November 6, 2009

The top ten novels of sexual jealousy


‘Tis the season of “Top 10” lists and here’s another to add to our collection: from the Guardian, Howard Jacobson’s list of the “Top 10 Novels of Sexual Jealousy.”  Which of our books made the list?  None other than Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Eternal Husband, a proud member of our “Art of the Novella” series.  Why did the book make Jacobson’s list, in the esteemed company of Jane Austen‘s Persuasion, Shakespeare‘s Othello and Saul Bellow‘s Herzog?  Well, because it’s a “spooky story of a man who cannot tear himself away from the company of his wife’s former lover. [And] Pinteresque in that you never know who’s doing what to whom and which character is causing the other the greater sexual discomfort.”

Doesn’t that just make you want to grab a copy and curl up on the couch for several hours of stomach-turning and heart-wrenching agony that you nonetheless can’t put down?

Answer: yes.

And, you must want to know, why did Jacobson take it upon himself to draw up this essential list (besides the fact that it is the same subject matter that has fueled his own novels)?  “Tales of innocence and wonderment leave me cold. Black obsessiveness is what the novel does best. And jealousy is its natural domain.”

I couldn’t agree more.