the short story project

On the Day of the Crucifixion

Olga Sonkin On:

On the Day of the Crucifixion by Leonid Andreyev

Leonid Andreyev, a sterling, odd talent in the Russian literary landscape of the early twentieth century, wrote dark stories, which might even be described as gothic; his writing is more easily associated with Western traditions than classic Russian literature, and despite being a great success among readers and one of the best-selling authors of his era, he was hated by the critics of his time. “On the Day of the Crucifixion” is a very short story that describes a single episode, which Andreyev imbues with incredible force, irony and pathos, all of which manage to coexist in the story in perfect harmony. Long before Bulgakov’s Pontius Pilate suffered from a migraine, Andreyev’s Ben-Tovit suffered from a toothache. Andreyev was the first (let alone in Russia) to write about the events of the New Testament as historical events, with the symbolism, realism and grotesque unique to him alone.