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A Story a Day #40: Mikhail Zoshchenko




March 25th, 2020

"Pelageya"

Mikhail Zoshchenko


Pelageya is the wife of a Soviet official, but she is illiterate. He is embarrassed by this. He keeps trying to encourage her to learn to read but she defers by saying she is too old. One day, while mending his jacket, she finds a perfumed letter in the pocket, but she can't read it. She then decides she will learn to read to see if her husband is deceiving her. It takes her three months, but she eventually reads the letter. Instead of being romantic, it is from a woman who gave her husband the primer to help her learn to read. It also says that Communist Russia is irradicating illiteracy.


I still don't know about Russian literature. I've read a couple of short stories from Russia and they still aren't my favorite. All of them are very ingrained in Russian culture and politics, which is fair, as most short stories are of the place they are written. I just either don't know enough about it am just not that interested in it.


Russian stories are sad and straightforward. I admire their dedication to this but I guess I am often left wanting more. I am a fan of simplicity, but I want to be invested in a character or wowed by the description or amazed by a plot twist. There is at least one more Russian short story so we will see if my tastes change by the end of of my challenge.

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