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IlanaSimons
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"The Double": Chapters 1-6

[ Edited ]
This is a story of self-knowledge…with all the connected doubt and paranoia. What do you make of the first scene, then of the meeting with his doctor?
Tell us how this story unfolds for you.

Message Edited by IlanaSimons on 03-04-200710:55 AM




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

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

It is definitely difficult, but I also think it is a major part of the style. The author purposefully makes Goliadkin sound incomprehensible and shattered to give you a sense of how he feels inside. If you think reading it is hard, think of how crazy it must be to have this going on inside you own head. He can't get words out, he doesn't know what he is thinking, he constantly changes opinions and moods, and he is very indecisive.

It does get rather frustrating when you are trying to follow along and looking for a story to develop.
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Double, double, toil and trouble



Jimbo1580 wrote:
It is definitely difficult, but I also think it is a major part of the style. The author purposefully makes Goliadkin sound incomprehensible and shattered to give you a sense of how he feels inside. If you think reading it is hard, think of how crazy it must be to have this going on inside you own head. He can't get words out, he doesn't know what he is thinking, he constantly changes opinions and moods, and he is very indecisive.

It does get rather frustrating when you are trying to follow along and looking for a story to develop.




Good thoughts, Jim. Dostoevsky is allowing us to suffer with our hero. I have a neighbor who definitely has whatever our hero has, and I am feeling more empathy for her as I read. (No, it's not you, Everyman.)
"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

[ Edited ]

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??




Yeah…ok. Characters names can certainly get confusing here. Here’s a little guide.

Yakov Petrovich Golyadkin: the main character. He’s got a verbal tic in which he likes to repeat the name of whomever he’s speaking to. So in the second chapter, when he sees his doctor, he says the doctor’s name, “Krestyan Ivanovich,” a lot. Golyadkin is sometimes referred to as “our hero,” as “Mr. Golyadkin” and later as “Golyadkin Senior.”

Petrushka: The servant who works for Golyadkin.

Andrey Filippovich: Golyadkin’s immediate boss

Olsufy Ivanovich (is Berendeyev his last name?): Golyadkin's superior. State Councillor. Golyadkin tries to win over this guy’s daughter, crashing two parties at his house.

But try not to fixate on characters names, which do get awfully confusing, because of the way they reference each other (not familiar to Western ears). Is anything in the story resonating with you so far?

Message Edited by IlanaSimons on 03-06-200701:36 PM




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narcissism in chapter 1

Some neat things happen in chapter one. We can read this book slowly.

I’m looking at the first line. The hero wakes up from a dream, but he wakes into a life that’s a nightmare. This opening line influenced Kafka. Kafka started “The Metamorphosis” by having his hero wake up as a bug. Both stories are saying that life is so strange that it’s worse than a dream: It’s an equally disorienting trip with ongoing consequences.

This guy wakes up feeling strange, and you soon get some clues that the “strangeness” is centered on how we look around others. First, the hero looks for an especially long time in the mirror. Then, he pulls out his big wad of money counts it all, feeling extra proud.

Those are two big markers of narcissism: this guy cares a lot about how he looks and how others like his boss speak about him.

Can you add any details, or thoughts on the chapter?



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Some reading notes for Chapter 2

Mr. Golyadkin is manic when he interprets people's stares. Sometimes he protects himself by sending back killer stares of his own.

So when he feels anxious with his doctor in chapter two, 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.’”

Dostoevsky does something neat by putting those phrases in quotation marks. We enter Golyadkin’s head in a way, feeling the tension around looking “all right” in other people’s eyes. We don’t just feel all right, but we have to feel “all right” when our self-image resides on what other people think. The power to feel all right is then out of our hands, in the hands of public ideas.



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Re: "The Double": Chapters 1-6

I'm intrigued as to why Dostoevsky named the servant "Petrushka." (Petrushka is a marionette or hand puppet in Russian theater and ballet.) Does anyone have any idea?
"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

well..thanks for that fact! What you said says enough: the servant as puppet, manipulated by others.
But so the name's ironic, too. Because our hero is really the one who feels pulled around by everyone else's will in this book. I've been thinking about how the hero's paranoia relates to shifting social classes in 19th Century Russia. Golyadkin wants to rise to the social rank of his superiors but worries about doing it. He feels like a servant, I guess, in relationship to his boss. Which is also why he's so nasty to his own servant...

A neat fact about schizophrenics and puppets: A lot of schizophrenics have the same hallucinatory experience--that their fingertips are tied to corners of the world, and that they can't move a muscle or else the world will topple.

Laurel, I'm sorry if you've already said this on another board, but do you live in Russia?




Laurel wrote:
I'm intrigued as to why Dostoevsky named the servant "Petrushka." (Petrushka is a marionette or hand puppet in Russian theater and ballet.) Does anyone have any idea?





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Re: "The Double": Chapters 1-6



IlanaSimons wrote:
well..thanks for that fact! What you said says enough: the servant as puppet, manipulated by others.
But so the name's ironic, too. Because our hero is really the one who feels pulled around by everyone else's will in this book. I've been thinking about how the hero's paranoia relates to shifting social classes in 19th Century Russia. Golyadkin wants to rise to the social rank of his superiors but worries about doing it. He feels like a servant, I guess, in relationship to his boss. Which is also why he's so nasty to his own servant...

A neat fact about schizophrenics and puppets: A lot of schizophrenics have the same hallucinatory experience--that their fingertips are tied to corners of the world, and that they can't move a muscle or else the world will topple.

Laurel, I'm sorry if you've already said this on another board, but do you live in Russia?




Laurel wrote:
I'm intrigued as to why Dostoevsky named the servant "Petrushka." (Petrushka is a marionette or hand puppet in Russian theater and ballet.) Does anyone have any idea?







I'm glad I asked the question and was able to bring up a new angle. Puppets are a perfect analogy.

I've never been to Russia, Ilana, but I am very slowly learning some Russian language, motivated by a fascination with Pushkin's poetry (if I could just read it for real!), a love of Russian opera, and the fact that there are many Russian immigrants in my little rural county in the farthest northwestern corner of Washington State.
"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



IlanaSimons wrote:
Yeah…ok. Characters names can certainly get confusing here. Here’s a little guide.

Yakov Petrovich Golyadkin: the main character. He’s got a verbal tic in which he likes to repeat the name of whomever he’s speaking to. So in the second chapter, when he sees his doctor, he says the doctor’s name, “Krestyan Ivanovich,” a lot. Golyadkin is sometimes referred to as “our hero,” as “Mr. Golyadkin” and later as “Golyadkin Senior.”

Petrushka: The servant who works for Golyadkin.

Andrey Filippovich: Golyadkin’s immediate boss

Olsufy Ivanovich: Golyadkin superior. Golyadkin tries to win over this guy’s daughter, crashing two parties at his house.

But try not to fixate on characters names, which do get awfully confusing, because of the way they reference each other (not familiar to Western ears). Is anything in the story resonating with you so far?

Message Edited by IlanaSimons on 03-05-200702:57 PM






Here's a little bit more about Russian names. Every Russian, like every cat, has at least three names. Our hero has a given name, Yakov, a last name, Golyadkin, and in the middle a patronymic, based on the first name of his father. Yakov's father was named Petr, or Peter. The -vich means something like 'son of." If Yakov had a sister, her patronym would be Petrovna (I think), or 'daughter of.'. In formal situations, such as with fellow employees, people are addressed by their first name and patronymic; thus 'Yakov Petrovich.' We, in the same situations, would call our hero 'Mr. Golyadkin.' Garnett in her translations uses the Mr. quite often when Dostoevsky uses first name and patronym. The three names are used for official business: getting a passport, etc.

In informal situations, such as with children, within families, and among very close friends, just the first name is used, and there are many, many diminutive forms of the first names. That's what makes Tolstoy's works, which center on family, so confusing. Fortunately, I don't think we'll have that problem here, at least not for as far as I've read.
"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: narcissism in chapter 1

page 10:

"Bow or not? Call back or not? Recognize him or not?" our hero wondered in indescribable anguish, "or pretend that I am not myself, but somebody else strikingly like me, and look as though nothing were the matter. Simply not I, not I - and that's all," said Mr. Golyadkin, taking off his hat to Andrey Filippovitch and keeping his eyes fixed upon him. "I'm . . . I'm all right," he whispered with an effort; "I'm . . . quite all right. It's not I, it's not I - and that is the fact of the matter."

Soon, however, the droshky passed the carriage, and the magnetism of his chief's eyes was at an end. Yet he went on blushing, smiling and muttering something to himself. . .

"I was a fool not to call back," he thought at last. "I ought to have taken a bolder line and behaved with gentlemanly openness. I ought to have said 'This is how it is, Andrey Filippovitch, I'm asked to the dinner too,' and that's all it is!" Then, suddenly recalling how taken aback he had been, our hero flushed as hot as fire, frowned, and cast a terrible defiant glance at the front corner of the carriage, a glance calculated to reduce all his foes to ashes. At last, he was suddenly inspired to pull the cord attached to the driver's elbow, and stopped the carriage, telling him to drive back to Liteyny Street.
..............................
These three short paragraphs give us so much about our hero's personality--always second-guessing what he should do, feeling he's not himself, worrying about what he says and does, rehearsing his lines. This would be an agonizing way to live one's life--almost like being a teenager all over again!
"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: narcissism in chapter 1

[ Edited ]
Great find, Laurel. Here Golyadkin's run into his boss and, as you say, he feels like the teenager who's not cool enough. What does my boss think of me?! he worries.
He pulls himself together by forming a split between his "true" self and the self that others judge: i.e. he tries to "pretend that I am not myself...as though nothing were the matter. Simply not I, not I." I think this is the beginning of how a self gets split. You keep one precious identity to yourself (i.e. "jerks…judge me all you want! so what! none of you will ever understand me!" ) and then leave a self that others can judge, but who you'll never accept as you. Golyadkin protects himself through a false splitting.




Laurel wrote:
page 10:

"Bow or not? Call back or not? Recognize him or not?" our hero wondered in indescribable anguish, "or pretend that I am not myself, but somebody else strikingly like me, and look as though nothing were the matter. Simply not I, not I - and that's all," said Mr. Golyadkin, taking off his hat to Andrey Filippovitch and keeping his eyes fixed upon him. "I'm . . . I'm all right," he whispered with an effort; "I'm . . . quite all right. It's not I, it's not I - and that is the fact of the matter."

Soon, however, the droshky passed the carriage, and the magnetism of his chief's eyes was at an end. Yet he went on blushing, smiling and muttering something to himself. . .

"I was a fool not to call back," he thought at last. "I ought to have taken a bolder line and behaved with gentlemanly openness. I ought to have said 'This is how it is, Andrey Filippovitch, I'm asked to the dinner too,' and that's all it is!" Then, suddenly recalling how taken aback he had been, our hero flushed as hot as fire, frowned, and cast a terrible defiant glance at the front corner of the carriage, a glance calculated to reduce all his foes to ashes. At last, he was suddenly inspired to pull the cord attached to the driver's elbow, and stopped the carriage, telling him to drive back to Liteyny Street.
..............................
These three short paragraphs give us so much about our hero's personality--always second-guessing what he should do, feeling he's not himself, worrying about what he says and does, rehearsing his lines. This would be an agonizing way to live one's life--almost like being a teenager all over again!

Message Edited by IlanaSimons on 03-05-200706:43 PM




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a truer self?

From Laurel's quote:

"...or pretend that I am not myself, but somebody else strikingly like me, and look as though nothing were the matter. Simply not I, not I - and that's all," said Mr. Golyadkin...

By pretending that he was not himself but a striking look-alike, was he calling forth "the double"?

Golyadkin seems to find a "truer self" in reflections/representations than in his actual physical being; he trusts the reflection of the looking-glass and defines himself through a representation of what he imagines himself to be in the eyes of "others".
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Re: a truer self?

[ Edited ]

ELee wrote:
From Laurel's quote:

"...or pretend that I am not myself, but somebody else strikingly like me, and look as though nothing were the matter. Simply not I, not I - and that's all," said Mr. Golyadkin...

By pretending that he was not himself but a striking look-alike, was he calling forth "the double"?

Golyadkin seems to find a "truer self" in reflections/representations than in his actual physical being; he trusts the reflection of the looking-glass and defines himself through a representation of what he imagines himself to be in the eyes of "others".




Yes...looks like you and I had a very similar response to that good quote Laurel posted (mine's just below yours one the board). 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. This way, no one's impressions can really affect him: He'll simply call criticism misguided.

Message Edited by IlanaSimons on 03-05-200707:54 PM




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Ch 1 observations

Golyadkin takes out his comforting roll of notes (750 rubles) that he has been in possession of and counted a hundred times since yesterday. He works as the assistant to a chief clerk and lives in a dirty, dusty, dingy, little flat. Where did the money come from?

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

It seems to be easier for Golyadkin to confide in the doctor, who is relatively a stranger that he has only seen once and known of for one week, than any of his other acquaintances...presumably because he is "like a priest" and bound by a code of ethics that will limit him to behaving appropriately.
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Re: Ch 1 observations

[ Edited ]
Nice comments--the money counting is such a funny scene. In the beginning of chapter three, we get another dose of he manipulates his reputation in the world of $. He goes to the money-changer and changes all of his bills into littler notes, just so his wallet looks extra fat. Then he runs around to lots of stores promising to buy things, but only so he can promise to buy. 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. Half of him knows he'll be sent away at the door; half of him is trying to just play the role of a respected and desired adult.




ELee wrote:
Golyadkin takes out his comforting roll of notes (750 rubles) that he has been in possession of and counted a hundred times since yesterday. He works as the assistant to a chief clerk and lives in a dirty, dusty, dingy, little flat. Where did the money come from?

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

It seems to be easier for Golyadkin to confide in the doctor, who is relatively a stranger that he has only seen once and known of for one week, than any of his other acquaintances...presumably because he is "like a priest" and bound by a code of ethics that will limit him to behaving appropriately.

Message Edited by IlanaSimons on 03-05-200708:13 PM




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Re: Ch 1 observations



ELee wrote:
Golyadkin takes out his comforting roll of notes (750 rubles) that he has been in possession of and counted a hundred times since yesterday. He works as the assistant to a chief clerk and lives in a dirty, dusty, dingy, little flat. Where did the money come from?

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

It seems to be easier for Golyadkin to confide in the doctor, who is relatively a stranger that he has only seen once and known of for one week, than any of his other acquaintances...presumably because he is "like a priest" and bound by a code of ethics that will limit him to behaving appropriately.





All three parts of what you wrote are really interesting. About the last part: Yes. On pg 21 Golyadkin says there's been a "moral murder." He's obsessed with some imagined moral purity, which relates to the second thing you wrote above. Crazy people can have an exaggerated sense of moral purity--a sense that the rest of the world is utterly degraded. And in this isolated worldview, there's no middle ground.



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Re: "The Double": Chapters 1-6

Petrushka is also the name of the "hero's" servant in Gogol's "Dead Souls"
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Re: Ch 1 observations

ah ha!!! I could not figure out what that scene at the market was saying. That is defintiely it, though. 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.
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