The Prisoner in the Caucasus (Tolstoy)

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Illustration to the story
The Prisoner in the Caucasus .
Illustrator: Michael Sevier (1916)

Prisoner of the Caucasus ( Russian пленник Кавказский , Kawkasski plennik ) is a story by Leo Tolstoy , 1872 based on a true story and the same year in St. Petersburg's monthly magazine Zarya appeared. The author took the title from Pushkin's eponymous verse tale from 1822. The story, popular with children and adolescents, is one of the texts by Tolstoy that was repeatedly included in the curricula of Russian schools. The story was filmed in 1975 by Georgi Kalatosishvili with Yuri Nasarow in the role of the Russian officer Shilin.


The officer Shilin serves in the Caucasus . The mother wants to see the son again because she is about to end. Schilin receives vacation from his colonel in the summer , gives his crew four buckets of schnapps and sets off on horseback with the stout officer Kostylin. Caucasus Tatars under Kasi Muhamed attacked the travelers and dragged them off to their aul . Kasi Muhamed sells Shilin and Kostylin to Abdul Murad. The latter wants to extort a fair amount of ransom for the release of both of them. Laughing, Abdul Murad makes modest attempts to communicate with his slave Shilin. The Russian waits two months in Abdul Murad's barn, tied to a foot block, for the answer to the ransom demand. In the meantime, the skilled Shilin becomes friends with the villagers and 13-year-old Dina, the daughter of his “owner” Abdul Murad. His first attempt to escape, to which he also persuades his fellow sufferer Kostylin, fails. Schilin had undermined the barn wall, widened the narrow subterranean passage especially because of Kostylin's corpulence and, before fleeing, scouted the direction to the next Russian fortress, about eight werts away. After the Tatars captured the two refugees, Abdul Murad no longer laughs, but has Schilin thrown into a fairly deep pit behind the mosque in the Aul . Kostylin, who is also sitting in the pit, is not ready to attempt a second escape. Since there is an old Tatar in the Aul who wants to take revenge on his family for an evil committed by the Russians, Schilin fears death and dares to attempt the next escape. Shilin must flee. His mother, who lives on the son's financial support, can never raise the required 500 rubles. Dina helps Shilin escape. Shortly before his "owner" wants to have him captured for the second time by three Tatars, he is rescued by about fifteen Cossacks near the next Russian fortress mentioned above.

Tolstoy closes the story like this: Schilin does not travel home, but stays “in the Caucasus. It was not until a month later that Kostylin was released on payment of five thousand rubles. He hardly came home alive. "


In his review, Wiktor Schklowski highlighted some essential facts that are not clearly evident in the sketch above. When the two Russian officers are attacked by around thirty Tatars, Schilin opposes the attackers, while Kostylin flees towards the fortress, the starting point of the journey. Shilin is an impoverished nobleman who takes his fate into his own hands. In contrast, Kostylin ultimately prefers to wait for the ransom to arrive. The Chechens , i.e. the Tatars, respect Schilin's courage and skill. Tolstoy treads new narrative paths in general. Shilin is not released by a woman he loves, but by a girl who feels sorry for him. In contrast to Kostylin, Schilin behaves like a companion to his fellow sufferer. He dragged the corpulent foot patient on his back through the mountain corridor when he couldn't walk anymore. Despite all the helpfulness, Schilin is not energetic. He lets Kostylin have his own way. Schklowski admires Tolstoy's calm prose, which does without psychological analysis and decorations.

Samuil Marschak praises that he knows no better story for adolescents than this.

German-language editions

  • The prisoner in the Caucasus. German by Arthur Luther . Pp. 233-265 in: Gisela Drohla (Ed.): Leo N. Tolstoj. All the stories. Fourth volume. Insel, Frankfurt am Main 1961 (2nd edition of the edition in eight volumes 1982)

Web links

See also

Captured in the Caucasus

Individual evidence

  1. Russian Заря (славянофильский журнал) - Zorya
  2. Alexander Pushkin: The prisoner in the Caucasus online in the BSB , Reclam, Leipzig 1873. Translator: Adolf Seubert
  3. Source: Russian ru: Кавказский пленник (рассказ)
  4. Russian Георгий Михайлович Калатозишвили
  5. Russian Юрий Владимирович Назаров
  6. Russian Кавказский пленник (фильм, 1975)
  7. Kasi Muhamed at from Pierer's Universal Lexikon , Volume 9. Altenburg 1860, p. 360
  8. Source: Russian ru: Кавказский пленник (рассказ) # Отзывы - Ratings