Select language:

The Story of a Loyal Wife

 /  / Russkiy Mir Foundation / Publications / The Story of a Loyal Wife

The Story of a Loyal Wife

11.09.2013

Anna Grigoryevna Dostoyevskaya, maiden name Snitkina, was born to a common Petersburg official. Still a child, she absorbed herself in Dostoyevsky’s works. After studying stenography, in 1866 she participated as stenographer-typist in readying the novel The Player for publication. Anna then met Fyodor Dostoyevsky in 1867, agreeing to become his wife.

Despite a large age difference (Dostoyevsky was 25 years older), the marriage proved a success. Dostoyevsky had initially been rapturously in love with his first wife, Maria Dmitrievna Isaeva, whom he married in exile in Kuznetsk. However, the feelings later cooled. Doestoyevsky and Isaeva were too different in character and interests. Maria passed away in 1864 in Tver from consumption.

Three years before his wife’s death, in 1861, the author, then 40, met Apollinaria Suslova, a 22 year-old non-degree student at the university where Fyodor Mikhailovich gave lectures. She was in love, so confessing in a letter to Dostoevsky. A stormy romance ensued – both of them were very passionate by nature. The Christian Dostoyevsky and feminist Suslova, who demanded Dostoyevsky should divorce his already sick wife – formed a combustible combination. It was no coincidence that “love-hate” relationships and infernal heroines become a trademark of the author.

Even after his wife’s death, the relationship stayed jittery: Dostoyevsky proposed to Apollinaria, but she refused.

Torturing both, the romance reached its end, though even after separation Dostoyevsky still had feelings for Suslova. Thereafter, Suslova burned many compromising papers, including the author’s letters. Thus the secrets of their stormy relationship faded away, the 40-year-old Suslova later marrying young Vasily Rozanov (he was 24), later a famous publicist and philosopher, an equally stormy relationship.

After two arduous novels, Dostoyevsky finally met a calm, practical spouse, wholeheartedly sharing his interests. It wasn’t easy: Dostoyevsky’s feelings for Suslova remained alive during their honeymoon.

Marriage to Anna was a boon for Dostoyevsky. She was Dostoyevsky’s first reader and critic. She not only became his friend and intellectual peer but also ran his affairs. And she bore him four children. Yet it wasn’t all so sanguine: opposing the marriage was Dostoyevsky’s kinsfolk, especially his stepson from his marriage with Maria Isaeva.

After the wedding, the couple went abroad. Once in Baden-Baden, Dostoyevsky began gambling. After winning 4,000 francs at roulette, he couldn’t stop and lost everything he had with him, including his wardrobe and wife’s items. They lived almost a year in Geneva, sometimes lacking bare necessities. On March 6, 1868, their first daughter was born, named Sofia, who, to the parents’ woe, died three months later. In 1869 in Dresden, the Dostoyevskys gave birth to their daughter Lyubov. Upon returning to St. Petersburg two sons were born – Fyodor and Alexei.

Dostoyevsky was impractical. He famously signed contracts with publishers that were unprofitable for himself. His wife took over his monetary and publishing affairs, enabling the author to freely pursue writing. She held talks with publishers and oversaw printing, even researching the market and independently publishing his essays.

One can tell what kind of person Anna was from the following story, which she wrote in her diary. During a stroll, Dostoyevsky expressed doubt in women’s ability to be consistently and steadfastly forceful in achieving goals:

“It quite angered me in my husband,” Dostoyevskaya wrote, “that he rejected any strength of character in women of my generation, any steadfast and continual aspiration towards achieving stated goals. <…> This argument encouraged me, and I told my husband I myself would show him that women can for years pursue an idea capturing her attention. And since at that moment I did not see any major task before me, I said I would start with the activity he just mentioned; from that point I would start collecting stamps.”

She added to her stamp collection all her life, becoming one of Russia’s first famous women to seriously engage in this hobby. Moreover, she spent not a kopeck from the family budget on her hobby. They were all taken from letters or gifts.

The family was soon free of debt, which also resulted from Dosteyevsky’s quitting roulette forever. He tremendously valued his young wife (upon his death Anna was 35); the author dedicated to her one of his best novels – Brothers Karamazov.

After Dostoyevsky’s death, Anna Grigoryevna never remarried. She carried on her husband’s memory, collecting his letters and manuscripts, and designing Dostoyevsky’s room in the Historical Museum in Moscow.

Anna Grigorievna Dostoevskaya long outlived her husband. She died in Yalta in the arduous year of 1918.

Alexander Ryzantsev

   
Rubric:
Subject:
Tags:

New publications

Can national character be studied by standards of speaking etiquette? And why entering an elevator without greeting anyone is absolutely ethical conduct? Renowned linguist, Doctor of letters Maxim Kronhaus has been observing Russian speaking etiquette for quite a while. He shared his conclusions at the ROPRYAL Congress being conducted these days in Ufa.
The 200th birthday anniversary of Ivan Turgenev will be widely celebrated in November not only in Moscow, Paris and Baden-Baden. Lebedyan, Shchigry and Topki, as well as other towns and villages of the Oryol and Kursk Regions, famed by the writer in his Sketches from a Hunters Album, have been also preparing for the celebration. Lots of things have changed in these parts, which Turgenev scholars and huntsmen from the Oryol Region call Turgenevian woodland, but hunting is still excellent.
The multi-move combination aiming to eliminate Russian language from all areas of formal and social life is still under way in Ukraine: on September 10 the Chief Scientific Expert Department (CSED) of Verkhovnaya Rada (the Parliament of Ukraine) issued an opinion about feasibility to pass the bill On support of Ukrainian as the state language, draft of which was introduced last year, on June 9.
The delegation from Russia took part in the chimney sweeps parade in an Italian town of Santa Maria Maggiore, where thousands of masters from 28 countries of the world came together for the event. Russian chimney-sweeps school is considered to be relatively new comparing to a number of European countries; nevertheless Russian chimney sweeps are believed to be among the worlds best ones.
75 years ago the Battle of Kursk was completed after 2 months of tireless WW2 battle on the ground and in the air. Four million people from the both sides have taken part in it. It was the largest tank warfare in recorded history of World War 2. Let's look at it through the eyes of the young German soldier. The novel is written by French author Guy Sajer as a personal narrative of his experiences as a German soldier on the Eastern Front as a part of the Great Germany division. Following his memoirs, the terror of Soviet artillery was one of the worst experiences of the war.
Tom Sawyer Fest has been around for three years now, and last August it changed its status to the international one. Foreigners from France, Finland, Italy, Taiwan and Malaysia came to Russia to work on restoration of historic environment. International name was of help, believes Andrey Kochetkov, the festivals mastermind, a historian, an urbanist, and a journalist.
Special dinner in celebration of 200th birthday anniversary of Ivan Turgenev to be held on behalf of the Lord Mayor (Oberbürgermeister) of Baden-Baden, and the mayor of the commune of Bougival will open commemorations of the writer conducted near Paris. For three days Sorbonne and Sénat de la France in Paris will accommodate Turgenev scholars from all over the world.