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The Captain's Daughter and Other Stories (Vintage Classics)

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TABLE OF CONTENTS: The Captain's Daughter, The Tales of Belkin, The Shot, The Snowstorm, The Undertaker, The Postmaster, Mistress Into Maid, The Queen of Spades, Kirdjali, The Negro of Peter the Great


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TABLE OF CONTENTS: The Captain's Daughter, The Tales of Belkin, The Shot, The Snowstorm, The Undertaker, The Postmaster, Mistress Into Maid, The Queen of Spades, Kirdjali, The Negro of Peter the Great

30 review for The Captain's Daughter and Other Stories (Vintage Classics)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Frankie

    I already read these stories in The Complete Prose Tales of Alexandr Sergeyevitch Pushkin, but wanted to reread Pushkin's prose in a more recent translation. This volume includes Duddington and Keane translations which are somewhat less formal in diction and easier to read. "The Captain's Daughter" is a little heavily theatrical, which is understandable when you know Pushkin and the bildungsroman style. Its strength lies in its historic and journalistic merit. Like Tolstoy's account of The War o I already read these stories in The Complete Prose Tales of Alexandr Sergeyevitch Pushkin, but wanted to reread Pushkin's prose in a more recent translation. This volume includes Duddington and Keane translations which are somewhat less formal in diction and easier to read. "The Captain's Daughter" is a little heavily theatrical, which is understandable when you know Pushkin and the bildungsroman style. Its strength lies in its historic and journalistic merit. Like Tolstoy's account of The War of 1812 in War and Peace, Pushkin covers the Pugachev Rebellion admirably well. The five stories "of Belkin" are interesting and quaint but not very well-developed or unique. One thing I did enjoy about them was the narrator's setup introduction by witnesses and letters. Later writers would learn to follow this type of indirect narration to protect themselves from the censors. "Kirdjali" is a related bit of folklore on par with the book of Judges in the Bible, but was too brief to pull in the reader. "The Queen of Spades", as I felt on my first reading, is my favorite of Pushkin's prose. The characters of Hermann and the old Countess are believable and unique, and pitched against one another perfectly. It employs the theme of mysticism using both gambling and ghosts, without much need for exposition. Finally, the unfinished "The Negro of Peter the Great" (my elder copy had translated the title "The Moor…" which is perhaps more diplomatic, but evokes Shakespeare's Othello) contains a strong plot, and it's a shame it doesn't continue after its 41 pages. I have some doubts about the gilded czar that Pushkin makes of Peter. However, the early days of Petersburg make for a fascinating setting, and the contrasting Paris vs. Petersburg culture clashes set this story on an epic scale.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Roberto

    Una clásica, en el mejor de los sentidos del término, novela de aventuras sin el artificio experimental de la narrativa del siglo XX. Quizá no sea una característica meritoria, ni defectuosa, pero se agradece. La sencillez en los planteamientos, el desarrollo lineal de los acontecimientos, la exaltación de valores como el honor, la caballerosidad, la fidelidad, el cumplimiento de la palabra dada, el esfuerzo, la entrega,... en la que el amor no es el menor de los acicates de los personajes hacen Una clásica, en el mejor de los sentidos del término, novela de aventuras sin el artificio experimental de la narrativa del siglo XX. Quizá no sea una característica meritoria, ni defectuosa, pero se agradece. La sencillez en los planteamientos, el desarrollo lineal de los acontecimientos, la exaltación de valores como el honor, la caballerosidad, la fidelidad, el cumplimiento de la palabra dada, el esfuerzo, la entrega,... en la que el amor no es el menor de los acicates de los personajes hacen de "La novia del capitán" una novela romántica. Tan alejados como estamos en el siglo XXI de ese mundo y sus valores, el estilo de Pushkin y su fluidez narrativa modelan una obra muy atractiva. Comprendo que tantos escritores rusos hayan visto en Pushkin a un maestro, al maestro de la lengua rusa.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Yair Ben-Zvi

    A fantastic collection of moving and inspiring short works by one of the masters of Russian fiction. I loved this book and recommend it highly. The austerity of the text, its rigid and unrelenting strictness in its adherence to realisim and a 'no frills' style of writing (the details and descriptions are certainly sparse and spartan but certainly contribute much to the atmosphere, depicting a Russia straddling the line between aristocratic decadence and barbarous severity) can be off putting and A fantastic collection of moving and inspiring short works by one of the masters of Russian fiction. I loved this book and recommend it highly. The austerity of the text, its rigid and unrelenting strictness in its adherence to realisim and a 'no frills' style of writing (the details and descriptions are certainly sparse and spartan but certainly contribute much to the atmosphere, depicting a Russia straddling the line between aristocratic decadence and barbarous severity) can be off putting and admittedly a bit boring and a slog to get through. But Pushkin's stories always pay off wonderfully with nods to the unknown (Queen of Spades and its dark arts touches) and realistic portrayals of men and women in a certain time and certain place, yet like the greatest of writers, speaking to anyone, anywhere. It's a more than worthy journey to see yourself to the end of this great collection.

  4. 5 out of 5

    emere

    Desde el dibujo de la familia rusa, la imagen del lugar y las personalidades mostradas, todo es delicioso. Puedopercibir las cosas, para mi, más importantes sobre este libro: ~Refleja la austeridad y los golpes, estragos y dificultadesprovocadas por una guerra civil basada en ideales que no cambian el orden en el poder. ~Proyecta la visión y representación del ideal de un niño en medio de una crisis, mientras forja una identidad, atravesando por un sube y baja mostrado como el primer acercamiento a Desde el dibujo de la familia rusa, la imagen del lugar y las personalidades mostradas, todo es delicioso. Puedopercibir las cosas, para mi, más importantes sobre este libro: ~Refleja la austeridad y los golpes, estragos y dificultadesprovocadas por una guerra civil basada en ideales que no cambian el orden en el poder. ~Proyecta la visión y representación del ideal de un niño en medio de una crisis, mientras forja una identidad, atravesando por un sube y baja mostrado como el primer acercamiento a la adultez. ~Ruptura en el ideal y la moral rusa en turno, mostrando la lucha entre la decisión y el destino del protagonista. ~El libro está escrito a modo de una plática y de hecho es técnicamente una especie de diario. ~Muestra al antagonista como un "malo" con cualidades heróicas, como un libertario en pro de ideas de cambio a una sociedad rusaestanca, por lo tanto este antagonista rsulta ser más bien un "soplo de aire fresco" en tiempos de fingida e inamovible paz. ~¿Dónde empieza la adultez? Se es demasiado pequeño para tomar decisiones y demasiado grande paa ser mimado o cuidado. El proceso de madurez como algo inevitable. ~La bondad y la benevolencia en todo sentido no necesita ser arbitrario: Eso es la ética. ~Se ve a la figura femenina como unareprsentación de poder y fuerza, simultáneamente de cuidados y delicada. ~Muestra a personajes que pesar de intentar un cambio, están ética y moralmente tranquilos, y sus ideales o situaciones encajan perfectamente con el clima que se está viviendo en el momento.Es como si estuvieran hechos para la circunstancia. ~Se hace lo necesario en nombre del amor, y por tratarse de amor, no carece de moral. ~Las deudas de honor son por toda la vida e incondicionales. -Atreverse es igual de importante que no hacerlo, pero ehacerlo es más divertido, es inseguro y más satisfactorio. <3 <3 <3

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sladuna

    Невероятна класика!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Yuu Sasih

    A present from kak Ayu Adisty. She mistook me as a Pushkin's fan--when I am actually a Dostoevsky's fan--and gave me this book (along with a Dostoevsky, of course). Read this first because I'm curious about Pushkin. His name rarely mentioned than other classic-Russian writers (like Gogol, Dostoevsky or Tolstoy. OR Tolstoy) but he was mentioned as the Father of Russian literature, the one who shaped Russian literature, so I'm all perked up. This book contained six stories: The Captain's Daughter, A present from kak Ayu Adisty. She mistook me as a Pushkin's fan--when I am actually a Dostoevsky's fan--and gave me this book (along with a Dostoevsky, of course). Read this first because I'm curious about Pushkin. His name rarely mentioned than other classic-Russian writers (like Gogol, Dostoevsky or Tolstoy. OR Tolstoy) but he was mentioned as the Father of Russian literature, the one who shaped Russian literature, so I'm all perked up. This book contained six stories: The Captain's Daughter, The Queen of Spades, Dubrovsky, Peter The Great's Negro, The Station-Master and The Snowstorm. From all of them I enjoy the last work the most, The Snowstorm, and then Dubrovsky. The Snowstorm because its twist, Dubrovsky because Pushkin bravely give such an unsatisfying ending for Dubrovsky's fate--it's not even good OR bad. Pushkin's writing is simple and easy to understand, unlike many classics with their seemingly confusing string of words. Reading Pushkin's as easy as reading any popular novel nowadays, and it's really engaging. I don't even feel bored reading his stories despite the simpleness. There're something charming and romantic in his writing. And I fall in love! Now I'm also Pushkin's fan! Thank you for giving me this book, kak Ayu!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Leah

    Pushkin, of course, is the master of Russian literature. While Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, etc, are more well-recognized in the West as 'seminal figures' of Russian literature, it is Pushkin who truly embodies Russian storytelling. The translation of "The Captain's Daughter" (a novella, 140 pp) was excellent. Were this collection rated on the novella alone, it would easily get five stars. However, the rest of the stories in the collection (about another 150 pp) suffered, unfortunately, from stilted and o Pushkin, of course, is the master of Russian literature. While Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, etc, are more well-recognized in the West as 'seminal figures' of Russian literature, it is Pushkin who truly embodies Russian storytelling. The translation of "The Captain's Daughter" (a novella, 140 pp) was excellent. Were this collection rated on the novella alone, it would easily get five stars. However, the rest of the stories in the collection (about another 150 pp) suffered, unfortunately, from stilted and occasionally confused translating. A shame, too, because Pushkin's stories are really meant to be simple and easily understood. Much like a Russian O. Henry, Pushkin generally thrives on the ironic. His storytelling is spartan: only the most basic details are provided, but each story is heartfelt, simple, and quite beautiful. There is a strong selection of stories in this collection, and overall, the storytelling is very good. The translation could be improved, but is fairly readable; it's a shame that the translation can bog down the flow of Pushkin's stories.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Bushra Zia

    Do you need a second opinion on this book? Visit and explore www.oceanpearlbooks.wordpress.com. OceanPearl Books endeavors to provide well-informed book reviews, business readings, parenting tips, and consulting services for our clients worldwide. And it's all for Free! OceanPearl Books - Book Review Pyotr is an army officer who rescues Masha from murder at the hands of an insurgent. A novel that spirals through young romance, violence, and a heroine’s willingness to survive. Pushkin entertains the Do you need a second opinion on this book? Visit and explore www.oceanpearlbooks.wordpress.com. OceanPearl Books endeavors to provide well-informed book reviews, business readings, parenting tips, and consulting services for our clients worldwide. And it's all for Free! OceanPearl Books - Book Review Pyotr is an army officer who rescues Masha from murder at the hands of an insurgent. A novel that spirals through young romance, violence, and a heroine’s willingness to survive. Pushkin entertains the reader with traditional romance. The book is available at https://www.amazon.com/Captains-Daugh....

  9. 5 out of 5

    Mark Jensen

    I don't know if all of Pushkin's works are like this, or maybe this is just a really accessible translation (Paul Debreczny) but this was quite entertaining and easy to read. Many Russian authors can be a bit of an effort to get through. The stories typically center around an aristocratic young man, often in the military service (though with a few exceptions they never seem to actually be on active duty) who get into adventures of one sort or another. A few of the stories seem to end abruptly; f I don't know if all of Pushkin's works are like this, or maybe this is just a really accessible translation (Paul Debreczny) but this was quite entertaining and easy to read. Many Russian authors can be a bit of an effort to get through. The stories typically center around an aristocratic young man, often in the military service (though with a few exceptions they never seem to actually be on active duty) who get into adventures of one sort or another. A few of the stories seem to end abruptly; for one of them I'm half convinced the ending somehow didn't get printed it was so abrupt and inconclusive. Nevertheless, an interesting read.

  10. 4 out of 5

    David C Ward

    Russian tales, some picaresque, others are character studies, and fhe Queen of Spades is a bit like one of Poe’s stories of obsession and the supernatural. Not bad but slightly nondescript compared to E Onegin, the novel in verse. The Captain’s Daughter, a love story set in the provinces during Pougachev’s rebellion, is kind of interminable (and has a sentimental ending) but the Queen of Spades is a pretty sharp ghost story about revenge. Is Russian literature more obsessed with gambling than in Russian tales, some picaresque, others are character studies, and fhe Queen of Spades is a bit like one of Poe’s stories of obsession and the supernatural. Not bad but slightly nondescript compared to E Onegin, the novel in verse. The Captain’s Daughter, a love story set in the provinces during Pougachev’s rebellion, is kind of interminable (and has a sentimental ending) but the Queen of Spades is a pretty sharp ghost story about revenge. Is Russian literature more obsessed with gambling than in other cultures? If so, why?

  11. 5 out of 5

    Gabrielle Daigle

    I’m not sure why I’ve never read Pushkin before, but I’m a fan now! I especially enjoyed how The Captain’s Daughter portrayed Pugachev’s Rebellion. It reminded me of Tolstoy. I wished the final story in this collection had been completed, but even so, I learned quite a bit about Russian history and enjoyed the story-telling anyway, so it’s a worthy inclusion. This translation is easy to read and I’d recommend it to anyone, slavophile or not.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Yersinia Pestis

    Il colpo di pistola (Выстрел, 1830) *** La dama di picche (Пиковая дама, 1834) **** La figlia del capitano (Капитанская дочка, 1836) **** L'Onegin non mi aveva fatta impazzire, invece questi racconti mi sono piaciuti talmente tanto che ho comprato il teatro breve

  13. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. The short version: anyone who likes Dostoevsky and Tolstoy literature should read the Captain's Daughter by Pushkin, as it is the best justification I've come across for his status as the father of Russian fiction. The long version: This isn't a review of Pushkin's Eugene Onegin, but I think it's a good idea to explain how my thoughts about the Captain's Daughter come from the former. At times I feel I've read more about Pushkin than I've read of his actual work. Aside from the recent addition of t The short version: anyone who likes Dostoevsky and Tolstoy literature should read the Captain's Daughter by Pushkin, as it is the best justification I've come across for his status as the father of Russian fiction. The long version: This isn't a review of Pushkin's Eugene Onegin, but I think it's a good idea to explain how my thoughts about the Captain's Daughter come from the former. At times I feel I've read more about Pushkin than I've read of his actual work. Aside from the recent addition of the Captain's Daughter, my bookshelf only holds the Queen of Spades and Eugene Onegin; the former is too short to register an impression concomitant with Pushkin's literary stature, and the second a triumph of artifice over soul. Onegin is poetically fantastic (just you try writing a Pushkin sonnet) and can be very affecting, but is largely arch, centering on it does on a character who may be an empty assemblage of literary tropes who borders on parody. (Onegin is a sort of self-assembled Frankenstein built from the French literature popular in Russia at the time; while there is much pathos in Tatiana's yearning for him, it is hard to be moved by someone so personally bloodless. SPOILER--that Tatiana lives her life out in a passionless marriage doesn't really quicken the imagination either, though it does set up the later movements of Russian realism--none other than Fyodor Dostoevsky, among others, held Tatiana up as a sort of ideal Russian woman. END SPOILER). Anyway, the whole thing seems like a kind of literary bauble, and it is hard to be moved by something so soulless. Given the ennui of Eugene Onegin I was surprised to find that the Captain's Daughter was a bit more of a swashbuckling romance. It is the story of Pyotr, a young man sent off to the army by his father; Marya, the young woman who wins his heart; and Shvabrin, the jealous rival to their love (the interplay between the three reminded me of Oklahoma! of all things). The love triangle is bent and twisted any number of ways by Pugachev's revolt, an actual occurrence of the 1770s. (SPOILER ALERT). The plot is operatically simple and resolves with an ending that I imagine many modern readers will feel is forced: Shvabrin slanders Pyotr and says that he was complicit in the revolt; Pyotr refuses to explain the exact circumstances as he wants to protect his beloved Marya from facing a military judge; eventually Marya goes off to Petersburg and, in a scene like something out of a Julie Andrews movie, is able to convince Empress Catherine the Great to pardons Pyotr. If you said that this is clumsy or that it sounds like propaganda, you're probably right, but that doesn't mean it isn't art. END SPOILER) I think there is something very classical about the book, in the same way that many of Mozart's works are Classical. There is a sense of danger through the book, but no sense of impending tragedy. The drama of the work comes from the protagonist's fiery passion and love, but this love is accommodated by a just and wise ruler, and so the ultimate balance is kept and all ends well (it's worth saying here that Mozart's Sarastro is ultimately a sort of mythical embodiment of reason; to enshrine the Empress as the repository of wisdom and source of justice is a far different matter). But Pushkin rode the line between the classical and Romantic periods, and there is a good bit of fascination for the attractive rebel in the novella (just as there's an attraction for Don Giovanni in Mozart's opera). Pushkin dutifully treats the love between Pyotr and Marya, but is rather more affecting when he describes Pyotr's conflicting emotions about the rebels, many of whom were former comrades. His friendship with the Cossack Maxymich allows him to receive a crucial communication from Marya, and there is a sort of mutual respect between himself and Pugachev. Pugachev knows that his soldiers will desert him at the first loss and that he is doomed to lose his war, and yet he pursues it anyway. There is undeniable Romantic grandeur in the character who knows that he cannot succeed but struggles anyway, for that is who he is and he can be nothing else. That need to court doom is part and parcel to the later Russian works. Pushkin couldn't come out and say it, but he's got a good deal of sympathy for Pugachev, and without that you don't get Dostoevsky's underground man or Raskolnikov. It's not for nothing that they all revered him. (neither does this review mention Pushkin's use of Russian folk songs, or that he sets his story in rural Russian and not the capital, or number of tones that he employs through the story: the beginning sections about Pyotr's education sound almost like a sketch from Calvino's the Baron in the Trees, his journey to the fortress at Belogorsky sound almost like Mark Twain, and life at the outpost reminds one of Gogol; his relationship to Pugachev reminds one almost of Pip and the convict in Great Expectations. There's also some of Dickens'/Dostoevsky's dry wit in the book, as when one officer dilutes his tea with vodka. That all of these coexist within one 120 page story is a marvelous achievement, and helps me understand the status that Russians give to Pushkin).

  14. 4 out of 5

    Barak

    It seems Pushkin also wrote stories (after he got married), not just poems. These are not as great as his poems, but are still fun enough to read.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Fred

    Well-known Pushkin stories like "The Queen of Spades" and "The Snowstorm". Well worth reading.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Joel Mitchell

    I have never read anything by Pushkin before and was curious how he compared to other Russian authors, so I picked up this collection. There was quite a bit of variety from outlaw and soldier stories (reminiscent of Gogol’s Taras Bulba or Tolstoy’s Hadji Murad) to a slightly supernatural tale (The Queen of Spades – probably my favorite in the collection) to one with a nice twist at the end worthy of O Henry. Pushkin has a lot of the bleakness that I associate with Russian authors, but to a lesse I have never read anything by Pushkin before and was curious how he compared to other Russian authors, so I picked up this collection. There was quite a bit of variety from outlaw and soldier stories (reminiscent of Gogol’s Taras Bulba or Tolstoy’s Hadji Murad) to a slightly supernatural tale (The Queen of Spades – probably my favorite in the collection) to one with a nice twist at the end worthy of O Henry. Pushkin has a lot of the bleakness that I associate with Russian authors, but to a lesser degree. I’ll probably pick up more by him in the future.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Greg Hovanesian

    Alexander Pushkin was the People's Writer of the Russia. Checkov. Tolstoy. Dostoyevsky. All perhaps more polished, more scholarly, more regarded among educated types...but Pushkin was the man that was read by the people of Russia, and was regarded as the people's writer. Like other famous 19th century Russian writers, Pushkin was a fairly apolitical writer writing during a very political time. His stories are distinctively Russian: social customs, ethnic groups, the issues of Russian "backwardne Alexander Pushkin was the People's Writer of the Russia. Checkov. Tolstoy. Dostoyevsky. All perhaps more polished, more scholarly, more regarded among educated types...but Pushkin was the man that was read by the people of Russia, and was regarded as the people's writer. Like other famous 19th century Russian writers, Pushkin was a fairly apolitical writer writing during a very political time. His stories are distinctively Russian: social customs, ethnic groups, the issues of Russian "backwardness" and the social reforms of Peter the Great are all issues focused upon: things that are almost political, and can turn political with startling quickness, but are distinctively not political. Perhaps this is why he was barred from publishing at times and was constantly under watch by the Tsarist secret police. Most of the actual stories read like fairy tales: old stories that we've heard somewhere before, although perhaps we're not really sure as readers where we have heard them. It's nothing to worry about: the best thing to do is to sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride. To focus on plot points is to miss the point of Pushkin: his characters are the real treasure of his stories. As only some authors can do, he creates characters that jump off the page and talk to us. An endless array of ethnic groups cross the pages of his stories, and throughout every story their is a wild sense of humor that makes it safe to assume that Pushkin was a pretty fun guy to hang around with. The most important story of this collection, and the longest by far, is The Captain's Daughter, for which the collection is written. As this story is more of a novella than an actual short story, it has a little more time to spread out and develop. The story features several wonderful characters who interact with each throughout a long and interesting journey. This story in particular invokes the feeling of a J.R.R. Tolkien novel, particularly The Lord of the Rings trilogy. It reads like a fantasy novel and at times seems fairly surreal, despite that fact that nothing surreal is actually happening. I would be shocked if Tolkien at some point did not read Pushkin, and this story in particular. The Captain's Daughter novella also brings a certain movie to mind, or specifically a movie character. Salelyich, the faithful servant to Pyotr Andreyich, serves as a dead ringer for C-3PO, one of the two robots that accompanies Luke Skywalker in Star Wars. Usually the characters of C-3PO and R2D2 are assumed to be based mainly on two characters from The Hidden Fortress, a somewhat mediocre Akira Kurosawa film from 1958. George Lucas has said as much himself in interviews. But it seems impossible that Saleyich didn't serve as a at least a character base for C-3PO: The Hidden Fortress provided the idea for a comedic duo, and the neurotic and cautious personality of Salevich potentially provided a more precise idea of who C-3PO would be. Either way, these stories are pure reading pleasure. The endings are typically happy or bittersweet; there is nothing entirely tragic that happens. The old themes of fairly tales are forever present: do unto others as they would do unto you, etc, etc. Perhaps most interesting of all is the theme of duels; there are several duels spread out through the collection, and in real life he fought in at least 29 duels. He died at the age of 37 in a duel, after someone had made a pass on his wife. It can only be assumed that Pushkin himself lived a life similar to the characters in his stories, and had himself similar adventures from time to time.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    Brilliant little stories. I only want to say a few words about the Postmaster (Stationmaster), because the themes present here come up in Dostoyevsky's works (most notably in Poor Folk and to a lesser extent Notes from the Underground). The story is about a father who loses his daughter (she's either kidnapped or runs off voluntarily) and consequently drinks himself to death. On first reading the story I got caught up in his almost Learian anguish, but then I reconsidered the story from his daug Brilliant little stories. I only want to say a few words about the Postmaster (Stationmaster), because the themes present here come up in Dostoyevsky's works (most notably in Poor Folk and to a lesser extent Notes from the Underground). The story is about a father who loses his daughter (she's either kidnapped or runs off voluntarily) and consequently drinks himself to death. On first reading the story I got caught up in his almost Learian anguish, but then I reconsidered the story from his daughters perspective, and yeah, think about it when reading Dostoyevsky. The Captain's Daughter "Watch over your clothes while they are new, and over your honor while you are young." Mistress into Maid "Those of my readers who have never lived in the country, cannot imagine how charming these provincial young ladies are! Brought up in the pure air, under the shadow of their own apple trees, they derive their knowledge of the world and of life from books. Solitude, freedom, and reading develop very early within them sentiments and passions unknown to our town bred beauties. For the young ladies of the country the sound of harness bells is an event; a journey to the nearest town marks an epoch in their lives, and the visit of a guest leaves behind a long and sometimes everlasting memory." The Carriage "When you drove through the town, the sour expression with which the dirty little houses stared out into the street depressed you in a way that was difficult to convey: you felt as though you'd been cleaned out at cards or had made a terrible fool of yourself. In a word, you did not feel good." "You ran little risk of meeting anyone, except perhaps some rooster that happened to be crossing the street." "It is the creation of the mayor when he was still young, before he had taken to afternoon naps and drinking a concoction with dried gooseberries in it in the evenings." "The mayor, who was a reasonable man but who slept literally all day long-- from lunch to supper and from supper to lunch." "The mare's name was Agrafena Ivanova. She was strong and wild like a South-Russian beauty." "I myself, sir, am of the opinion that if one buys a thing it should be good, and if it is not good it is not worth the trouble of getting it." "The conversation was drawn out for a very, very long time. But it took rather a strange course. A landowner, who had been in the a army during the 1812 campaign against Napolean, told his listeners of a very hot engagement, so hot in fact that it had never taken place. And then, for completely unobvious reasons, he seized the stopper of the decanter and thrust it into the pie. In short, when the guests began to leave it was already close to three and the coachmen of certain personalities had to grab their masters as one grabs a package of groceries."

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ensiform

    All stories were translated by T. Keane but "The Captain's Daughter," which was translated by Natalie Duddington. The volume is in the Vintage Russian Library, and I was disappointed with the publishers' lack of effort. No introduction, no annotation, very few explanatory notes for the terms in the texts. The stories: "The Captain's Daughter," a tale of a young officer whose fate becomes linked with a rebel after a single act of kindness. He wins his lady love in the end. In the story, which is m All stories were translated by T. Keane but "The Captain's Daughter," which was translated by Natalie Duddington. The volume is in the Vintage Russian Library, and I was disappointed with the publishers' lack of effort. No introduction, no annotation, very few explanatory notes for the terms in the texts. The stories: "The Captain's Daughter," a tale of a young officer whose fate becomes linked with a rebel after a single act of kindness. He wins his lady love in the end. In the story, which is more of a novella (140 pgs), Pushkin gives a satirical account of the weakness of Russia's authority at the extremities of the empire, but he also seems strongly to advocate the continued oppression of the serfs, whom he depicts as almost inconsequential sheep-like people. Although the plot was wholly predictable, the tale was satisfying. The next stories are grouped as "The Tales of Belkin," supposedly written by one rather unimaginative I.P. Belkin. They are "The Shot," the tale of a duelist satisfied with merely frightening his lifelong adversary; "The Snowstorm," a tale of mistaken identity; "The Undertaker," who is visited by his dead clientele; "The Postmaster," which I read in 1994 as The Stationmaster and the point of which I fail to grasp (2); and "Mistress Into Maid," which tells of a young noble lady who dresses as a peasant to meet a certain noble man. None of these stories is surprising or very interesting to me, with the exception of "The Shot," which has a more complex plot than the others and contains more satisfyingly enigmatic characters. "The Queen of Spades," about a young engineer who tries to discover an old woman's secret for unfailingly winning at cards. Despite an odd beginning, this story moved along quite nicely, with a minor twist at the end which I did not guess beforehand. "Kirdjali," a very short story about a Bulgarian rebel who escapes his idiot captors with a paper-thin ruse and lives on to continue to bully towns. "The Negro of Peter the Great," which would be a great story except that it remains unfinished. It is therefore practically useless as fiction, in my opinion, worthy of attention only as a historical document (in which role it is interesting indeed). It's really too bad it's unfinished; I don't know why the editors included it in this volume of stories.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Dale Grauman

    Good storytelling. Could use some more editorial notes, as there are almost none. Here's what I learned about storytelling from this book: In "The Postmaster," Pushkin describes the titular character as "healthy and vigorous," but then two pages later--after a few years have passed--the postmaster is now "a feeble old man." So an attentive reader will guess that something is wrong. We don't know what, yet, but we can make some guesses. At any rate, we should be able to see that the postmaster is Good storytelling. Could use some more editorial notes, as there are almost none. Here's what I learned about storytelling from this book: In "The Postmaster," Pushkin describes the titular character as "healthy and vigorous," but then two pages later--after a few years have passed--the postmaster is now "a feeble old man." So an attentive reader will guess that something is wrong. We don't know what, yet, but we can make some guesses. At any rate, we should be able to see that the postmaster is withered by grief or worry or something. But Pushkin doesn't require us to be particularly attentive here. He includes a simple, elegant reminder of what we should have already noticed: the narrator notices for us. The narrator expresses astonishment that "three or four years had been able to transform a vigorous individual into a feeble old man." Having the narrator notice the postman's transformation like this helps the reader to pick up on a telling detail, and yet Pushkin doesn't necessarily "baby" the reader. The narrator doesn't belabor this detail, and neither does he interpret it for us. He just notices it, and therefore so do we. The last story in this collection--"The Negro of Peter the Great"--is unfinished, and that's a shame, because had it been finished it may have been the best of the bunch. The cover and spine are really cool looking--looks great on a shelf. The cover illustration and the title font both look like something out of Rocky and Bullwinkle. (I'm sure there's a word for that aesthetic, but I'm not sure what it is.)

  21. 4 out of 5

    K.

    I read the first and largest selection, "The Captain's Daughter" and absolutely loved it. It was all of the things I enjoy about Russian writing. Had to put it down before getting to the rest of the stories, but will surely come back at some point. ---- Finished. Most excellent fun. Favorite line of entire book (from "The Snowstorm"--great story, btw): (162) "Marya Gavrilovna had been brought up on French novels, and consequently was in love." Nothing heavy or profound, but I sure love to dip into I read the first and largest selection, "The Captain's Daughter" and absolutely loved it. It was all of the things I enjoy about Russian writing. Had to put it down before getting to the rest of the stories, but will surely come back at some point. ---- Finished. Most excellent fun. Favorite line of entire book (from "The Snowstorm"--great story, btw): (162) "Marya Gavrilovna had been brought up on French novels, and consequently was in love." Nothing heavy or profound, but I sure love to dip into Russian culture every now and then. Only drawback. The unfinished last story. Seriously cuts off practically mid-sentence. I don't know why it was included, it's not like some unfinished things I've read where you can kind of tell where it's going. Just a dead end. Too bad.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Alicia

    I ended up really liking this book of Russian short stories, but since it took me over a year to get through it I'll just give it 3 stars. I get confused in Russian books by all the people with the same names and all the nicknames for one person (Ivan, Andrushka, etc). I still like English, French and American literature better than Russian literature, but I am trying to branch out a little. =) I enjoyed Pushkin's stories about romance and intrigue ("The Snowstorm" and "Mistress into Maid") but I ended up really liking this book of Russian short stories, but since it took me over a year to get through it I'll just give it 3 stars. I get confused in Russian books by all the people with the same names and all the nicknames for one person (Ivan, Andrushka, etc). I still like English, French and American literature better than Russian literature, but I am trying to branch out a little. =) I enjoyed Pushkin's stories about romance and intrigue ("The Snowstorm" and "Mistress into Maid") but wasn't as interested in the gambling and drinking stories. This is a great introduction to Pushkin (and great translating). pg. 137: "That evening lives in my memory to this day. I was happy, completely happy -- and are there many such moments in poor human life?"

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    Pushkin has loomed larger in my reading experience, because he has been been a huge influence on so many of the Russian writers I love. I have not yet read Eugene Onegin, and I plan to do so. While I loved the writing on a sentence-to-sentence level, and the world-building, I felt structurally many of these stories were almost eye-rolling, O Henry-style. The last story in this book, the unfinished "The Negro of Peter the Great" was the most interesting, with the titular The Captain's Daughter co Pushkin has loomed larger in my reading experience, because he has been been a huge influence on so many of the Russian writers I love. I have not yet read Eugene Onegin, and I plan to do so. While I loved the writing on a sentence-to-sentence level, and the world-building, I felt structurally many of these stories were almost eye-rolling, O Henry-style. The last story in this book, the unfinished "The Negro of Peter the Great" was the most interesting, with the titular The Captain's Daughter coming in second. The stories in between were mostly just readable but strange, plot-twisty one-offs. Didn't even seem Pushkin was trying that hard. Yes, as I write this, that's what was bothering me: it was the feeling of an insanely talented writer not trying very hard.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Sean Kottke

    I picked this up to fill a gap in my Russian literary knowledge, in anticipation of visiting Saint Petersburg this summer, where there are many memorials to Pushkin. I guess I'll need to read more of his poetic and dramatic works - or better translations - to better understand why he's so revered among Russians. Many of the stories here just rambled on, with some choice moments of insight, but not particularly tight storytelling. Mostly bored me.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Travis Gallagher

    This book was very good. I focused on a Russian Army officer who is part of a amry. The army is overcome by a rebellion but the leader of the revolt always him to live. Later on the officer has to come back to the leader in order to meet the love of his life. What made this book so good was that it showed that even though people have different beliefs, ideas, upbringings, or customs everyone is always capable of being a good person.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Joshua Powell

    The title story on its own deserves five stars, it's brilliant. The remaining stories are still good but I suspect have been hindered by the translation (the translator for the "other stories" in this collection is not the same as with the captains daughter). The clarity and subtle emotional gravity that I've come to associate with Pushkin seems suddenly absent. At some point I'll try on another translation of these since I feel I'm missing out on something here.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Amy Bradley

    A so-so collection of stories. The stories themselves are not at fault, but the language is somewhat stilted - possibly another translation might yield a more pleasant reading experience, although it might be also the writing style of the original. The Snowstorm and The Undertaker were the best of the bunch. The Negro of Peter the Great is noted as unfinished -- and is literally unfinished, stopping mid story, without resolution.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Christine

    Pushkin is considered to be the father of Russian literature; thus he deserves to be read if for no other reason. The stories in this volume are interesting because they provide a look into early 19th century Russia. Further, one of the stories is the story of Pushkin's great-grandfather, a Black man befriended by the czar himself.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Margarita

    Although the plot may appear old-fashioned, it is a wonderful lyrical tale about a young soldier who is sent to a remote village, where he meets and falls in love with the daughter of the local post office commander, Masha. The narrative is enriched by its historic background, which was set during the the time of Pugachev's cossack rebellion.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Helena R-D

    It is a very good book in that it portrays Russian realism and was the first to do so. Pushkin's writing is amazing and he's very clear and evocative in his words. The descriptions of the home lives and the battle fields are amazing and I do recommend this book to anyone that wants to get some Russian literature started. His works are easier to get into and very accessible.

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