Matvey Terekhov lives with his cousin Yakov, who runs an inn. Matvey was once extremely religious and ascetic, but now has left asceticism behind. Yakov, on the other hand, is obsessively religious. At one point Matvey initiates an argument with Yakov about a religious issue. Yakov is overcome with anger and Aglaya, Yakov’s wife, hits Matvey over the head with a bottle, and kills him. Husband and wife are sent to prison in Siberia. While Yakov loses his faith after the murder, he regains it in prison.


This is a tale in which rival interpretations of the Orthodox faith clash--the strict observance of the Old Believers (Yakov and Aglaya) versus a more relaxed version of the faith, represented by Matvey. Yakov’s intolerance and vanity eventually lead to murder. However, he later experiences a spiritual rebirth in Siberia, where he comes to understand the meaning of Jesus’ saying that the rich cannot enter the Kingdom of God.


First published in 1895. Translated from the Russian, and with an introduction by Ronald Wilks.

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The Duel and Other Stories



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