Fyodor Dostoevsky’s “A Faint Heart” (1848) is a short story about two close friends, Arkady Ivanovitch Nefedevitch and Vasya Shumkov. After a lengthy rumination on their names, Dostoevsky recounts the tale of how one of them is so overwhelmed by his good fortunate and happiness that he becomes consumed by it. The prospect of marrying his sweetheart brings him such euphoric joy that he experiences a masochistic transformation because the world wasn’t equally happy. So he ends up in an institution and his bride-to-be marries another.
“A Faint Heart” demonstrates Dostoevsky’s psychological insight into the phenomena of self-sabotage and self-inflicted torment.