Read The Double & The Gambler (Everyman's Library, #295) by Fyodor Dostoyevsky Richard Pevear Larissa Volokhonsky Online

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The Double, written in Dostoevsky’s youth, was a sharp turn away from the realism of his first novel, Poor Folk. The first real expression of his genius, The Double is a surprisingly modern hallucinatory nightmare in which a minor official named Goliadkin becomes aware of a mysterious doppelgänger–a man who has his name and his face and who gradually and relentlessly beginThe Double, written in Dostoevsky’s youth, was a sharp turn away from the realism of his first novel, Poor Folk. The first real expression of his genius, The Double is a surprisingly modern hallucinatory nightmare in which a minor official named Goliadkin becomes aware of a mysterious doppelgänger–a man who has his name and his face and who gradually and relentlessly begins to displace him with his friends and colleagues. In the dilemma of this increasingly paranoid hero, Dostoevsky makes vividly concrete the inner disintegration of consciousness that would become a major theme of his work.The Gambler was written twenty years later, under the pressure of crushing debt. It is a stunning psychological portrait of a young man’s exhilarating and destructive addiction, a compulsion that Dostoevsky–who once gambled away his young wife’s wedding ring–knew intimately from his own experience. In the disastrous love affairs and gambling adventures of his character, Alexei Ivanovich, Dostoevsky explores the irresistible temptation to look into the abyss of ultimate risk that he believed was an essential part of the Russian national character.The two strikingly original short novels brought together here–in new translations by award-winning translators–were both literary gambles of a sort for Dostoevsky. (Book Jacket Status: Jacketed)...

Title : The Double & The Gambler (Everyman's Library, #295)
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ISBN : 9781400044702
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 368 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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The Double & The Gambler (Everyman's Library, #295) Reviews

  • Maru Kun
    2018-10-19 10:09

    Dostoevsky's two novellas, "The Double" and the "The Gambler", are both tales of madness.The Double tells of the paranoia and schizophrenic breakdown of its hero, Yakov Petrovich Golyadkin, a man who has little insight into his own character and who struggles to empathize with others. Golyadkin does not possess the social graces to be invited to the grand coming-out ball of his employer's daughter, a girl whom he obsesses about but has likely never met. His shame on such exclusion from polite society and the worse humiliation he experiences on gate-crashing the ball are the triggers of his mental breakdown: Golyadkin meets his double - a man with the same name, background and place of origin as himself but with all the political skills and extraversion that Golyadkin lacks. The double remorselessly subverts Golyadkin's position, gradually eroding his identity. We never learn whether the double is a real person on whom Golyadkin projects an alternate self or else is simply a delusion A closing bathetic scene has Golyadkin in the early hours of the morning hiding alone in the dark and the snow, concealed behind a woodpile in the grounds of his employer watching the daughter's window and waiting to be invited inside. His madness places him alone in a world utterly different from that of the girl he loves, assuming Golyadkin can be said to love at all.In contrast to Golyadkin, the hero of "The Gambler", Alexei Ivanovich, is a connoisseur of the finest human interactions. As the tutor to a struggling aristocratic Russian family holidaying in a German gambling resort he watches how the family tries to defend what remains of its wealth from avaricious French aristocrats and "actresses". He can well read the motives and emotions of the people surrounding him, no matter how artfully hidden they are behind a screen of social convention. He is intelligent and, except when his passions overtake him, entirely rational. Alexei's' flaw is a lack of insight into his own condition: at the end of the story he cannot control his passion for gambling and, for whatever reason and despite many clues, he fails to recognize that Polina, the elder stepdaughter of the family and the love of his life, is also in love with him. Like Golyadkin, Alexei's madness has left him alone a world away from that of his love.Which is worst, I wonder - to be mad like Golyadkin, tortured by delusion but unaware of your insanity? Or mad like Alexei, rational but unable to control your compulsions? Hell may well be other people, but madness can surely leave you very alone.

  • Frankie
    2018-11-07 16:05

    The Double is Dostoevsky's most enigmatic work. If you've read Gogol's Petersburg works, it's easy to see the correlation. Unfortunately, D was also heavily influenced by the critical acclaim he received for his first work Poor Folk, when he wrote this – in most opinions his least readable novel. The "Akaky-type" from Gogol's Overcoat, Goliadkin is an anti-hero that inspires loathing. He makes all the wrong decisions and does so from a desperate and uncommonly low self-esteem. What irks me most is his unfounded paranoia, which the plot seems to confirm. Enter his double – the exact same man but with a napoleonic vitality who supplants the original Goliadkin on every level. I don't want to leave spoilers, so I'll just say it's difficult to figure out just how trustworthy Goldiadkin is in the telling. Is the double real or imagined?The Gambler seems shallow and melodramatic at first. Familial intrigues and trysts abound, and the main character seems typically full of angst and unrequited love. Halfway through, however, a comedic tone emerges with the entrance of the grandmother. Her interaction with the heretofore boring characters breaths life and wit into the dialogue, and doubles the effect of the desperate main character's role. Suspense is maintained remarkably by keeping Alexei Ivanovich a novice gambler for most of the story, solidifying the title as more a metaphor of risk than a literal reference to roulette.Dostoevsky wrote this on a painful deadline (he took a gamble himself on the terms), between installments of Crime and Punishment, and it shows mostly in the blurry timeline of the plot (there are numerous recollections of characters seemingly out of place). The epilogue style "winding down" of the last few chapters seems muddled and somewhat disappointing. These things aside, Alexei Ivanovich is a purely new and exciting type. He is a blind and egoistic coward, a variation on the underground man, but with fresh impulses and surprising nuances, specifically regarding slavery to addiction and the excitement of risk. The roulette scenes and gaming philosophies are honest and journalistic, taken from Dostoevsky's own experience.

  • Alex
    2018-10-31 09:08

    You already heard this one, but Dostoevsky once gambled away his wife's wedding ring, This book was in itself a gamble. He took a loan from a guy in exchange for the following wager: if he didn't present the guy with a novel on a certain date, the guy would own all rights to his other books up to that point. He procrastinated in order to write The Idiot, ended up hiring a stenographer with weeks to spare and dictating this whole thing to her, got it to the guy on the very last day and promptly married the stenographer. That is a good story.

  • Bryn Hammond
    2018-10-31 15:16

    [review for The Double]A mock-heroic, conducted in the indirect language and polite circumlocutions of the civil service classes. I felt for the absurd anxieties of our ridiculous hero from the start – I don’t think D. is being mean to him, but that’s what a softy I am. A bit obviously, he didn’t know how to end it. Young, messy; a sketch for future work; funny, and kind of brilliant.

  • Kyoukek
    2018-11-04 10:18

    Two novellas each about a particular brand of insanity. Oh well, one can critique it as such, much like how Dostoevsky critiqued the Russian character itself, especially in The Gambler. If I were to express my true thoughts at what are to be considered some of the most forgotten and fleeting stories of Dostoevsky, it would be that The Double is not without merit but is also not to be recommended, but The Gambler would appeal very much to a wide variety of reader. Doubtless you would expect me to ramble about the unclear and flat-falling P&V translation for The Double, yet much of that comes anyway from the already nervous and stuttering narrator and a variety of incidents he's involved in which I could only laugh or cry. Yes, the doppelganger, it's all about the doppelganger, but in the end its the narrator who ruins himself, what could Dostoevsky possibly be saying with this recurring theme I wonder!? I think anyone who has read The Gambler would know it's not just a purely psychological novel about the evils of chance and folly of money but includes a highly stringent and often more complex set of relationships than any novella should deserve. An aspect of gambling is self-affirmation as Dosty has not failed to notice; a pride and a fear and a sense of wonder that drives us to bet again and again against all logic that an outsider could not possibly hope to understand not having experienced it himself. Read it for this truly edge-of-the-seat writing and nothing more.

  • Dave Morris
    2018-10-21 08:54

    Our sixth form was split into maths/science and arts. One day in the library I saw a fellow on the arts side looking at this sentence: "La Vie avec un grand V," which he'd translated as, "Life with a big V." I tapped him on the shoulder. "It's 'Life with a capital L'." But he wasn't having it, especially not from a maths/science man. "It says V, not L, Morris."And that's how I felt about this translation by Pevear and Volokhonsky, who are the premier Russian-to-English translators of the era, according to The New Yorker. Award-winning, it says here. But they had me struggling through The Double, and maybe it's my maths/science background, but I found lines like this confusing:"Announce me, my friend, say, thus and so, to explain. And I'll thank you well, my dear..."Compare that to the Constance Garnett translation:"Announce me, my friend, say something or other to explain. I’ll reward you, my good man - ”At other times we're told that Mr Goliadkin fled "from the shower of flicks hanging over him". Mrs Garnett's translation may have been less precisely accurate, but it wouldn't leave the brain in palpitations.In spite of that the brilliance of the novelette is undimmed. You might even argue (I'm not) that rendering Goliadkin's experiences in something that is close to but not quite comprehensible English enhances the sense of nightmare. At any rate, right up to the curiously translated final paragraph (for which, in the absence of a footnote, you'll need a degree in Russian social history) it's a completely spellbinding piece of work.I was less captivated by The Gambler. Dostoevsky knocked it off in a month to satisfy a rapacious businessman who otherwise would have owned everything he wrote for the next nine years. I was amused by the narrator's explanations of why, when a particular number comes up at roulette a couple of times, it therefore can't come up again for a while - until I discovered that Dostoevsky was for a long time a gambling addict himself and probably believed that. So: a reliable narrator without much self-awareness fails to recognize his true love in life. It does capture a sense of addiction and panic, which probably was helped by the thought of what would happen if Dostoevsky didn't meet his deadline. The Gambler doesn't really deserve to stand alongside The Double, but there it is, bringing the average for the book down to 4 stars.

  • Maryam
    2018-11-01 11:55

    I had never read any Dostoyevsky till this book. I haven't read much of Russian literature either. I like Tolstoy, but that's because I was really stubborn back then and insisted on finishing the whole War and Peace. In the process, I fell in love with the Characters and got interested in the view they each had of the world. So When my brother told me if I like Dostoyevsky for my birthday gift, I said yes. I thought that my war and peace experience could repeat itself. And everyone talks about Dostoyevsky all the time, I wanted to know what all the fuss is about. The Double The Double didn't disappoint me. I had read a spoiler and had mistakenly thought that the character is schizophrenic and he knows about it. So at first I was getting tired of all those delusion-descriptions. Then I read parts where it wasn't really clear if the delusions are real or not. And that's where doubt found its way into me and things got exciting! From that point on, I really liked the Double! I was really feeling bad for poor Yakov Petrovich, he was really confused…and so lonely. It was a mad world for him. Even the way he talked was all chaotic. All that "so there" and repeating things. It all made me feel unbelievably sad. I was hoping and hoping that things would get better at the end, that at least the girl would actually come and some kind of happy ending occurs…it felt really bitter and the poor Yakov Petrovich's thought bothered me for some days. And that shows what an awesome story it was. The Gambler On the contrary, I didn't really like the Gambler. I could not connect with the main character at all, and didn't get what the whole point of the story was. In some parts I enjoyed Ivanovich's guesses about other characters' thoughts and characteristics. Other than that, the whole thing was pointless and I couldn't understand why someone would voluntarily give all his money to a lady to spend so carelessly. Go take a trip around the world or something! That much of carelessness bothers me. I think it's even kinda scary! Overall, I finished the Gambler just because I don't like leaving books in the middle. I also read somewhere that Dostoyevsky wrote the Gambler because he needed money so bad. I guess that explains it all, doesn't it?So the summary: Loved the Double, didn't care for the Gambler. That makes for three stars.

  • Marcell
    2018-10-24 15:54

    Two hilarious nightmares full of scenes that wouldn't be amiss in TV shows like The Office or Curb Your Enthusiasm. These two stories are a great introduction into Dostoevsky's psychological insight and moral concern, this translation captures the delightful awkwardness of our heros' plight and communicates the enduring relevance of Dosoevsky's work.The Double is a slightly tougher read owing to its third-person narration, preoccupation with bureaucracy and rank, and general feeling of alienation shared by characters and reader alike.The Gambler is a riot after the first chapter and has intrigue, romance, and general absudity throughout.Both are undeniably thematically linked and explore the paranoia and obsession that we all occasionally feel. The Double reminded me of coming home from work (or wherever) after having committed some error or, having made a throwaway comment that you instantly regretted and then experiencing a mini-ego death overnight imagining the ways the situation may have spiralled obscenely out of your control by morning (maybe that is unique to me haha). Whilst The Gambler encapsulates the kind of "in for a penny, in for a pound" attitude that many of us were adherents to in youth while on some kind of binge.

  • Reid
    2018-11-15 17:03

    The Gambler: Parts of this were fun, and funny, and it reads very easily. It is "lighter" Dostoyevsky, apparently, but part of the hero's significance is mentioned in the informative intro by the translator, Richard Pevear: "For Dostoyevsky, it is not the finished man, sculpted by the hand of destiny, who embodies the highest human truth, but the unfinished man, who remains open to what can only ever be freely and unexpectedly given."The Double: So far, it's more interesting and intriguing than The Gambler. The lead character refers to himself as a "blockhead" and a "muttonhead", which partially calls to mind Charlie Brown. Good grief! Finished! Chapters 4 and 5 of were awesome, describing very awkward situations, then a frenzied, bewildering and surreal meetup with the double. To me, this is an exploration of feeling torn between conformity to society's dictates and strata, and feeling like the only way to be true to oneself is to try to resist that pull, to be independent from it, all while remaining deep within its sphere of influence, which is kind of a crazy and difficult task. This guy is stuck in the middle, and can't quite commit - kind of a hell of one's own. Youch!

  • Usfromdk
    2018-10-20 16:18

    I read The Gambler, and I read the first 30 pages of the Double. I'd give The Gambler 2 stars and The Double one star. In my opinion The Double may well be a worse book than Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, making it the worst book I've ever read. I can't tell for certain because there's just no way I'm wasting any more time on that book. Golyadkin seems to be an rambling, incoherent idiot with an IQ well into the 'disabled' category, and I don't give a crap what happens to him, or his double, or anyone else in that book for that matter. The language of that book is awful.The Gambler was a little better, although the protagonist of that book also seems a bit short on brain cells and although none of the characters were at all easy to relate to.

  • Andy
    2018-10-27 13:21

    The Gambler was great. Five stars. Exactly what I want from Dostoevsky. The Double was terrible for me. It's been a long time since I've read a novel that was so painful to read and that I got so little out of. I have no idea what happened. All I know is that the style was so painful that I had to use a mantra to get through it. "This is Dostoevsky. There's got to be a point. This is Dostoevsky. There's got to be a point."

  • Jonathan
    2018-10-24 12:09

    Two excellent stories that are completely different from one another. The Double is an excellent and intriguing tale. It's borders on the magical (or maybe maniacal). The Gambler is about a young man's descent into addiction, and it's fascinating to see it unfold. The story almost reminds me of Wodehouse-type story, if not for it being so bleak by the end.

  • Wendy
    2018-10-16 17:01

    I read these long ago in a different translation, and reading these new translations was revelatory. The Double is radical even for Dostoevsky, his adaptation of Hoffman and Gogol. The literary world's rejection of this book set him on the political road that would land him in Siberia and 10 years of prison camp. The Gambler is the next best thing to becoming addicted yourself!

  • Tiffany
    2018-10-23 16:54

    I was unfortunately thoroughly confused by The Double but I loved The Gambler

  • John
    2018-10-27 10:21

    This collection contains two of Dostoevsky's novellas, written more than 20 years apart. That said, concerns about identity and isolation permeate both works. My impressions on The Double:The Double, in certain ways an echo of Gogol’s The Overcoat, follows Mr. Goliadkin, a mid-level government employee, as he disintegrates following a humiliation at a party before a number of colleagues and superiors. The quality of his disintegration is the central conceit of this novella: Goliadkin imagines that he has a double, a man called by his own name, wearing his own clothes, and interacting socially in place of the true Goliadkin.The narration takes Goliadkin’s perspective, though it is in third person. The double, or Goliadkin Jr. as the novella humorously titles him, remains something of an elusive mystery, showing up at strange moments out of nowhere and interacting with Goliadkin on occasion. Essentially, the double is a more aggressive, politically savvy, and socially connected individual. Upwardly mobile, Goliadkin Jr. is at first something of an inspiration to Goliadkin, though Jr. eventually becomes a villain in Goliadkin’s increasingly troubled view of reality.Dostoevsky again gives us a character on the outside of power, one who has so interiorized his experience and reality that his view of the world has become perverted. The real tragedy here is that Goliadkin’s isolation leads to the complete breakdown of his identity.This is not one of my favorite Dostoevsky stories, though even a lesser Dostoevsky is still better than most everything else out there. As an early work, it shows hints of how he would eventually develop his thematic concerns. And its formal experimentation with looking at disintegration from the inside is certainly significant. But the novella as a whole seems rather slight thematically—an interesting idea carried through that points forward to even greater heights in his work. My impressions on The Gambler:Dostoevsky is doing several things in this story that complicate the rather straightforward narrative involving the title character. Before we get to the complications, let’s mark off the basic narrative. The story follows a tutor, Alexei Ivanovich, for a well-to-do Russian family vacationing (or are they running from something back home?) in Roulettenberg, a German city known for its access to gambling. As the story begins, the tutor already seems to have acquired a reputation for playing roulette, even as the story offers only hints or suggestions from other characters in this direction. In line with this, the main character simply does not gamble for the bulk of the narrative. The family that Alexei works for has fallen on hard times, and have been anxiously awaiting news that an old aunt has died so that they might inherit her riches. However, when the aunt shows up in Roulettenberg, Alexei becomes her favored helper at the roulette table as she discovers the excitement of gambling. After multiple trips to the gaming room and short-lived victories followed by extensive losses, the aunt returns to Moscow, while Alexei finally breaks down and gambles in the hopes of finally winning Polina, the stepdaughter of the man he works for. However, Alexei’s winnings only get him the attention of the gold-digging and false Blanche. Alexei never understood that Polina loved him without money and gambling, and that his insistence on taking that road led to his own isolation from her forever.Dostoevsky uses some different formal conceits in this story that complicate the overall narrative. First, Dostoevsky delivers the story entirely in the first person voice of Alexei. Second, Alexei tells the tale in the past tense, after all has taken place. Third and most interesting to me, Dostoevsky breaks up the telling into different times, so that after certain chapters the narrator notes that time has moved forward, just before he jumps into a description of the events that took place between the previous chapter and this one. Sometimes those retellings take several chapters, but in the last couple of chapters, the time periods extend (nearly a month, and then a year plus eight months). But what does it all add up to?The subjective first person narrator is not unique to this story in Dostoevsky’s work. It keeps the reader off kilter to some degree, by design—we cannot ever be sure that our narrator is giving us a reliable account of the action. Indeed, as he runs off to gamble after his encounter with Polina, she calls after him something which he doesn’t hear. This incident, more than any other, illustrates the degree to which not only we, but Alexei himself, is caught up in his own thoughts. At this critical moment in his life, the woman he loves calling for him, he can only think about pursuing the path in his own mind. This makes his gambling scene, which he terms a miracle multiple times, into something more akin to high tragedy—his excitement in that scene is something we should read with bitter irony in light of the story’s ultimate conclusion. An event he calls a miracle is actually the tragic result of his own isolation. Before gambling, Alexei had an opportunity to connect with Polina. Instead, he naively believes that choosing gambling opens his road to Polina. The focus on the thrill of the game and the piles of gold and silver prevent Alexei from achieving true communion with another human being.Dostoevsky seems to be saying that to be truly human (or at least truly Russian, another tendency of his work), we need to get outside of ourselves to really listen to and engage other people. When Alexei inverts that choice—choosing his own mind over the (to him) silent call of his love, we realize that he sees an upside down world. Alexei’s subjective, memory-based account is faulty—not so much because the words of others are misreported, but because Alexei cannot properly interpret what those words actually indicate. That this occurs in several broken-up sections narrated over and after the course of the events in the novel serve to show us Alexei’s descent, so that by the final chapter his complete identification as gambler (something he even denies early in the novel) is the bitterest irony of them all.That Dostoevsky uses subjective and unreliable first-person narration to illustrate the need for human beings to reach outside themselves and connect with others is part of what’s great about the story, and about his work in general.

  • jim
    2018-11-01 12:56

    So... these are my first of Dostoevsky's novellas outside of, I suppose, Notes.... it was really nice to feel the power of his prose in such a confined space, and it was quite enlightening to read two stories that were so separated chronologically. It seemed obvious to me that The Double was the product of a mind not yet fully comfortable with its abilities and direction while The Gambler had every bit of the assured philosophical weight I've come to expect from Dostoevsky. So while I fully enjoyed The Double it never affected me in quite the same way the rest of his catalog has while The Gambler felt like rejoining a conversation with an old friend.The Double allowed me, I believe for the very first time, to actually guess the ending before I got there. The story itself was a fairly straight-forward dream within a dream sort of tale that definitely disorients the reader but is also very clear in its direction. Dostoevsky made it incredibly easy to (if not impossible not to) put myself squarely in the shoes of Mr. Goliadkin from the moment he chose to attempt to enter society sans invitation. His pain, his loneliness, his fear, and his desperation were all palpable, pointed, and poignant. I can't count the number of times I've put myself in similar situations and desperately wanted nothing more than to fade into the walls of the hallway or squeeze into the mouse hole in the wood pile. I am incredibly jealous that such a young author could evoke such emotion from simple words on a page in only his second attempt at his craft...Dammit.Because I too wonder why "I do not possess the secret of a lofty, powerful style, a solemn style, so as to portray all these beautiful and instructive moments of human life, arranged as if on purpose to prove how virtue sometimes triumphs over ill intention, freethinking, vice, and envy!"Instead, I shall remain envious and hope that it is true that "everything will come in its turn if you have the gumption to wait."And I shall wait. Which is sometimes what I felt I was doing during the delirium phase of this book. It felt like the ending was such a foregone conclusion that it was often difficult to observe poor Mr. Goliadkin walking through the fire. The language kept me on the edge of my seat hoping and praying that something magical would happen, but mostly I was just frustrated. In a way it felt a lot like reading Flowers for Algernon watching someone slowly slip into a madness from which there was obviously no escape. The faces all eventually fade away…And then there is The Gambler. While it was mildly difficult to go into this without considering the metacontext in which this story was created, I tried my best to allow these characters to stand on their own and outside the existence of their creator. I think it is a testament to Dostoevsky’s abilities that it was incredibly easy to get sucked into this story while leaving whatever I knew of the author behind…So if this isn’t a story about the author, who is it about? Who is the eponymous Gambler and what are the stakes? Ostensibly Alexei Ivanovich is the gambler… and he is simply gambling for money or perhaps for the thrill. This notion of the gambler’s identity is quickly challenged when we learn that Alexei sits down to the table for the first time only at the behest of Polina, the object of his unrequited love. Shortly thereafter it seems we are to believe that it is in fact the Grandmother who inspires the title of the story only, in the end, to be shown again that it is Alexei. One of the primary reasons I love Dostoevsky is his ability to make *me* the main character in his stories though, and that holds true here as well… Given that, I have to believe that the gambler is universal, it is you, and it is me.Yet I don’t particularly care for the thrill of winning or losing money or possessions on bets, and it is here that I found the depth in this story through the eyes of Alexei as the gambler. As prominent as the idea of money was throughout the story, it was not central to Alexei’s existence - his true gamble was on Polina, his ability to love her, and his belief that she could or would also love him. This is why I needed to get outside of Dostoevsky’s world and into the world of the story… I do not know that I could have seen this so clearly with the specter of his own gambling problems looming over my interpretations of the book. Alexei gambled that Polina would not take advantage of his offer to prostrate himself to whatever her wishes may be. And he was wrong. He gambled that she would see his love for her in his continued trips back and forth to the gambling hall for her. He was wrong. He gambled that he could buy her love in one grand gesture as threw everything he had at her feet… and he was wrong.Eventually, as I suppose is inevitable, he succumbed to the emotional debts he accumulated at fortune’s wheel and lost himself in the “…champagne quite often, because [he] was very sad and extremely bored all the time.” In giving up, Alexei gambled again. This time he gambled that the ball would never land on zero and that his heart was fated to remain in solitude. And he was wrong again. Although it seems as though he was too far gone by the time Astley finally showed him Polina’s true feelings, his number did come up. Alexei, too late, arrived at his conclusion that, “one turn of the wheel, and everything changes.”My optimistic side wants to say that the takeaway is to never stop betting on your heart, but I know that can lead to ruin and you must, at some point, change your bet if you are ever to win. I want to be as fatalistic as Alexei who, “loves without hope” and “loves [Polina] more every day” despite the “unbearable pain of being without [her].” In reality, however, the wheel only turns a finite number of times for each of us. Red or black, high or low, even or odd, the only thing we can know for sure is that the wheel will eventually stop spinning. But we are emotional creatures. So as long as the payoff is out there, I’d rather keep betting on my heart and betting *for* people and *for* love and *for* the things I feel fated to have or to be. Gamble often, gamble wisely, but always bet on the thing you love.

  • Jacob Schatz
    2018-10-30 15:03

    I don’t really know what to say or make of this reading experience. So much felt as much a dream as the events Golyadkin Sr. suffered through.This was my first Dostoevsky, though I’m hoping to follow it up with the second novella in this book, The Gambler. This is my first exposure to Russian literature, actually. I’m very much looking forward to more.I wish I had more to say about this book itself. I don’t. It sparked my imagination and has had me thinking for, what, two weeks now (?) about the idea of an American double. That is, I mean to say, that is (get it yet?) what is the American equivalent? If this story presupposes Russian anxiety about the character of the everyday RU citizen, then what can we learn by asking similar questions to our own societies today?This question, and the answers I come up with, I hope to explore in my own work. Until then...more reading!

  • Jonathan
    2018-10-19 15:19

    The Double is kind of a difficult read, not very enjoyable for long stretches, primarily because Dostoyevsky dives into the thoughts of a man losing his mind. But that's also what makes it good, because Dostoyevsky, I imagine, reproduces in Goliadkin what must be happening in some fashion in those who are experiencing that descent into paranoia and delusion.Dostoyevsky made me feel for Goliadkin, sympathize with him. I could feel the helplessness and loss of control that Goliadkin felt, and that those who experience similar maladies must feel.And, as usual, there are multiple dimensions to this story... classic Dostoyevsky.

  • Liam Orchard
    2018-11-01 08:57

    Both are great books. Unsurprisingly, Dostoevsky does an excellent job at showing the anxieties and mental deterioration of Golyadkin in the Double. The Gambler is very underappreciated as it is a simple tale with quite interesting characters; it is hard to believe that this was written very quickly to meet a contractural deadline, failure of which would have seen him forfeit the rights to his other works.

  • Steve
    2018-10-25 15:02

    The Double was interesting, but too chaotic for my taste. The underlying paranoia, madness, fear made the book undigestable. Definitely very inspired by Gogol, and Dostoyevsky does capture the self beautifully, but I don't think it's his best work.I actually really enjoyed The Gambler. Coherent and insightful. It was an awkward read in that the conclusion hurt because it was inevitable. They both feel like precursers to his later writing style.

  • J.D.
    2018-10-29 11:58

    Not sure how I feel about the translation of The Double, but either way both novellas were wonderful. The Gambler is intensely psychological, and it is interesting and a relatively easy read. There is also a lot of French in the latter half of the novella that is pretty interesting.

  • Cameron
    2018-11-12 10:22

    I’ve never been a big casino gambler, mostly because the shame and humiliation of losing my hard-earned money has always eclipsed the joy of winning. With few exceptions, I always bellied up the blackjack table with a set amount of money; and if I double that amount, I’ll walk away; if I lose it, I’ll do the same. Deviating from that tack can result in soul-wrenching losses. At the same time, it can generate some miraculous strokes of good fortune. Both fates are described in brilliant, painful detail in “The Gambler” by Fyodor Dostoevsky, a 156-page novel that reminded me of every major win and loss in my gambling career. In July of 1995, I was a 22-year-old recent graduate, flat broke and living in Nashville. I slept on friends’ couches, worked on occasion, but basically lived hand to mouth. One day two friends suggested a trip to the casinos in Tunica, Mississippi. Considering I had $120 to my name, blackjack seemed like the best way to double my money quickly. The drive took several hours, during which time I pondered all the ways I’d spend my inevitable windfall, i.e., beer, cigarettes, certain things which remain illegal. When we arrived in Tunica, I went directly to the tables, then proceeded to spend 10 hours turning $120 into $0. By that point, my friends had already adjourned to the car, to sleep off their winnings. Swine.Undeterred by my destitute situation (really, that was the last money I had in the world), I rousted my friend Andrew and begged him to give me $10 – enough for two hands of blackjack. “You’re just going to blow it,” he said. “But fine, here.”Wired on caffeine and cigarettes, I bellied up to the table again at 5 a.m., plopped my crinkly 10-spot on the table, received my two $5 chips, then promptly lost the first hand. That, however, was the end of that – and for a long time. Less than three hours later, I’d parlayed my last $5 into $650. Now, I don’t know if you remember what it’s like to be 22 years old, but you can basically survive an entire semester on that kind of scratch. My friends told me they’d never seen such a run of luck, which I couldn’t (and didn’t) refute. Oddly enough, my run of luck hadn’t surprised me, which, I realize, defies logic. Even when I had no more money to gamble with, I felt certain that I’d return from Tunica a winner. Never before and never since have I borrowed money from a friend to gamble. But, like Alexei Ivanovich in “The Gambler,”“(S)ometimes the wildest thought, the seemingly most impossible thought, gets so firmly settled in your head that you finally take it for something feasible…Moreover, if the idea is combined with a strong, passionate desire, you might one day take it, finally, for something fatal, inevitable, predestined, for something that can no longer not be and not happen! Maybe there’s also something else, some combination of presentiments, some extraordinary effort of will, a self-intoxication by your own fantasy; or whatever else – I don’t know; but on that evening (which I shall never forget as long as I live) a miraculous event took place. Though it is perfectly justified arithmetically, nonetheless for me it is still miraculous. And why, why did this certainty lodge itself so deeply and firmly in me then, and now so long ago? I surely must have thought of it, I repeat to you, not as an event that might happen among others (and therefore also might not happen), but as something that simply could not fail to happen!”Ivanovich, for his part, won 200,000 rubles while playing roulette. My winnings are a pittance when compared to that. Then again, he later experienced lows that I never suffered. Unlike Ivanovich -- a twenty-something tutor and part-time servant -- I never became addicted to gambling. Which isn’t to say I’ve never been handed my hat.My Tunica windfall stands as my greatest gambling experience, in terms of what I started with ($5) and where I ended up -- enough cash to keep me flush in Camels, Natural Light and Taco Bell during the summer of 1995. But my Las Vegas humiliation (losing $500, maxing out my credit card) stands as my worst gambling experience. I lost all my money on the first night of my best friend’s three-day bachelor party. And lemme tell ya something: Staying behind in a Las Vegas hotel room while your friends take a limousine to a five-star steak house will NOT make you like yourself. After that, I didn’t play blackjack for three years. I simply didn’t trust myself. Even when my friend offered to loan me a couple hundred dollars – to play blackjack, enjoy Vegas – I couldn’t do it. “I’m just going to blow it,” I said.Alexei Ivanovich, for his part, probably would have accepted the offer. In the last scene of “The Gambler,” a former friend, convinced that Ivanovich is starving, takes pity on him and gives him money for food. Ivanovich thanks him for his kindness, but when the friend leaves, Ivanovich thinks to himself, “Oh, I have a presentiment, and it cannot be otherwise! I have fifteen louis d’or now, and I began once with only fifteen guldens! If you begin cautiously…”Cameron Martin is also a columnist for CBS Sportsline and a book reviewer and essayist for Barnes & Noble Review. Email him at [email protected]

  • Sandip
    2018-10-28 17:23

    I absolute love Dostoyevsky! Couple pages into the Double and I was like oh how I had missed you! Both the double and the gambler are amazing!

  • David Martin
    2018-10-17 09:10

    My first exposure to Dostoyevsky.

  • John
    2018-11-11 12:19

    only read "The Gambler" so far.

  • Maria Maier
    2018-11-01 09:19

    3 for The Double, 5 for The Gambler.

  • Mary Overton
    2018-10-17 16:59

    From "The Gambler"A noir novella about gambling addiction, risk-taking, and magical thinking.Alexei Ivanovich suffers from unrequited love for Polina, a woman with secrets, one of which involves a desperate need for money. She asks Alexei to play roulette with her money, but he loses it all. Polina says: "'....Why I had that notion [that I would win at roulette] I don't understand, but I believed in it. Who knows, maybe I believed because I had no other choice.'"'Or because there was all too much NEED to win. It's exactly like a drowning man grasping at a straw. You must agree that if he weren't drowning, he wouldn't take a straw for the branch of a tree.'"Polina was surprised."'Why,' she asked, 'aren't you hoping for the same thing yourself? Two weeks ago you yourself once spoke to me, a lot and at length, about your being fully convinced of winning here at roulette, and tried to persuade me not to look at you as a madman - or were you joking then? But I remember you spoke so seriously that it couldn't possibly have been taken for a joke.'"'That's true,' I answered pensively. 'To this day I'm fully convinced of winning. I'll even confess to you that you've just now led me to a question: precisely why has my senseless and outrageous loss today not left me with any doubts? I'm still fully convinced that as soon as I start playing for myself, I'm sure to win.'"'Why are you so completely certain?'"'If you like - I don't know. I know only that I NEED to win, that it's also my one way out. Well, so maybe that's why it seems to me that I'm sure to win.'"'Which means you also have all too much NEED to win, if you're so fanatically convinced.'"'I'll bet you doubt I'm capable of feeling a serious need.'"'It's all the same to me,' Polina replied quietly and indifferently. 'If you like - YES, I doubt that you could seriously suffer from anything. You may suffer, but not seriously. You're a disorderly and unsettled man....'"Kindle location 3156-3173From "The Double"Mr. Goliadkin, meek bureaucrat, can not yet acknowledge that he is following his own double, a man identical to himself:"Suddenly, through the howling of the wind and the noise of the storm, there again came to [Mr. Goliadkin's] ears the noise of someone's footsteps quite close by. He gave a start and opened his eyes. Before him, again, some twenty paces away, was the black shape of a little man quickly approaching him. This man was hurrying, flurrying, scurrying; the distance was quickly diminishing. Mr. Goliadkin could even thoroughly examine his new late-night comrade - examined him and cried out in astonishment and terror; his legs gave way under him. This was that same walker he knew, the one whom he had let pass by some ten minutes earlier and who now had suddenly, quite unexpectedly, appeared before him again. But this was not the only wonder that struck Mr. Goliadkin - and Mr. Goliadkin was so struck that he stopped, cried out, was about to say something - and started after the stranger, even shouted something to him, probably wishing to stop him the sooner. The stranger actually stopped some ten paces from Mr. Goliadkin, and so that the light of a nearby streetlamp fell full on his whole figure - stopped, turned to Mr. Goliadkin, and, with an impatiently preoccupied air, waited for what he would say. 'Excuse me, perhaps I'm mistaken,' our hero said in a trembling voice. The stranger said nothing, turned in vexation, and quickly went on his way, as if hurrying to make up the two seconds lost on Mr. Goliadkin. As for Mr. Goliadkin, he trembled in every muscle, his knees gave way, grew weak, and he sank with a moan onto a hitching post. However, there actually was a cause of such bewilderment. The thing was that this stranger now seemed somehow familiar to him. That would still be nothing. But he recognized, he now almost fully recognized this man. He had seen him often, this man, even used to see him quite recently; but where was it? was it not just yesterday? However, once again this was not the main thing, that Mr. Goliadkin had seen him often; and there was almost nothing special about this man - no one's special attention would have been drawn to this man at first sight. He was just a man like everybody else, a decent one, to be sure, like all decent people, and maybe had some merits, even rather significant ones - in short, he was his own man." Kindle location 883-904

  • Karan Gupta
    2018-11-12 13:06

    In search of more of Dostoyevsky's works, I came across this book on flipkart. None of the books I had read till now publicised any other work of Dostoyevsky other than a couple mentions of "Poor Folk". So these stories seemed to be as good a choice as any other to continue on my Dostoyevsky collection. Plus, the combination of these two in one book seemed to be appealing for some reason. Hence I ordered the book.The two stories are quite remarkable in their own sense. The Double is a hallucinatory ramble by a "titular councillor". It was written in the early years of Dostoyevsky and not received with the appreciation that it deserved. But it served as the basis of Dostoyevsky's character building style and later resurfaced in traces in many of his more prominent works. Dostoyevsky tries to explore the consciousness of a clerk who is trying desperately to hold on his own. What Dostoyevsky actually intends to convey by the "split" of characters is vague and confusing. Whether the split is psychological or physical is left to the reader's discretion. But the book is enjoyed more for its character build than its story's flow. In contrast, The Gambler is much more refined and understandable. The characters are well defined and well expressed in the typical Dostoyevskian way. And the store is far less incredulous than The Double. In The Gambler, Dostoyevsky tries to put his own experiences around gambling into a compendium that he wrote in haste. This story was produced side by side with his most famous work - Crime and Punishment and was done with a dead-line strangling him. Never the less, none of these reflect upon the story itself.Mr. Goliadkin is the protagonist of The Double and he is a titular councillor in the service of his excellency (whoever that is). But Goliadkin is not good with words. He is not slick and lacks even the most basic of etiquette. The artless protagonist humiliates himself in a ball in front of the one he loves and while he returns to his quarters in anguish and daze, he encounters his double. The story meanders there on. This double replaces him in his office as well as in society. People do not seem to notice the horrid circumstance that has befallen the unfortunate Goliadkin while he tries to maintain his originality and hold himself as his own in the presence of a demeaning and cunning double.The Gambler is the notes of Alexi Ivanovich, an outchitel or tutor in the household of a general who is indebted to a frenchman and in love with a french seductress. The hero is in love with the general's stepdaughter who in turn is mysteriously tied to the frenchman. They are all counting on a certain inheritance to deliver them from the dark fate that they behold. But the grandma who is supposed to mete the inheritance suddenly turns up in the foreign town they are vacationing in and blows away all her fortune on roulette. Alexi Ivanovich, a compulsive gambler, waits for his time and when his love, Polina comes to him to bare her heart, he goes out to the tables to win for her. And he never manages to recover from his lust for the tables.I particularly favour The Gambler over The Double. The reason in part is the uncertain flow of the story in The Double which gives a very uneasy feeling of being lost while reading the story. Even so, the character of Goliadkin is probably much better expressed than any other of Dostoyevsk's characters, despite it's ill form. The Gambler was a much more engrossing and satisfying piece of work. Needless to say, my journey through the Dostoyevskian lands is far from over.

  • Mark
    2018-10-17 12:12

    An early stage Dostoevsky gem, The Double is a psychological story that reads like a road map for Kafka (evidently, Franz was an established admirer of Fyodor, and was acquainted with this particular work. Source here for the curious: http://sites.utoronto.ca/tsq/DS/02/11...) It involves a petty bureaucrat whose sense of self degrades under the onslaught of a doppelganger. The hero, Mr. Goliadkin, is an anxious sort who in spite of himself has managed to maintain a functional role in Petersburgian society. For the sake of our story this tenuous compromise won't last. He seems to have a premonition that something terrible is happening to, or in him, but it is not until the rank order of his world gets challenged that things really fall apart. First, he is unsettled when associates of both lower and higher bureaucratic status engage him in public, outside of the controlled social situation of his professional life. The hapless Goliadkin then decides, compelled by forces that don't seem entirely willed, to infiltrate a party of class superiors. All of this could have been attributed to his declared ineptness in social gestures (this, in a conversation with a doctor more metaphysical than medical), if not for the fact that they seem to unnerve his peers and masters, who presumably would be familiar with his character. In the attacks that cause his character to experience terror and malaise, Dostoevsky shows a deft hand - despite suggestions of mental illness, they're never singly attributable to inside or outside causes. This factor of senseless, indefinable, and intractable persecution of both people and things, the self and the other, is the same as what I think draws me to Kafka.This story is also a superlative example of voice in dialogue. Dostoevsky's facility with applying natural, distinct voices to his characters is evident, but most striking is the way in which the inner states of Mr. Goliadkin are suggested in his speech patterns. More so than his actions or the narration, the shifts in vocal expression lend him a sense of schizophrenia.In my edition, The Double is paired with The Gambler, which is a bit of a romp. Lighter and more sardonic (and written more out of financial necessity than artistic drive), it didn't appeal to me nearly as much as the former, but it still has a misanthropic charm. And while laughs and conventional plotlines provide the bulk of its material, it also gives a really compelling portrayal of addiction and the insidious, almost undetectable way that it enters and overcomes a person's mind.

  • Taka
    2018-11-13 10:08

    Seminal, early work and mature work in one--The Double must be read with the following in mind: it's Dostoevsky's second novel written when he was only twenty-five. The story is a slow, painful read and has none of those Dostoevskian moments of confrontation, emotional outpouring, and human contradictions. The prose is even tedious to the point of being annoying--with certain words and phrases repeated throughout. The main character is a coward and gets on your nerves constantly with his interminable and insufferable thoughts that lead to no action. In short, it's an intolerable story.And yet. Yet. Just underneath the veneer of Gogol ("The Overcoat" and Dead Souls), you can discern flashes of mature Dostoevsky: the constant internal struggle to act (Notes from Underground) and the Dostoevskian blurring of the boundary between reality and unreality (The Crime and Punishment and Ivan Karamazov's confrontation with the devil in The Brothers Karamazov). So Goliadkin's double is acknowledged by his superiors when he first makes his appearance and when you assume it's a tale of a schizophrenic, you soon realize the double is not just the creation of a sick mind, but may exist, though at moments, you're not really sure. This kind of blurring occurs in Crime and Punishment where dreams invade reality in Raskolnikov and--to a certain extent his double--Svidrigailov's worlds. So The Double is a jejune, yet important work that can shed light on Dostoevsky's later works and should be read as such.Now, The Gambler is another story. It's written twenty years after The Double and you can see the difference. It starts out a bit slow but gathers speed and starts galloping toward the climax, complete with all the familiar Dostoevskian elements of confrontation, contradiction, and emotional outpouring. It also portrays the character of different nations--France, England, Germany, and Russia--and makes some very interesting points about them. It's a charming story that was, alas, written in a rush to make a deadline for an unscrupulous publisher who could have appropriated all Dostoevsky's works in the past and any he would write for the next nine years without any royalty. But Dostoevsky still manages to create something highly entertaining, deep, and satisfying.All in all, The Double is okay and The Gambler is awesome.