Fyodor Dostoevsky: a Glimpse at the Life of a Genius (Part 2)

An Ordeal Called Apollinaria

“Beauty is mysterious as well as terrible. God and devil are fighting there, and the battlefield is the heart of man.” F.Dostoevsky

While being married to Maria Isaeva, Dostoevsky got involved into an affair with Apollinaria Suslova, a woman who was two dozen years younger than him. They met at a public reading of his book in St.Petersburg, where Dostoevsky resided then. She was a thin, graceful twenty-two-year-old beauty with blue eyes and a thick mass of gorgeous red hair: she was a perfect, fresh, blossoming flower, which he could not pass by. Soon, Dostoevsky was pleased to find out that he was the first one to pick it up…


She turned out to be an eccentric, whimsical girl, but with her the writer climbed to the heights of passion which he had not known before. He could hardly retain enough reason not to succumb to her calls to leave his dying wife. Being continuously torn by internal contradictions, Dostoevsky actually lived in two worlds of torturing himself and torturing the others.


Finally, they decided to take a trip abroad… secretly, of course. Apollinaria was the first to leave, but when Dostoevsky finally managed to join her, she made a confession: she had fallen in love with another man. He continued trying to conquer her back for quite a long time since then, not realizing that suffering had become quite a delight. After Maria’s death, he called Apollinaria to return to St.Petersburg. He tried to dull his pain in the arms of another charming girl, a twenty-year-old Anna Korvin-Krukovskaya of a noble family. Nothing worked! Apollinaria magnetized the writer, his heart remained with her.

He came to visit her after two years of separation, but he did not find the Apollinaria he had known before. She became cold, haughty, and whenever they gave moments of intimacy, she gave herself to him with undisguised contempt. It was then when he lost a whole fortune at roulette in Baden-Baden. This epizode of his life was reflected in the novel “Игрок” (The Gambler).

In the spring of 1866, Apollinaria left the capital for country life in her brother’s home, and Dostoevsky never happened to meet her again. She died in 1918 – the same year and at the same sea coast where died the second wife of the writer.


Please, read the third part in my next post.

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