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Old 05-06-2012, 09:49 PM   #7
Bookworm_Girl
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Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Southwest, USA
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I read the book primarily in one sitting. I liked the book mostly for the "does he or doesn't he know" back-and-forth. One of my favorite quotes was:
Quote:
He knows all about Baganoff; but how about myself? You know how such wives can deceive their husbands. If an angel from Heaven were to come down and convict a woman, her husband will still trust her, and give the angel the lie.
It was a bit bizarre in some of the dream and night sequences. One summary of the book that I read described the plot as a "psychological duel", and I suppose the problem that I had was that I didn't particularly like either character. They were both a bit mad, and the book was a roller coaster of emotions. I didn't have a problem with the translation, although I was annoyed with the name Velchaninoff because the word just doesn't roll smoothly off your tongue and disrupted my reading. I agree with fantasyfan that one simply likes the minor characters better than the main ones. Poor Liza! Velchaninoff barely has time to know her as his true daughter before she dies.

It's interesting that Velchaninoff describes Natalia as hating corruption but unable to recognize her own depravations. Then, Trusotsky says that it is Nadia's innocence which he finds much more attractive than beauty. Of course we know that she is not so innocent and quite shrewd at not accepting the bracelet and trying to find a way out of the marriage arrangement.

I liked the ending too, especially the last scene. I thought it was a funny way to end the book with Trusotsky on the train traveling with his new wife and a young officer to his country home for a party. So he is an eternal husband after all, and history is soon to repeat itself. You can just see him squirming at the thought that Velchaninoff might join them.

I have never read anything by Dostoyevsky so I can't compare to other works. I did find an analysis about The Eternal Husband that said:
Quote:
The novella is a rare work of precision and is typical of Dostoyevsky in its concern with the mysteries of the human psyche, its potential for equally noble and vile acts, and the need, as well as reluctance, to accept responsibility for either.
Another review said the story is loosely related to his first marriage. Although all I could find on that was he married his first wife after they had an affair and then she died and he remarried.

I suspect that this is one of those books that improves on a second reading.
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