Anne Robinson, Karen Saxby
Two of Dostoevsky's shorter novels are presented here in one volume: the Dystopian tale of the Underground Man, a retired civil servant living in St Petersburg who criticises much of western philosophy and contemporary society, and the story of Golyadkin who on a bitter snowy night encounters a stranger who looks exactly like him, hence the title - The Double. They become friends, but then Golyadkin realises that unlike himself, his double is socially successful - likeable and charming - and thus the relationship starts to deteriorate. Golyadkin is caught up in a psychological battle that can only end in tragedy.
These two works draw on Dostoevsky's acute observation of Russian life; his thoughts on philosophy and social mores; and his reactions to the work of Nikolai Gogol. At the heart of both lies Dostoevsky's ruminations on the need to establish one's true identity and how society can distort the perception of who one truly is.