"The Shot" by Alexander Pushkin (1831, read on line at The Literature Network, 15 pages)
Since posting on Alexander Pushkin's short story "The Queen of Spades" I have done a bit of reading on Pushkin and his place in Russian culture. If you ask a reader of Russian literature who reads no Russian who the most influential Russian authors are the answer will for sure be Tolstoy or Dostoevsky. I think now if you asked a well read Russian the same question the answer would for sure include Pushkin and he would be listed first. In my post on "The Queen of Spades" I wrote a bit on why Pushkin is not more read outside of Russia. All the greats of Russian literature from Pushkin's good friend Gogol on down to Nabokov (who struggled by his own admission with the translation of Eugine Onegin) pay extreme tribute to Pushkin.
Like "The Queen of Spades", "The Shot" deals with Russian military officers and gambling. It is a look at what appears to be the life of the lowest level of gentry in Russian society.
As the story proceeds the narrator learns to his amazement that the mysterious civilian, Silvio, is an incredible
marksmen with the pistol. A deeply layered in meaning series of events occur involving an unintended insult to Slvio by a brash young officer, a beautiful woman, a country estate and a mysterious set of bullet holes in a painting.
I really hope others may be motivated to begin reading Pushkin with this story so I will not give away
any more of the plot. The characterization is very well done. The description of the country estate makes you feel you can see it and I could not help but laugh when I visualized all the young officers looking on Silvio as ancient at 35.
Pushkin is credited as beginning Russian Literature. He was reinvented during the Soviet eraas a great cultural icon. Pushkin has a near sacred status in Russia.
I hope others may begin to get to know Pushkin through "The Shot" and "The Ace of Spades". They are both very well done short stories and are a pleasure to read. I am very glad to have begun my education on Pushkin.
I am requesting suggestions as to additional English language reads of Pushkin.