This collection, wonderfully translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, features two novellas, The Eternal Husband and The Meek One , as well as three short stories, A Nasty Anecdote , Bobok: Notes of a certain person , and The Dream of a Ridiculous Man: a fantastic story. Told from the point of view of the husband, its a story that makes the reader ache for the characters. The short stories are a little less successful with the exception of Bobok: Notes of a Certain Person in which a living man visits a cemetery only to get a glimpse of the lives of people after death. One can really understand the immense influence of Dostoevskys work as many of the techniques he employs were used and overused by subsequent writers.
The short stories in this book range from very dark to quite hilarious. It's pretty amusing, which is a relief after the grim but gripping "Eternal Husband." "The Meek One" is also an excellent story that begins with the announcement of a woman's suicide, followed by her husband's emotional account of the events leading up to her death (this story is my second favorite in this book, with The Eternal Husband being the first).
"The Eternal Husband" is the model for Saul Bellow's novel, THE VICTIM. Having read and liked THE VICTIM, I decided to read Dostoevsky's novella.
One need not read extensively into Dostoevsky writings to understand that with every work he never fails to address his social climate. The book is a collection of five different stories, which include: A Nasty Anecdote, The Eternal Husband, Bobok, The Meek One and The Dream Of A Ridiculous Man. Amongst the five, The Eternal Husband being my favorite amongst them. If we could hear the dead speak, few of the best things they could say are in Bobok. Above all, looking across these stories, I see from Dostoevsky, an ability of the most refined quality to analyse the intricacies present in a given situation, to dissect and reach viscerally, the innermost regions which characterise the external outlook of that situation and still keep its essence.
Bobok is a brief tale Dostoevsky published in the first season of his Diary of a Writer while he was editor of The Citizen. Perhaps Dostoevsky considered the new political movements of his day to be a sort of "death" to the upper class. Further, if this allegory stands, the grave he was lying on (of the indignant yet equally repulsive General) represents The Citizen. After a simple author's intro (this story was published in his own journal A Writer's Diary), Dostoevsky uses first person narration to recount the events surrounding the marriage of a lonely pawnbroker and an impoverished orphan. Usually Dostoevsky's narrators look back on events with a calm understanding as with Arkady in The Adolescent or Anton Lavrentevich in Demons though their accounts are sometimes tarnished by their connection to other characters. The Dream of a Ridiculous Man is the most fantastical and yet most plausible of Dostoevsky's stories by virtue of the dream structure. The genius in Dostoevsky's delivery of the message is his preparation of the perfect narrator the self-proclaimed "ridiculous man" and his nihilist renunciation of life.
Dostoevsky is known for his long fiction, and for good reason; it seems that his short stories are hit-and-miss. It was delightfully heartbreaking, and, along with The Dream of a Ridiculous Man, is the reason I gave the collection four stars. As my reader should by now have guessed, I love seeing the redemption of the protagonist, and this story is perhaps the least subtle example of redemption in Dostoevsky's work. The Christian symbolism in this story is also perhaps the strongest in any of his other works, besides The Brothers Karamazov, going to the point of even having the protagonist offering to have himself crucified for the people he himself corrupted, acting as both the Christ- and devil-figure.
"Eternal Husband" is really long enough to be considered a short novel, but I imagine it's the length of modern novels that lead to it being packaged with other stories to thicken the book spine. I wanted more husband-ing, but there are very few actual moments of being a husband, as the book opens with a single man meeting a widower.
Fyodor Mikhaylovich Dostoyevsky (Russian: ), sometimes transliterated Dostoevsky, was a Russian novelist, journalist, and short-story writer whose psychological penetration into the human psyche had a profound influence on the 20th century novel. Shortly after the death of his mother in 1837 he was sent to St. Petersburg, where he entered the Army Engineering College. Dostoyevsky returned to St. Petersburg in 1854 as a writer with a religious mission and published three works that derive in different ways from his Siberia experiences: The House of the Dead , (1860) a fictional account of prison life, The Insulted and Injured, which reflects the author's refutation of naive Utopianism in the face of evil, and Winter Notes on Summer Impressions, his account of a trip to Western Europe. He resigned from the army two years later.