The Party by
"I am not dead . . ." thought Olga Mihalovna when she began to
understand her surroundings again, and when the pain was over.
A bright summer day looked in at the widely open windows; in the
garden below the windows, the sparrows and the magpies never
ceased chattering for one instant.
The drawers were shut now, her husband's bed had been made.
There was no sign of the midwife or of the maid, or of Varvara
in the room, only Pyotr Dmitritch was standing, as before,
motionless by the window looking into the garden. There was no
sound of a child's crying, no one was congratulating her or
rejoicing, it was evident that the little creature had not been
Olga Mihalovna called to her husband.
Pyotr Dmitritch looked round. It seemed as though a long time
must have passed since the last guest had departed and Olga
Mihalovna had insulted her husband, for Pyotr Dmitritch was
perceptibly thinner and hollow-eyed.
"What is it?" he asked, coming up to the bed.
He looked away, moved his lips and smiled with childlike
"Is it all over?" asked Olga Mihalovna.
Pyotr Dmitritch tried to make some answer, but his lips quivered
and his mouth worked like a toothless old man's, like Uncle
"Olya," he said, wringing his hands; big tears suddenly dropping
from his eyes. "Olya, I don't care about your property
qualification, nor the Circuit Courts . . ." (he gave a sob)
"nor particular views, nor those visitors, nor your fortune. . .
. I don't care about anything! Why didn't we take care of our
child? Oh, it's no good talking!"
With a despairing gesture he went out of the bedroom.
But nothing mattered to Olga Mihalovna now, there was a
mistiness in her brain from the chloroform, an emptiness in her
soul. . . . The dull indifference to life which had overcome her
when the two doctors were performing the operation still had
possession of her.
title: a literal translation is "The Name-Day Party"
higher education of women: after 1881 the government curtailed
the availability of higher education fro women
Gladstone: William Gladstone (1809-1898), British Prime Minister
and leader of the Liberal Party
Little Russia: the Ukraine
heavenly manna: the food with which the Israelites were
nourished during their wanderings (Exodus 16:14-15)
vint: a bridge-like card game
Bonaparte: Napoleon (1769-1821)
titular: titular councilor, a low grade in the civil service,
with a low salary
junker: young nobleman; squire
Shtchedrin: Shchedrin, pen name of Michael Y. Saltykov
(1826-1889), author of the satirical novel The Golovlyov Family
mow: among the ideas of the novelist Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910) was
that one should grow and harvest one's own food
Proudhon: Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (1809-1865) was a French social
Buckle: Henry Thomas Buckle (1821-1862) was an English historian
Schopenhauer: German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1869)
Elijah's Day: July 20 (Julian Calendar)
Penderaklia: possibly from the Greek for "Five Hercules" (meant
Zemstvo: a district council with locally elected members
Butler's hives: A. M. Butlerov (1828-1886) was a chemistry
professor who was also interested in improving bee-keeping
Mille compliments: a thousand compliments
property qualifications: certain rights and privileges were
granted to property owners
holy gates: Russian peasants believed that the soul of a newborn
baby could go through the door in front of the iconostasis in
church directly to heaven