Anathema (Kuprin)

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Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A powerful archdeacon, moved by a story he read, defied church authorities by refusing to anathematize a beloved writer, choosing instead to bless him, and decided to leave the church.

Father Deacon Olympy was a large man with a powerful voice, who was well-known and adored by the people in his city. He was married to a stern, thin woman who treated him harshly.

Father Olympy — archdeacon; immense stature, powerful voice; gentle, condescending; lover of books; conflicted about his role in the church.
Archdeacon's Wife — small, thin, sallow-faced woman; stern, hysterical, and controlling.

Despite his immense stature and strength, Olympy was afraid of his wife, who was prone to fits of hysteria. The couple had no children, as the wife was barren.

One day, Olympy read a beautiful story about life in the Caucasus, which deeply moved him. The story was filled with vivid descriptions of soldiers, Cossacks, and Chechens living, fighting, and loving in the wild landscape. The tale stirred something within Olympy, making him question his place in the clergy.

Everything that God has made is for man's joy.

During a church service, Olympy was instructed by the archbishop to anathematize the "boyard Leo Tolstoy." As he began to recite the terrible words of anathema and excommunication, the beautiful words from the story he had read the night before came to his mind. He suddenly realized that he could not bring himself to curse the author of such a beautiful story.

Instead of lowering his candle as required in the rite of anathematization, Olympy raised it high above his head and wished the boyard Leo Tolstoy a long life. The choir, moved by his actions, joyfully sang "Long life! Long life!" in response.

To the joy of our earth, to the ornament and the flower of our life, to the true comilitant and servant of Christ, to the boyard Leo.

After the service, Olympy's wife berated him for his actions, fearing the consequences they would face. However, Olympy declared that he would no longer serve in the church, as his soul could not bear it. He believed in Christ and the Apostolic Church, but felt no wrath towards the author of the beautiful story. His wife, for the first time, was silenced by his stern words and burst into tears.

I'll go as a common laborer, become a switchman or a janitor, but I won't serve in the church any more.

Olympy walked away, a dark and majestic figure, like a monument.