The story of Alexander Ivanovich Kuprin “Olesya” was written in 1898. For the first time the work was published in the newspaper “Kievlyanin”. The leading theme of the story “Olesya” is the tragic love of the panitch of Ivan Timofeevich and the young girl Olesya. In the image of the protagonist Kuprin embodied the type of “natural man”, characteristic of many works of the author.
Ivan Timofeevich is a panitch, a writer, a narrator, a narrative is being written from his person in the story.
Olesya is a young girl of 20-25 years old, granddaughter of Manuilikha, who possesses supernatural abilities.
Yarmola is a fieldman, servant of Ivan Timofeevich.
Manuilikha is an old witch, Olesya’s grandmother.
Nikita Nazarych Mishchenko – clerk of the neighboring estate, clerk.
Evpsihy Afrikanovich is a police sergeant.
According to the plot of the story, fate threw the narrator “for six months in a remote village of Volyn province, on the outskirts of Polissya” Perebrod, where his main occupation and entertainment is hunting. From boredom, the hero tried to treat the local, and then – to teach the diplomat of the fieldman Yarmol.
Somehow on an unruly evening, when a strong wind was blowing from the windows, Yarmola said that five years ago there lived a witch Manuilikha in their village, but she was thrown out of the village into the woods with the granddaughter for what the old woman conjured. Now they live near the swamp behind the Irinovskaya shlyh. The narrator becomes curious to get acquainted with the witch, and he asks Yarmol to take him to the old woman, but the fieldman, angry at the hero, refuses, since he does not want to meet with the witch.
Soon during the hunt, pursuing the hare, the narrator lost his way. The man went out to the swamp and saw a hut, which he took for a local forester’s lodging – “it was not even a hut,
but a fairy-tale hut on chicken legs”.
Entering the dwelling, the narrator realized that he had come to the local witch – Manuilikha, whose appearance had “all the features of a woman-yaga as depicted by a folk epic,” her “faded, once blue eyes, looked like the eyes of an unseen sinister bird” . The old woman tried to send the narrator away as soon as possible, but the man persuaded her to tell him for money. Before she could finish the fortune telling, a “tall laughing girl” with hand finches entered the house. “She was not anything like a local” girl. “She was a tall brunette with big, shiny, dark eyes,” to whom the thin, broken in the middle of the eyebrows gave an elusive shade of craftiness, power and naivety. “Olesya called her, the girl explains to the man, how to get home and allows him to go to them somehow.
In the spring, “as soon as the forest paths have dried out a bit,” the narrator again “went to the hut on chicken legs.” The girl meets him much more affably than the old Manuilikha. Discussing with Olesya fortune telling, a man asks to tell fortunes to him, but the girl refuses and admits that she already laid out maps on him. According to the fortune-telling, he is “a man although kind, but only weak,” “his word is not a gentleman,” “he likes to take people over people” and “hurts” to women. Life will be unhappy with him, that he will not love “anyone’s heart”, and those who love him will “bring much grief”. And this year he was waited with “a great love from some kind of club lady” with dark hair, which this love will bring “long grief” and “great shame.” The narrator is surprised, because he does not believe that he can “make so many troubles”. But the girl assures him that, when her words come true, he will see. Olesya admits that she sees many things without maps: for example, the close death of a person, and these abilities are transmitted in their family from mother to daughter.
After dinner, Olesya herself volunteered to lead the narrator. The girl says that before Manuilikha was able to treat people, look for treasures and much more. The man, not entirely believing in such abilities, asks Olesya something to show from what she can. The girl took out her knife, severely cut off the hand of the narrator and immediately spoke to the wound, stopping the blood. Then she told him to go ahead of herself without turning around. Olesya conjured that a man, after walking a few steps, stumbled on a flat spot and fell. Saying goodbye, the girl asks the name of the narrator – Ivan Timofeevich.
From this day the narrator became a frequent visitor to Manuilikha, he spends a lot of time together with Olesya – they “became stronger and stronger attached to each other.” Ivan Timofeevich, asking Olesya about her abilities, tried to understand their nature. Once the man told the girl that if she fell in love, she would need to get married in the church. Olesya replied that she would not dare appear in church, because “already from birth” her “soul was sold to him.”
Once, when he came to Manuilikha, the narrator immediately noticed the “dejected mood of the spirit” of the old woman and Olesya. The girl refused for a long time, but Manuilikha could not stand it and she told the man that yesterday a local sergeant came to them and demanded that women leave the village quickly, otherwise he will send them on a “step-by-step order”. The old woman tried to pay off from him, but the sergeant did not want to take money.
Ivan Timofeevich invites the sergeant, Evpsikhia Afrikanovich, to his house and, treating him with senility, asks to leave Manuilikha and Olesya alone. Instead, the narrator has to donate his gun.
After the case with the sergeant in the association of Ivan Timofeevich and Olesya, “some irresistible awkward compulsion” appeared, their evening walks stopped. The narrator kept thinking about the girl all the time, but was beside her “timid, awkward and unobtrusive.”
Unexpectedly, Ivan Timofeevich falls ill – his “six days was hitting the terrible terrible Polesye fever.”
Five days after his recovery Ivan Timofeyevich went to Manuilikha. Seeing Olesya, the man realized how she was to him “close and sweet.” This time the girl went to see him off and confessed that she was cold to him, because she was afraid of the future – she thought that she could “escape from fate.” Olesya admits to Ivan Timofeevich in love, kisses him, the man says that he loves her too. “And all this night has merged into some magical, enchanting tale.” Separation for love is the same as the wind for fire: she extinguishes little love, but inflates more with greater force. “
“For almost a whole month a naive, charming tale” of love between Olesya and Ivan Timofeevich continued. However, the time has come for the narrator to leave the village. The man increasingly thinks that he would like to marry Olesya.
In mid-June, Ivan Timofeevich confesses to the girl that he is leaving soon and proposes to become his wife. Olesya says that this is impossible, since she is uneducated and illegitimate. The narrator understands that in fact the girl is afraid of the wedding of the church. Olesya says that for the sake of their love, she is ready to overcome herself and appoint a meeting in the church the next day.
The next day was the feast of St. The Trinity. Ivan Timofeevich until evening was on business in a neighboring place and was late for the church service. Returning home from the clerk Mishchenko, the man learns that in the daytime there was a “fun” in the village – “the girls from Peredbrodsky were caught here on the square by the witch.” They wanted to smear tar, but it somehow turned out, it leaked out. ” As it turned out, Olesya went to church. During the service, everyone looked at her, and when the girl left, the women surrounded her and began to offend and mock him in every way. Olesya broke through the crowd, after her began to throw stones. Having run away to a safe distance, Olesya stopped and, turning to the crowd, promised that they were still “full of sorrow for it.”
Having finished listening to the clerk, Ivan Timofeyevich quickly went to the forest.
Having arrived at Manuilikha, the narrator found Olesya unconscious. The old woman began to chide the man, that it was he who was to blame for what happened – it was he who “knocked” the girl to go to church. Waking up, Olesya says that they need to leave, as she and her grandmother will now have to leave the village. Saying goodbye, the girl confesses that she would like a child from Ivan Timofeevich and regrets very much that he is not.
In the evening a strong thunderstorm with hail broke out over the village, which killed people. In the morning Yarmola advised the narrator to leave the village as soon as possible, because the community, confident that this was the work of a witch, “riots” in the morning, and it’s not good to mention Ivan Timofeevich himself.
The narrator hastily assembled and went to the forest to warn Manuelich and Olesya. However, their hut was empty, there was “a mess that always remains after a hasty departure.” The man was about to leave, as he saw a string of cheap red beads “known in Polissya as” corals “- the only thing that remained to me as a memory of Oles and about her gentle, generous love.”
Even a brief retelling of Olesya shows that Kuprin was able to introduce into the traditionally realistic narrative a romantic heroine – the granddaughter of the witch Olesya, contrasted in the work of the other heroes. Unlike the educated Ivan Timofeevich, the girl grew up outside of society and civilization, but by nature she was endowed with spiritual wealth and inner beauty, which attracted the main character. Tragic love story, described in the story, inspired many directors – the work was thrice filmed.