Friday, October 27, 2006

Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk – holiday reading post I

After reading a slim Tolstoy novel I thought it a good idea to squeeze in this short novella by Nikolai Leskov another Russian writer.

The introduction explains that for some reason Leskov is not as well known in the West as other writers, which is a shame because he has a number of good works to his name, and as a result this is a largely unknown work. It also explains that he was not the first to introduce a Shakespearian character into Russian, but the idea of a Macbeth type figure set in a bleak Russian landscape works well according to critics cited in the intro.

Highlights from the first half of the book – chapters 1 - 8

* The story is essentially about a woman, Katerina Lvovna who is married to a merchant double her age and lives in a house with her husband and father-in-law but she is bored and when they are absent for a time repairing a mill she comes under the attention of the steward Sergei Filipych

* They start having an affair and when discovered by the father-in-law, who has returned alone from the Mill operation, Katerina kills him and buries him before her husband gets home

* She then becomes more blatant with Sergei and starts to dream about a cat, which turns out to be the ghost of the father-in-law, which wakes her one night just before her husband returns unexpectedly

* The couple argue and she introduces her lover and then between them they finish him off with a crushed windpipe and a candlestick to the head and then bury him in the cellar

Will they be caught and who is the next victim? Find out tomorrow…

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