Vladimir Semyonich Liadovsky fancies himself a literary man; he writes book reviews. His sister, Vera Semyonovna, is a young widowed physician who doesn't practice. She lives with Vladimir and does nothing but lie around and wonder, "What is the meaning of non-resistance to evil?" As she becomes more obsessed with this question, her relationship with her brother worsens.

Finally, she abruptly announces that she is leaving--she will go into the provinces to do vaccination work. Vladimir doesn't regret her leaving. He continues to write his articles, falls ill, and dies. The narrator doesn't know what happened to Vera.


Art versus science? It's not as simple as that. Both characters are "excellent people." Yet, while the literary man is portrayed as a very warm and engaging person, when he dies, his friends forget him. The doctor is morose and rather unpleasant through most of the story, but she eventually decides to go off and "resist evil" through public health work. Her struggle with "non-resistance to evil" reflects Tolstoy's radical Christian philosophy, which was popular among Russian intellectuals at the time the story was written.


First published: 1886. Translated by Constance Garnet.

Primary Source

The Tales of Chekhov, Vol. 2: The Duel and Other Stories



Place Published

New York