Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Lunchtime read: The Steppe and Other Stories

The story, and the collection of short stories, ends with the steppe again the main backdrop to a terrific storm that darkens the sky and turns the normal in a lightning illuminated horror show. Just like the storms that Joseph Conrad describes out at sea the sky turns black long before the rain comes. At the end of the storm Yegorushka has gone through some sort of illness but also changed in terms of becoming more grown up and is able to start his new life – he has no choice – far away from home.

Highlights from pages 115 – 148
Dymov apologies to Yegorushka and the travellers get ready to set off but the sky darkens and the experienced waggoners get ready for a storm. They pass Yegorushka a mat to keep the rain off but the young boy is terrified as the lightning illuminates strange outlines and those who were one minute before within earshot are now drowned out by the thunder and then the rain. By the time they reach the village where his Uncle and Father Christopher are waiting he is very ill. It is the priest rather than is uncle who looks after him and the next day he is well enough to be taken to his aunt’s house to be left to start his new life at school. The young boy chases after his uncle and the priest when they leave but they are gone and he is left alone to wonder what his new life will hold.

The steppe serves as the backdrop to Yegorushka growing up coming into contact with peasants, understanding that he is being separated from his mother and learning about the priorities that those with money have not just his uncle but also the rich merchants who operate in the area.

A review will follow shortly…

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