Beyond the Book
When Cassie sees a woman lying stabbed to death who looks
exactly like her, with an ID that matches the identity she
used for years as an undercover detective, it seems clear
that she is looking at her own doppelganger.
- The dictionary describes a doppelganger (or
doubleganger, from the German for 'doublegoer' or
lookalike) as a ghostly double or counterpart of a
living person. In the vernacular the term has come to be
used more loosely to describe any sort of double.
- The doppelgangers of folklore are said to have no
shadows or reflection (similar in some ways to
vampires). They are inevitably bad news, being either
malicious or a bad omen, often heralding death or a
- Doppelgangers appear quite frequently in fiction. R.
L. Stevenson's Strange Case Of Dr. Jekyll and Mr.
Hyde and Oscar Wilde's Picture of Dorian Grey
being notable examples.
- Famous accounts of doppelgangers include Guy de
Maupassant's short story "The
Horla", which apparently tells of his own experience
with a doppelganger. Prolific short story writer,
Maupassant, considered by some the greatest French short
story writer and often compared to Edgar Allan Poe,
contracted syphilis in his 20s and died at the age of 43
having been committed to an asylum the year before.
- Izaak Walton, author of The Compleat Angler
and contemporary of the poet John Donne, claims Donne
met his wife's doppelganger shortly before his daughter
was stillborn. Poet Percy Bysshe Shelley is said to have
seen his doppelganger in a dream shortly before his
death; and there are various reports that Lincoln saw
his in a mirror shortly before his death.
- Freud considered the doppelganger a figure that
embodied the return of a repressed soul, a soul who has
released what should always have been hidden.
- Scientists at the University Hospital in Geneva,
Switzerland have discovered that the treatment of
epilepsy through the electrical stimulation of the brain
can produce the sensation of a doppelganger's presence
in the patient.
This article was originally published in September 2008, and has been updated for the
May 2009 paperback release.
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