Doppelgangers and Matrixes: A New Method of Comparative Analysis
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Abstract: The paper presents the results of the research of doppelganger topos by means of quantitative analysis, namely, by elementary approach provided by graph theory. The idea to employ the approach belongs to M. Zhuravlev. Seven canonic texts chosen by I. Golovacheva and M. Zhuravlev (E. T. A. Hoffmann’s “Die Doppeltgänger”, E. A. Poe’s “William Wilson”, Fyodor Dostoevsky’s novella “The Double”, Henry James’s “The Jolly Corner”, Joseph Conrad’s “The Secret Sharer” and Vladimir Nabokov’s Despair) are analyzed. Our point of departure was the archetypal attributes of the double highlighted in a seminal work by Otto Rank of 1914. Still, Rankean list of attributes had to be supplemented by a list of other, specifically ‘poetic’, attributes, by a set of diverse invariant motifs found in the above works of fiction, specified by I. Golovacheva and P. de Mauny. Incidence matrixes built for each of the four specific groups of attributes of the double allowed us to view the doppelganger poetics as a whole and each of the chosen seven texts in particular. The quantitative method led to several new qualitative conclusions. For example, it demonstrated that Dostoevsky’s “The Double” and Nabokov’s Despair occupy opposite places in the set of doppelganger texts: Dostoevsky’s novella and Nabokov’s short novel differ much in their comprehensiveness and typicality of doppelganger imagery. Such a result allowed Golovacheva, Zhuravlev and de Mauny to reconsider the notion of the ‘typical’ in literary theory. The incidence matrix method also revealed the similarity of “William Wilson” and Despair. The objectivist comparative analysis and the subsequent close rereading of these two fictions prove, Golovacheva argues, that Poe’s tale is one of the pre-texts of Despair, such intertextuality previously neglected in Nabokov studies.
Key words: Topos; doppelganger; mathematical methods in literary criticism; comparative studies; Nabokov; E. A. Poe; Dostoevsky; E. T. A. Hoffmann; Henry James; Joseph Conrad; Henry de Regnier.
Golovacheva, I. V., de Mauny, P., Zhuravlev, M. Ye. (2021) Doppelgangers and Matrixes: A New Method of Comparative Analysis. In Philological Class. 2021. Vol. 26 ⋅ №2. P. 9-23 . DOI 10.51762/1FK-202126-02-01.