Recommended Reads – The Eternal Husband
I picked up this book by impulse when abroad. I hadn’t before heard of this title, yet am fond of novellas, and regard Dostoyevsky highly. Some of his larger novels can be difficult at parts to follow – peculiar character names, nicknames and writing style. This is one of his more comprehensive reads, not lacking in his characteristic analysis yet not as difficult to follow.
This particular story focuses primarily on the complex dynamics between two former friends Velchaninov, and Trusotsky, reacquainted several years later after the death of Trusotsky’s wife. The plot revolves around the fact that Velchaninov had an affair with her some years earlier. The story looks at how the two men engage with each other – their conversations, feelings, thoughts and interactions.
How do each receive each other? Does Trusotsky even know? As the story develops, it engages the reader well and is definitely not predictable. There were parts where I wondered where he was going with the storyline, even where it seemed to drag on. I can’t say that the plot itself was strikingly memorable as are other notable stories in as many pages. Yet strangely, even the trivial parts when taken with the cocktail of characters, leave a thoughtful aftertaste.
Rather – it is the complexity, the character depth and unpredictability of human emotion and behaviour that Dostoevsky again does not fail in. Even when not much seems to be happening, you are wondering about the characters themselves. No doubt, the deep understanding and ability to convey complex human behaviour and emotions is a Dostoevsky signature. It is what makes many of his books timeless.This is no exception, and makes a good starting point for a book among his many that will make you reflect.
Dostoevsky deciphers characters as if you know them. Or, in some more worrying instances, you begin to see yourself in them.