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Another Look: The Double: A Petersburg Poem

EVT 512
May 15
7:30 pm
Bechtel Conference Center, Encina Hall
Status: No Registration Required
This event has a different date than what appears in the print catalogue. The event date is now Monday, May 15.


The Another Look book club focuses on short classics that have been forgotten, neglected, or overlooked—or may simply not have received the attention they merit. The selected works are short, in order to encourage the involvement of Bay Area readers whose time may be limited. Subscription at anotherlook.stanford.edu is encouraged for regular updates and details on the selected books and events.

The Double: A Petersburg Poem

Fyodor Dostoevsky’s 1846 novella, The Double: A Petersburg Poem, marks a turning point in the life of the Russian author. It portrays the disintegration of a neurotic government clerk into two distinct entities— one toadying and nervous; the other self-assured, exploitative, and aggressive. The preeminent Dostoevsky scholar of our times, Stanford’s Joseph Frank, said of the novella: “The internal split between self-image and truth, between what a person wishes to believe about himself and what he really is—constitutes Dostoevsky’s first grasp of a character type that became his hallmark as a writer.” While the book owes a debt to Nikolai Gogol, the younger author moves beyond social critique to the psychological drama that would become his trademark in the great novels that followed. Vladimir Nabokov, not usually a fan of Dostoevsky, called The Double “the best thing he ever wrote.” And so, we champion The Double as an overlooked masterpiece from a familiar author.

Following the discussion will be a question-and-answer session with the speakers.

Robert Pogue Harrison
Rosina Pierotti Professor of Italian Literature, Stanford; Host of “Entitled Opinions” (KZSU radio); Director, Another Look

Lena Herzog
Photographer; Author

Monika Greenleaf
Associate Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures and Comparative Literature, Stanford
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