Dostoevsky: A Writer in His Time

By Joseph Frank; Mary Petrusewicz | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 31

The End of Epoch

After the interment of Marya Dimitrievna, Dostoevsky returned to Petersburg at the end of April and once again began to take an active part in the editorial affairs of Epoch. To tide himself over financially, he obtained a loan from the Literary Fund, and, as if to signal the beginning of a new era in his life, he also ran up a substantial bill at a fashionable Petersburg tailor for a new suit of clothes and a summer overcoat. But if the death of his first wife might be considered a blessing in disguise, whatever the pangs of conscience and the disruptions provoked by her long death agony, he was soon to be confronted with another personal loss that was an unmitigated disaster.

Mikhail Dostoevsky and his family had taken up residence for the summer at a dacha in Pavlovsk, the fashionable watering place not far from Petersburg. Dostoevsky was living in Petersburg with his stepson Pasha and making preparations to go abroad again for his health, certainly with the tempting image of a reunion with Suslova never out of his mind. Just before his departure, however, he was so struck by his brother's ailing appearance that he decided to delay his voyage. And, in the first week of July, he scribbled a quick note to his stepson from Pavlovsk: “Dear Pasha, send me some linen. My brother is dying. Don't tell anyone about this.” 1

Mikhail had been overtaxed by the strain of publishing Epoch singlehanded, and by the burden of financial obligations that he could meet only by incurring others still more onerous. Not sparing himself physically, and suffering from an intermittent liver ailment, he collapsed on July 6 after hearing that an article on which he had counted could not pass the censorship; three days later he was dead. “How much I have lost with him,” Dostoevsky wrote to his brother Andrey some weeks later, “That man loved me more than anything in the world, even more than his wife and family, whom he adored…. All the affairs of brother's family are terribly disorganized. The affairs of the journal (an enormous and complicated affair)—all this I will take on myself. There are many debts. Not a penny left for the family, and they are all minors…. Naturally,

1Pis'ma, 1: 375; first week of July 1864.

-441-

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