Dostoevsky: A Writer in His Time

By Joseph Frank; Mary Petrusewicz | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 28

An Emancipated Woman, A Tormented Lover

Despite the severity of the permanent interdiction of Time, its editors and contributors could not believe that the misunderstanding on which it was based would long continue. Strakhov, whose reputation was at stake, hurriedly wrote letters to Katkov and Ivan Aksakov explaining his loyalty to the Russian cause. The censorship would not allow Strakhov's letters to be printed, but Katkov, magnanimous to a repentant foe, replied that he would clarify the matter in an article. Hopes thus revived, as Dostoevsky wrote to Turgenev in mid-June, that the decision of the authorities could be reversed. A week or two later, Katkov's article lifted the dire accusation of pro-Polonism from Time's shoulders, but he continued to object to the principles ofpochvennichestvo, whose cloudiness he decried as being at the root of the trouble. Still, this article paved the way for the authorities to change their mind, although they took longer to do so than Dostoevsky had anticipated.

Meanwhile, he had decided to travel abroad again during the summer months, although funds were now tight. According to Strakhov, Dostoevsky believed that his first trip abroad had greatly improved his health. Dostoevsky himself told Turgenev that he was coming to Paris and Berlin primarily to consult specialists in epilepsy (he gave the names of two doctors). “If you knew the depression I have after my attacks,” he writes despairingly, “and which sometimes last for weeks!” 1 Dostoevsky was also eager to go abroad for another motive that he could scarcely avow in public. Waiting for him in Paris would be his new traveling companion, like Strakhov a contributor to Time but in this instance a female, and an attractive one: twenty-three-year-old Apollinaria Suslova, who became the second great love of Dostoevsky's life.

Very little is known about Dostoevsky's conjugal existence with Marya Dimitrievna after his return to Petersburg from exile. But the very absence of information, the lack of any but the most fleeting references to her in Dostoevsky's letters and in memoirs of the period, suggests that she lived largely in seclusion, and she often spent long periods of time in other cities with a milder climate than Petersburg. It is possible that Dostoevsky had relations with other women

1Pis'ma, 1: 318; June 17, 1863.

-384-

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