The Double by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

The Double: A Poem of St. Petersburg, originally published in 1846, is the second work from Fyodor Dostoyevsky.

Yakov Petrovich Golyadkin, later referred to as Golyadkin senior, is a civil servant. A regular working guy, tied to a desk, dealing with office politics and a rather boring life, is my take on the start of the book.

Then Golyadkin's double, called Golyadkin junior, appears. Same name, same appearance, working in the same office--and out to get Golyadkin senior.

Is Golyadkin junior real? Is Golyadkin senior delusional, paranoid, schizophrenic, or what? While I'm not at all sure, I think the book reads like a descent into madness narrative, leaving me to believe that Golyadkin junior is real only in Golyadkin senior's own mind.

Here's an example of the internal dialogue that reads like madness:

"Yet the danger was imminent; it was evident; Mr. Golyadkin felt it; but how to grapple with it, with this danger? - that was the question. The thought even flashed through Mr. Golyadkin's mind for a moment, "After all, why not leave it so, simply give up? Why, what is it? Why, it's nothing. I'll keep apart as though it were not I," thought Mr. Golyadkin. "I'll let it all pass; it's not I, and that's all about it; he's separate too, maybe he'll give it up too; he'll hang about, the rascal, he'll hang about. He'll come back and give it up again. That’s how it will be! I'll take it meekly. And, indeed, where is the danger? Come, what danger is there? I should like any one to tell me where the danger lies in this business. It is a trivial affair. An everyday affair. . . .""

Reading The Double certainly didn't leave me interested in tackling the much longer and more complicated books Crime and Punishment or The Brothers Karamazov any time soon.

Since I paid a whopping 99 cents for my Kindle download, I'm certainly not complaining about the value for my purchase price, though.

My overall personal rating of The Double is a C+.


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