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Old 05-01-2012, 05:31 PM   #3
Hamlet53
Babi Yar
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I thought that the novel was definitely recognizable as Dostoevsky's work, but also definitely one of his weaker efforts. Perhaps that explains its obscurity?

In line with Paola's comments I found that the character development was weak, not normal for a novel by Dostoevsky who usually creates a large cast of complex and well developed characters. Here only the characters of Alexei Velchaninov and Pavel Trusotsky were fully developed. Almost all the other characters seemed little more than scenery. That and Pavel Trusotsky was indeed almost a caricature of the cuckold husband. Part of this is of course that two other important characters in the whole drama, Natalia Trusotsky and Bagautov, are dead at the start of the novel. Even Liza, Natalia's and (as it is revealed) Velchaninov's daughter is never really developed as a character.

There are some great moments of humor. The scene of party where Trusotsky is attempting to woo Nadia Zakhlyobinin, but only finds himself the butt of mockery, well it is impossible not to laugh at the misguided man. Still it is impossible to also not feel pity for the man who seems to be fated to be forever “the eternal husband.” Even though he is partly responsible for bringing this on himself, by first marrying Natalia because of her beauty, even though she never loved him, nor even respected him. No lesson learned he tries to repeat that error with Nadia Zakhlyobinin, and does repeat it with new wife we encounter in the final chapter. Dostoevsky makes clear that Trusotsky will soon once again be wearing horns; marriage without love leads to love without marriage.

I suppose that a story about little more than a case of the “eternal husband” is not unworthy of a novel, but it does produce a weak work relative to what an author like Dostoevsky was capable of.

Sun Surfer, that is a great cover picture by the way. The paperback copy I obtained through my local library had a very ordinary looking cover.
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