The Double is one of the earlier and shorter novels of the Russian novelist Dostoevsky. Dostoevsky is a great man not only of literature but also of psychiatry and theology. His descriptions of disturbed people in his novels were so accurate and dramatic that Freud could not read Dostoevsky—he found the characters too disturbingly like his own patients. In many ways Dostoevsky anticipated what is called “depth psychology.”
On the theological side he had an important influence on Thurneysen (who has written a book on Dostoevsky) and Barth. It was Dostoevsky who enabled the neo-orthodox theologians to see the complexity and depth of man’s depravity, and what they saw was an interesting supplement to the kind of view of man they had found in Kierkegaard. Dostoevsky’s view of man was far more pessimistic than the views advanced by the religious liberalism that was cresting in popularity in the early part of the twentieth century.
In The Double, Golyadkin, a clerk, in what seems to be a government office, feels extremely insecure about retaining his job. He is a highly nervous person. His emotions are always at a high pitch, and he continually over-reacts. He takes every remark or event in the office personally. He is hyper-active and rushes hither and thither about town. He is erratic: starting out on one errand, he shifts to another, on his way to see one person, he changes his mind and goes to see a second—or perhaps even changes his mind again and visits a third. Or he might quit in the midst of his trip and rush back home. He spends his money very impulsively, always concerned lest someone get the impression that he has a menial job with a menial salary.
Then in the midst of this frantic ...1
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