a person that has traits he, Goyadkin Senior, knows he lacks. So there is jealousy and this leads to hatred. Senior feels that Junior is wicked and nasty and scheming; damn, he can get away with anything! But......sometimes he is not sure. Is there another guy? Is he kind? Is he wicked? Oh life is SO confusing for poor Yasha! In the beginning you don't understand what is going on, but neither does Golyadkin! He is living in St. Petersburg. It is the middle of the 1800s. He is a “titular councilor”. What is that? A clerk of mediocre rank in the civil service. A middle-rank bureaucrat. He is single. He is advised to see a doctor, Doctor Christian Ivanovitch Rutenspitz, who prescribes "cheerful company" .... only that is exactly what Golyadkin so “cannot do”! He is not witty! He hides behind doors. When he speaks everything comes out a jumble. What is the story about? Getting into another person's shoes. Or maybe it is also about an individual's search for identity. Maybe even about how propriety and social standards suffocate. You choose! The audiobook narration by Nick Sullivan took me a while to get used to, but by the end I was totally satisfied. Not hard to follow.

  15. 4 out of 5

    David Sarkies

    As One Gets Older 27 January 2017 - Sydney One of the things that I have come to see that is a key ingredient of succeeding, not just in the modern world, but pretty much everywhere, is to be able to interact and socialise. The thing is that you could be one of the most brilliant minds out there but unless you are able to sell yourself, and your ideas, then unfortunately you probably aren't going to get anywhere. Sure, there are people out there who manage to get a 'lucky break' (and I As One Gets Older 27 January 2017 - Sydney One of the things that I have come to see that is a key ingredient of succeeding, not just in the modern world, but pretty much everywhere, is to be able to interact and socialise. The thing is that you could be one of the most brilliant minds out there but unless you are able to sell yourself, and your ideas, then unfortunately you probably aren't going to get anywhere. Sure, there are people out there who manage to get a 'lucky break' (and I believe Einstein was one of them) but the reality is that if you spend your life waiting for that break, you are probably never going to ever get it. In fact, you'll probably simply end up being little more than a footnote in history, though I have to admit that considering all of the people that have ever lived, more likely than not we are all going to be footnotes. Anyway, the story is about a bureaucrat in the Russian Bureaucracy who is mid-ranking, but not so high up that he would be considered, or even welcomed into, the nobility (according to Wikipedia he is a titular counciler, which is rank 9 on the table of ranks). Looking at the tables it certainly seems that he isn't low ranking, but then again I would hardly call him high ranking either – it seems that he is at one of those ranks which provide a comfortable living, but not really have all that much infuence. The problem is that our hero is a bit of an anti-social character, but the doctor prescribes the solution of going to a party, however he ends up going to the wrong party, and after making an idiot of himself, gets kicked out. Actually, this almost sounds like the type of advise a clueless psychologist would offer. This is where the bulk of the novel starts because on the way home he meets somebody who sort of looks like him, but is much younger, and much more dashing, than he is, to the point that everybody likes him, and our hero eventually goes insane and is dragged off to the mental asylum. This is the thing about new people, especially dashing and popular new people – they have the ability to take the attention away from us, and this has the effect of making us really, really jeolous. In fact I have known people who will work their way into the lives of new people, and either cosy up to them, or become a toxic leach, and they usually do this because, well, are are pretty insecure in and of themselves and are basically preventing themselves from having these dashing individuals come in and undermine their position (though of course their positions are generally all in their heads anyway). It is interesting that Dostoyevski uses the idea of the double, or the Doppleganger, in this book, because the idea is that this person comes in and takes your place. This isn't the demonic creature, that basically kills you and then infiltrates your circle of friends, but rather a dark, rather human, aspect – it is the fear of becoming obsolete. In a way our protagonist sees a lot of himself in his double – maybe this is what he was like when he was much younger, but as he grows older, and his life begins to stagnate, this younger version of himself is coming into his life to take it away from him. Yet it is even more horrific when it seems that all of our friends are turning from us to this new person, yet we don't trust this new person – it is not that he is doing anything bad, it is just that our perception is that this person is dangerous, and we want everybody to see how dangerous this person actually is. The catch is that sometimes we might be right, otherwise we might be dead wrong. Yet maybe it is just that psychological fear within us – is it the case that the older we get the more anti-social we become, or does it have more to do with the fact that the older we become, the more people we encounter that are not all that pleasant. In a way the more people that hurt us, the less trustworthy of people we become, and while it is all well and good to say that we should treat everybody like a blank slate, sometimes it isn't the easiest of things to do, especially if you are working in a position, such as a ticket inspector on public transport, that tends to bring out the worst in people. In fact, sometimes I wonder whether a ticket inspector would actually admit to people that they are ticket inspectors, or whether they just say that they work for the public transport authority in customer service? Yet, it is one of those roles that seems to bring out the worst the people, that seems to attract the wrath and aggression of the community around you. Sure, that may also be the case with politicians, yet the thing is that they have this ability to be able to shield themselves from the world – the thing with most, if not all, politicians is that around half of the electorate didn't vote for them, and half of the electorate really doesn't like them. Is it also the case with police officers, but I'm sure there are countless numbers of occupations out there where all you tend to get is criticism as opposed to thanks and gratitude. This, unfortunately, has its ability to wear one's character down, so no wonder our hero becomes ever more cynical and anti-social. In a way he is jealous of his double, namely because he does see himself in him, yet doesn't know how to break out of his own shell, and his own paranoia. In a way it is not that his double doesn't like him, or is trying to poison his world, but rather our hero is looking at him from the outside, wanting to be like him, to be accepted, but somehow failing immensely. Yet while we are watching the events unfold through the eyes of our hero, I can't help but think that maybe, just maybe, we are also in the position of the double – in the end it all comes down to attitude – the double succeeded because he didn't let the hero's hatred get to him, and simply got on with life, while the hero let his range and jealousy burn up inside of him until he snapped.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Angie

    Dostoevsky's best short work. It is a deeply disturbing psychological story about the destruction of self in an alienating world. The main character experiences a masochistic anxiety so intense that the only escape is through the creation of another personality. However, Golyadkin's self-hatred runs so deep that even his double must ruin the protagonist's life.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Darwin8u

    Dostoevsky's 'The Double' is one of those novellas/novels where I REALLY wish I could have read it in the original Russian. His Gogol-inspired novella plays with language, poetry, puns and double entendres are hard to translate adequately (go with Pevear and Volokhonsky for the poetry and avoid Constance Garnett). While patterns still do emerge in translations, they are fragmented and seem often like poor reflections of what the original must be. After reading this short, early piece Dostoevsky's 'The Double' is one of those novellas/novels where I REALLY wish I could have read it in the original Russian. His Gogol-inspired novella plays with language, poetry, puns and double entendres are hard to translate adequately (go with Pevear and Volokhonsky for the poetry and avoid Constance Garnett). While patterns still do emerge in translations, they are fragmented and seem often like poor reflections of what the original must be. After reading this short, early piece of Dostoevsky it is nice to start recognizing its influence on other authors and their work. I finished reading 'the Double' and immediately started seeing how Dostoevsky fits and flips right into the whole bizarre family tree of madness literature. Dostoevsky's double/doppelgänger/unreliable narrator idea inspired a whole fugue of Nabokov novels (Despair, Pale Fire, etc), entire Kafkaesque worlds, Solaris, the Riplad, etc. Anyway, if you love Russian novels and love Dostoevsky, this is a must (especially if you also love Nabokov). If you haven't read Dostoevsky yet, I'd probably start with Crime & Punishment, Brothers Karamazov, and the Idiot first.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Chris_P

    I usually don't feel comfortable reviewing the "big classics". I lack the confidence to make an appropriate review. Anyway, I'll make an exception here. "The Double" was written by Dostoyevsky. Even if you were reading it without having looked at the cover, you would know you were reading Dostoyevsky. As usual, we have a hero who has some serious issues. That's the simplistic point of view. Also as usual, the reader finds himself deep into our hero's mind. Soon enough, the line that s I usually don't feel comfortable reviewing the "big classics". I lack the confidence to make an appropriate review. Anyway, I'll make an exception here. "The Double" was written by Dostoyevsky. Even if you were reading it without having looked at the cover, you would know you were reading Dostoyevsky. As usual, we have a hero who has some serious issues. That's the simplistic point of view. Also as usual, the reader finds himself deep into our hero's mind. Soon enough, the line that separates reality from fantasy is only a worn out thread which only at a few times can be visible. The hero, Golyadkin, works for the government and suffers chronically from fears that everyone thinks bad of him. He sees conspiracies against him everywhere. I have to say I've met a couple of people myself with that condition in real life. So it's something familiar. However, suddenly appears another Golyadkin. Same name, same appearance, same everything. And as soon as our hero accepts him to be his friend, he gains power and soon enough plots with everyone against our poor Golyadkin. Good stuff if you ask me. Back in the 1840's, when it was published, "The Double" was received with "a mixture of positive hostility and profound indifference" as says in the Penguin Classics introduction. Dostoyevsky himself was highly disappointed by this particular work of his, which he had many expectations of. All I know is I enjoyed it a lot. There's something about his works and writing style that has me hooked. I believe he had an extraordinary way of studying the human psyche and "The Double" is a good example of this. 4 stars.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sidharth Vardhan

    It would seem that the more someone looks like us, the more the empathy we feel for them. Compassion we feel is actually we atributing our own sensitiveness and feelings to other person. I guess suddenly find a double would scare you because you do not only attribute see feelings to them but also the knowledge your emtire personality - what you see is no longer a superficial physical resemblance but someone who has known deepest and darkest corners of your own consciousness, the best kept secret It would seem that the more someone looks like us, the more the empathy we feel for them. Compassion we feel is actually we atributing our own sensitiveness and feelings to other person. I guess suddenly find a double would scare you because you do not only attribute see feelings to them but also the knowledge your emtire personality - what you see is no longer a superficial physical resemblance but someone who has known deepest and darkest corners of your own consciousness, the best kept secrets. Well that at least is the theory I would like to believe in most from among other theories that try to explain the myth of doubles. Anderson wrote a story in which the shadow of a person took over his identity and life. Dostovesky's novella has similar but more complex outline with a lot of, well, obviously, it is Dostovesky, psychological detailing. The psychological stress the protagonist was feeling at point when he first saw his double (unrequited love, social anxiety, humilation, self-pity, loneliness, hypocrisy even in his thoughts.... they all added in) is what makes it interesting, adding the whole unreliable narrator bit - for though novella is not in first person, our world view seems to stay limited to his perspective. I wonder what Jung with his ideas about archetypes and shadows would have to say on this novella.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Benjamin

    By far one of the most bizarre short stories I have ever read. According to the introduction, Dostoevsky purposefully leaves the boundary between fantasy and reality undetermined. The point of view is always from the main character's mind and like our own minds, his is jumbled, non-linear, and full of thoughts. This makes the story hard to follow and allows for a lot a fun guessing whether the main character is having a mental breakdown or that the world has thrown him quite a curve ball when a By far one of the most bizarre short stories I have ever read. According to the introduction, Dostoevsky purposefully leaves the boundary between fantasy and reality undetermined. The point of view is always from the main character's mind and like our own minds, his is jumbled, non-linear, and full of thoughts. This makes the story hard to follow and allows for a lot a fun guessing whether the main character is having a mental breakdown or that the world has thrown him quite a curve ball when a man arrives that looks just like him and has the same name. For a long time it feels like "Fight Club" and yet there is never that moment of clarity when you realize that Ed Norton has been imagining Brad Pitt the whole time. Dostoevsky succeeds like he did in his later book, "Crime and Punishment," in taking the reader straight into the main character's thoughts, emotions and interactions. I was caught up in the story early on and felt everything that the character felt. Chapter VII where the double shares his life story with the main character and the final chapter are two of the best sections of the book and truly highlight the amazing ability of Dostoevsky to weave a story that is engaging and endearing. Only a masterful author could take the story on a fantastical journey that starts from the heart-wrenching bonds of brotherhood to the foul depths of a broken mind. The style chosen by Dostoevsky may allow access into the intimate thoughts of one main, but it makes reading tough. There were a few sections where I had to go back and read it again to be clear on what was happening and who was involved with the conversation. Dostoevsky repeats full character names multiple times in one sentence, which becomes a bit annoying near the end of the book. The main character is also a babbling idiot (in fact he states so multiple times) and converses as though he is speaking straight from his brain with no pauses to gather his thoughts. This choice by Dostoevsky works in many places in the book, but also starts to grate near the end. Overall, a great read and as the introductions states, "The striking originality of "The Double" passed the critics by." I feel that without this critical failure, Dostoevsky would not have been exiled to Siberia and may never have written "Crime and Punishment," which would have been a true tragedy.

  21. 4 out of 5

    JSou

    At first, I was going to rate this one 2 stars. After I finished it, I went back and read the introduction (Thankfully, I waited until I was done, since this was yet another one that gave away the whole plot-including the ending in the intro). Though I feel 3 stars is a little to high to rate it, I'll give it a solid 2.5. In the introduction, I read that even Dostoevsky wasn't happy with this novel. "I wrote a lot of it too quickly, and in moments of fatigue. The first half is better than the se At first, I was going to rate this one 2 stars. After I finished it, I went back and read the introduction (Thankfully, I waited until I was done, since this was yet another one that gave away the whole plot-including the ending in the intro). Though I feel 3 stars is a little to high to rate it, I'll give it a solid 2.5. In the introduction, I read that even Dostoevsky wasn't happy with this novel. "I wrote a lot of it too quickly, and in moments of fatigue. The first half is better than the second. Alongside many brilliant passages are others so disgustingly bad that I can't even read them myself." It also kind of clued me in on some of the more confusing parts of the book. I know this was one of the original psychological/dual personality novels, and though the idea behind the story is one that always fascinates me, this one just kind of fell short. Also, the dialogue. Oh, the dialogue. You know how sometimes you kind of practice things you're going to say in your head before you actually say them? Imagine that and EVERY OTHER fleeting thought that goes through your head, plus what you actually do say during the day typed out and having to read through it. That's how this book was. It's strange, because in The Brothers Karamazov, it was the dialogue, the rich beautiful dialogue that tore my heart out at times, that made me fall in love with that book. In The Double, it just made me feel like I was going mad. Though now when I think about it, maybe that was the whole point? I guess it really did give an insight into Golyadkin's character. The classic paranoia of everybody-hates-me-and-is-out-to-get-me, when really it's the paranoia itself that makes everyone dislike him. Golyadkin annoyed me pretty much throughout the entire book, though near the end, I began to feel sorry for him. There was a lot of things I didn't like about this one, but it's one that at least makes me think, and continues to make the think even after I'm done, so maybe it does deserve that other half a star...

  22. 4 out of 5

    Patrick James

    A feverish hallucinatory tale, one you could imagine Kafka writing, yet the novella predates Kafka's earliest works by 3/4 of a century. There is a dark humour to this tale, and moments when I laughed aloud even, despite its harrowing depiction of its protagonist's descent into madness. Or is it merely that? The Double concerns the pathetic life of titular councilor (read: insignificant bureaucrat) Yakov Petrovich Golyadkin who, at the outset of the tale, has been suffering the ignominy of a rec A feverish hallucinatory tale, one you could imagine Kafka writing, yet the novella predates Kafka's earliest works by 3/4 of a century. There is a dark humour to this tale, and moments when I laughed aloud even, despite its harrowing depiction of its protagonist's descent into madness. Or is it merely that? The Double concerns the pathetic life of titular councilor (read: insignificant bureaucrat) Yakov Petrovich Golyadkin who, at the outset of the tale, has been suffering the ignominy of a recent spate of embarrassing social encounters. He has taken to speaking to himself, to comforting himself with bizarre rants about the superiority of his character compared with those of his enemies. He wishes, however, to make it up to his social circle, superiors and benefactors by appearing uninvited at a ball in honour of a young maiden upon whom he's fixated. Wishing to smooth over some of the creases he's made in recent past, he bursts into the ball and hopes to pay tribute to the birthday girl. However, everything goes all Murphy's Law on him and he is thrown out of the party. It is on miserable walk home that he first spies his doppelgänger, who seems to have been born out of the bottomless chasm of his shame and paranoia. This double is like him in every respect and even bears his name and is of the same profession. When his double is given a position in his own department, the battle for primacy between the two is on, although one can hardly hope for our troubled hero's victory over this supernatural foe. But what of his foe? Is he real or an imagination? He is frequently acknowledged and reacted to by characters in the story, although the narrative is mostly hewn close to Golyadkin's perspective. The beauty of this work is it never lets you feel certain whether or not the double is real. Though the translation I read is one oft-criticized for its lengthy, convoluted sentences and other linguistic oddities, I quite like it. I guess reading my reviews, that shouldn't surprise you. But what I like about it is that this novella can't be skimmed through. Rather, it forces you to, like Golyadkin, trudge through the murky complexities more slowly. It forces one to think, to feel that panicky sense of wanting a journey to be over, yet knowing you've a third of the way to go, and cannot stop or turn around. Highly recommended, if frustrating read.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth (Alaska)

    Dostoyevsky's second novel is as dark as any I've read. Written in third person limited, we know only what Yakov Petrovich Golyadkin sees, hears, thinks and feels. From the very first pages it is apparent he is mentally unstable. I cannot see how it is possible that there could be a more unreliable character. A little over a year ago, I read The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales. In that, Sacks describes people with perception disorders. I couldn't help thinking about those s Dostoyevsky's second novel is as dark as any I've read. Written in third person limited, we know only what Yakov Petrovich Golyadkin sees, hears, thinks and feels. From the very first pages it is apparent he is mentally unstable. I cannot see how it is possible that there could be a more unreliable character. A little over a year ago, I read The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales. In that, Sacks describes people with perception disorders. I couldn't help thinking about those studies when reading this. Did that spoil it for me? I guess it depends. I hope my sympathy for Mr. Golyadkin was not different than those who have not read the Sacks. The edition I read was from a volume that contains multiple titles by Dostoevsky and was translated by Constance Garnett. She is somewhat maligned as a translator with references to her extreme anglicization. It is entirely possible I am not getting the full Russian feeling when I read the Russians she has translated. So be it. I have tried a couple of translations where it is said they more faithfully reflect Russian syntax, and I found those not to my liking. I did like this, and I liked it both for the story itself and because it was quite readable. This comes in at a high 4-stars.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Michael Nutt

    This is a horror story where the hero is also the monster. Something of a companion piece to Stevenson's "The strange case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde", it predates the Scottish classic by 40 years. Whereas in Stevenson's novel you are in no doubt that Jekyll and Hyde are personae of one and the same individual, in Dostoyevsky's piece everything is much more ambiguous. What I find so striking about Dostoyevsky's writing is its modernity. It is hard to believe this work is almost 170 year This is a horror story where the hero is also the monster. Something of a companion piece to Stevenson's "The strange case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde", it predates the Scottish classic by 40 years. Whereas in Stevenson's novel you are in no doubt that Jekyll and Hyde are personae of one and the same individual, in Dostoyevsky's piece everything is much more ambiguous. What I find so striking about Dostoyevsky's writing is its modernity. It is hard to believe this work is almost 170 years old. The author is not an easy read: he uses complex sentence structures, and in "The Double" he employs multiple points of view so one is never quite sure who is telling the tale - much of the narrative is told through stream of consciousness (this was over 70 years before Joyce's "Ulysses"). The story begins slowly and the early chapters appear unfocussed and rambling. Dostoyevsky takes us inside the mind of his hero Mr Golyadkin but he is an inarticulate, indecisive and diffident individual. Matters take a sinister turn, however, when an unexpected (for our hero, that is, but the novel's title has led us to expect it) encounter sends the story on a different path. Many of the events in the first half of the book are mirrored by similar events in the second half, but now they are distorted and have a hideous feel to them. Mixed with the horror of the hero's predicament is a dark humour, the sort that causes you to grimace rather than laugh. The story builds to its terrible but inevitable conclusion, and the reader may feel he or she has been "haunted by a presentiment of this". It is not a book for those who like everything explained and the story neatly wrapped up at the end. It is ambiguous and invites multiple readings as to what is actually happening and what it all means. For me, that is one of its great strengths, because its subject matter necessarily precludes clarity and certainty. It is definitely a book I will want to read again some time.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Juliana

    1.5 - updated yeah, it didn't grown on me afterwards. Probably I’m being to rash in the star raiting, but I was so tired by the end, and it wasn’t as if i didn’t know how the story was going to end. I don’t know... This book is just dense (not in a good way) and confusing. Nothing is clear, and normally I would like that, but this time it was just to much for me. I couldn’t do it. But I have to say that there are some pretty good passages in this book. But for me this book could have 1.5 - updated yeah, it didn't grown on me afterwards. Probably I’m being to rash in the star raiting, but I was so tired by the end, and it wasn’t as if i didn’t know how the story was going to end. I don’t know... This book is just dense (not in a good way) and confusing. Nothing is clear, and normally I would like that, but this time it was just to much for me. I couldn’t do it. But I have to say that there are some pretty good passages in this book. But for me this book could have half its size.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Anna Rohleder

    Dostoevsky is a master; never predictable yet always wonderful. What more can I say? Reading him is both a delight and spoils you for lesser entertainments, ie most other books or movies. What is most interesting about this book to me is its exploration of the shadow in all of its dimensions.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Imi

    Well, this turned out to be a bit of a chore to get through. The Double, as one of Dostoevsky's earlier novels, is, perhaps, let down by his inexperience and laborious pace. I love the doppelganger theme, especially in Russian literature, but here a good concept is lost in the overly wordy and repetitive prose. It takes an age for the story to really kick in, and then the reader is, again, left waiting for the next development in the plot. I think the story itself is a good one: the persecution, self-d Well, this turned out to be a bit of a chore to get through. The Double, as one of Dostoevsky's earlier novels, is, perhaps, let down by his inexperience and laborious pace. I love the doppelganger theme, especially in Russian literature, but here a good concept is lost in the overly wordy and repetitive prose. It takes an age for the story to really kick in, and then the reader is, again, left waiting for the next development in the plot. I think the story itself is a good one: the persecution, self-destruction, and mental instability of a pathetic man, who is desperate to but incapable of fitting in. Sadly, this interesting premise does not make up for the novella's weaknesses, and I think (from the little I've read by him so far) that this is far from Dostoevsky's best.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Raul Bimenyimana

    When I was seven or eight I remember watching The Parent Trap starring a then young and unproblematic Lindsay Lohan. The prospect of having an identical twin with whom I could go on frivolous escapades with and take on bullies alongside filled my childhood fantasies. And so it was with some horror that I read this fantastic tale. From the beginning of the story a sense of tension and suspense permeates the story. Mr. Golyadkin, described as the hero of the tale, is a snobbish clumsy b When I was seven or eight I remember watching The Parent Trap starring a then young and unproblematic Lindsay Lohan. The prospect of having an identical twin with whom I could go on frivolous escapades with and take on bullies alongside filled my childhood fantasies. And so it was with some horror that I read this fantastic tale. From the beginning of the story a sense of tension and suspense permeates the story. Mr. Golyadkin, described as the hero of the tale, is a snobbish clumsy but sensitive titular councillor seeks assistance for an ailment that his doctor seems not to understand. Golyadkin's thoughts are muddled, he is riddled with a suspicion for everyone and he finds himself embarrassing himself in social gatherings and shunned by society and colleagues. In his distress, a duplicate of Golyadkin is produced, whom the writer calls Golyadkin Junior. The doppelganger is superior to the original in nearly all aspects. Where the senior irritates, the junior placates. Where the senior is clumsy and slow, the junior is calculating and efficient. Soon Mr. Golyadkin who at first had taken his new twin under his wing warmly, discovers that Golyadkin Junior is on a smearing campaign against his honour, setting him up against his colleagues, benefactors, superiors, acquaintances and his own servant. What follows is an epic tale with quite a twist at the end. There are several interpretations one could draw from this tale, a self-destructive nature, multiple personality disorder etcetera. I wish I was more equipped with psychological knowledge to be able to delve into that but if anything this book as every Dostoevsky book I have read so far left me in awe of his great mind. I think the most brilliant and disturbing part of his work is that the stranger and more dreadful it gets, the more familiar it seems.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    The Doubleis the last book I finished before officially launching my current fanaticism for George Orwell. But lest it be overlooked, I want to note the worth of this strange little book. This is Dostoevsky's second novel--following Poor Folk, and previous to the titles that are generally considered to be his masterpieces. It's also written before Dostoevsky's political arrest, his death sentence, his last minute reprieve, and his years in a Siberian prison work camp. The s The Doubleis the last book I finished before officially launching my current fanaticism for George Orwell. But lest it be overlooked, I want to note the worth of this strange little book. This is Dostoevsky's second novel--following Poor Folk, and previous to the titles that are generally considered to be his masterpieces. It's also written before Dostoevsky's political arrest, his death sentence, his last minute reprieve, and his years in a Siberian prison work camp. The story follows a painfully awkward civil servant, Mr. Golyadkin, who suffers repeated humilations before encountering a man who is his double in every way. This "Golyadkin junior"--yes, they have the same name too--at first seems to be a friend of "our hero." After all, upon meeting on a bridge on a stormy night, they enjoy an evening of drink ing and conversation. But then, the double turns enemy. He receives undeserved favors, he sets up Golyadkin to be blamed for his own terrible behavior, he actively and publicly condescends Golyadkin before their superiors. And our poor hero never seems to get a break. With an odd point-of-view--it seems to be omniscent first-person--Dostoevsky sets us up to question whether or not Golyadkin's double is real, or if he's a creation of Golyadkin's broken mind. We join Golyadkin in his constant chase through claustrophobic, labyrinthine streets--he's always moving, even when he doesn't know where he's going, much to the ire of his cab drivers. And the question over whether or not the double exists almost seems to be moot when we realize that, as far as Golyadkin is concerned, he exists whether he's real or not. And in the most concrete terms, Golyadkin's life and dignity may never recover. I'm tempted to read this next to Notes from the Underground, or the scene in The Brothers Karamazov in which Ivan talks with the devil hiding under his table. The Double lays the groundwork for Dostoevsky to more maturely handle psychological realism; he simply gets a better grip on the devices of, for example, unreliable narrators and image and syntatic repetition. I appreciated that Dostoevsky used an almost punishing close-up on Golyadkin throughout the text to convey the obsession and paranoia that consumes him, but I believe that in later works, the author grows to a point where he holds not only that one, unsettling shot, but he turns the camera in a way that offers complimentary variation without losing focus. I'm fascinated about how Dostoevsky's obsessions persist--even through the tumultuous years that followed in his life. Doubles appear constantly in Dostoevsky work, particularly in The Idiot. The subtitle of The Double is revealing: "A Petersburg Poem." So begins the the writer's lifelong interest in the relationship of cityscapes to the mental state of his characters. It begs me to question what would still consume my mind after my last minute reprieve from a death sentence.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Büşra

    I am a huge Dostoyevsky fan but I think I need to stop expecting a Crime and Punishment or The Brothers Karamazov from every book of his. I think this isn’t his best work at all but it is one of the decent short works he wrote. This is like the Fight Club of the 19th century. A man meets his double and they quickly become best friends but then things start going down and it’s kind of surreal. His style in The Double is very interesting and it’s actually a bit fun but it made me feel like the mai I am a huge Dostoyevsky fan but I think I need to stop expecting a Crime and Punishment or The Brothers Karamazov from every book of his. I think this isn’t his best work at all but it is one of the decent short works he wrote. This is like the Fight Club of the 19th century. A man meets his double and they quickly become best friends but then things start going down and it’s kind of surreal. His style in The Double is very interesting and it’s actually a bit fun but it made me feel like the main character was going crazy for no good reason. Also if you want to understand this book the translation has to be really good. You just know this is one of those books that might lose too much with a bad translation as it’s already difficult to understand at times. I could still feel all the mystery and intrigue but it was nothing like The Gambler. Though it’s kind of repetitive sometimes, it’s also very fascinating. The best thing about Dostoyevsky is his ability to get inside the human conscious and to me he will forever be the best in literature when it comes to character analysis. He creates living breathing people that you care about and always writes with such intelligence and skill. All I can say is that this is a nice enough little book, not a must but a good read. Only for Dostoyevsky fans.

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