Monday, 28 April 2014

The Double by Fyodor Dostoevsky (3/5)

First published: 1846
Original title: Двойник, Dvoynik
Original language: Russian
Translation to English by: Constance Garnett

Page count: 144

The back says: First published in 1846, Fyodor Dostoyevsky's novella "The Double" is a classic doppelgnger and the second major work published by the author. It is the story of Yakov Petrovich Golyadkin, a government clerk who believes that a fellow clerk has taken over his identity and is determined to bring about his ruin. Considered the most Gogolesque of Dostoyevsky's works, the novella brilliantly depicts Golyadkin's descent into madness in a way that is hauntingly poetic.

I say: I wanted so much to like this, but found myself falling asleep every few pages.

Yes, it bored me.

The premise is amazing, but the execution was not to my liking. It is hard to pinpoint exactly what was off other than the fact that I never really got into it – probably because I kept falling asleep. There were moments of ridiculous hilarity; often relating to the double mocking Golyadkin, and there were moments when Dostoevsky intensely portrayed Golyadkin’s ever increasing frustration and desperation that I truly enjoyed. However, as much as I love the absurd, this wasn’t absurd enough for me. Yes, we do wonder who the double was and what he was doing there, and there is also the uncertain ending, but I still yearned for more.

As with most of Dostoevsky’s work, I will be revisiting this in the future and it will be interesting to see how I feel about it then.


  1. I've just bought this, and you're the second person I've seen who's read it and gone 'eh...' I feel this doesn't bode well, but I super loved Crime and Punishment, so I'm hoping my Dostoevsky love will get me through it? Or... It can just sit on my shelves for a while until I forget that people didn't love it. Whichever!

    1. I was hoping my love for Dostoevsky would get me through it, but most of the time it didn't feel like Dostoevsky. But it's short, so you'll read it in a day and may love it.

      Go on, you know you want to :)