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Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  3,216 ratings  ·  143 reviews
In this powerful and brutal short story, Leskov demonstrates the enduring truth of the Shakespearean archetype joltingly displaced to the heartland of Russia. Chastened and stifled by her marriage of convenience to a man twice her age, the young Katerina Lvovna goes yawning about the house, missing the barefoot freedom of her childhood, until she meets the feckless steward ...more
Paperback, 88 pages
Published November 1st 2003 by Hesperus Press (first published 1864)
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Average rating 3.94  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,216 ratings  ·  143 reviews

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☘Misericordia☘ ~ The Serendipity Aegis ~  ⚡ϟ⚡ϟ⚡⛈ ✺❂❤❣
It was powerful and horrible. Didn't like it, the choices of the characters were horrible for everyone involved and, frankly speaking, unsatisfying. Deeply unsettling. A cautionary tale? Maybe.
The genius of the author is unquestionable. Still, the subject is madly horrific. Basically, what the author has given us a glimpse of, is a total disrepect for human lives inherent to some people. Had these people undewent a psychiatric review, they would have blipped as 'born killers' with human identity
Apr 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Mark by: The beauty of Hesperus Press
Another beautiful book from the Hesperus Press. I so wax lyrical about the beauty of these editions I almost feel i should be earning commission but seriously, they are lovely. They are a press which focuses on making accessible, either through new translations or simply a new edition, what they state are 'unjustly neglected' or simply little known works by otherwise well-known authors. They are always small works, in this case the story itself is only 58 pages long, and this one is written by a ...more
Jan 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
No fancy pancy, no thousand adjectives and psychologic mambojambo. That is left to us. The book is well written, the story could be real. Mr Leskow leaves it to us to think about the psychology of his characters.
- had Katharina a latent psychiatric disease?
- is it her fault or is the society's? was it all because she wanted a better life for herself in a world where this was impossible if being a woman and poor?
- is it a parabole - love makes us do crazy shit?
- who do you hate more - Katharina
Gloria Mundi
Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk is a short novella set in Russian province in the second half of 19th century. The subject matter is pretty powerful: passion, adultery, murder and betrayal. Yet, for all that, the book is very unsentimental and true to life. It is full of dark humour and the characters are very real and believable. It is a shame that it does not seem particularly well-known in the West, for it is, in my opinion, one of the best works in Russian literature.
Full of passion, jealousy and obsession, this short story is highly interesting and enjoyable. Leskov's description of the emotional and moral dilemma, as well as the erotic frenzy, of the heroine is exceptional and realistic.
Joseph Costello
Oct 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Nasty, brutish and short. I liked it a lot.
Marianna Neal
Even better than I remember it to be! This story is packed with passion and crime, featuring the unforgettable character of Katerina. Brutal, fascinating, and simply excellent.

*read in Russian
May 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
why do I always end up reading books which do nothing but squeeze and smash your heart?
The title of this one should have been a clear warning. If you are called Macbeth you are up to no good. Besides, this is a Russian story and they always end Up bad...
it's a trip back to a time when women were commodities and had no option but to pass from male to male, from father to husband, being considered just goods. Thus, Katerina finds herself married to a dull, weak Man who doubles her in age, and subm
Oct 26, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: classics
3.5 stars
Mar 12, 2017 marked it as to-read
Add this book after seeing the interesting movie trailer. That, and I have a thing for Shakespeare, Russian literature and female murderers.
Jan 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
'Now and again in these parts you come across people so remarkable that, no matter how much time has passed since you met them, it is impossible to recall them without your heart trembling. One such person was Katerina Lvovna Izmailova, a merchant's wife who was once the centre of a drama so terrible that our local gentry, taking their cue from someone's light-hearted quip, took to calling her 'Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk.''

what a dark little tale of desire and murder. very pleased to have found t
Jul 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Although I have been aware of this short novella for many years, I was never particularly interested in reading it until the recent film version (which transfers the action to England). Still, one can definitely see why it has remained such a powerfully potent and nasty little gem, and Chandler's translation seems to do it full justice.
Jun 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classics
Florence Pugh warriors we ride at dawn
Nov 09, 2017 added it
Shelves: short-fiction
Okay first of all, wow.
Mεδ Rεδħα
Dec 22, 2018 rated it liked it
- Go away, said Katerina Lvovna half an hour later without a look for Sergei; she arranged her hair in disorder in front of a small mirror.
- And why should I leave for this moment? replied the happy voice of Sergei.
- My father-in-law will close the doors.
- Ah, my heart, my heart! What kind of men have you known, for whom the door is the only way to come in and out of a woman's house? Me, to come to you or to leave you, I will find doors everywhere, answered the young guy by designating the posts
Czarny Pies
Aug 24, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who wishes to expand their knowledge of 19th century Russian literature.
Recommended to Czarny by: I read it prior to attendign a performance of the opera.
This is a wonderful collection of four stories about the little people of Russia (serfs, manual labourers, monks, etc.) in the middle of the nineteenth century. The characters are at least two levels down in the social hierarchy from the Great Nobles portrayed by Tolstoy and at least one level down from the lower nobility and bourgeois who appear in Dostoyevsky's works. Thus it affords a great way for the reader to round out the picture of nineteenth century society by Russia's two most famous w ...more
Marc Gerstein
Mar 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classics
Leskov didn’t invent the bored-housewives-gone-wild genre (Madame Bovary was published earlier.) Nor did he have the last word; Anna Karenina came later. But when it comes to in-your-face treatment, Leskov stands alone. Heck, I’d even put Katerina Lvovna, the so-called Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, ahead of the original Lady Macbeth. I could even see Karerina and Alexandra Forrest (the Glen Close character from “Fatal Attraction”) becoming BFFs; they’d get each other.

The first sentence of this novell
Nov 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-for-school
What a nasty little story. I liked it.
Jun 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Wow, that was dramatic. Katerina can serve as an archetype for Russian women being ready to do anything for the sake of love.
Liina Bachmann
Jul 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: russian, 2016, favorites
Perfectly tragic little novella. Right up there with Bunin and Turgenev, though not as descriptive. Recommended.
Sam Wilkinson
Oct 06, 2018 rated it liked it
I have seen a televised version of this previously, I recognised it by about halfway through chapter 2, but I don't remember the end (I suspect I turned it off tbh).

It's not exactly cheerful stuff. However, it's not exactly thought provoking either, it's just a bit sad.
Nov 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
At first, a victim of passion and naïveté; then with each turn of the chapter more calculating, more conniving, colder, and more brutal, until the ultimate sin.

And then, the turn.

The naïveté with Sergei begins to fall away, the cruelties endured, waiting for the right time, and in a calculated attack, exacts her ‘justice’ against Sergei and her own crimes. Brilliant.
Nhi Nguyễn
Update: I've recently finished watching the British movie adaptation of this book, set during the Victorian era, and it was so great. Of course since this is the British version of the story, things weren't exactly similar to what was written in the Russian version. In fact, the first half of the movie followed the first half of the novella, while the second half was purely the screenwriter's own idea.

The cinematography is beautiful. The setting and the use of simple colors such as white, black,
Oct 16, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very well written book. Leskov wrote a Russian version of Shakespeare’s Macbeth adapted to the XIX century. The future King is replaced by a businessman. Lady Macbeth is a kind of bored punky wife. Ghosts are replaced by spooky cats. Instead of power or money, this woman seeks for a lover. The Shakespearean Scottish plot becomes a German Sturm und Drang plot. I do not like that at all. Who changes power for romance? Not Romeo and Juliet, which is rather a tragedy, a story of fate against freed ...more
From BBC Radio 4 - Afternoon Drama:
This new dramatization by Marty Ross of the classic 1865 novella by Nikolai Leskov tells the dramatic story of Katerina, whose provincial life in 19th century Russia, married to an older man she has never loved, is transformed by the arrival of attractive philanderer, Sergei.
Jul 12, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: russian
I'm not fond of the translation. It makes the text a bit dry, but the stories are excellent.

It is truly a Russian writer who shows his respect and love for women by smacking them around, giving them the worst lives and the worst luck.
James McNulty
Jul 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Even though it was written in the desolate tundra we call Russia of the 1800s, "Lady MacBeth of Mtsensk" is full of steamy romance and murder conspiracies that would fit well with more modern dramas. Another fun read.
Nov 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: eastern-european
Horrifying tale of triple murder and obsessive love.
Jun 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
Infinitely haunting. Very much looking forward to hearing Shostakovich's opera now.
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“Now and again in these parts you come across people so remarkable that, no matter how much time has passed since you met them, it is impossible to recall them without your heart trembling.” 15 likes
“Katerina Lvovna lived a boring life in the rich house of her father-in-law during the five years of marriage to her unaffectionate husband; but, as often happens, no one paid the slightest attention to this boredom of hers.” 8 likes
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