Odoevsky’s “Sylphide” in short summary

My friend Platon Mikhailovich decided to move to the village. He settled in the house of the late uncle and for the first time was completely blissful. From one kind of huge village uncle’s armchairs, in which it is possible to drown, the spleen has almost passed. To admit, I was surprised at reading these confessions. Imagine Platon Mikhailovich in the village attire, traveling with visits to neighboring landowners – it was beyond my strength. Together with new friends, Platon Mikhailovich acquired a new philosophy. He liked the neighbors that he showed himself to be a good little fellow who thinks that it is better not to know anything than as much as our scientists, and that the most important thing is good digestion. Excessive thinking, as is known, is harmful to this process.

Two months later Platon Mikhailovich again became sad. He was certain that ignorance is not salvation. Among the so-called simple, natural people are also raging passions. It was sickening

to look at him, how all the mind of these practical people was going to win an unjust business, get a bribe, take revenge on their enemy. The most innocent of their activities – card game, drunkenness, debauchery… Bored by neighbors, Platon Mikhailovich locked himself in the house and did not order anyone to take. His eyes turned to the old sealed cabinets, left after his uncle. The governor said that Uncle’s books lay there. Auntie after the death of her uncle told me to seal these cupboards and do not touch anymore. With great difficulty Platon Mikhailovich asked the old servant to open them. He refused, sighed and said that there would be a sin. However, the master’s order he had to fulfill. Having ascended the mezzanine, he withdrew the wax seals, opened the doors, and Platon Mikhailovich discovered that he did not know his uncle at all. The cabinets were filled with the writings of Paracelsus, Arnold Villanova and other mystics, alchemists, Kabbalists.

Judging by the selection of books, the uncle’s passion was alchemy and Kabbalah. I’m afraid that Platon Mikhailovich also

fell ill with this. He began to read books with fervor about the first matter, about the soul of the sun, about the star spirits. And not only read, but told me about it in detail. Among other books he caught one curious manuscript. What would you think was in it? Neither more nor less – recipes for the evocation of spirits. Someone else, maybe, would have laughed at it, but Platon Mikhailovich was already captured by his thought. He set up a glass vessel with water and began to collect the sun’s rays into it, as shown in the manuscript. This water he drank every day. He believed that this is how he comes into contact with the spirit of the sun, which opens his eyes to the world of the unseen and unknown. Further more. My friend decided to get engaged with Sylphide – and for this purpose threw his turquoise ring into the water. After a long time, he noticed a movement in the ring. Plato saw the ring crumble and turn into small sparks… Thin blue and gold threads filled the entire surface of the vase, gradually turning pale, disappearing and dyeing the water in gold with blue tints. It was worthwhile to put the vase in place – as the ring again appeared on the bottom. My friend was convinced that he had discovered what was hidden from the rest of the world, that he had witnessed the great mystery of nature and was simply obliged to understand and tell people about it.

For his experiments, Platon Mikhailovich completely forgot about his work. It was, however, somewhat unexpected for Platon Mikhailovich, but quite understandable in his position and, I would even say, prepositive for his state of mind. One of the neighbors he met, among other things, with his daughter Katya. Long Platon Mikhailovich tried to talk a girl and defeat her natural shyness, which made her blush with every word addressed to her. Learning her closer, he found out that Katenka not only has a natural mind and heart, but is also in love with him. Her father hinted to Platon Mikhailovich that he did not mind seeing him as his son-in-law, and was ready in this case to end the thirty-year-long dispute about several thousand dessiatines Forest, which accounted for the main income of the peasants Platon Mikhailovich. So he thought: will not he marry this Katenka. He liked Katya, he found her obedient and uncooperative. In a word, he now asked my blessing rather than my advice. Of course, I emphatically wrote to Plato that I approve of his marriage completely, I am happy for him and for Katya.

I must say that sometimes my friend finds bouts of activity. So it was at that time. He immediately rode to the Regensky, made a formal proposal and appointed a wedding day – immediately after the post. He was glad that he would do a good deed for the peasants, he was proud that he understood his bride better than her own father. Platon Mikhailovich, with his usual enthusiasm, found in every word of Katenka a whole world of thoughts. I do not know if he was right, but I did not dissuade him. His decision seemed final.

And yet, I admit, I was somehow uncomfortable. I hurt the strange letters I began to receive. I have already told you how Platon Mikhailovich was sure that his ring in the vase is scattered into separate sparks. Then he imagined that the ring had turned into a rose. Finally, he saw between the rose petals, among the stamens, a miniature creature – a woman who was barely visible to the eye. My friend was fascinated by her blond curls, her perfect forms and natural charms. I just did that I watched her wonderful dream. It would not be so bad. In his last letter, he announced that he was stopping his relations with the world and was fully committed to exploring the wonderful world of the Sylphide.

In a short time, I still received a letter, not from Platon Mikhailovich, but from Gavril Sofronovich Rezhensky, Katenka’s father. The old man was terribly offended that Platon Mikhailovich stopped suddenly going to him, seemed to have completely forgotten about the wedding. Finally he found out that my friend had locked himself up, he did not let anyone into his room, and all the food was served through the window of the door. Then Gavril Sofronovich was worried in earnest. He remembered that Uncle Platon Mikhailovich, when he lived in the house, was called a warlock. Gavril Sofronovich himself did not believe in the black war, but when he heard that Platon Mikhailovich was looking at the decanter with water all day, he decided that my friend was ill.

With this letter and with the letters of Platon Mikhailovich himself I went for advice to a friend of the doctor. Having listened to everything, the doctor positively assured me that Platon Mikhailovich had simply gone insane, and for a long time explained to me how this happened. I made up my mind and invited him to my friend. My friend we found in bed. He did not eat anything for several days, did not recognize us, did not answer our questions. A fire burned in his eyes. Next to him were sheets of paper. It was a record of his imaginary conversations with Sylphide. She called him with her, in her sunny, blooming, fragrant world. She was burdened by the dead cold world of the earth, he caused her indescribable suffering.

Together, we brought Platon Mikhailovich out of his daze. First a bath, then a spoonful of medicine, then a spoonful of broth and all over again. Gradually, the patient had an appetite, he began to recover. I tried to talk with Platon Mikhailovich about things practical, positive: about the state of the estate, about how to transfer peasants from quitrent to corvee. My friend listened very carefully. He did not contradict, ate, drank, but did not take part in anything and did not accept anything. More successful were my conversations about our rampant youth, a few bottles of lafite, which I had taken with me, and a bloody roast beef. Platon Mikhailovich was so strong that I even reminded him of the bride. He agreed with me. I galloped to the future test, settled the controversial case, and Plato himself put on his uniform and finally waited for the wedding.

A few months later I visited young people. Platon Mikhailovich was sitting in a dressing-gown, with a pipe in his teeth. Katya spilled tea, the sun was shining, pear, juicy and ripe looked in the window. Platon Mikhailovich seemed to be even happy, but was generally silent. Taking the moment when my wife left the room, I asked him: “Well, brother, are not you unhappy?” I did not expect a lengthy response or thanks. Yes, and what can I say? Yes, only my friend talked. But how strange was his tirade! He explained that I should be satisfied with the praise of my uncles, aunts and other prudent people. “Katya loves me, the estate is arranged, the income is collected regularly.” Everyone will say that you gave me happiness – and that’s for sure, but not my happiness: you mistook the number. “Who knows, maybe I’m an artist of such art, which is not yet. This is not poetry, not painting, not music. I had to open this art, but now I can not any more – and everything will die for a thousand years. After all, you need to clarify everything, put everything in parts… “, said Platon Mikhailovich.

However, this was the last fit of his illness. Over time, everything went back to normal. My friend took up farming and left the old nonsense. True, they say, he is now drinking hard – not only with neighbors, but also one, and not one maid gives. But this is so, little things. But he is now a man like all the others.

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Odoevsky’s “Sylphide” in short summary