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IlanaSimons
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Re: "The Double": Chapters 1-6

Ah...great find.
That's meaningful because Gogol was a heavy influence for this story. The story was first called "The Double: The Adventures of Mr. Golyadkin," so that it would evoke Gogol's "The Adventures of Chichikov." That's what the first part of Dead Souls was called when it was published in Moscow.



Jimbo1580 wrote:
Petrushka is also the name of the "hero's" servant in Gogol's "Dead Souls"





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Laurel
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Re: "The Double": Chapters 1-6



Jimbo1580 wrote:
Petrushka is also the name of the "hero's" servant in Gogol's "Dead Souls"




Oh, of course! Thanks.
"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it." ~~G.K. Chesterton
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Re: Ch 1 observations

ELee wrote:

He does not seem to have any "middle ground". He is either subdued/paralyzed to inactivity, or running and leaping to the next confrontation.

..........................................

That's the condition exactly. Either lying in the dark in a fetal position for three days and nights or up all night cleaning the house.
"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it." ~~G.K. Chesterton
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Re: "The Double": Chapters 1-6

Ilana wrote:

"The story was first called "The Double: The Adventures of Mr. Golyadkin"

Ilana,

Do we know why it changed to "A Petersburg Poem"? Poem?
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Re: "The Double": Chapters 1-6

[ Edited ]

ELee wrote:
Ilana wrote:

"The story was first called "The Double: The Adventures of Mr. Golyadkin"

Ilana,

Do we know why it changed to "A Petersburg Poem"? Poem?



Both the full text of Dead Souls and Pushkin's The Bronze Horseman have the subtitle "A Poem," so using that subtitle gave Dostoevsky a larger world of reference. Deborah Martinsen writes that this subtitle also allowed him to stress the madness (poetry) in the tale, as well as the importance of St. Petersburg, where Pushkin's poem was also set.

Message Edited by IlanaSimons on 03-06-200708:39 AM




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Re: "The Double": Chapters 1-6



ELee wrote:
I have to say it. I am really struggling with The Double. The incessant repetition of names (long Russian names!) and dialogue, and the faltering, unresolved style of Golyadkin's every thought is weighing me down and making it difficult to get through the story. Is anyone else having trouble??




More clarity on plot and names: In the first two chapters, Golyadkin is getting ready to go to his suprerior Oluufy Ivanovich's party. Golyadkin fantasizes that he'll win over Olsufy's daughter, Klara. Golyadkin gets to the door of the party in chapter three, and his immediate boss is actually, by chance, entering at the same time. Pathetic Golyadkin is turned away, and the boss makes fun of him. He uses Golyadkin's first two names in this exchange, "Yakof Petrovich" (29), so the names get confusing.



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The Narrator's Voice

[ Edited ]
What do you think of the narrator's voice?
Dostoevsky's doing something neat with technique here. One of Golyadki's problems is what psychologists would call a boundary problem. He's not quite sure where his identity ends and another person's begins. He also has trouble navigating normal social boundaries. As someone already said on this board, he feels an immediate, abnormal intimacy with his doctor. Then he crashes the city councilor’s party.

And Dostoevsky's frames this psychological problem with a neat narrating technique. For most of the time, we sit safely in the narrator's perspective--with some empathy for "our hero" but still outside his head. Then, we sometimes find ourselves plopped right into Golyadkin's thinking process, experiencing it. In chapter 4, for instance, the narrator actually fantasizes about the party Golyadkin is missing--He flies in romantic language until he busts: "It's needless to say that my pen is too weak, dull, and spiritless to describe the dance that owed its inspiration to the genial hospitality of the grey-headed host." So we experience a sort of boundary problem--the slip into another person's head. How does this slippage continue throughout the story?

Message Edited by IlanaSimons on 03-06-200701:52 PM




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Re: a truer self?

Ilana wrote:

"We're both saying that Golyadkin begins to split his identity as he feels a need to separate off a precious "me" from what others see."

There really is a confused polarity about Golyadkin. As you have observed above, he proudly claims the distinction of being "not quite like other people". He also says "I can't talk much" and yet he seems to "talk" quite a bit, especially to himself. In describing himself to Krestyan Ivanovich, he gives himself the distinction of being the one who "acts", when in fact he is not acting with any will of his own but reacting to his interpretations of the actions of others. In the doctor's consulting-room, he sits-stands-sits-stands-sits like a marionette on a string. His countenance changes from confused to smiling to blushing to embarrassed, ending with his trademark "defiant glare" that "crushes" his enemies. This is a very silly picture, and yet he is the one who remarks "The doctor is silly".
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Re: The Narrator's Voice

Ilana wrote:

"One of Golyadkin's problems is what psychologists would call a boundary problem. He's not quite sure where his identity ends and another person's begins."

"Then, we sometimes find ourselves plopped right into Golyadkin's thinking process, experiencing it." "So we experience a sort of boundary problem--the slip into another person's head."

I think the effectiveness of this "mobile" point of view is what was difficult for me to adjust to. I have read through Chapter 9, and in going back to reread the beginning chapters as we open our discussion it is becoming easier. The vagueness of his many unfinished sentences I still find frustrating. Is there a hidden suggestion or insinuation in the "broken off" direction they seem to indicate? Or is he just nuts? Am I looking for too much significance?
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Re: The Narrator's Voice



ELee wrote:
The vagueness of his many unfinished sentences I still find frustrating. Is there a hidden suggestion or insinuation in the "broken off" direction they seem to indicate? Or is he just nuts? Am I looking for too much significance?




I say let's try to read for significance. I think you're right about the story: a second reading makes it clearer. In a second read, a lot of the sentences that first simply seemed crazy look more meaningful.



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Looking at Chapter 4

[ Edited ]
Golyadkin's now at the party. He keeps checking his feelings and actions against "what people would say" (using quotation marks). When he feels socially awkward, he steadies himself by hooking into some word "as people would say it."

Quotation marks are like the road signs reminding him what normal living is.
So in these spots, we're sort of inside Golyadkin's head, but he's always trying to get in the "public head"--the head that says acceptable sentences.

The fact is that he had made his way to the back of the stairs and to the passage, on the ground that, as he said, "why shouldn't he? and everyone did go that way?"; but he had not ventured to penetrate further, evidently he did not dare to do so . . . "not because there was anything he did not dare, but just because he did not care to, because he preferred to be in hiding"; so here he was, waiting now for a chance to slip in, and he had been waiting for it two hours and a half. "Why not wait?" (36)

then

He subsided into silence. He made up his mind that it was better to keep quiet, not to open his lips, and to show that he was "all right," that he was "like every one else," and that his position, as far as he could see, was quite a proper one (40).

Message Edited by IlanaSimons on 03-06-200705:53 PM




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Independence

Ilana wrote:

he sends out a “glance [that] expressed to the full [his] independence—that is, to speak plainly, the fact that Mr. Golyadkin was ‘all right,’ that he was ‘quite himself, like everybody else,’ and that there was ‘nothing wrong in his upper storey.’”

Independence could be defined as being free from the influence or control of others. Individuals strive for that freedom from control so that they can define themselves and establish an identity. For Mr. G, independence was expressed by his being "all right" and "quite himself, like everybody else", which becomes the opposite to the definition above, since he sacrifices individuality and self-control to societal conformity in order to "blend in".
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Re: Independence



ELee wrote:
Ilana wrote:

he sends out a “glance [that] expressed to the full [his] independence—that is, to speak plainly, the fact that Mr. Golyadkin was ‘all right,’ that he was ‘quite himself, like everybody else,’ and that there was ‘nothing wrong in his upper storey.’”

Independence could be defined as being free from the influence or control of others. Individuals strive for that freedom from control so that they can define themselves and establish an identity. For Mr. G, independence was expressed by his being "all right" and "quite himself, like everybody else", which becomes the opposite to the definition above, since he sacrifices individuality and self-control to societal conformity in order to "blend in".




nice insight to independence. I read an interview with some movie star in the newspaper today. can't remember who it was. but he's 29 and has already made a lot of films. He said, "some people would say success is a high box office return. some people would say it's an Oscar. I'd say it's being able to define your own space. and I don't think I have that yet."
oh. yes. to be able to define our projects and make them happen.
the only problem is that in the real (business) world, any project is dependent on backers and buyers and superiors and audience.



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Re: Independence

he wants so much to be "...like everyone else..." that he is driving himself crazy trying to do it.
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Re: Ch 1 observations

Ilana wrote:
"All along he's trying to look like "as a man...who has the prospect before him of going to a sumptuous dinner" (24), because he already knows he's going to go crash his boss's party."

Jimbo1580 wrote:
"He thinks that by making himself look more important in front of others, he will convince himself that he is important enough to be invited to the party and feel confident going."

For someone who only wears a mask at a masquerade and is not one to "intrigue", G certainly goes to a lot of trouble to "become" someone different. He puts on "almost new" clothes, changes his money to fatten his wallet (and loses value in the bargain which, by the way, gives new meaning to "less is more"), rents livery for P and hires a carriage, and goes on a(n) [existentialist?] shopping spree all to become worthy to crash a party. The fact that much of this is "an act" is reflected as early as page 8, where he "rubbed his hands convulsively and went off into a slow, noiseless chuckle, like a jubilant man who has succeeded in bringing off a splendid performance and is pleased as Punch...".
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awake

yay, the book's here!

I like that he starts the book with this moment..the space between the sleep and awareness...when both spheres overlap for a short while...those are the best moments.
The person arrived..from where to what is my first question.

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Re: awake



ziki wrote:
yay, the book's here!

I like that he starts the book with this moment..the space between the sleep and awareness...when both spheres overlap for a short while...those are the best moments.
The person arrived..from where to what is my first question.

ziki




yes...and that is a beginning which greatly influenced Kafka.



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Thoughts on Chapter 5

Chapter Five begins with Golyadkin's dramatic self-image. Look at how dramatic the writing is here (the narrator's seeped across the permeable boundary to get in our hero's head again).
What do you make of the tone?
I.e. Have you ever had those moments in which your life feels so dramatic that you find comfort in your difference from other people?

"It was striking midnight from all the clock towers in Petersburg when Mr. Golyadkin, beside himself, ran out on the Fontanka Quay, close to the Ismailovsky Bridge, fleeing from his foes, from persecution, from a hailstorm of nips and pinches aimed at him, from the shrieks of excited old ladies, from the Ohs and Ahs of women and from the murderous eyes of Andrey Filippovitch. Mr. Golyadkin was killed - killed entirely, in the full sense of the word, and if he still preserved the power of running, it was simply through some sort of miracle, a miracle in which at last he refused himself to believe" (44).



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Another thought about Chapter 5

In alienation that leads to suicide, one body is lost.
In this tale, when depression really hits in chapter 5, "our hero" seems to protect himself by doubling up.
Any thoughts?



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One more thought for the end of Chapter 5

Golyadkin follows his double through the streets, past his front door, right to his bedroom.
He's finally seeing that there's a version of himself that others see but that he's never considered his own.

"The hero of our story dashed into his lodging beside himself; without taking off his hat or coat he crossed the little passage and stood still in the doorway of his room, as though thunderstruck. All his presentiments had come true. All that he had dreaded and surmised was coming to pass in reality. His breath failed him, his head was in a whirl. The stranger, also in his coat and hat, was sitting before him on his bed, and with a faint smile, screwing up his eyes, nodded to him in a friendly way. Mr. Golyadkin wanted to scream, but could not - to protest in some way, but his strength failed him. His hair stood on end, and he almost fell down with horror. And, indeed, there was good reason. He recognised his nocturnal visitor. The nocturnal visitor was no other than himself - Mr. Golyadkin himself, another Mr. Golyadkin, but absolutely the same as himself - in fact, what is called a double in every respect. . ." (52).



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