Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821-1881) has left deep imprints in both Russian and world literature with his unrelenting pursuit to expose both the chaos and the horror in the human disposition. Already in his first novels he created a wonderous world of the fallen, down-trodden, opressed and humiliated. These and other themes are depicted in detail in the great novels of the 1860s and 70s.
Dupultgangarin - The Double - is about the pitiful government official Mr. Golyadkin who is confronted with a replica of himself. It is a copy with all his bad characteristics but also with dreams which Golyadkin doesn’t admit to see in himself. Soon the newcomer triumphs over him. He pushes Golyadkin aside and gets close to his superiors.
All of this happens within a few days in a realistically depicted St. Petersburg, and yet with an incredible and mystical atmosphere. In a rough St. Petersburg in mid-winter where the boundaries between reality and mystery and magic fade away. It happens among people who in the chaotic and confused mind of Golyadkin only want to hurt him.
The theme of the divided man reocurres in several other books by Dostoyevsky. It can be said to be a main theme of literature in the 20th century.