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"The Eternal Husband" and Other Stories (Bantam Classic) [Mass Market Paperback]

F. M. Dostoevsky , Richard Pevear , Larissa Volokhonsky
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

31 Dec 1996 Bantam Classic
The Eternal Husband and Other Stories brings together five of Dostoevsky’s short masterpieces rendered into English by two of the most celebrated Dostoevsky translators of our time. Filled with many of the themes and concerns central to his great novels, these short works display the full range of Dostoevsky’s genius. The centerpiece of this collection, the short novel The Eternal Husband, describes the almost surreal meeting of a cuckolded widower and his dead wife’s lover. Dostoevsky’s dark brilliance and satiric vision infuse the other four tales with all-too-human characters, including a government official who shows up uninvited at an underling’s wedding to prove his humanity; a self-deceiving narrator who struggles futilely to understand his wife’s suicide; and a hack writer who attends a funeral and ends up talking with the dead.

The Eternal Husband and Other Stories is sterling Dostoevsky—a collection of emotional power and uncompromising insight into the human condition.

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"The Eternal Husband" and Other Stories (Bantam Classic) + A Gentle Creature and Other Stories: White Nights; A Gentle Creature; The Dream of a Ridiculous Man (Oxford World's Classics) + The Village of Stepanchikovo: And its Inhabitants: from the Notes of an Unknown (Penguin Classics)
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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam USA; Bantam Mass Market Ed edition (31 Dec 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553214446
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553214444
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 10.8 x 17.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 13,931 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky was born in Moscow in 1821, the second of a physician's seven children. His mother died in 1837 and his father was murdered a little over two years later. When he left his private boarding school in Moscow he studied from 1838 to 1843 at the Military Engineering College in St Petersburg, graduating with officer's rank. His first story to be published, 'Poor Folk' (1846), was a great success.

In 1849 he was arrested and sentenced to death for participating in the 'Petrashevsky circle'; he was reprieved at the last moment but sentenced to penal servitude, and until 1854 he lived in a convict prison at Omsk, Siberia. In the decade following his return from exile he wrote The Village of Stepanchikovo (1859) and The House of the Dead (1860). Whereas the latter draws heavily on his experiences in prison, the former inhabits a completely different world, shot through with comedy and satire.

In 1861 he began the review Vremya (Time) with his brother; in 1862 and 1863 he went abroad, where he strengthened his anti-European outlook, met Mlle Suslova, who was the model for many of his heroines, and gave way to his passion for gambling. In the following years he fell deeply in debt, but in 1867 he married Anna Grigoryevna Snitkina (his second wife), who helped to rescue him from his financial morass. They lived abroad for four years, then in 1873 he was invited to edit Grazhdanin (The Citizen), to which he contributed his Diary of a Writer. From 1876 the latter was issued separately and had a large circulation. In 1880 he delivered his famous address at the unveiling of Pushkin's memorial in Moscow; he died six months later in 1881. Most of his important works were written after 1864: Notes from Underground (1864), Crime and Punishment (1865-6), The Gambler (1866), The Idiot (1869), The Devils (1871) and The Brothers Karamazov (1880).

Product Description

About the Author

Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821-81) is regarded as one of the greatest prose writers of all time. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect Dosteovsky 5 Dec 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
'The Eternal Husband' is justifiably regarded as Dostoevsky's most perfect work. Gone are all the rambling subplots and diversionary characters - here he focuses on one (albeit bizarre) tale, and tells it in a pure and focused way. The two protagonists are essentially locked in a duel, with neither of them fully comprehending the nature of the duel until the final denouement. We see how people can behave in entirely irrational ways, driven by their subconscious grievances and desires. It's a natural extension of Notes from Underground, FD's other short masterpiece, but transcends even that work in it's ability to subtly disturb the reader, and set him/her thinking deeply about the way in which human being behave and interact with each other.
The other stories in this volume are all excellent as well, especially the opener 'A Nasty Anecdote' which is marvellously amusing while at the same time quite horrible as the main character spirals helplessly into a cringingly embarassing situtaion of his own making.
The translation (as with all their other Dostoevsky translations) is spot on, and if you are at all interested in Dostoevsky's works then this is a must.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
This bundle with tales of blindness, illusion and, on behalf of the author, disillusion is a perfect introduction to the works of Fyodor Dostoevsky. They expose splendidly the author's dreams, obsessions, psychological insights, passionate characterizations and frenzied style.

In `The Eternal Husband', a man has no inkling of the unfaithfulness of his wife. He even admires her lover: `Eternal husbands are only husbands in life and nothing else. It is impossible for him not to wear horns.'
In `The Meek One', a man doesn't understand his own dumb selfishness.

Illusions and disillusion
In `A Nasty Anecdote', State councilor Pralinsky sees `humaneness with subordinates - they, too, are people' as `the cornerstone of the forthcoming reform.' But, his drunken behavior turns into something very nasty indeed.
In `The Dream of a Ridiculous Man', still one man believes in the main thing, `love others as yourself ... I will not and cannot believe that evil is the normal condition of people'.
But, in `Bobok', human evil goes even on after death, in the grave: `the depravity of flabby and rotting corpses - not even sparing the last moments of consciousness.'

A recurrent theme in Dostoevsky's work is the little girl; here, `Liza' in `The Eternal Husband' and one without a name in `The Dream of a Ridiculous Man.'
People are also falling into a sort of frenzy, become bedeviled (the lover in `The Eternal Husband') or can barely survive utter despair (the suicide temptation in `The Dream of a Ridiculous Man').

This typical Dostoyevskyan book with its universal themes is a must read for all lovers of world literature.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sustained brilliance. 3 Nov 2000
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
His ability to move the reader with his seemingly awkward writing style is a joy, the apathy he is able to create is sometimes shocking. The psychological insight is of a depth unseen in any other writer's work, he puts into words the feelings you know in your heart but had never been able to formulate in your mind. Anyone interested in learning something about themselves shouldn't deny themselves this gem.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best of The Master? 31 May 2006
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Although not the greatest collection of his work, this is quite good. The cover art--a Magritte reproduction--is the ideal visual counterpart to Dostoievski's text, for both artists were intent upon revealing what lay beneath the surface of the human psyche. This collection is an excellent representation of stories that have not been anthologized as frequently as Dostoievski's most famous works. However, not each of these new translations has been accomplished with the greatest skill. The text would also benefit from a more thorough introduction, more detailed notes, and perhaps a broader context for the individual stories. Despite these inadequacies, however, the work is Dostoievski's and therefore masterful. Selections such as "A Nasty Anecdote" remind us that he could write not only brilliant, tragic, serious novels but also witty, occasionally disturbing stories. If you like Gogol, Bulgakov, Kafka, or Borges, this collection is for you. If you like great writing, this collection is for you.

So read, open your mind to new worlds and learn.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.4 out of 5 stars  14 reviews
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful. Even better for Dostoevsky-philes 8 Nov 2005
By infinity8 - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is a fabulous collection. "The Eternal Husband" is quite interesting and features the trademark Doestoevsian psychological interplay (along the lines of that found between _Crime and Punishment_'s Raskolnikov and Porfiry Petrovich, or _The Idiot_'s Rogozhin and Prince Nikolaevich). However, the short stories included are, imho, superior to "The Eternal Husband." "A Nasty Anecdote" is a very funny satire, especially if the reader is privileged to know a bit about post-"emancipation" Russia. "The Meek One" studies the fascinating, yet highly unhealthy relationship between a husband and wife. At the same time, it meditates on the uses of love in much the manner of _King Lear_. "The Dream of a Ridiculous Man" features the sort of Christ figure found in _The Idiot_ or _The Brothers Karamazov_'s Alyosha. Warning: this story may make you cry.

However wonderful the stories, Richard Pevear's introductory essay alone is worth the price of admission-- with a caveat. If you are familiar with most of Dostoevsky's novels, then you will understand and appreciate Pevear's analysis of Dostoevskian philosophy-- the stories in this collection are even arranged in an order that supports Pevear's theories. However, those unfamiliar with Dostoevsky's work will be very lost.

P.S. These stories are enjoyable for everyone, but those familiar with Dostoevsky will appreciate them even more. I would suggest that Dostoevsky first-timers start with _Crime and Punishment_ or _Notes from Underground_.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great overview for those who have never read Dostoevsky before 29 July 2005
By Allison - Published on
This is an entertaining novella that will give you an idea of Dostoevsky's genius. Like his great works (Crime and Punishment, Brothers K, The Idiot, The Possessed), it has a lot of psychological power and displays his style of writing. It has enough depth to it that you really get into the story and the characters, unlike some of his short stories. However, it does not have all the philosophy present in his longer works. As Dostoevsky is also known for his philosophical and political debates, some may lament the loss of it in The Eternal Husband. However, many newcomers to Dostoevsky find that the philosophy drags and that they get lost in it. For that reason, The Eternal Husband is an easy read and great for people who have never read Dostoevsky before.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Generally Impressive: A Good Introduction to Dostoevsky 6 April 2009
By J. Robinson - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The book contains five stories translated by Pevear and Volokhonsky and an introduction by Richard Pevear. The Eternal Husband is 150 pages. The other four stories are short. They are good examples of the writings and the literary techniques of Dostoevsky including the use of dreams.

I have read most of Dostoevsky's major novels. There are about 10 or so available in English, and the present collection is not a substitute for reading the other works. I still like The Gambler and The Brothers Karamazov as his two most interesting works, followed by The Idiot, Crime and Punishment, and Demons. Perhaps The Gambler is not his best work, but it was the first one that I had read. He wrote it with his second wife in 30 days. The Gambler is a short but entertaining - and reflects Dostoevsky`s addiction to gambling. The present works are similar to Notes From the Underground, but less intense, less creative, and more varied in subject matter.

The Eternal Husband involves an extra-marital affair by the male protagonist with a married woman and the subsequent relationship between the man, Velchaninov, and the husband, Pavel Pavlovich. The story is set years later after the death of the wife and uses a dream sequence near the beginning. It reflects a love triangle situation found in his other writings and is loosely related to the circumstances of Dostoevsky`s first marriage, although not identical.

Another story is The Dream of a ridiculous Man. Dostoevsky uses the dream sequences as a vehicle to tell a utopian story about an ideal society. Again, the dream is a literary mechanism used by Dostoevsky. This is related to the short but unusual story Bobok. It is set in a cemetery where the dead are holding conversations. The characters use flights of fancy, dreams, and communicate with the dead. The dead characters lack morals, even dead.

The other two stories, A Nasty Anecdote and The Meek One, are more conventional stories. The first involves an official who accidentally attends the wedding of a poor government worker, a man who works in his department. The official drinks too much and causes much commotion and embarrasses the groom and the wedding party. In short, he makes a fool of himself. Dostoevsky touches on his themes of the disintegration of human life and the use of the "unexpected" gathering to expose false ideas and situations.

The Meek One is about a man who is trying to deal with the suicide of his wife. Again, the story is short. But, he uses the "stream of consciousness" technique - possibly one of the first uses of the technique in the modern literature according to Pevear - years before Joyce.

5 stars and a surprisingly good selection of short stories.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A penetrating book 26 Dec 2011
By Kristine - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
I love this little paperback of stories! The depth of the human person is so well written and the sharp contrast between the conscience of the different characters is fascinating.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars masterwork from the master 15 May 2012
By chrisam - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
I bought this collection of stories and novellas mainly for "A Nasty Anecdote" AKA "A Disgraceful Affair" in other translations, an hilarious story satirizing the newfound egalitarianism of the upper classes. Needless to say it did not disappoint my recollection of reading it in a paperback edition (by Signet Books, maybe),entitled Great Short Works of Dostoyevsky. They also did a GSW of Tolstoy.

Anyway, I couldn't find that edition on kindle, so opted for this one even tho I had some of the other stories already. But I found myself rereading "Bobok," "The Eternal Husband," and the entire book.

Go for this one, Fyodorophiles.
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