The Double: Two Versions

Dostoevski, Fyodor Mikhailovich

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel

Annotated by:
Willms, Janice
  • Date of entry: Dec-19-2001


Mr. Galyadkin, minor clerk in Russian business, is introduced by the author as he begins an outrageous journey which takes him madly about St. Petersburg visiting his physician, who sends him away, and old friends who won't admit him to their homes. It is apparent that this man has either done something extremely objectionable to offend everyone, or he is not recognized by those whom he visits.

As he wanders along the streets, trying to decide why he is being so badly treated, he encounters a man who looks very like himself, in fact, who calls himself Mr. Galyadkin and was born in the same village as our hero. Mr. Galyadkin (now designated as "senior") welcomes the new Mr. G. into his life, sharing everything, including a position at his workplace.

The pleasures are short-lived, as the newcomer begins to act outrageously with the consequences being assigned to Mr. G, Sr. Life becomes unbearable for Mr. G; the worse things seem the more badly he and his double behave. And eventually, Dr. Krestyan Ivanovich is called to trick Mr. G into entering the carriage bound for the insane asylum.


This strange little novel, first published in 1845 and substantially revised in 1866 remains, for apparent reasons, little known except to scholars of Dostoevsky. The edition from which these notes are made, publishes both versions, with the additions and deletions of 1866 inserted in brackets into the 1845 text.

For the reader who has some knowledge or interest in the concept of multiple personality disorder, this is a fascinating clinical study. The reader's apprehension accelerates as the "madness" of the protagonist intensifies. For those readers who study the connections between the good and evil residing in each man, this book may be included with such works as Edgar Allan Poe's William Wilson and Robert Louis Stevenson's Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (see this database).


First published:1845; revised 1866. Transl. by Evelyn Harden.



Place Published

Ann Arbor, Mich.



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