Monday, March 8, 2021

The Eternal HusbandThe Eternal Husband by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A truly fascinating, cringe-worthy tale by Dostoyevski, the master of cringe. His prose is brilliant, his characterizations crazy awesome, but when he gets right down to dissecting an idea, he doesn't do it by half measures.

Are you a predatory type or a peaceful type of man? Scoundrel or cooperative? How about a family man or an eternal loner? Ah, but in this case, there is no such real thing as an eternal husband.

Seriously, there's so much going on in this short novel, I think I'll just bring up a certain idea.

Pavel and Alexei's relationship is a very complicated one, to say the least. Alexei is the type to run from entanglements and did just that, having left Pavel to raise his daughter and not quite owning up to the fact of what he did. All those feelings of guilt come around, 9 years later, and in trying to make things right, gets entangled in a horrible web of Pavel's making, who, it seems, wants revenge for cuckolding him for all those years, but becomes a twisted, twisted tangle of emotions and psychology.

Strangely enough, I was struck by a very thick certainty (although unproven within the text except by context and some rather deep driving forces) that Pavel might have had some really rough romantic feelings, not just brotherly love mixed with hate, for Alexei.

Even more oddly, for all the revulsion and counter-moves for whom he tends to see as an enemy, Alexei's feelings deepen for Pavel, too.

The whole thing is mightily unhealthy and the women are all treated like crap, but this is very much a class and social critique and no one comes off as particularly good people. Then again, this IS Dostoyevsky, the man who can show you every seedy underbelly, including your very own. :)

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