That sense of the meaninglessness of existence that runs through much of twentieth-century writing – from Conrad and Kafka, to Beckett and beyond – starts in Dostoyevsky’s work’ Malcolm Bradbury
Alienated from society and paralysed by a sense of his own insignificance, the anonymous narrator of Dostoyevsky’s Notes from Underground tells the story of his tortured life. With bitter irony, he describes his refusal to become a worker in the ‘anthill’ and his gradual withdrawal from society. The seemingly ordinary world of St Petersburg takes on a nightmarish quality in The Double when a government clerk encounters a man who looks exactly like him – his double perhaps, or possibly the darker side of his own personality. Like Notes from Underground, this is a masterly tragi-comic study of human consciousness.
Translated by Ronald Wilks with an Introduction by Robert Louis JacksonNotes from Underground and the Double – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
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