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Thread: The Eternal Husband

  1. #1
    the beloved: Gladys's Avatar
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    The Eternal Husband

    What are we to make of the ending of this novella?

    The Eternal Husband, a late work of Dostoevsky, alludes to an affair a decade earlier between Velchaninov and a married woman, the siren Natalia, and the subsequent relationship between the man and her husband, Pavel Pavlovich, who knowingly has brought along 'his' young daughter, Liza, almost certainly a product of the affair.

    Every scene starts with Velchaninov, and none ends before he and Pavel Pavlovich interact. We tend to see the action though Velchaninov's eyes, but Pavel Pavlovich viewpoint is perhaps the more fascinating.

    Towards the end, can we assume that Pavel Pavlovich, having returned Liza to her genetic father, is intending to murder the man who has cuckolded him? I assume that Velchaninov is right to bind and eject him for good. But both men seem to have an unhealthy fascination for each other, combined with a curious mix of shame, guilt and pride. Ultimately, their lives seem bizarrely twisted.
    "Love does not alter the beloved, it alters itself"

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    muaz jalil muazjalil's Avatar
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    I just finished reading it and I must say I am bit confused too. As for "And Liza" in the end, is that supposed to mean that the 'attempt to murder' was justified or rather metaphorically Velchaninov has scared Pavel equally.

    I have read in some intepretation that there are some latent homosexuality in this novel but I think thats a superficial assessment. Fundamentally it seems to me that Pavel wants Velchaninov's approval and thats why he takes him to meet his new bride to be. I guess he admires him and so in a way requires his approval but at the same time hates him for being superior and for taking his wife from him. Loved the story but if some one can shed some light, much appreciated.

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    the beloved: Gladys's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by muazjalil View Post
    Fundamentally it seems to me that Pavel wants Velchaninov's approval and thats why he takes him to meet his new bride to be.
    Seeking 'approval' seems unlikely. Certainly the two men have a measure of psychological dependence on each other, a dependence that is less than healthy. Pavel has a history of being the cuckold and, perhaps, is addicted to it or, at least, forever dreading a recurrence. For Pavel, Velchaninov may just be the 'devil you know'. And sadly for them both, promiscuous Natalia lives on in spirit.

    There remains the big question, 'What about poor Liza?'
    "Love does not alter the beloved, it alters itself"

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Gladys View Post
    Seeking 'approval' seems unlikely. Certainly the two men have a measure of psychological dependence on each other, a dependence that is less than healthy. Pavel has a history of being the cuckold and, perhaps, is addicted to it or, at least, forever dreading a recurrence. For Pavel, Velchaninov may just be the 'devil you know'. And sadly for them both, promiscuous Natalia lives on in spirit.

    There remains the big question, 'What about poor Liza?'
    Ok this thread is rather old, but I think it's a bit ridiculous to question that Pavel was seeking Velchaninov's approval. How else could you explain why Pavel constantly inserted himself in Velchaninov's life? He could easily have let the past be, and made a conscious decision to invite Velchaninov to his new girlfriend's house. Pavel clearly wanted Velchaninov's approval, and I'm quite sure that Velchaninov says something to this effect upon being invited, but I don't have the book with me.

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    the beloved: Gladys's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by astrochristina View Post
    ...I think it's a bit ridiculous to question that Pavel was seeking Velchaninov's approval. How else could you explain why Pavel constantly inserted himself in Velchaninov's life?
    Ridiculous? I might prefer to explain explain why Pavel constantly inserted himself in Velchaninov's life as one of more of the following:

    1. Pavel likes to live dangerously in relationships with his women.

    2. Pavel feeds off a jealous obsession with the potential faithlessness of his women.

    3. Pavel, like a gambler, cannot resist tempting fate.

    4. Pavel yearns for a different outcome with his latest woman - she, at last, may bravely resist temptation.

    5. Pavel is a masochist and thrives in a milieu of emotional torment and pain.

    6. Pavel believes God may vindicate his faithfulness in the end - perhaps, by striking Velchaninov dead.

    7. Pavel sees himself as a sinner, suffering in silence, under punishment though the agency God's scourge, Velchaninov.

    8. Pavel is like an anorexic: both hate themselves and relish self-imposed destruction.

    9. Pavel believes, if dimly, that he can induce Velchaninov to repent of his adultery and humbly crave Pavel's forgiveness.
    "Love does not alter the beloved, it alters itself"

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