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Are we seeing a repeat of Poor Liza in poor Dunya? Is she poor or pure? Who is innocent or guilty in this story? How do the pictures of the Prodigal Son inform us? Why are the inscriptions in German?

As for the final story of Belkin’s Tales, what is Pushkin trying to accomplish? And does he?

Read the parable at


“But let us return to the worthy proprietors of Nenaradova, and see what is happening there.


More than once our assumptions and expectations are proven incorrect as the narratives unfold. The narratives themselves are also collections, like little Russian nested dolls, matryoshkas, where one story is embedded in side of another. Pushkin also treats us to superbly balanced stories.

There is much more to these seemingly simple stories. Consider the complications suggested by the Introduction. What struck your fancy in either one of the stories?

This story is most often characterized as “sentimentalism.” The author intends to evoke a strong emotional response to his characters and narrative. At some level we as readers are to enjoy this evocation of sentiment. You may answer anyone of these questions, but be sure to read the responses that predate your own.

1) How does the narrator establish an atmosphere conducive to a strong emotional response?

2) What gets “lost in translation” from the story to the cartoon?

3) How are we to judge the value of this (or any) story? Is there a moral lesson? Are we “better” human beings for having read it?

4) Do you think it possible to write such a story and believe in it? Or is this author manipulating us like puppets, simply to prove that he can?

5) Why can we not simply accept the hard reality of life and appreciate Erast’s decision?

To study literature is to read and think about the works. Writing is a way to organize thought and communicate to others those thoughts. The blog is our way to share with one another our reactions to the literature we will encounter.  Take time to read the assignments, organize your own thoughts, read the comments of others, and share with us your own words. Your entries should be well written prose, with no technical mistakes. Please consider that your comments will be available to members of the class and perhaps others in our community. Be honest, but as reserved as if you were writing a postcard.

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