Reviews of a couple of books, wherein each story's central character appears to be having a crisis of identity... 1. "One, No One, and One Hundred Thousand" by Luigi Pirandello <http://www.amazon.com/One-Hundred-Thousand/dp/0941419746> <http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12117> Things start going wrong for the main character, Vitangelo Moscarda, after his wife jokingly tells him one morning that his nose is a bit crooked. He looks in the mirror and, to his surprise, he realises that his wife is indeed correct. This seemingly harmless discovery triggers a complete self-examination by Moscarda. If perceptions of physical features can vary, what about perceptions of identity? No longer can he take it for granted that everyone else perceives him the same way he himself does (i.e. the 'One' in the title). If his own wife can't perceive the "real" Moscarda, then each person has a different perception of him. Therefore there must be multiple perceptions of his persona (i.e. 'One Hundred Thousand'). By extension, there are multiple perceptions of each of these people's identities, so a massive feedback loop is created. In the end, Moscarda thinks, it's like he has no true identity at all (i.e. 'No One'). The plot is essentially a mechanism for examining the philosophy and psychology of someone's identity. Throughout Moscarda's "illness", his behaviour is bizarre and often humorous. For example, to show he's not simply a passive heir to his father's banking business, he evicts a destitute tenant. This incurs the wrath of the other townspeople, so he tries to overcome perceptions that he is greedy by gifting another house he owns to the destitute family. This was Pirandello's last novel, and in many ways it's the culmination of a career-long fascination with themes of personality and identity. 2. "The Double" by Fyodor Dostoyevsky <http://www.amazon.com/Double/dp/1420931342> <http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/210190> Our "hero", Golyadkin, is a civil servant who is going through a bit of a rough patch. To complicate matters he's "discovered" that he has a double. This newcomer looks exactly like him, works in the same office, and even has the same name! After initially taking him in and gaining his confidence, Golyadkin begins to have doubts about his double. He refers to the other as "Golyadkin Junior", and fears that "Junior" is trying to usurp him at work and his private life: this "evil twin" must be behind his recent and continuing fall from grace. Throughout the story it is never made clear whether the central character is having a major identity crisis, or merely living a double life. The reader is taken for a wild ride through both St Petersburg and Golyadkin's delusions. This was Dostoyevsky's second novel, and is not as highly-rated as his later work. However it's also not nearly as long. While both books cover some heavy themes, they do have some comical moments to lighten things up.