Lunchtime read: The Tales of Ivan Belkin

There is a great introduction to this where Pushkin describes the short life of Ivan Belkin via a neighbour who describes him as being an ex solider who through a combination of laziness and weakness allow his peasants on his estate to run rings round him and he eventually dies at the age of 30 leaving just a few pages of an unfinished novel that form the basis of the stories

The Shot
The story evolves around an ex officer, Silvio, who spends his spare time in and around entertaining people from the regiment shooting his pistol. Silvio is an ace shot so when he is insulted by a new comer everyone expects a duel that will end in the life of the fresh entrant to the regiment. But there is no duel and then after receiving a letter Silvio gets ready to leave telling Belkin that he is going to revenge himself on someone who hit him in the face six years before. Five years pass and Belkin meets the count and his wife who are vesting their estate in his village and it turns out to be the man Silvio intended to kill but decided against it after accepting that he had made his rival fear death, which is revenge enough.

A cracking little story that despite the morbid content makes you appreciate just what Pushkin was doing bringing in the mannerisms and speech of solders and counts in a way that had not be done before.

More tomorrow…

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