This is called "the eternal husband" but it's told from the point of view of the "eternal bachelor". In fact the novel opens with him, so right away we know it's really his story and not the eternal husband's. The title could be "what the eternal husband did to the eternal bachelor one hot Petersburg summer". (Strange, one doesn't think of St Petersburg as having hot summers...)But boy is this one hot! With tempers and passions, turmoils and paranoias!The eternal husband is that man who is born to be a husband, born to stay by his wife's side, even if she betrays him (which this one does, with our eternal bachelor, among others). (And born to become husband to another, should the first wife be no longer there...)The eternal bachelor is of course the man who never marries.What happens when the wife of the eternal husband dies, and the eternal husband seeks out the eternal bachelor who was once his wife's lover (does he know, or not?)That's our story, and it's a modern one, despite having been written in 1871 (in an introduction Alberto Moravia goes so far as to say that it's a typical 20th century comic novel, -- and therefore ahead of its time --, as opposed to the typical 19th century "pathetic" novel). Who says old novels can't speak to our day? (maybe no one, but I definitely hear talk of needing new forms because we live in a new and different age).There are no cars, no phones, no internet in this book (or forms that speak to those technologies), but it has people, (i.e. us), and people are the same time ever after.