Abortion from a Soviet Classic

Mikhail Sholokhov, Quiet Flows the Don. 1934


Sholokhov wrote his masterpiece from 1926-1940. Quiet flows the Don became a Soviet bestseller. Sholokhov was awarded the Stalin Prize in 1941 and the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1965 for this work.

Original Source: Mikhail Sholokhov, Tikhii Don: roman. Moskva: Gos. izd-vo “Khudozhestvennaia lit-ra”, 1935-1940.

Book IV, Part 7

Natalya rose with an effort and walked unsteadily to the bed. Only then did Ilyinichna notice that her skirt was soaked in blood and clung wetly to her legs. She stared in horror as Natalya wrung out the hem as if she had been caught in the rain and began to undress.

‘You’ve lost so much blood!’ Ilyinichna said with a sob.

Natalya took off her clothes and closed her eyes, breathing in short quick gasps. Ilyinichna looked at her once more and then made resolutely for the kitchen. With difficulty she roused Pantelei and said, ‘Natalya’s ill… And it’s very bad, she might die… Harness up at once and go to the stanitsa for a doctor.’ …

Natalya came to, opened her eyes, licked her dry, bloodless, yellow lips with the tip of her tongue and asked for water. She no longer inquired about the children or her mother. Everything was drifting away from her — soon it would be gone for ever…

The doctor was there for another half an hour… ‘It’s hopeless. I’d be only too glad to help Grigory Panteleyevich, but, honestly, there’s nothing I can do. We’re not ambitious. We only heal the sick and we haven’t learned yet how to resurrect the dead. Your little woman has been so cut up that she’s got nothing to live with. The uterus is torn to shreds. The old woman must have gone at it with an iron hook. It’s the price of our benighted ignorance. Can’t be helped!’…

After an hour [Natalya] took a turn for the worse. She beckoned her children, hugged them, made the sign of the cross, kissed them and asked her mother to take them home with her. Lukinichna charged Agrippina with the task and herself stayed with her elder daughter…

[Natalya] died at noon.

Excerpt from Mikhail Sholokhov, Quiet flows the Don (New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, Inc., 1996), pp. 1088-1093.

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