The Live Corpse
Leo Tolstoy
Novels
2:06 h
Level 6
The Living Corpse (Russian: Живой труп) is a Russian play by Leo Tolstoy. The central character of the play, Fedor Protasov, is tormented by the belief that his wife Liza has never really chosen between him and the more conventional Victor Karenin, a rival for her hand. He wants to kill himself, but doesn't have the nerve. Running away from his life, he first falls in with Gypsies, and into a sexual relationship with a Gypsy singer, Masha. However, facing Masha's parents' disapproval, he runs away from this life as well. Again he wants to kill himself, but lacks the nerve; again, his descent continues.

The Live Corpse

A Play in Six Acts

by
Leo Tolstoy


Characters

THEODORE VASÍLYEVICH PROTÁSOV (FÉDYA).
ELISABETH ANDRÉYEVNA PROTÁSOVA (LISA). His wife.
MÍSHA. Their son.
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. Lisas mother.
SÁSHA. Lisa’s younger, unmarried sister.
VICTOR MIHÁYLOVICH KARÉNIN.
ANNA DMÍTRIEVNA KARÉNINA.
PRINCE SERGIUS DMÍTRIEVICH ABRÉZKOV.
MÁSHA. A gipsy girl.
IVÁN MAKÁROVICH. An old gipsy man. Másha's parents.
NASTÁSIA IVÁNOVNA. An old gipsy woman.
OFFICER.
MUSICIAN.
FIRST GIPSY MAN.
SECOND GIPSY MAN.
GIPSY WOMAN.
GIPSY CHOIR.
DOCTOR.
MICHAEL ALEXÁNDROVICH AFRÉMOV.
STÁKHOV. Fédya’s boon companions.
BUTKÉVICH.
KOROTKÓV.
IVÁN PETRÓVICH ALEXÁNDROV.
VOZNESÉNSKY. Karénin’s secretary.
PETUSHKÓV. An artist.
ARTÉMYEV.
WAITER IN THE PRIVATE ROOM AT THE RESTAURANT.
WAITER IN A LOW-CLASS RESTAURANT.
MANAGER OF THE SAME.
POLICEMAN.
INVESTIGATING MAGISTRATE.
MÉLNIKOV.
CLERK.
USHER.
YOUNG LAWYER.
PETRÚSHIN. A lawyer.
LADY.
ANOTHER OFFICER.
ATTENDANT AT LAW COURTS.
THE PROTÁSOVS’ NURSE.
THE PROTÁSOVS’ MAID.
AFRÉMOV’S FOOTMAN.
KARÉNIN’S FOOTMAN.


Act I

Scene 1

Protásov’s flat in Moscow. The scene represents a small dining-room.

Anna Pávlovna, a stout grey-haired lady, tightly laced, is sitting alone at the tea-table on which is a samovár. Enter nurse, carrying a teapot.

NURSE. May I have a little hot water, ma’am?

ANNA PÁVLOVNA. Yes. How’s Baby?

NURSE. He’s restless.… There’s nothing worse than for a lady to nurse her baby herself! She has her troubles, and the child must suffer. What can her milk be like, when she lies awake crying all night?

ANNA PÁVLOVNA. But she seems quieter now.

NURSE. Quiet, indeed! It makes one ill to see her. She’s been writing something, and crying.

Enter Sásha.

SÁSHA [to Nurse] Lisa is looking for you.

NURSE. I’m coming, I’m coming. [Exit].

ANNA PÁVLOVNA. Nurse says she keeps on crying.... Why can’t she control herself?