Study Guide

A Russian Beauty Suffering

By Vladimir Nabokov

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Suffering. The mere mention of it conjures up images of skinny orphan children crying in the rain, or some other sad image like that. But not in "A Russian Beauty." Suffering is no big deal in this story. Your mom died? Get over it. You're poor? That's funny because your clothes are so last season. There is little room for empathy or sadness in this story. Who needs 'em? That's for sad sops. Why cry when you can smile, right?

Questions About Suffering

  1. What is the narrator's approach to suffering in "A Russian Beauty?" How does it affect our reading of the story? Is it what you would expect? How would the story change if the narrator's approach were different?
  2. What do you think is Olga's experience of suffering? When do you think she suffers most?
  3. "A Russian Beauty" is all about nobles. How do you think the story and its approach to suffering would change if it featured Russian peasants instead?

Chew on This

Olga is in love with suffering in "A Russian Beauty."

It's better to suffer than to not in "A Russian Beauty."

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