According to this Huffington Post article, Jesse Eisenberg is being cast as Golyadkin in a new film adaptation of Dostoevsky’s “The Double.” I’m quite excited about this, being the Russian lit nerd that I am.
I think that Jesse Eisenberg (who played in Zombieland and The Social Network) will make an excellent Golyadkin, and can’t wait to see how he does in the role.
Dostoevsky’s novella “The Double” is one of his more intriguing pieces of work, although one of the least famous, and sets Dostoevsky apart as a brilliant psychological writer. My first experience of the piece was seeing it performed in a theater in Russia, which was absolutely phenomenal. After seeing it, I read the book for myself.
The novella tells the story of a young government clerk named Golyadkin as he experiences a schizophrenic break. Golyadkin feels disconnected from reality, and as the story progresses he begins to see and interact with what he believes to be his own doppelganger. As he descends into madness, one can see his personal relationships deteriorate as he tries to flee his double.
Mind you, Dostoevsky wrote this long before schizophrenia was a unique diagnosis. Golyadkin is almost a textbook case of the disease. (Yes, I’m the sort of person who wrote papers in undergrad diagnosing fictional characters with real diseases and comparing the symptoms with clinical descriptions. I somehow did manage to still have a life, although I’m not entirely certain as to how.) I find it fascinating that Dostoevsky was able to write such a riveting description of a schizophrenic break during a time when the medical community lumped all mental illnesses into one category. It makes me wonder if Dostoevsky was personally acquainted with someone who had the condition.
I’m hoping that the film version is able to do the book justice. If you are interested in reading “The Double,” an online version can be found here.