Live from Cairoston

From “Mikhail Maximovich Kurolesov” (Sergey Aksakov)

Quick orientation. Stephen Mikhailovich refuses the man who wants to marry his cousin, despite the fact she loves him and all the other women in the family are fond of him. They take advantage of Mikhailovich traveling for several months and have the couple wed nevertheless. First Mikhailovich’s wife (Arina) says that she was tricked into sending the girl to her grandmother who was dying, and that everything took place there. Mikhailovich confronts the grandmother who fires back and tells him that his wife knew all about it and even accepted gifts from the groom. Mikhailovich vows to annul the marriage by exposing that the girl was underage (15 instead of 17) but the priest shows him the proper baptism papers that declared she was 17.

This was a fresh blow to my grandfather, who now lost all hope of ever being able to annul the hateful marriage, and whose fiery wrath kindled more and more against Arina Vasilievna and her daughters. I prefer not to give an exact account of what actually happened when at last he reached home. There was a frightful and horrible scene. Even thirty years later my aunts could not recall that day without a shudder.

Was that enough to express the intensity of Stephan Mikhailovich confronting his wife? That 30 years later recalling what happened would illicit a shudder? Aha! it gets better:

Enough that the guilty women confessed everything, that all Kurolesov’s presents were sent back to Madame Bakteieva with orders to return them to the donor; that the older daughters were ill for a very long time, that my grandmother lost most of her hair and was compelled to wear a plaster on her head for a year afterward. The newly married pair were advised never to show their faces to my grandfather again, and the name of Kurolesov was forbidden to be mentioned in his house.

I’m getting a kick out of such intense scenes that are not expressed directly in lengthy detail, but are danced around in a way that gives you an impression of just how intense they were. I can’t wait for Harman’s upcoming book on Lovecraft, which from what I understood does that a lot!

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