Sofya Lyovna is somewhat intoxicated as she drives home through the night with her husband of three months, Vladimir Nikititch (Big Volodya), and her old friend, Vladimir Mihalovitch (Little Volodya). Her husband is 53 years old to her 23; the marriage was a marriage of convenience. In truth, she has always loved Little Volodya, who plays around continuously with married women, but has never shown any romantic interest in Sofya.

As they drive near the nunnery that Sofya's friend Olga has recently joined, Sofya stops to visit her and invites Olga for a ride in the carriage. Olga appears cool and contented with her religious life, while Sofya feels that her own life is a mess. A day or so later, Sofya becomes Little Volodya's lover, but he soon drops her; Sofya then finds that she has nothing to do in her boring and loveless life, but to visit the nunnery and pester Olga again and again with her confessions.


A portrait of a young woman who has tried to find happiness by marrying a wealthy older man whom she doesn't love. She tries to deceive herself into believing that she is happy, and that Little Volodya (who never cared for her when she was available) loves her. But Little Volodya is simply pursuing his usual game of seducing married women. Sofya's vapid life is contrasted with Olga's presumably more fulfilling life in the religious order.


First published:1893. Translated by Constance Garnett.

Primary Source

The Tales of Chekhov, Vol.1: The Darling and Other Stories



Place Published

New York