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The Double

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  17,859 ratings  ·  1,240 reviews
While his literary reputation rests mainly on such celebrated novels as Crime and Punishment, The Brothers Karamazov, and The Idiot, Dostoyevsky also wrote much superb short fiction. The Double is one of the finest of his shorter works. It appeared in 1846 (his second published work) and is by far the most significant of his early stories, not least for its successful, str ...more
Paperback, 144 pages
Published March 12th 1997 by Dover Publications (first published 1846)
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Barnaby Thieme The English translation I would recommend is by Pevear and Volokhonsky, published as "The Double" along with the early novella "The Gambler."

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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 c
Bill Kerwin
Feb 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: russian

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 Dosto
Vit Babenco
Mar 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
“We are the hollow men We are the stuffed men Leaning together Headpiece filled with straw. Alas! Our dried voices, when We whisper together Are quiet and meaningless As wind in dry grass…” T.S. EliotThe Hollow Men
Yakov Golyadkin is one of those men and Fyodor Dostoyevsky enjoys deriding his hollowness…
“Hitherto, gentlemen, you have not known me. To explain myself here and now would not be appropriate. I will only touch on it lightly in passing. There are people, gentlemen, who dislike rounda
Ahmad Sharabiani
Двойник = Dvojník = The Double: Two Versions, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
The Double is a novella written by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. It was first published on January 30, 1846 in the Fatherland Notes. The Double centers on a government clerk who goes mad. It deals with the internal psychological struggle of its main character, Yakov Petrovich Golyadkin, who repeatedly encounters someone who is his exact double in appearance but confident, aggressive, and extroverted, characteristics that are the polar opposi
Steven Godin
Jul 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Manuel Antão
Dec 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 1981
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 sto
May 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: black-metal
“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
Feb 14, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebooks
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
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 hu
Apr 23, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
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 under
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 narrato
Jack Tripper
Dec 31, 2017 rated it did not like it
"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 Dost
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, ...more
May 11, 2015 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: People who have already read some Dostoyevsky (don't start with this one)
A Graphical Representation of Some Dostoyevsky Protagonists, or Why I Didn't Like The Double So Much
Dostoyevsky protagonists
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 Cr
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:

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 characte
David Sarkies
Jan 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: dark
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 Ei
Jan 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013
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 Dostoevsk
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.
Sep 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
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 rea
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 ...more
Nov 08, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: mystery and thriller readers
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 ...more
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 t
Jun 29, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
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
Mar 25, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: classic
Golyadkin senior, is persecuted by his almost exact double, Golyadkin junior. Jnr ratchets up the abuses and brutality as the novella progresses. It follows Dostoevsky's main themes of helplessness, victimization, and scandal and is seen as a masterpiece by the literary crowd. This almost surreal tale of the harassment of Senior is well worth a read. 7 out of 12.
Lady Nerd
Jun 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
I’ll never stop saying this: Richard Ayoade did it better. It was still fantastic, but not the nightmarish hell I had expected.
Patrick James
May 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Apr 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Bizarre! Creepy! Your worst nightmare... Dostoyevsky keeps you guessing the entire time. Is this man crazy? Does he have a persecution complex? An overactive imagination? Is there a sinister plot? He behaves oddly at first, but then his perfect double enters the picture and begins to make life hell for him, behaving like a Dr. Jeckle and Mr. Hyde, one way to him and the complete opposite to everyone else. Who IS this Double? Is he even real? What is happening? Things seem to go from bad to worse ...more
Michael Nutt
Oct 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
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 a
Mar 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: russian-lit
In his poem, "In A Dark Time," Theodore Roethke writes, "What's madness but nobility of soul / At odds with circumstance."

This would make a fine ironic epigram for The Double. There isn't much noble about Goliadkin's descent into paranoia but that doesn't make him any less sympathetic. Who among us, at some point in our lives, haven't obsessed endlessly over perceived slights, conspiracies, or faux pas, social or professional?

Goliadkin's double, in all his two-faced conniving and maneuvering, c
Cassandra Kay Silva
Mar 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: classics
The main character in this is so bizarre that its a wonder that the author pulls off getting you to favor him in the end! What a marvel. Such a superstitious book, so full of subtleties and strange thoughts. I wonder at the ending. Was he taken to a mental institution or actual prison? We are never told what the actual crime was from what I could tell. I kind of like that about the ending it leaves you to ponder where these circumstances may have landed our "hero" and how we can rectify his inju ...more
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What exactly happened in the ending? 2 7 Jul 26, 2020 09:47AM  
Discovering Russi...: * The Double by Fyodor Dostoyevsky 14 161 Nov 11, 2015 04:58PM  
Doppelgänger 2 25 Jan 18, 2015 11:25PM  
Discovering Russi...: The Double -Resources-Reading Schedule 8 48 Nov 07, 2014 06:32AM  
The Fyodor Dostoy...: 'Adolescent' Common discussion thread (Spoilers) 2 21 Jan 08, 2014 08:33AM  

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Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky was born in Moscow in 1821. His debut, the epistolary novella Poor Folk (1846), made his name. In 1849 he was arrested for involvement with the politically subversive 'Petrashevsky circle' and until 1854 he lived in a convict prison in Omsk, Siberia. From this experience came The House of the Dead (1860-2). In 1860 he began the journal Vremya (Time). Already married, ...more

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