A Bitter Fate

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A Bitter Fate
Strepetova as Elizabeth by Repin.jpg
Ilya Repin's portrait of Polina Strepetova (a famed actress) as Lizaveta, the protagonist of A Bitter Fate.
Written by Aleksey Pisemsky
Original language Russian
Subject Serfdom in Russia
Genre Realistic tragedy

A Bitter Fate (Russian: Горькая судьбина, Gorkaya sudbina), also translated as A Bitter Lot, is an 1859 realistic play by Aleksey Pisemsky.[1]

Started in early 1859 in St. Petersburg, finished on 19 August and first published by Biblioteka Dlya Chteniya in November that year,[2] the four-act play tackles serfdom in Russia and the social and moral divisions that it creates by means of a story that focuses on a provincial ménage à trois.[1] With the exception of Leo Tolstoy's The Power of Darkness (1886), it is the only major play to dramatise the experiences of peasants in the history of Russian realistic drama.[3] It has been described as a masterpiece of the Russian theatre and the first Russian realistic tragedy.[4] The play is available in English translation in Masterpieces of the Russian Drama, Volume 1, edited by George Rapall Noyes, Dover Publications, 1961.


  1. ^ a b Banham (1998, 861) and Moser (1992, 273).
  2. ^ Yeryomin, M.P. Commentaries to Горькая судьбина. The Selected Works by A.F. Pisemsky. 1959 // А.Ф.Писемский. Собр. соч. в 9 томах. Том 9. Издательство "Правда" биб-ка "Огонек", Москва, 1959
  3. ^ Moser (1992, 274).
  4. ^ Banham (1998, 861) and Eriksen, MacLeod, and Wisneski (1960, 471).


  • Banham, Martin, ed. 1998. The Cambridge Guide to Theatre. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. ISBN 0-521-43437-8.
  • Eriksen, Gordon, Garrard MacLeod, and Martin Wisneski, ed. 1960. Encyclopædia Britannica 15th Edition. Volume 9.
  • Moser, Charles A., ed. 1992. The Cambridge History of Russian Literature. Rev. ed. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. ISBN 0-521-42567-0.