Literary Doppelgängers Through the Ages

Doppelgängers ran rampart in literature long before the Internet made identity theft a daily occurrence. For the Guardian, Laurence Scott recounts the best books featuring doppelgängers, from Shakespeare to Agatha Christie and Philip Roth to Joanna Kavenna. “There are many ways to steal a face, and not all of them rely on the supernatural,” Scott writes. “The string of murderous misadventures in Patricia Highsmith’s 1950s novel The Talented Mr. Ripley depend on Ripley’s ability to impersonate the privileged Dickie Greenleaf. Here, a lack of technology perpetuates the hoax. In a world before it was possible to verify someone’s identity online, a passing resemblance to Greenleaf’s passport photo and a knack with signatures allow Ripley to draw money from his account and take over the dead man’s life.”

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