Sunday, January 27, 2019

Cain by Aleksandr I. Kuprin Review

The short story "Cain" by Russian writer Aleksandr I. Kuprin could be referred to as a genre of moral stories. The main idea here may be related to the Bible's commandment "Thou shall not kill".

The story is about the Captain Markof who was sent by the government to seize a and execute rebels. During the dinner before the execution, "the soldiers cried "Hurrah!" sang songs and danced, but their faces wore a look of stony indifference."

The next day they shot without delay all suspected persons and all those who had no passports. That evening on December 31 after such cruel work the captain Markof had a rest in a room on the half-ruined farm. The sergeant came into the room with a report about the deals that should be done. Finally, he asked what they should do with three locals captured that day. "Shoot them at dawn," interrupted the captain sharply. But sergeant didn't leave the room. He fidgeted from one foot to another, and then said suddenly, with a determined resolution, "the soldiers want to know ... what's to be done with ... the old man?". "Get out!" shouted the captain with sudden anger. The sergeant left the room. The captain remained alone with his thoughts and his sickness. He was ill. He kept the pain inside not showing it to soldiers.

The next morning the three men were brought before Markof and he declared with cynically-eloquent gestures that they would be dealt with as spies. The faces of two of them became pale, but "the old man had only laughed with a certain strange expression of weariness, indifference, and even ... even as it were of gentle condescending compassion towards the captain himself".

The captain returned back to his room. He sat on the bed alone, he was ill, he felt bad. Suddenly he saw a dark figure of the old man in the room. He wasn't a coward but he started up suddenly in mortal terror. He heard the voice, the sound seemed familiar with him. Markof had occasionally heard such voices behind him, voices without color or expression, calling him by his own name.

The author presents in the conversation between Markof and old man, his thoughts about morality, about the history of civilizations. Aleksandr Kuprin put into discussion some difficult questions people face during their lives. The author makes reference to the history of civilizations, he expresses his opinion about restricted time for all social creations.

Eventually, the captain got a report that his order to execute the old man was fulfilled. Markof revealed how ill he was. He said to the sergeant: "That's it, brother ...You must take the command in my place. I ... I ... 'm absolutely tormented by this cursed fever.... And —perhaps—perhaps I may soon be entirely at rest." The author didn't make a conclusion about good and bad, he didn't judge people, he left it for themselves.

This is a link to the text of the story:

Sunday, January 20, 2019

On the Gull's Road by Willa Cathr Review

The reader who starts reading the short story 'On the Gull's Road' written by Willa Cather will probably be impressed by the excellent writing style of this author. Basically, it is a story of love told by the narrator. Twenty years ago he had a journey on a cruise ship from Genoa to New York City.

A recollection of the time he had during the meetings on the ship's deck with a young married woman was kept in his memory forever. They talked about traveling, about Italian cities which they were floating through, and about the places where they had come which were very remarkable. The text creates the feeling for readers of being there; a kind of "effect of presence".

The story doesn't have a happy ending. It left readers with a feeling of nostalgia and, in some cases, recalled the past love: romantic and sincere.

This is a link to the text of the story:

Sunday, January 13, 2019

The Invalid’s Story by Mark Twain Review

The main idea of "The Invalid’s Story" by Mark Twain is the power of imagination.

According to the plot, the narrator had to transport the body of his friend who died a day before. The coffin was mistakenly replaced by a box of guns, which was intended to be shipped to a rifle company in Illinois.

As the train moved off, a stranger put a piece of Limburger cheese on the box. Nor the narrator nor the expressman (his name was Thompson) knew about the replacement of the boxes, they were sure that the corpse was inside.

Meanwhile, the expressman made up a tremendous fire in his stove and the Limburger cheese melted. The strong odor spread over the car. It was a smell of the cheese but nobody knew it, all were pretty sure that it was the smell of putrefaction. Thompson tried to suppress the smell by burning other staff such as chicken feathers, dried apples, tobacco leaves, rags and old shoes and so on. The smell became unbearable.

The narrator and Thompson tried to catch some fresh air but because of the cold weather (it was winter), it wasn't a good idea. Finally, the narrator got a fever. Unconscious, he spent many days in the hospital, and only after losing his health, being already an invalid, he knew that instead of the corpse there was a box of guns with him.

Mark Twain described the strength of self-suggestion in a humorous manner. This feature of human character is universal and it makes the story quite enlightening.

Here is the link to the text of the story:

It is the link to the audio:

Sunday, January 6, 2019

The Coast of Leitrim By Kevin Barry Review

The short story 'The Coast of Leitrim' by Irish writer Kevin Barry was published this year in the magazine 'The New Yorker'. The story is about the loneliness of individuals and love, about personal phobias and social issues.

The main character is a man, Seamus Ferris, who lived alone in the cottage which he inherited after his uncle passed away. He decided that he had fallen in love with a Polish girl, Katherine, who worked at a café in the town. It was very difficult for him to start a conversation with her, he didn't dare to speak with her. Instead, he found out her name and made some inquiries about her on the Internet. He found her Instagram account and saw the pictures she posted there. In his imagination, he saw himself with his passion and love as Don Quixote from the classic novel of Cervantes. She would be definitely a sensitive and nice person, he thought.

Once he started a conversation. “Do you want to go out with me sometime?”, he said. “That will be fine,” she replied. “When is this happening?”. They drove to his cottage, she stayed with him for a night and they started to live together.

During the time when they were together, Seamus went through many phobias related to the relationships between men and women. He became fixated in thoughts and deeds on the negative. Giving freedom his imagination, he listed his flaws, real and invented. He focused on the excessively thick hair on her knees and he pretended that he liked it and so on.

The tone of the narration in the story is monotonous and the narration had a distance to it. in turn the tone and narration can be said to reflect the place where the events happen and the title, 'The Coast of Leitrim'. He suggested to stop their relationships, she left him and came back to Poland, he moved to Poland and found her ... These are a sequel of actions which happened in the story.

It is not a love story, it is rather the story about two lonely people who go with the stream along the Coast of Leitrim…

Here is the link to the story: