Alexander Pushkin’s “The Snowstorm”


Five lonely playing cards remained in my 2013 short story deck (see my Project: Deal Me In – for details, check out the link in the “Pages” section on the left) this morning. Now there are four, after I riffled them a bit and out fell the queen of diamonds, leading me to Alexander Pushkin’s short story.

As you might expect, the snowstorm in the story’s title plays a major role in the events of the tale. In the Russian empire in 1811, star-crossed lovers decide to elope, but their conspiracy is thwarted by a violent snowstorm. Now I haven’t experienced a Russian winter or snowstorm myself, but I’ve learned a little of their danger (albeit at a cheaper cost than Napoleon’s retreating army) from reading Tolstoy’s story “Master and Man,” which was one of the stories I read in the innuagural Project: Deal Me In in 2011. (Coincidentally, Tolstoy also penned a short story with the title “The Snow Storm”- perhaps I should add into my list for 2014 short story reading?)


The storm’s fury is such that only one of the two lovers is able to keep their appointment. The girl, Maria Gavrilovna, falls into a deep fever in the weeks that follow, and her parents decide to relent and accept her young lover, who was thought beneath her station since, obviously, she was consumed by her love for him. When she recovers, they invite him to their home along with promises of their newfound acceptance of him, but, in an inexplicably “insane letter” he tells them he “will never set foot in their house again.”

The rest of the story follows, for the most apart, the diverted path of her life. But what is the mystery of the lover’s estrangement? Just as it seems we will never know, and Maria appears to be “moving on” the truth is revealed in an O. Henry worthy twist.

Have you read any of Pushkin’s stories? This one may be read for free online at: – It’s only eleven pages so I’m thinking you should give it a try, even if you thought – as I did – that Pushkin “only wrote poetry…”

(Below: Alexander Pushkin)



  1. Grace said,

    December 1, 2013 at 1:06 am

    I adore Pushkin. This story made me feel so bad for all of the characters involved, both Maria for feeling trapped by her life and her parents for their feelings of abandonment.


    • Grace said,

      December 1, 2013 at 1:09 am

      And I just realized when I clicked on the link to re-read that I was thinking of a completely different story. Now I feel silly. This one was quite good too though. 🙂


      • Jay said,

        December 1, 2013 at 9:36 am

        Sometimes I get my Russian authors and stories tangled up too. I’m forever thinking Chekhov wrote something Tolstoy did, etc. – glad you read and liked this story too. 🙂


        • Grace said,

          December 1, 2013 at 11:31 am

          I was thinking of “The Stationmaster,” which starts out kind of similarly, but with much more sympathetic characters. 😛


        • Jay said,

          December 2, 2013 at 7:43 am

          I’ll look for that one. Maybe it will find a spot in my 2014 short story deck…


  2. Dale said,

    December 1, 2013 at 9:07 am

    Jay, I have a Pushkin story in one of my anthologies that interestingly enough is called The Queen of Spades (not diamonds, but close!). I haven’t read it but sounds like Pushkin could be a good author to start reading.


    • Jay said,

      December 1, 2013 at 9:34 am

      I have that one in a separate anthology of the “twenty best Russian short stories” I will maybe put it on the list for next year.maybe I’ll assign it the queen of spades too! 🙂


  3. Tomo said,

    December 1, 2013 at 10:05 pm

    My reading of Russian storytellers is pitifully lacking.


    • Jay said,

      December 2, 2013 at 7:39 am

      Hi Tomo,
      Easily rectified. 🙂 Many of the classics are in the public domain and can be read online or downloaded for free. Get cracking!


  4. December 2, 2013 at 3:57 pm

    Thanks for including the story’s URL; I never really thought of him other than a poet.

    Maybe you would like this Russian film called Sideburns from 1990, where the young men in a contemporary village begin to dress up like Alexander Pushkin.


    • Jay said,

      December 3, 2013 at 10:05 am

      Thanks for the link. But why would they call it ‘Sidebu…’ oh, never mind. 🙂


  5. December 3, 2013 at 12:02 pm

    Pushkin’s short historical novel, The Captain’s Daughter, is also quite good. As is his play Boris Godunov.

    Certainly not just Russia’s greatest poet.


    • Jay said,

      December 10, 2013 at 9:16 am

      Hi Tom,
      Thanks for the comment. I apologize for not replying sooner, but somehow WordPress decided to put your comment in the spam foler. It rarely does that with “real “comments, but whenever I clean out the spam I do look for legitimate comments and rescue them.

      & Thanks for the recommendation on The Captain’s Daughter. I will add it to my list. I will be reading a lot of short stories by Russian writers in 2014.



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