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The Ghost of the Corpus Callosum: Doppelgänger as Bicameral Brain Function in Poe's "William Wilson"

Bryan D. Dietrich
Semiotics, 1992, pages 279-287.


Doubleness, the idea that within every human there resides an inherent, possibly essential duality, has time and again taken incarnate form in our world's literature in the figure of the doppelgänger. Jorge Luis Borges, a writer well-known for dealing with the theme of doubleness, acknowledges the importance of its multicultural existence, ascribing even Plato's phrase, "Know thyself," to its influence. In The Book of Imaginary Beings, Borges mentions Hawthorne, Dostoyevsky, Alfred de Musset, James, Kleist, Chesterson, Poe, Wilde and others, all of whom at one time or another have tackled the concept (1970: 80). From the early Egyptian ka to the Jewish double, from the Scottish fetch to the Tibetan tulpa, images of the doppelgänger have resounded through most of our waking dreams - that is to say, through our myths, our religions, our writings, and our art. ...