A fairly unrelieved torture and torment piece, of violent emotional postutrings in the form of a long letter of a ""living dead"" to his wife, Vera. Boris, shamed by his inability to achieve glory in battle, takes a dead soldier's identity during the Russian defeat at Tannenberg, thereby renouncing his country and his wife. After imprisonment, remarriage, he drifts to Paris where he sees Vera again, plans to claim her, when he realizes that she is happily married to a wealthy Greek. By the close he finds that his path of least resistance (although it involves considerable mind and heart searching) has blocked his chances, and that he can never assume his real identity. The reader doesn't much care.