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Milán Füst: A feleségem története (The Story of My Wife)

As Captain Störr tells us at the beginning of this book, he believes his French wife, Lizzy, to be unfaithful. The beauty of this book is that we see everything from the Captain’s perspective and yet see fairly clearly that a) he is the one that has been unfaithful and b) that it seems likely that his wife is devoted to him and has never been unfaithful. The Captain has been a happy bachelor but then, after a stomach illness from which he does not properly recover, his doctor recommends, as a cure, women. He takes an entirely misogynistic view and succumbs to Lizzy, whom he eventually marries but clearly treats badly. From that point on, things go wrong. He is sure that his wife is being unfaithful and obsesses about it. He spies on her, checks with the maid, is suspicious of her outings, of her purchases and, of course, of every man who comes close to her. Yet, all the while, he himself is being unfaithful to her, but sees no wrong in this at all. What is even more interesting is that the glimpses that we do get of her real behaviour, e.g. the maid’s testimony and the testimony of her reputed lovers, suggest that Lizzy has been entirely faithful. Füst’s gift is to show not just the overwhelming arrogance of the Captain but how he is clearly totally unaware of his own irrational and hypocritical behaviour. Indeed, he continues to consider himself an innocent victim till the end of the book, long after Lizzy has died of pneumonia in a Barcelona hospital. The Story of My Misguided Life might well be a more accurate title.

Publishing history

First published in Hungarian 1942 by Regény
First published in English 1987 by Jonathan Cape
Translated by Ivan Sanders