“Steppe King Lear” Turgenev in brief

Calm, free story about past events.

The beginning, characteristic of Turgenev. On a winter evening, six people gathered at an old university friend. People, apparently, are not young and with education. Speech went by the way about Shakespeare, about the fact that his types are “snatched from the very depths of the human” essence. “Everyone called those Hamlets, Othello and other Shakespearean heroes of tragedies, who happened to meet among those around him, and the owner” knew one King Lear ” and at the request of the others immediately “began to narrate.”

Childhood and youth of the narrator passed in the village, in the estate of the mother, a wealthy landowner. Their closest neighbor was Martyn Petrovich Harlov, a man of enormous growth and extraordinary strength. A two-bearer’s back, shoulders, “like a millstone,” ears like kalachi. A mop of tangled yellow-gray hair over a gray face, a huge, gnarled nose and

tiny blue eyes.

Amazing fearlessness and unselfishness were peculiar to him. About 25 years ago he saved the life of Natalia Nikolayevna, keeping her carriage on the edge of the deep ravine, where the horses had already fallen. “Posters and glues tore, and Martin Petrovich never let go of the wheel he had grasped – although blood spurted from under his nails.”

He was proud of the ancient noble origin and believed that it obliged to behave nobly, “so that no smerd, landowner, subject to man and think bad of us, I’m Harlov, I’m taking my name from here… and the honor that I was not in “How is this possible?”

The ancestor of Harlova was Swede Harlus, who in olden times came to Russia, “wished to be a Russian nobleman and enrolled in a gold book.”

His wife died, there were two daughters, Anna and Evlampia. Neighbor Natalia Nikolaevna at first married the eldest; Anna’s husband was a certain Sletkin, the son of a petty official, obliging, rather malicious and greedy. For Evlampy the neighbor also “saved” the groom.

It was the retired army major Zhitkov, a man no longer young, poor, who “scarcely understood literacy and was very stupid”, but wanted to get into the managers of the estate. “What else is with, and the dent is counted from the peasant – I understand it to the finer point,” he used to say… “Oh, it’s not about the nobility of the morals of that time!

And what is the brother of the late wife Harlov, a certain Bychkov, nicknamed “Souvenir”, “sheltered” in the house of the wealthy landowner Natalia Nikolaevna, the mother of the narrator, “as a jester or some freeloader.” “It was a miserable person, all despised: an adopter in one word”. It was felt that if he had money, “the most bad person would come out of him, immoral, evil, even cruel.”

But, perhaps, the daughter of Harlov at the height, believing, like his father, that the distant ancestors oblige?


One summer, in the evening, Martyn Petrovich appeared in the house of Natalia Nikolaevna, who was unusually pensive and pale. He wanted to say something, muttered incoherent words, then suddenly left, sat down on his droshky and drove off. And the next day he came again and told me that a week ago, waking up, I felt that my arm and leg were not working. Paralysis? But then he “went back into action”.

Taking this as a warning, the old man decided to share the estate between his two daughters. He asked that when the formal act was being performed, the son of the landlord, and the Bychkov who lived in her house, were present. He also invited her manager, and the bridegroom Evlampy Zhitkov.

It turned out that all the papers had already been prepared and “the chamber approved”, since Martyn Petrovich did not regret money during the execution of the papers.

“- Do you provide all your dwelling without a remnant to your daughters?

– Vestiimo, without the remainder.

– Well, and you yourself… where will you live?

Harlov even waved his hands.

– As where? At home in his own house, how he lived… and so on. What kind of change can there be?

“And are you so sure of your daughters and your son-in-law?”

“Are you talking about Volodya?” About a rag about this one? Yes, I’m where I want to shove, and there, and here… What is his power? And they me, daughters that is, on the coffin to water, dress, shoe… Have mercy! Their first duty! “

The neighbor of the landowner, in view of the importance of the moment, frankly expressed her opinion: “You must excuse me, Martyn Petrovich, the eldest of you, Anna, is a proud man, well, and the second wolf looks…”

But Martyn Petrovich retorted: “Yes that they… My daughters… Yes that I… Out of obedience, then go out? Yes, and in their sleep… Resist? To whom? To the parent? .. To dare? And to curse, they are long? “In trembling and in submission, they lived their lives – and suddenly… Lord!”

Apparently, life in trepidation and in obedience is not the best teacher.


The day of “the commission of a formal act” has come. Property division. Very much everything was solemn.

Martyn Petrovich wore a dress in the 12th year’s militia, he wore a bronze medal on his chest, a saber hung from the side. And what a significant pose. The left hand on the handle of the saber, right on the table, covered with red cloth. And on the table – two scribbled sheets of paper – an act that was to be signed.

“And what importance was reflected in his posture, what confidence in himself, in his unlimited and unquestionable power!”

Martyn Petrovich, for all his unselfishness, was not devoid of certain human weaknesses. Desire to show off, demonstrate your worth and display your blessing for show! “Do alms in secret,” says the Gospel. .

Solemnly everything was, very solemn… And the priest was present. But they did not remember that there are still good rules in the Gospel, for example: “He who exalts himself, will be humbled.” If people did not do what they did… even if they knew about these principles of human relations. But look, for example, at the police chief, a representative of the Zemstvo court. What is he to all principles! “A greasy, pale, slovenly gentleman… with a constant, albeit cheerful, but cheesy smile on his face: he was known for the great bribe-taker… In fact, he was interested in one upcoming snack with vodka.”

“It’s hard for me, look, not lotuses, so that all the gentlemen present could penetrate,” Martyn Petrovich ordered the son-in-law unceremoniously, obsequiously standing at the door.

And the last phrase of the act, Martin Petrovich wished to read himself. “And this is my parents’ will to do to my daughters and observe it in a holy and inviolable way, as a commandment, for I am their father and head after God, and I do not have to give anyone a report and did not give…”

It was a homemade “paper”, compiled on the instructions of Martyn Petrovich rather blossomily and impressively, and the real police record, composed in form, “without any of these flowers,” was read by the police chief.

But that was not all.


“Putting into the possession of” the new two landowners took place on the porch in the presence of peasants, courtyards, as well as witnesses and neighbors. The police chief, “gave his face a” form of terrible “and instilled in the peasants” about obedience. ” Although there are no more “meek physiognomy” than the Harlow peasants. “Clothed in thin armags and torn sheepskin coats,” the peasants stood motionless and as soon as the police chief let out an “interjection” like: “Listen, devils! See, devils!”, All of a sudden they all bowed, as if on command “… Apparently, Martin Petrovich they, as it should, were trained.

Oh, how much more was still to come in the next 100-150 years! Of course, “blessed are the humble,” “blessed are the meek”, says the Gospel. But this is when all around me are humble and meek – not from fear, but from inner conviction. To such a level it was still very far away. Still in the future, with a little straightening up, to smash the landed estates; then again to live the semblance of serfdom: without passports, without the right at least to say a word freely, with forced hard labor for empty “sticks” instead of workdays; under the rule of the new “driven”, grown out of their own environment, not from landlords or kulaks.

Someday, at a different level of technical equipment, consciousness, relationships – maybe all become merciful, meek, pure-hearted. But then, at the time of Turgenev… And how sensitively he noticed all the important details of life at that time, how he managed to convey them – exactly, really, alive. Too long, in detail? But, if Turgenev has everything to read, there is a living picture, even in our present shortcomings, many explanations.

Kharlov himself did not want to go out onto the porch: “My subjects will submit to my will!”

Either he thought of suddenly puffing up for the last time, or something else came to his head, but he then snarled at the windowpane: “Obey!”

Daughters, the new landowners, kept important. And especially the son-in-law of Martyn Petrovich Sletkin has changed. “The movements of the head and legs have become obsequious,” but the whole species now said: “Finally, they say, I broke it!”

There was a prayer service. Anna and Evlampia, who had already bowed to Martin Petrovich before the earth, again on the orders of their father “thanked him terribly.”

Then feast, toast. And suddenly the miserable, fussy Souvenir, apparently intoxicated, “burst into flabby, cheesy laughter” and began to predict how they would proceed with Martyn Petrovich: “Bare your back… and snow!”

“What are you lying about?” “A fool,” said Harlow contemptuously.

“You fool!” fool! repeated Souvenir. – One God knows which of us is a fool. But you, my brother, my sister, your spouse… “

In general, the conversations during the feast were frank. Finally, Martyn Petrovich turned to all his back and left. Then everyone left.


Soon the neighbor, a landowner with her son, left for the village with her sister, and when they returned to their village at the end of September, they suddenly learned from the servant that Martyn Petrovich “became the last man, as is”, that now Sletkin ” and Zhitkov, the bridegroom of Evlampy, was banished altogether.

Natalia Nikolayevna, invited Kharlov and Sletkin to his place. Martyn Petrovich did not show up, but in reply to her letter sent a quarter of a paper, on which it was written in large letters: “I can not shake her.” Shame will kill.

Sletkin appeared, although not immediately, but the conversation was short, he left the office of the landowner all red, with a “venomous evil and bold expression.” It was ordered later – Sletkin and the daughters of Kharlov, if they decided to come, “not to admit.”

Sletkin, a pupil of a landowner, a neighbor of Kharlova, was an orphan in the past. Curly hair, black, like a boiled prune eyes, a hawk nose, he “looked like a Jewish type.” First, he was “placed” in the district school, then he entered the “patrimonial office”, then he “was enrolled in state stores and, finally,” married the daughter of Martyn Petrovich. The eternal dependence – at first from the benefactress who sheltered him, then little from the whims of Martyn Petrovich, apparently contributed to the education of dignity and magnanimity in him.

Who were his ancestors? From Jews, Gypsies, Moldovans? From Armenians or other Caucasians? Where is “black, like a boiled prune, eyes,” curly hair, a hawk nose? What keeps his genetic memory, what wanderings, disasters? Yes, it is hardly worthwhile to dig in the genes, when all his conscious life also did not contribute to the purification of the soul.

In the fable of Krylov said about one unfortunate bird: “And from the crows, she fell behind, and did not stick to the pavs.” On the one hand gentlemen, like peacocks proud of their master’s position, on the other – a dark goal, from which he long ago lagged behind.

Anna, Kharlov’s daughter, whom Sletkina “married”, was outwardly attractive – lean, with a beautiful swarthy face and pale blue eyes. But “everyone who looked at her probably would have thought:” Well, what a clever man you are – and a sullen one! “There was something” snake “in her beautiful face.

But what Evlampia looked like: “a beautiful woman”, tall, burly, large. A blond, dense scythe, his eyes are dark blue with a twist. “But in the eyes of her huge eyes there was something wild and almost stern.” She, apparently, inherited many of her features from Martin Petrovich.

The boy, the son of a landowner, went hunting with a gun and a dog. In the grove he heard voices in the distance and Slekin and Evlampia suddenly appeared on the clearing. Yevlampy was somehow embarrassed, and Sletkin started a conversation and said that Martyn Petrovich “was offended at first”, and now “it’s become quite quiet.” As for the bridegroom who was refused, Sletkin explained that Zhitkov, an unsuitable person for conducting economy.

“I,” he says, “can repair the peasants, that’s why I’m used to hitting them!”

“He can not do anything, and he should be beaten skillfully, and Evlampia Martynovna refused him, completely inappropriate person.” All our economy would be lost with him! “

Wandering through the forest, the boy then again met on the lawn Sletkin with Evlampia. Sletkin lay on his back, laying both hands under his head and slightly shaking his left foot, “thrown on his right knee.”

On the lawn, a few steps from Sletkin, Yevlampy was walking slowly, with lowered eyes, and humming in low tones. The words of the song say a lot.

“You find, you find, a cloud of menacing,

You kill, you kill father-in-law.

You’re a thunderbolt, you’re the mother-in-law,

A young wife, I myself will kill! “

Anna then, going out onto the porch, gazed for a long time in the direction of the grove, even asked the peasant who was passing through the yard not to return.

“- I have not seen… no good,” answered the peasant, taking off his cap.


The boy then met Martyn Petrovich himself, who was sitting with a fishing rod, by the pond. “But in what he was dressed in rags and how all was down!”

The 15-year-old boy, wanting to comfort the old man, allowed himself to talk about his mistake: “You did not care that you gave everything to your daughters… But if your daughters are so ungrateful, then you should despise… it’s contempt…” and do not miss… “

“Leave it,” Harlov whispered with a gnashing of teeth, and his eyes, fixed on the pond, glittered angrily… “Go away!”

“But Martin Petrovich…”

“Go away, they say… or I’ll kill you!”

He was furious, and then it turned out that he was crying. “A teardrop behind a teardrop rolled from his eyelashes along his cheeks… and his face took on a very ferocious expression…”

In mid-October, he suddenly appeared in the neighbor’s house neighbor. But in what form! His desperation is aggravated by the autumn landscape.

“The wind howled, then whistled impetuously, the low sky, without any clearing, from the unpleasantly white color turned into a leaden, even more ominous color – and the rain that poured, poured incessantly and incessantly, suddenly grew even larger, even more slanting and with a squeal blurred on the glass. ” Everything, and gray trees, and puddles, clogged with dead leaves, and impassable mud on the roads, and cold – all drove sorrow.

The boy standing at the window, suddenly it seemed that a huge bear, standing on its hind legs, rushed past the yard. Soon the monster stood in the middle of the dining room on his knees in front of the hostess and her household. It was Martyn Petrovich – he came running on impassable mud.

“- They drove me out, madam… Native daughters…”

“Honor father and mother,” says the ancient biblical commandments. But neatly performed here, mostly by tradition, rituals, forgetting, one more rule given in the Gospel: “The essence of faith is more important than the external form.”

His bed was thrown into the closet, and the room was taken away. Even before that they left absolutely no money. Daughters in everything now obeyed Sletkin, and he seemed to take revenge on the “benefactor” who had previously abused him.

It is necessary to pay tribute to Martyn Petrovich, he had a conscience, the abnormal organization of society often prevented her from manifesting.

“Madam,” groaned Kharlov, and struck himself in the chest: “I can not bear the ingratitude of my daughters, I can not, madam, because I gave them everything, gave everything away, and besides, my conscience tortured me. I changed my mind a lot… “If only you had done a favor to someone in your life! – I reflected so-and-so, – rewarded the poor, I let the peasants free, or, because the century has stuck with them! You are the defendant before God for them! That’s when they shed their tears! “

Perhaps, in the end, suffering will awaken the conscience? Perhaps, suffering is not useless for people?


The neighbor of the landlord had a kind heart. Martyn Petrovich was given a good room, the butler ran for bed linen and just at that moment a pathetic, humiliated stowaway Souvenir took the opportunity to poke over the always despicable pride.

How many such Bychkovs, deprived of their own housing, property, decent social status, was in the estates of all sorts of landlords. “Prizhivalschik”, “fool”, a miserable beggar. Constant humiliation, aimlessness, the need to please. A trampled human person can then turn into a terrible, unexpected side.

“- He called me an addict, a parasite!” No, they say, you have your own shelter! “And now I’m probably just such an old adopter…”

Calmed down, Martyn Petrovich again became irritated. But Souvenir “like a demon possessed.” After all the humiliation, it was the hour of his “triumph”.

“Yes, most honorable one!” Cried again, “here we are, in what kind of subtle circumstances we are, and your daughters, with your son-in-law, Vladimir Vasilievich, are amused at your crocheting under your roof! promise, they cursed you, and you did not have enough for that! And where are you going to compete with Vladimir Vasilievich? You called him Volodka, what is he like for you Volodka? He is Vladimir Vasilyevich, Mr. Sletkin, landowner, sir, and who are you? “

Every picture, movement, character live, and all events seem real. It seems that the author is talking about them, but in fact – shows.

And Harlow, who was almost beginning to find humility, was furious.

“- The blood! – you say… No, I will not curse them… They do not care about that! And shelter… I’ll cut them off the blood, and they will not have shelter the same as mine! They will learn Martyn Kharlova I still have not lost my strength! They will learn how to mock me! .. They will not have shelter! “

And he rushed off.

Natalia Nikolaevna sent for him the manager of the estate, but could not return it.

Soon he was already in the attic of his former home and broke the roof of a new outbuilding.

The manager reported to the landowner that the frightened peasants of Kharlova were all hiding.

“And his daughters-what?”

– And the daughter – nothing. They run in vain… they say… What’s the use?

– And Sletkin is there?

– There too. The most screaming, but it can not do anything. “


In the yard of Harlov was still crowded: the spectacle was unprecedented. He crashed everything without tools – with his bare hands. Sletkin with a gun in his hands, not daring to fire, unsuccessfully tried to force the peasants to climb onto the roof, they obviously shied away. There was also admiration for the extraordinary power of the former master, and the fear of this force, and more… They almost approved of Harlov, although he surprised them.

And now “with a heavy crash the last trumpet” … Sletkin aimed, but suddenly Evlampia “pulled him by the elbow.”

“Do not bother me,” he snapped fiercely at her.

“Do not you dare!” “she said,” and her blue eyes flashed threateningly from beneath her raised eyebrows. “My father is ruining his house.” Its good.

“You’re lying: ours!”

“You say: ours, but I say: his.”

But it was too late, the old man broke away with might and main.

“Ah, great, great, dear daughter,” Kharlov said from the top, “It’s great, Evlampiya Martynovna, how can you live with your friend?” “Do you kiss well, do you have mercy?”

On Kharlov’s face was “a strange smile – bright, cheerful… ungainly grin…”

But Evlampy did not flinch at that terrible moment.

“Come on, father, get off… We’re to blame, we’ll return everything to you.

– What are you controlling for us? intervened Sletkin. Evlampy only frowned.

“I’ll return my part to you-I’ll give it all back.” Stop, get down, father! Forgive us; forgive me.

Kharlov kept on grinning.

“It’s too late, my dear,” he said, and every word he spoke rang like copper. “Your stone soul moved late!” Downhill – now you can not hold it! ..

You wanted to deprive me of my shelter – so I will not leave you a log on a log either! With my own hands I laid, with my own hands I will tear down – as is with one hand! You see, he did not take the ax! “

And no matter how entrusted to him by Eulampia, promising to shelter, warm, and wound up to bandage, everything was in vain. He began to swing the front rafters of the pediment, singing “on burlatskomu” – “More razik, once again!”

The manager Natalia Nikolaevna who came again took some measures, but without success. “The front pair of rafters, furiously swayed, tilted, cracked and collapsed into the courtyard – and together with it, unable to resist himself, fell down Harlow himself and shook heavily the ground.” Everyone shuddered and gasped… Kharlov lay motionless on his chest, and in his back was rested against the longitudinal upper roof beam, the horse that followed the fallen pediment. “

“He broke the back of his head, and he shattered his chest, as it turned out at the autopsy.”

Yet this steppe bear, semi-literate, wild, ferocious, causes involuntary sympathy and even sometimes respect. He still had time to pronounce the last words to Evlampy, barely audible: “Well, daughter… ka… I’m not talking about you…” What did he want to say: “I’m not talking about… I’m killing you or I do not forgive”? Most likely, it was still forgiveness.

In the end, alas, Martyn Petrovich, endowed with extraordinary strength, did not do anything socially useful – he destroyed the wing, and poked his neighbors.


Well, we looked into the village wilderness of the middle of the 19th century. How much unceremonious pride and a series of pathetic, unlimited humiliation. Here, each character acts in accordance with his character and, of course, the conditions. Here the abnormal, outrageous seems to them sometimes normal. But the souls of crushed peasants slowly gain an unclear feeling: what is just and what is not “divine,” react instinctively to good and evil. Gradually, the sense of justice, even the spark of kindness, breaks through them imperceptibly.

The 15-year-old who observed all these events, noticed a lot: how Sletkin and his wife became “the subject of albeit silent but general alienation,” and on Evlampy, “although her fault was probably no less than her sister, this alienation did not apply. She even aroused some regret when she fell to the feet of the deceased father, but that she was to blame, it was felt by everyone. “

“Offended the old man,” – said a peasant… – “on your soul, sin! Offended!” This word is “offended!” was immediately accepted by all as a final decision. The justice of the people has affected… “

A few days later Evlampia left the house forever, giving her sister her share of the estate, took only a few hundred rubles.


Subsequently, the narrator saw both sisters. Anna became the widow and excellent mistress of the estate, kept calmly, with dignity and none of the local landlords could “convincingly expose and defend their rights.” She spoke “a little and in a low voice, but every word hit the mark.” She had three beautifully brought up children, two daughters and a son. The local landlords said that she was a “purgatory bastard”, a “miser”, poisoned her husband, etc. But from her, from her family, life was full of contentment. “Everything in the world is given to man not according to his merits, but because of what that is not yet known, but logical laws, “the narrator reflects,” sometimes it seems to me that I vaguely feel them. “

What did he vaguely feel? What are these laws? It’s a pity he did not make the vague obvious.

Evlampia met him by chance in a few years in a small village near St. Petersburg. There, at the crossroads of two roads, surrounded by a high and narrow palisade stood a lonely house where the leader of the “Khlystov-schismniki” lived.

Who are these schismatics? The sect that arose in Russia in the 17th century.

They said that they “live without priests”, and call their leader “the Virgin.”

And one day she was able to see it. Out of the gate of a lonely mysterious house, a cart was pulled out onto the road, in which a 30-year-old man “remarkably beautiful and handsome appearance” was sitting, and next to her was a tall woman in an expensive black shawl and “velvet shashun” – Yevlampiya Kharlova. There were wrinkles on her face, but “the expression on this face has changed!” It’s hard to say in words how confident it was, sternly, proudly… Every single feature breathed the simple tranquility of power – the satiety of power… “

How did Yevlampy get into the Khlysty Virgin Mary? Why did Sletkin die? What are “not yet known laws,” on the basis of which “everything in the world is given to man”?

In life there are unsolved mysteries. Turgenev is primarily an artist, and not a philosopher, and paints life here as it was perceived by the narrator, without seeking to answer all the questions that arise.

The end of the story is businesslike, calm, returning us to its beginning, when six old university friends met on a winter evening and talked leisurely about the Shakespearean types sometimes encountered in everyday life.

The narrator was silent, the friends still talked a little and broke up

There are “still unknown laws” and unsolved mysteries. But the laws of behavior and relationships are known to man long ago, the commandments, the constant violation of which leads to suffering, sooner or later, for each coming, whether in the earthly, or, as the sages say, in some other life.

For example, even before our time, a man was told: “Honor father and mother,”. King Lear was suffering from the failure to fulfill this commandment.

Or, for example: “If you want people to do this to you, do so to them,” Jesus Christ also called in the Sermon on the Mount. That is, treat carefully to someone else’s life, dignity, interests. If all of us were better educated from the very childhood, we would all rather learn to create conditions more favorable to the fulfillment of the commandments. This is still ahead – the task for the 21st and subsequent centuries.

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“Steppe King Lear” Turgenev in brief