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Anya Kovalchuk

by Taber, Clarence Wilbur

First Edition

Price: $100.00
from: ReadInk

  • Seller Inventory #: 25741
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Book condition: Very Good-
  • Edition: First Edition
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: Covici-McGee Co.
  • Place: Chicago
  • Date published: 1923
  • Keywords: Marriage, Jealousy, Adultery, Chicago, Fiction: Vintage, Psychological Fiction

Chicago: Covici-McGee Co.. Very Good-. 1923. First Edition. Hardcover. (no dust jacket) [moderately worn copy, bumping/fraying at several corners, soiling to cloth near base of spine, rather a bad tear in the page preceding the first page of the text; vintage bookseller's label (Fanny Butcher Books, Chicago) on rear pastedown, another rubber-stamped bookseller's name on front pastedown (Bertrand Smith's Book Store, Long Beach. California)]. Very uncommon novel, set in Chicago, about a war widow whose writer-husband had been killed in action in October 1918, and whose psychological and emotional life subsequently seems to have been almost exclusively devoted to obsessing over his long-ago affair with a Russian immigrant woman named Anya Kovalchuk, and its repercussions for their marriage -- or, more precisely, for her memory of their marriage. If there's such a genre as "Freudian fiction," this novel would be a prime example: the book actually begins with the wife, Jean MacDonald, in hospital suffering from some unspecified "delirium," and attended by a young nurse named Madeleine, who subsequently (upon the lady's recovery and release) becomes Mrs. MacDonald's live-in companion and confidante -- and who, in a soap-opera-worthy plot twist, is eventually revealed to be none other than the daughter of the aforementioned mistress. (Madeleine also works in a book store, and part of the plot involves Jean looking for clues to her own psychological distress in a novel written by her dead husband, posthumously published under a pseudonym; don't ask me to explain this.) Anya Kovalchuk herself (conveniently still living right there in Chicago) comes into the story later on; eventually Madeleine reveals her parentage, and the plot machinations all churn towards a climactic meeting between Jean and Anya. What's kind of fascinating, though, is that after the conclusion of the story proper, along comes a three-page "Publisher's Addendum," purportedly tacked on "at the request of the author," to explain the "psychological history of Jean MacDonald"; this consists of excerpts from an address supposedly delivered to the American Medical Association, under the title "The Freudian Complex and Its Release," by an eminent doctor who just happens to be a prominent character in the book's narrative -- and which we learn, among other things, that the whole tale had been extracted by this doctor from Mrs. MacDonald's somnambulistic "twilight states," and that two of its primary characters were entirely figments of her imagination! The author was a Chicago businessman, editor and publisher, whose greatest success was as the author of "Taber's Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary," originally published in 1940 and still in print today, in its 23rd edition (or maybe its 24th, by the time you're reading this). This was apparently his only published work as a novelist -- and given his long interest in medical literature (predating even this book by many years), you have to wonder if he wasn't "novelizing" an actual case history here. .