Select your language

logo br en 1

A.M. Gorky Institute
of World Literature
of the Russian Academy of Sciences

IWL RAS Publishing

A.M. Gorky Institute of World Literature
of the Russian Academy of Sciences


Povarskaya 25a, 121069 Moscow, Russia



Types of publications

About the author:

Olga E. Voltchek, independent researcher, St. Petersburg, Russia.


E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


In the writings of Deleuze, Dostoevsky’s Underground Man emerges in the essay Bartleby or the formula, where he analyses Melville’s story and puts his hero on a par with the heroes of Kleist, Kafka, Beckett and Dostoevsky, united by a certain irrationality. Bartleby’s formula “I would prefer not to” is compared to that of the Underground Man, who also refuses to agree that 2+2 equals 4. Deleuze associates the idea of the Underground Man with the inner voice, with the workings of the unconscious that manifests itself in language.
Doppelgangers are also part of Deleuze’s conceptual apparatus. In a number of works, he refers to Dostoevsky’s The Double, analysing Kafka’s characters, among others, and underlining the bureaucratic nature of the doubling of the subject. The conscious double of pure thought falls into a bureaucratic attitude and a new form of persecution, where the cogito becomes a bureaucratic love delusion.
Cogito as the subject of utterance, reflecting on its own application and comprehending itself, is also the instance of The Idiot’s self, which in Deleuze’s philosophy is an important conceptual character who wishes to think independently, through “natural light”.
Thus, Deleuze offers a positive image of the Underground Man — that of an eccentric, an idiot who denies the rational existence of the world. Rejecting Freud’s interpretation of delirium through the Oedipus complex, Deleuze puts forward another substrate of the unconscious and argues that great writers are not sick, but are doctors, and they heal human ills, both social and psychological.

  • Keywords: Underground Man, doppelganger, idiot, Dostoevsky, Deleuze, psychoanalysis.


Find book in the current section