The Light Shines in Darkness
Leo Tolstoy
Novels
2:57 h
Level 6
The Light Shines in the Darkness is an unfinished play by Leo Tolstoy, written in 1890. Arguably his most autobiographical piece, the play is said to "mirror Leo Tolstoy’s highly personal dilemma as if seen through the crucible of the family. "

The Light Shines in the Darkness

drama

by
Leo Tolstoy


Characters

NICHOLAS IVÁNOVICH SARÝNTSOV.
MARY IVÁNOVNA SARÝNTSOVA. His wife.
LYÚBA. Their daughter.
STYÓPA. Their son.
VÁNYA. A younger son.
MISSY. Their daughter.
THE SARÝNTSOVS’ LITTLE CHILDREN.
ALEXANDER MIKÁYLOVICH STARKÓVSKY. (Lyúba’s betrothed in Act IV).
MITROFÁN ERMÍLYCH. Ványa’s tutor.
THE SARÝNTSOVS’ GOVERNESS.
ALEXÁNDRA IVÁNOVNA KÓHOVTSEVA. Mary Ivánovna’s sister.
PETER SEMYÓNOVICH KÓHOVTSEV. Her husband.
LISA. Their daughter.
PRINCESS CHEREMSHÁNOV.
BORÍS. Her son.
TÓNYA. Her daughter.
A YOUNG PRIEST.
THE SARÝNTSOVS’ NURSE.
THE SARÝNTSOVS’ MEN-SERVANTS.
IVÁN ZYÁBREV. A peasant.
A PEASANT WOMAN. His wife.
MALÁSHKA. His daughter (carrying her baby-brother).
PETER. A peasant.
A RURAL POLICEMAN.
FATHER GERÁSIM. A priest.
A NOTARY.
A CARPENTER.
A GENERAL.
HIS ADJUTANT.
A COLONEL.
A REGIMENTAL CLERK.
A SENTINEL.
TWO SOLDIERS.
A GENDARME OFFICER.
HIS CLERK.
THE CHAPLAIN OF THE REGIMENT.
THE CHIEF DOCTOR IN A MILITARY ASYLUM.
AN ASSISTANT DOCTOR.
WARDERS.
AN INVALID OFFICER.
PIANIST.
COUNTESS.
ALEXANDER PETRÓVICH.
PEASANT MEN AND WOMEN, STUDENTS, LADIES, DANCING COUPLES.


Act I

Scene 1

The scene represents the verandah of a fine country-house, in front of which a croquet-lawn and tennis-court are shown, also a flower-bed. The children are playing croquet with their governess. Mary Ivánovna Sarýntsova, a handsome elegant woman of forty; her sister, Alexándra Ivánovna Kóhovtseva, a stupid, determined woman of forty-five; and her husband, Peter Semyónovich Kóhovtsef, a fat flabby man, dressed in a summer suit, with a pince-nez, are sitting on the verandah at a table with a samovár and coffee-pot. Mary Ivánovna Sarýntsova, Alexándra Ivánovna Kóhovtseva, and Peter Semyónovich Kóhovtsev are drinking coffee, and the latter is smoking.

ALEXÁNDRA IVÁNOVNA. If you were not my sister, but a stranger, and Nicholas Ivánovich not your husband, but merely an acquaintance, I should think all this very original, and perhaps I might even encourage him, J’aurais trouvé tout ça très gentil; but when I see that your husband is playing the fool — yes, simply playing the fool — then I can’t help telling you what I think about it. And I shall tell your husband, Nicholas, too. Je lui dirai son fait, ma chère. I am not afraid of anyone.

MARY IVÁNOVNA. I don’t feel the least bit hurt; don’t I see it all myself? but I don’t think it so very important.

ALEXÁNDRA IVÁNOVNA. No. You don’t think so, but I tell you that, if you let it go on, you will be beggared. Du train que cela va

PETER SEMYÓNOVICH. Come! Beggared indeed! Not with an income like theirs.

ALEXÁNDRA IVÁNOVNA. Yes, beggared! And please don’t interrupt me, my dear! Anything a man does always seems right to you!

PETER SEMYÓNOVICH. Oh! I don’t know. I was saying —

ALEXÁNDRA IVÁNOVNA. But you never do know what you are saying, because when you men begin playing the fool, il n’y a pas de raison que ça finisse. I am only saying that if I were in your place, I should not allow it. J’aurais mis bon ordre à toutes ces lubies. What does it all mean? A husband, the head of a family, has no occupation, abandons everything, gives everything away, et fait le généreux à droite et à gauche. I know how it will end! Nous en savons quelque chose.

PETER SEMYÓNOVICH [to Mary Ivánovna]. But do explain to me, Mary, what is this new movement? Of course I understand Liberalism, County Councils, the Constitution, schools, reading-rooms, and tout ce qui s’en suit; as well as Socialism, strikes, and an eight-hour day; but what is this? Explain it to me.

MARY IVÁNOVNA. But he told you about it yesterday.