by Anna Dostoevsky ‧ RELEASE DATE: Oct. 27, 1975
Mrs. Dostoevsky confides: ""Fyodor Mikhailovich became my god, my idol. And I, it seemed, was prepared to spend the rest of my life on my knees to him."" Make no mistake, Mrs. Dostoevsky was a heroic woman. Mrs. Dostoevsky would have to be, with a husband like Fyodor. Consider the lure of the roulette tables at Baden-Baden, the double epileptic seizures, the clutch of freeloading relatives by his first marriage, the wildly impractical generosity and childlike credulity, the swindling publishers, the insane groundless jealousy. Anna Grigoryevna, twenty years his junior, was married to Dostoevsky for the last fourteen years of his life during which time he produced his five great novels--and it is not unreasonable to speculate that without her, they might not have been written at all. She devoted the remaining 38 years of her life to the publication of his complete works and the collection of his papers--an inestimable achievement. Anna was the little stenographer who collaborated on The Gambler--that legendary contract which carried the stipulation that, in case of default, Dostoevsky would forfeit payment for anything he might write for the next nine years. Anna, not yet twenty but already a woman of redoubtable fiber, rescued him then--and went on preserving his peace of mind as well as his finances like the paragon of wifely virtue she most definitely was. It is--there's no other way to put it--a great love story; and of course a unique picture of Dostoevsky at work and en famille. (Here's the brooding philosophical writer chasing down the road after their brown cow, for instance.) Written in 1918 (partly from shorthand diaries of their early years together), first published in 1925 with the aid of scholar Leonid Grossman (see his Dostoevsky, 1974,) Anna's Reminiscences was repressed by the Soviets until its 1971 Moscow publication and Beatrice Stillman's translation is as readable as novels used to be, back in the good old days of Tsarist Russia.
Pub Date: Oct. 27, 1975
Page Count: -
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1975
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