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: http://www.cadytech.com/dumas/related/snow_storm.php – 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)