The Double is a remarkable work of doppelganger literature. As Dostoevsky examines the neurosis and paranoia that cripple a seemingly ordinary man, he produces a thoroughly "modern" nightmare, brilliantly foreshadowing the works of Kafka and Sartre. Mr. Golyadkin, a minor government official, is a rather middling man. Then one day he meets his "double"-a man with the same name, face, and background. Initially charmed by the coincidence, Golyadkin soon notices a discernable cooling in the reaction of his friends and colleagues, while his double seems to grow in popularity. Unable to escape the relentless presence of "Golyadkin junior," even the most ordinary activities begin to take on a terrifying significance, until Golyadkin finds himself on the verge of a breakdown. Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821-81) is regarded as one of the greatest prose writers of all time.
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January 16, 2009
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