The complete (530) stories of Anton Chekhov: synopses, comments and ratings

(actualisé le ) by Ray

Anton Chekhov (1860-1904) was without a doubt the most prolific writer of short stories of all time, with 530 published stories to his credit before his premature death from tuberculosis at the age of 44, as well as 2 novels [1], 16 plays [2] and a considerable number of comical essays and other articles.

Here you will find a complete list of all of his 530 short stories, novelettes and novellas in chronological order of initial publication, with for each entry:

  • an overview of the story;
  • a classification by theme (drama, humour, satire, etc.);
  • our comments on the literary merits of the text;
  • a note from 1-10, where :
    • 10=> one of the greatest short stories of all time;
    • 9.5=> one of his most outstanding works;
    • 9=> one of his best works;
    • 8.5=> a ’must’ read;
    • 8=> a (very) good read;
    • others=> not in the same category as the above, for the reasons indicated.

This catalog has now been updated to include the 204 untranslated stories to date that are identified elsewhere on this site.

Stories for which the title is highlighted can be seen in full by clicking on the title.


TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. THE COMPLETE 530 STORIES: OVERVIEWS, COMMENTS AND RATINGS

2. INDEX OF STORIES IN ALPHABETIC ORDER

3. ANALYSES

4. QUALITY ASSESSMENT

5. OTHER WORKS INCLUDED IN SOME ANTHOLOGIES OF CHEKHOV STORIES

6. REFERENCES


1. THE COMPLETE 530 STORIES, NOVELETTES AND NOVELLAS

short story: < 7,500 words; novelette: 7,500-17,499 words; novella: 17,500-40,000 words; novel: > 40,000 words.

date 1st pub. English_Title______ Alternate Title Type/
Theme
Synopsis/Comments_____________________________ Rat-
ing
1 1880-03-09 A Letter to a Learned Neighbour Letter to a Scientific Neighbour humour A retired nobleman writes to his neighbour, a famous scientist, to declare how much he would like to meet him now that he has been living next door to him for the past year, and insists at length on his own interest in science. He does mention, however, that he cannot agree with the scientist’s declarations about man having descended from the apes, because if that were true people would think that women who smell like monkeys would be pleasing, and anyway we aren’t covered in fur and we wear clothes, and if people were descended from monkeys they would have to dance on tables in gypsy saloons. Also, he doesn’t agree with what he has said about the moon, because if there could be people living on the moon their slops would fall on the Earth, and anyway the moon disappears during the day. All of that and more is expressed in the most deferential manner possible, and at the end the man insists on their shared interests and explains a number of his own scientific discoveries such as the fact that winter days are short because they shrink due to the cold. He concludes with a mention of his daughter who would like the scientist to visit with some clever books, and asks him to beat the bearer of the letter if he has gone to the tavern on the way.
- A clever and amusing little work.
7
2 1880-05-11 Chase Two Rabbits, Catch None humour Major Shchelkolobov, a prosperous land-owner, has overheard his wife declaring that she doesn’t love him because of his boorish ways and calling him a peasant. Outraged by these revelations, he takes her out boating and takes out his whip to teach her a lesson, but the lady fights back and they both end up in the water in danger of drowning. But Ivan Pavlovich, previously a servant of theirs, hears their cries and swims out to their aid. Where he realizes that he can only save one of them while they are both promising him the moon. The story ends badly for Ivan, of course.
- clearly intended to be a humoristic critique of the upper half of society, its simplistic moralism may have been of some interest in its time.
6
3 1880-06-29 Papa Papasha humour Mother comes to see Papa about complaining to the teacher of their fifteen-year-old son’s terrible marks that will prevent him from finally advancing to the fourth grade. She pretends not to have noticed the maid sitting on Papasha’s knees when she came in, but menaces to bring the subject up if he doesn’t comply, so off he goes to the teacher’s. Where he enters unannounced to find the teacher in the company of a pretty and scantily-dressed young woman. After pleading and then offering money and then threatening, they do come to an understanding and everyone is happy about the outcome.
- a slight farce that might have amused the author’s student friends at the time.
6
4 1880-07-06 My Jubilee
 [3]
humour a short 400-word mock-celebration by a (presumably fictitious) author of the 2,000th rejection of his texts by editors. 4
5 1880-07-27 A Thousand and One Passions, A Scary Night humour Sub-titled “A Timid Imitation of Victor Hugo”, this is a macabre tale recounted by a man full of hate for his rival who starts off by killing him and his coachman, slaughters the horses and then proceeds to accost the rival’s fiancée who ends up by falling into his arms and they go off happily married to America – or not, as the account ends with the horrible narrator denying it ever happened..
- intended to be a parody of gothic tales, this short 3-page skit that was actually published in a humorous newspaper is so exaggerated that it’s not scary, just silly.
5
6 1880-08-17 Little Apples Because of Little Apples drama Trifon Semyonovitch is a landowner who discovers a boy and a girl eating apples in his orchard. He first subjects them to a rather nasty tirade and then obliges each of them to beat the other for their misdeed. The young couple, who had been amorously inclined, never talked to each other afterwards, quite understandably.
- A somewhat unpleasant story about a very unpleasant man, that quite failed to amuse us.
6
7 1880-10-12 Before the Wedding satire A young (not very attractive or intelligent) woman has an engagement party at her parent’s house and the next morning her mother, her father and her future bridegroom each in turn give her a long and most unpleasant lecture about how she should behave to everyone after the wedding. The story then ends with the comment “what will happen after the wedding, I believe, is known not only to prophets and somnambulists.”
- Everyone is awful: not very funny and certainly not an enduring masterpiece.
5
8 1880-12-07 À l’Américaine humour A fellow announces his intention of finding a suitable bride, first outlining his own many qualities and some defaults (small, bad teeth, ugly, graceless, poor) then listing those of his future better half: female, 15-30, blond, blue-eyed, slim, must not be garrulous, must love the magazines he writes for, etc., etc., and above all must have a minimum of two hundred thousand roubles in silver.
- A very simple, basic little skit.
6
9 1880-12-07 Artists’ Wives the feminine condition We follow a starving writer in a boarding-house in Lisbon as he visits each of his fellow-artist neighbours (painters, singers, sculptors) in turn, trying to borrow money or at least to get something to eat from them. Like him they are all convinced of their inherent greatness, they all have the same patron who keeps them barely alive, and they all mistreat their wives miserably. Not surprisingly, the story ends with an admonition to women to take heed and not ever, ever to marry an artist.
- An interesting piece of talented juvenilia.
7
10 1881-06-29 Saint Peter’s Day hunting story This starts off promisingly with “The morning of the desired, long-dreamed day has come; – June 29th ... The day has come when debts, bugs, expensive grubs, mother-in-law and even young wives are forgotten – the day on which the police officer, forbidden to shoot, can be given twenty cookies…", and goes on to describe a rather chaotic hunting expedition where everyone behaves badly and ends up being unhappy with everyone else, and the wrathful host finding an unpleasant surprise under his wife’s bed on coming back home.
- a fairly enjoyable tale with a tinge of social criticism. Not very funny, though.
7
11 1881-09-29 On the Train In a Carriage;
- In the Train Car
humour A set of comments and conversations in a passenger train, recounting small incidents of a somewhat humorous nature: a woman throws another’s bag off the train by mistake, thinking she had missed the train; passengers without tickets bribe the conductor; a pickpocket makes off with the narrator’s suitcase.
- A very primary level of humour, obviously dashed off without much thought.
6
12 1881-
10
This and That: Four Vignettes humour Four very brief sketches involving more or less comic situations: a love scene brutally interrupted by two bugs; a mother who thinks that the Belvedere Apollo statue is a friend of her son; a tryst interrupted by a school inspector at lunch-time; and an improvisation in a student performance of Hamlet.
- Two pages of pleasant but distinctly juvenile humour.
6
13 1881-10-23 The Trial humour Neighbours are crowding around the hut of Kuzma Ezorov, who is accusing his son Seraphion of having stolen twenty-five roubles from a drawer. Several neighbours are sitting around the central table like a panel of judges, mostly emitting menacing comments like “Give him a whipping!”. Kuzma eventually does take off his belt and gives him twenty-five whacks, only to discover that the money had been found by his wife in his own pocket.
- A sort-of-amusing little sketch.
6
14 1881-12-06 Sarah Bernhardt Comes to Town This and That (Letters and telegrams) humour A series of comments in the form of telegrams about the concerts of Sarah Bernhardt in Russia, some moderately amusing (“If you don’t send me a ticket for Sarah Bernhard tonight, don’t bother coming home.”), some unpleasantly abusive (“It’s just rubbish...A waste of money.”; “Thousands of Russian Orthodox Christians... thronging to the theatre to lay their money at the feet of that Jewess”).
- we reluctantly bow to the majority opinion of Russian critics to classify this feeble effort as a story.
5
15 1881-12-23 The Sinner from Toledo A Sinner from Toledo drama Maria is a young woman of Spanish and French heritage (“From her father she inherited Gallic carelessness and that boundless gaiety that is so attractive in French women, from her mother – a purely Spanish body. Beautiful, always cheerful, intelligent, who devoted her life to cheerful Spanish idleness and arts, she did not shed a single tear until she was twenty”) who marries the young sailor Spalanzo for love. But she lives in Toledo, the centre of the Spanish Inquisition, and is seen one evening looking particularly beautiful in the moonlight by a young and very fanatical monk. Shortly thereafter she is pronounced a witch by the bishop, the hunt is on and a proclamation is made to provide absolution for anyone who finds her. That very-desirable absolution proves to be too tempting a prize to resist for her loving husband.
- A forceful denunciation of the inhuman inhumanity of the Spanish church of those terrible times – surprising but effective and impressive.
8.5
16 1882
 [4]
The Secrets of the Hundred and Forty-Four Catastrophes, or the Russian Rocambole
 [3]
humour Starting off promisingly with “It was midnight. Nature was capering like an old maid. The moon buried itself in black clouds and did not look at the ground. The autumn rain pounded on the windows with fierce fury... The oaks were bent and the pines were broken. The wind moaned like an angry one and tore at anything and everything…” this elaborate 2,200-word spoof of conspirators conspiring against one another for the love of a certain Marguerite rapidly declines into a series of decidedly juvenile and distinctly farcical episodes.
- understandably never printed during the author’ lifetime.
5
17 1882-02-03 In a Wolf’s Cage
 [3]
hunting story A tongue-in-cheek but eventually severe description of a supposedly comical hunt whereby imprisoned wolves and a fox are released in an arena to be savaged by masses of dogs much to the delight of a crowd of ignorant spectators.
- suitably cynical but nevertheless excessively caricatural and carelessly written.
6
18 1882-02-25 I Forget!!
 [3]
humour A harassed middle-age husband tries to recall why he’d been sent by his wife and daughter to a music shop and tries to remember why by bursting into song, to no avail. All’s well that ends well, though.
- a mildly funny spoof of a married man’s everyday travails.
7
19 1882-02-26 Life as a Series of Questions and Exclamations humour Entirely in the form of a series of rhetorical questions and exclamations for each stage of a person’s life such as “Childhood. What is it, a boy or a girl? When’s the christening? A strapping lad! Mama, don’t drop him! Ah, Ah! He’ll fall!! Has he cut his teeth? Has he got eczema? Take the cat from him, otherwise she’ll scratch him! ...”.
- This very brief one-page account of a man’s life as seen through the exclamations of his family as he grows up and then his own reflections as he confronts life is a distinctly juvenile attempt at humour somewhat resembling a prototype of a theatrical sketch.
4
20 1882-03-20 A Confession, or Olya, Zhenya, Zoya Confession, or Olya, Zhenya, Zoya humour A thirty-nine year-old man writes to a lady friend who had asked him why he had never yet married, and explains with three examples of cases (there were many other occasions, these were just examples) when he had been on the verge of proposing to a woman he was in love with when something unexpected happened to ruin the event and the whole project.
- An amusing series of almost-silly incidents that nevertheless are sufficiently credible to be acceptable for this kind of pleasantry.
8
21 1882-04-23 Green Scythe drama Green Scythe is a lovely dacha on the Black Sea where the narrator and his friends love to spend their summers, partly because of the charm of the buildings and the beauty of the surroundings, but mostly because of the vivacious Olya, daughter of the owner of the dacha, the very severe widow the Princess Mikshadze. Life is gay there for all those young people, but there is a problem: Olga had promised her father Prince Mikshadze on his deathbed that she would marry the young Chaykhidzev, son of the Prince’s best friend, whereas Olya and the young Lieutenant Egorov, a neighbour, were secretly in love. So the narrator and his friends arrange for Olya to hide away in the garden gazebo with Egorov during the ball held to officialise the engagement with Chaykhidzev, and compose a formal letter of explanation and reclamation in Egorov’s favour the next morning after the abortive engagement ball. All turns out well at the end for the young lovers.
- A quite charming narrative in a charming location.
8.5
22 1882-05-07 “The Date, Although it Took Place, But …”
 [3]
humour Gvozdikov is so happy to have received a love letter from his beloved Sonya that fixed an amorous rendezvous for him that very evening that he celebrates by drinking a great many bottles of beer, so that when he finally goes out for a breath of air the rendezvous does actually take place, but not the way either of them had expected.
- a mildly amusing piece of fun.
7
23 1882-05-20 The Correspondent
 [3]
humour A lengthy description of a very alcoholized wedding reception during which an elderly journalist is challenged in the early hours of the morning by the very tipsy host to write a lengthy article for the big-town newspapers, which he spends all night doing – only to be thrown out when he shows up at eight o’clock the next morning with the article in question that has a comment in it about the host that does not go down well.
- not as amusing or clever or vitriolic as was no doubt intended.
6
24 1882-06-18 A Living Chattel

14,000-word novelette
drama Groholsky, a wealthy aristocrat, is embracing Liza in her sitting-room, and is in the process of proposing that she run away with him when her husband Bugrov, a sedate civil servant, enters the room. Whereupon Groholsky tells all to Bugrov and proposes a financial recompense. After upping the stakes the husband finally agrees to hand over his wife – but not their little son. Later on they meet up in a southern resort when Bugrov arrives in luxurious conditions with the boy, and Lisa starts to realise that she is bored with her new life with Groholsky and begins to regret, not her former life, but: a) her son and b) the flashy new lifestyle of her husband. Finally Bugrov drives another good bargain and goes off to live with both Lisa and the boy in a grand property that used to belong to Groholsky, who sort of tags along because he just can’t live without Lisa.
- An elaborate tale of a marriage triangle with humorous overtones.
8
25 1882-06-18 Village Doctors Rural Surgeons humour The doctor is out hunting so his place has been taken for the day by his two assistants, both quite incompetent in medical manners but brash and authoritative when it comes to dealing with patients. We follow their antics as they prescribe various pills and remedies, particularly their favourite, bicarbonate of soda.
- A satire on the medical profession hidden behind the outward farce.
7
26 1882-06-22 Lost Business
 [3]
A Lost Cause;
- A Lost Case
humour The narrator recounts how on a lovely spring day he’d gone to see his beloved Varya to empty his heart and soul to her. He’d mumbled incoherently a few phrases while his beloved looked at him encouragingly, and then he explained to her how poor he was, and although she mentioned that she had a dowry, carried away by his flame for frankness he explained to her that he’d eat that up in no time and that she’ll have to live a life of poverty with him in any case. Varya thought about it for a moment, thanked him and left town the next day, leaving our poor fellow cursing his foolishness.
- an amusing little tale.
8
27 1882-06-26 Bad Story!
 [3]
humour In the words of the author: “Nogtev is a young man of about 24, brunette, with passionate Georgian eyes, a beautiful moustache and pale cheeks. He never paints anything, but he is an artist.” The not-so-young Lelia who meets him at a ball is certain that he’s in love with her and invites him to her father’s estate for a visit, where after much shyness and evasiveness he finally confesses one lovely spring evening what he really wants to do with her, and the story ends badly.
- a very light-hearted tale with a distinctly juvenile touch.
7
28 1882-06-29 The Twenty-ninth of June
 [3]
hunting story A group of hunters sets out enthusiastically early on a glorious summer morning, but arguments break out, and although they all have known each other for ages, with the help of too much wine and food they begin to talk too frankly, the expedition breaks down and the day ends unhappily for all.
- a somewhat less successful variant of Saint Peter’s Day that had been published the same day a year earlier.
6.5
29 1882-07-13 Which One of the Three?
 [3]
the feminine condition Nadya is proposed to on a lovely summer evening by the not-young and not-at-all-handsome Ivan Gavrilovich, and he says she’ll reply in a day or two. She leaves him to join her lover to ask him to marry her instead but as that doesn’t work out she has a talk with a handsome neighbour whom she tells not to marry her, and when he (unexpectedly) agrees she finally writes her reply to Ivan Gavrilovich. Thus the reader knows the answer to the title question.
- a quite nice story about not all-that-nice people.
7.5
30 1882-07-23 He and She
 [3]
love story A cynical, almost hostile description of the social wining and dining of a world-famous star actress (possibly inspired by Sarah Bernhardt) and her hanger-on parasite of a husband that evolves into a surprisingly sensitive analysis of their relationship.
- an early version of the 1885 story Mari d’Elle.
8
31 1882-07-25 The Fair
 [3]
portrait of life in Russia An off-putting description of an awful provincial town full of awful people where at the awful fair with awful clowns and actors and musicians boys and girls manage to enjoy themselves much to the disdain of the very cynical and obviously big-town narrator.
- were people and places really all that bad in those bad old days?
7
32 1882-07-30 The Baroness
 [3]
drama The Baroness Strelkova is furious because her coachman Stepan hasn’t come to work that day, and she drives over to his father’s house to tell him that if his son comes back to work for her he’ll get fifteen roubles instead of ten. The father insists that Stepan does so, and although Stepan’s young wife is in tears and begs him to stay away from that woman, Stepan does go back after receiving a beating from his father. Then we see Stepan dressed in fine livery driving the Baroness far out into the countryside every evening and coming back late at night, a ritual that takes place every night much to the Baroness’s contentment. But when Stepan’s father comes to the Baroness demanding money and goods, the Baroness refuses, Stepan’s wife is thrown out of the house by his father and things go from bad to worse for her and for Stepan. But the Baroness finds a replacement for him right away.
- a cruel story with a strong social content.
8
33 1882-10-17 Late-blooming Flowers

11,500-word novelette
drama The story begins with Princess Maroussia Priklonsky and her mother pleading with the Prince Yegorushka to give up his depraved ways, citing as models his distinguished father and grandfather and also Toporkov, the brilliant nephew of his servant Nicephorus, who had become a renowned physician. Finally Yegorushka does promise to reform, but three days later he has come home inebriated and is so sick afterwards that mother and sister call in the famous Doctor Toporkov as a last resort. And then Maroussia came down with pneumonia! But the efficient and imposing, rather haughty doctor takes good care of both of them and a week later they have both recovered. They see him regularly passing in front of their house on visits, and then there is a curious incident when a matchmaker comes to the door on behalf of the doctor proposing a match – but the Priklonskys are heavily in debt and end up in bankruptcy. Maroussia finally goes to Doctor Toporkov’s office for medical help, and after a number of visits she declares that she loves him. The doctor is moved by this confession and leaves with her for the south of France.
- A rather convoluted medical drama, with some nice and other moving passages, too drawn out and melodramatic to be fully convincing but nevertheless most readable.
8
34 1882-11-20 An Unsuccessful Visit humour A dandy pays a visit to a house that he has never been to before and is met by a pretty young thing of sixteen in a cotton dress. He calls her “peach” and “little vixen” and gives her a tap on her “waist” and orders her to announce him. When he meets the lady of the house, she introduces him to the young girl in the cotton dress as her daughter.
- A brief and not particularly funny one-pager.
5
35 1882-11-20 Encountered
 [3]
drama The narrator is dead tired and starts to dream but he’s woken up time and again by a racket next door where people are singing and yes, drinking. Finally he rushes over there only to find his director among the revellers, and the story ends badly (for him), of course. 7
36 1882-12-16 The Good Friend
 [3]
love story A little half-page, 400-word sketchy skit about how a fellow’s budding romance for a pretty young thing at a skating rink is spoiled by the inappropriate comments of a friend passing by. 5
37 1882-12-16 Two Scandals
 [3]
love story A young opera singer is so enamoured by her dashing conductor that she cannot concentrate on her art, thereby arousing vitriolic comments by the object of her adoration. But eventually he does notice her lovely eyes and hair and all the rest, but that comes to a brutal end when she inadvertently causes a scandal by appearing on stage in street clothes. Years after he had thrown her out on the streets in the cold he runs into her again in a concert and belatedly and drunkenly recognizes what a macho monster he’d been.
- a terrific theme lacking the elegance of his later works.
7.5
38 1882-12-18 An Idyll – But Alas! The Idyll – Alas and Ah! drama Grish, an impoverished friend of the narrator’s, invites him to visit his uncle of whom he is always speaking lovingly and who has left everything to Grish in his will. The narrator visits the wizened old man, who is surrounded with the loving attentions of Grish and Grish’s attentive fiancée, and who is regaling everyone with the tales of how he had accumulated all his riches in the frontier town of Skopin. But the narrator has brought the day’s newspaper which announces the bankruptcy of Skopin’s only bank, and the joyful reunion comes to a rapid close. A week later he learns from Grish that all relations had been cut off with the now-penniless old man (who was only his stepmother’s third cousin thrice removed), as well as with the former fiancée, who had been counting on the old fellow’s fortune.
- A simple tale of greed and deception that somehow seems less amusing today than it might have seemed at the time.
6.5
39 1882-12-20 The Baron
 [3]
theatrical drama A very worn-down old man with threadbare clothes has spent his whole life frequenting theatres and is finishing his days as a prompter, a role that he takes so seriously that he cannot prevent himself from intervening in a performance of Hamlet that he passionately feels is being poorly done.
- a convincing and even moving – although hopefully somewhat caricatural – portrayal of the theatrical world.
8.5
40 1882-12-31 Revenge
 [3]
theatrical drama A comedian takes revenge on an actress who refuses for sentimental reasons to lend him her precious dressing-gown that he needs to be convincing in his role by spoiling that night’s performance.
- no doubt insightful about the goings-on in the theatrical world, this is nevertheless too drawn-out and repetitive – not one of the author’s most convincing works about that profession.
6.5
41 1883
 [1]
Mama and Mr. Lentovsky
 [3]
humour At half-past two in the morning an author is disturbed in his “writing a bad novella” by his mother who enthusiastically tells him about all the extravagantly-dressed foreigners she’d seen at the Hermitage, and the author doesn’t want to spoil her pleasure by telling her that the handsome foreigner she’d been admiring all evening was a perfectly Russian personality whom he recognized from her description.
- an amusing little two-page skit.
7.5
42 1883
 [1]
The Ingenuity of Mr. Rodon
 [3]
humour The actor Rodon saves his theatre from being destroyed by flames by dressing up as a fireman, which inspires his fellow actors to do the same and save the day.
- a tiny half-page skit, as silly as only students can be during their studious studies.
5
43 1883
 [1]
The Sheet of Paper
 [3]
satire Three short skits over a page and a half about the traditional Russian ceremony of signing one’s name on a sheet of paper at a person’s home on New Year’s Day to show one’s respects: in one case all of the signatures are forged by a calligrapher hired for the purpose, in another all the visitors are summoned the next day to come and sign again as the sheet has been stolen to be sold as waste paper, and in the last case the sheet of a retired official has remained blank all day as no one came.
- interesting from an historical-societal point of view but not particularly from a literary one.
6
44 1883
 [1]
The Villains and Mr. Egorov
 [3]
humour The narrator is deeply grateful to the Mr. Egorov in question for having saved his life when three huge marauders armed with axes had broken into his bedroom but had been frightened off by Mr. Egorov’s talents in imitating the barking of ferocious hounds.
- amusing in spite of its excessive (half-page) brevity.
7
45 1883-01 Experienced
 [3]
satire The narrator has a bad time during the New Year’s Day ceremony of signing his name on the sheet laid out for that purpose at his superior’s residence when one of his colleagues threatens to put squiggles or a blot of ink – signs of disrespect – on his signature.
- another slightly-amusing one-page satire of subservience in the administration..
6
46 1883-01 Reluctant Scammers
 [3]
humour A New Year’s Eve celebration is underway at Dyadechkin’s house but the poor fellow isn’t allowed by his wife to have anything more to drink – he’d had a heavy lunch – until the clock strikes midnight, so he surreptitiously moves the clock hand forward to cut his suffering short. But his plans are unexpectedly thwarted.
- a rather neat idea but somehow not exactly hilarious.
6
47 1883-01-05 Masquerades
 [3]
satire Seven brief sketches of people masquerading either openly (a drunken sailor as an officer, a theatre advertising its morality) or secretly (a rich woman pretending to be happy, a wealthy man who knows he’s facing bankruptcy, a lawyer appearing to be a poet, a hungry peasant pretending to be having fun, a money-obsessed doctor pretending to be dedicated to science)
- a regrettably too-short (one-page) development of a powerful theme indeed.
7
48 1883-01-05 The Crooked Mirror
 [3]
drama A couple visits the old abandoned house of their ancestors and the husband tells his wife of the fantastic properties of a strange mirror that had fascinated his great-grandmother all her life. So his wife looks into the mirror with catastrophic consequences.
- a rather good 1000-word story in the fantastic vein.
8
49 1883-01-08 Rapture Joy humour A young man bursts into his parents’ house at midnight in a great state of excitement, wakes up the whole household and announces to them that he is now famous all over Russia because he had gotten his name into the newspaper. He gets his father to read out loud the newspaper account of how he had been run over (in an advanced state of drunkenness) by a passing carriage. Having been taken to the hospital, he had been given a cold compress and declared fit. In a great state of excitement at his new-found celebrity, he then rushes off to wake up all his acquaintances with his big news.
- A very, very light adolescent bit of fun.
6
50 1883-01-08 Two in One satire The narrator is a senior civil servant who for once in his life takes a public streetcar with the hoi polloi, keeping his coat collar high and his cap low to avoid being recognised by the vulgar masses. He is amazed to see one of his staff, a particularly servile fellow, lording it over one and all in a most extraverted manner. When he makes himself known, the man immediately reassumes the humble mien and manner he always adopts in the office.
- A little 2-page sketch that has not lost its sting.
7.5
51 1883-01-08 Two Romantic Stories
 [3]
humour In two brief episodes a doctor recounts his motivations for marriage and the following discovery of the (very) chatty wife hidden behind the bride in scientific and medical language; and a reporter describes his own marriage and the extra-matrimonial adventures of his wife in lurid journalistic prose.
- clever and amusing
7.5
52 1883-01-16 Rejected Love
 [3]
love story A one-page love story that starts out promisingly (“The moon peeks through the shifting patterns of high-flying clouds and casts its light on loving couples, cooing under the shade of orange and orange blossom.”) about a Spanish hidalgo singing for hours under the window of the object of his adoration, only to finish rejected and worse.
- calling this caricatural would be an under-statement, but it does have a certain tiny charm.
7
53 1883-01-19 Confession
 [3]
moral fable Grigory Kuzmich is delighted to have been appointed treasurer and is pleasantly surprised to find that everyone is suddenly extremely amiable with him, and not only invites him to visit their homes and meet their daughters but also borrow increasingly large amount of money from him and always come to his parties. As he borrows funds from the treasury to maintain his lifestyle there’s no need to explain how the story ends.
- a nicely-recounted modern fable.
8
54 1883-01-22 Cases of Mania Grandiosa
 [3]
satire Starting with the declaration “That civilization, in addition to benefit, has brought terrible harm to humanity, no one will doubt. Physicians especially insist on this, not without reason seeing in progress the cause of nervous disorders, so often observed in the last decades”, the text proceeds to cite the cases of four eccentrics with ludicrous obsessions.
- a one-page satirical effort that falls flat to our modern sensibilities.
6
55 1883-01-22 On a Dark Night
 [3]
drama On an effectively dark and rainy night an engineer and his wife are driving along a very awful road full of pot-holes and the carriage eventually stops dead. When the engineer gets out to try to disengage the carriage he falls into a ravine and in fury is about to strike the carriage driver when his wife tells him to remember a recent train accident involving a ravine and thus saved the coachman.
- the very barest (1-page) bones of a story that was lucky to get published in the first place.
4
56 1883-01-22 The Only Means
 [3]
satire In the narrator’s office nine treasurers in a row had been arrested for embezzlement and the narrator recounts the one and only way that they finally found to prevent the tenth one from following in his predecessors’ footsteps – admittedly a rather expensive method but finally much cheaper than what they would have lost if the stealing had continued.
- a short two-page comedy that is undeniably clever, funny and even interestingly perceptive.
8
57 1883-01-24 A Hypnotism Session A Seance;
A Hypnotic Seance
satire The narrator recounts his participation in a public demonstration of a celebrated hypnotist, when he only fell under the hypnotist’s influence when he felt a 5-rouble note being pressed into his hand.
- A satire on doubtful medical practices – at the time hypnotism came into that category – in the mask of a semi-farcical sketch.
7
58 1883-01-29 Gone
 [3]
humour After a copious lunch a husband asks his wife to tell him something and she recounts with indignation how a certain Sophie had had the gall to marry a notorious scoundrel who had gotten rich by outright thievery, and when she exclaims her disgust with that Sophie for marrying a dishonest man, the husband explains to her where all the jewelery and fine clothes she’d had lately had come from, so she leave him… to go into the next room.
- a cynical little (500-words) skit.
7.5
59 1883-02-05 A Lawyer’s Romance: A Protocol humour In legalistic language a lawyer writes to a judge requesting a divorce on the grounds that as he no longer loves his wife he has been steadily drinking in various establishments for the past five years, so he qualifies for the divorce on the grounds that his wife hasn’t known where he has been for that period of time, the legal delay for declaring a person disappeared.
- A 1-page spoof of a marriage gone down the guilty party’s gullet.
5
60 1883-02-05 On a Nail
 [3]
humour An employee takes a group of colleagues home to his birthday party but they see their director’s coat hanging on a nail in the hall-way so they go out to a tavern to wait for him to leave. But when they go back another senior official’s coat is hanging up there.
- not as funny as it sounds, which isn’t saying much.
6
61 1883-02-07 At the Barber’s In the Carousel humour We are in the unkempt, dirty and poorly-equipped barbershop of the young Makar early in the morning when his godfather comes in and tells him that he needs his head shaved on doctor’s orders after a long sickness. Makar gets to work and has half-shaved the head when his godfather tells him that his daughter Anna has been betrothed to a fellow with some means and will be married in a week. Makar suddenly breaks into tears as he had intentions on Anna, and the haircutting and all friendly relations between the two come to an abrupt halt for ever.
- A light comedy of popular ways and mores with a touching note of real sympathy for the stark realities of life low down on the social scale.
7.5
62 1883-02-07 Modern Prayers
 [3]
humour A series of short mock prayers by a playwright to various muses (of music, singing, poetry, theatre, etc.) that all reveal the prayer’s fatuousness.
- a short (1-page) indirect plunge into a writer’s psyche that was perhaps meant to be humorous.
6
63 1883-02-10 A Woman Without Prejudice
 [5]
love story Maxim Kuzmich, a big, handsome, immensely strong athletic fellow is hopelessly in love with the pretty little Elena Gavrilovna and was pale and trembling when he finally proposed to her, a proposal that she gladly accepted as she was crazy about him. All went well even though Maxim had a terrible secret that a friend was blackmailing him about and that he couldn’t bring himself to confess to Elena until their wedding night. But things worked out well in a surprising way…
- an utterly charming tale that hasn’t dated a day.
9
64 1883-02-12 A Council
 [3]
satire A man having a council outside an impressively large door with an official talks about his affair that has been under consideration for three years and he politely asks if his supervisor would accept a present of two or even three hundred roubles in his honour. Which the official indignantly rejects – unless it were question of for example a thousand, when a voice cries out “two thousand” from behind the door and the council ends.
- although there is a disclaimer at the end of this one-page scene saying “no one should think ill of this”, the notion of bribery of state officials has been clearly evoked.
7.5
65 1883-02-12 Advice humour A one-page conversation between a carpenter and his client involving the client’s main customer and how much he needs to be bribed to maintain his custom.
- Really an ultra-brief and not particularly amusing theatrical sketch with two actors.
5
66 1883-02-12 Grateful
 [3]
humour Ivan Petrovich gives his subordinate Misha Bobov the sum of three hundred roubles, explaining that he’s only doing it because his wife so effectively and insistently asked him to do it, so Misha rushes off to thank Ivan’s wife, a distant relative of his, and his thanks become so heated that his moustache brushes her cheek, his hand wanders to her waist, and so on. When Ivan comes in they innocently wonder why he seems so upset…
- an undeniably-entertaining two-page skit.
7
67 1883-02-12 The Cross satire A poet comes home to announce that a poem of his had won a cross, and when the family expresses surprise that crosses are awarded for poems and want to know what decoration was awarded, he shows them the manuscript with a large red cross of censorship across it.
- A very brief 2-page unveiled denunciation of the censorship in effect under the Czarist regime.
7
68 1883-02-15 The Zealot
 [3]
satire An official is setting down to at long last put pen to paper to write an essay on the freedom of the press that he’s been mentally preparing for twenty years. The work is going well when his secretary brings in the daily press as usual, which he has a look at, but the contents of all the journals, especially one criticizing him personally, make him drop his writing project to issue new instructions to cancel a certain number of subscriptions.
- a very short (600 words) and not particularly convincing critique of officialdom’s hypocrisy.
6
69 1883-02-18 The Collection humour The narrator recounts how a friend of his had refused to provide him bread with his tea, showing him a collection of all the horrible objects that he had found in breads and other foodstuffs that he had been served over the years.
- A pun with a punch.
7
70 1883-02-19 A Ram and a Lady
 [3]
the feminine condition A young girl comes into a very bored official’s office to ask for a free ticket to her home town to visit parents and her fiancé, as she can’t afford to buy one herself. The official is no longer bored and becomes interested, asks her questions about her work and home town, offers her tea and one thing leads to another until the official has to leave for the theatre and explains to the young thing that she’s come to the wrong office.
- a subtle denunciation of male machoism that nevertheless doesn’t quite suite our more advanced modern attitudes towards the better and most beautiful half of humanity…
7
71 1883-02-19 Sentimentality
 [3]
the feminine condition The narrator recounts how he had summoned the governess of his children for her pay and then proceeded to deduct the number of days she didn’t actually work such as Sundays and sick days and also to deduct damages for the boy’s torn clothing and for broken crockery – and when the poor girl in tears reluctantly accepted the final sum of eleven roubles that he’d calculated he berated her for being so passive and gave her the an envelope with the full eighty roubles that she actually had coming to her. The governess explained that her previous employers hadn’t even given her anything, and the narrator ends up mentally congratulating himself on his sentimentality.
- a clear denunciation of the exploitation of women so prevalent in those bad old days.
8
72 1883-02-19 The Turnip
(A Folktale)
moral fable Starting with “Once upon a time” we learn that a little old man and his wife lived happily and had a son with a fat turnip instead of a head. When he was grown up they got all their relatives and friends and acquaintances to form a chain to all pull together on the turnip, and it became a great state councillor.
- This might imply that all great state councillors are turnip-heads, but that seems a bit excessive.
- This tiny 1-page, 166-word silly effort hardly merits the noble title of "short story" in our humble opinion.
3
73 1883-02-22 A Poisonous Incident
 [3]
humour A bored newspaper columnist is waiting in a newspaper office for the editor to come and give give him his pay and after doodling a while starts looking at the paper’s subscription list where he finds the name of the woman who had left him five years previously, robbing him of a thousand roubles in the process. Armed with the woman’s long-sought-for address he goes out to celebrate and visits his solicitor the next day.
- this 300-word story isn’t much longer than the above overview.
5
74 1883-02-26 The Triumph of the Victor
 [3]
satire The narrator went with his father and brother to dinner at the home of his brother’s revered boss where they were served a sumptuous dinner (pancakes with cream, fresh caviar, salmon, grated cheese and then sturgeon soup and partridges with gravy), drowned in a sea of wine and vodka. After dinner the narrator’s father constantly prodded him to laugh at the host’s remarks in the hope of being employed by him, while the host recounts how poor and miserable he used to be before rising in the ranks and how one of the guests – whom he promptly humiliates by making him sing songs and eat over-spiced bits of food – used to exploit him mercilessly. After which he instructs the narrator and his father to run around the table singing cock-a-doo, which they willingly do as the narrator thinks this will ensure him becoming an assistant clerk.
- an effective little 2-page satire on subservience in the world of officialdom.
8
75 1883-02-27 The Patriot
 [3]
humour Two Russians in a German health resort drink beer and talk about love and friendship and listen to the music of a torchlight parade, which they join under the influence of the evening’s delights. Finally one of them, overcome by emotion, gets up on a table and makes a comment about Germans that fortunalely for him is in Russian that no one else understands.
- a nicely-done little (1-page) joke.
7.5
76 1883-03-03 The Clever Janitor
 [3]
moral fable Filip the janitor has lofty ideals and lectures the kitchen staff each morning on the importance of learning and reading. After his lecture he goes outside to read a couple of pages of his favourite book but falls asleep after two pages of agricultural theory and dreams that everyone in the house and in the town was well-read and always carried books around with them. But he’s woken up by the bailiff and taken to the police station to be fined for sleeping in public, so the next day he’s changed his mind about the need for anyone to read books.
- a strange little 2-page moral fable.
7
77 1883-03-05 The Bridegroom
 [3]
humour A young man at a train station is saying good-bye, with tears and kisses, to a young woman who’s leaving him for a week, and he gives her twenty-five roubles to be given to a friend in payment of a debt. When the train starts to leave he curses himself for forgetting to ask her for a receipt and runs after the train shouting to her to send him one by mail.
- a very college-boy kind of little (1-page) joke.
6
78 1883-03-09 The Fool
 [3]
drama Prokhor Petrovich recounts how he had gotten engaged under the influence of sherry and his host’s daughter when he wasn’t even twenty and how his parents went to his director to ask him to intervene to prevent the marriage, which the director in spite or rather because of his liberal views managed to do in a very unscrupulous way.
- a suitably cynical tale about marriage and foolish young men.
7.5
79 1883-03-12 A Story That’s Hard to Name
 [3]
satire Twenty civil servants are sitting at a banquet table enjoying the splendid food and the mass of bottles stretching the whole length of the table. After a lot of nonsense has been talked they ask the group’s intellectual for a speech, that starts off splendidly about what a lot of suffering and thievery he sees around him, when in comes a wizened old man and the speaker breaks off his quasi-revolutionary discourse to propose a toast to the health of their glorious leader.
- a clever little (1-page) satirical scene.
8
80 1883-03-12 The Brother
 [3]
satire A fellow begs his sister to take back her promise to marry a rich but boorish merchant and is on the point of telling her about the terrible place he had seen him in when a messenger brings a large bag of sugar for him and he quite changes opinion about the merchant in question.
- another clever little scene.
7.5
81 1883-03-14 The Philanthropist
 [3]
medical drama A doctor is sitting by the bedside of a young female patient and reproaching himself for having encouraged her to fall in love with him, but when he gets up to leave he sees the tears in her eyes and writes out a prescription for pills for her with a message fixing a rendezvous with him that evening.
- a not-all-that-clever little scene.
7
82 1883-03-17 An Incident at Law A Case in Court humour A famous lawyer has been called in to defend a gypsy defendant accused of burglary, fraud, misappropriations and other offences. The lawyer’s plea, centred on the defendant’s essential goodness and the plight of his hungry children, has the audience in a turmoil and the prosecutor, with tears of sympathy in his eyes, even starts to consider dismissing the case. But the defendant too has been moved to his depths by the lawyer’s speech and stands up and admits to everything.
- A somewhat amusing two-page judicial farce.
7
83 1883-03-19 An Enigmatic Nature humour A very pretty young lady in a first-class railway car is baring her soul to a budding author who is all too anxious to proffer his psychological expertise on problems of the heart, complete with regular comforting kisses on the hand, but the explanation by the lovely lady of her current romantic drama puts a real damper on his effusions.
- A short, amusing and rather brilliant parody of traditional romantic realism.
8.5
84 1883-03-21 America in Rostov on the Don humour The commentator presents an announcement that appeared in a local paper in the Ukraine whereby a man informs one and all that his wife had left him and that he refuses to take her back. The commentator follows this up with his own remarks, wondering what would happen if someone did actually bring the wayward woman back, and he suggests that the announcement was a hoax on the part of the well-known publisher of the paper.
- A tiny one-page text that has not well passed the test of time.
5
85 1883-03-26 Conversation
 [3]
humour A group of people of both sexes talk about doctors, and after agreeing that the world would be a better place without them as people wouldn’t get so sick and die so often, a young wife points out that when one’s having an affair, doctors can be useful in advising husbands to renounce their marital duties, an official tells how when their director is seized with a craze for reforms they call in a doctor to send him away for a heath cure, then others talk about similar cases and finally they all agree that if there were no doctors then people would get sick and die much more often.
- an amusing vision of the medical profession, by a connoisseur.
8
86 1883-03-26 Trickery
 [3]
humour Semyon and Pavel are having a walk along the Nevsky in Saint Petersburg talking about women – what else? – and Pavel finally reproaches Semyon with constantly offering to introduce him to girls, so Pavel admits not only that he makes money out of it but also that he’s very jealous of his young wife and that he does so to all the men he sees shaking hands with her or suchlike. When a carriage passes by with his wife and a man in it, Pavel runs off after it declaring that he’ll introduce one of the girls in question to the fellow.
- an amusing and almost off-colour little narrative.
7.5
87 1883-04-02 Knights Without Fear and Without Reproach
 [3]
portrait of life in Russia A lot of people are having a party at a train station-master’s apartment and several train stories are recounted, first by a station-master who had fallen asleep and caused a train wreck, then about a conductor who let a group of workers without tickets onto his train for a small sum apiece, and when a train passing by in the other direction signalled that there were inspectors at the next station he’d pushed all of the workers off the train.
- a comical view of corruption and incompetence in the vast Russian train system.
7.5
88 1883-04-09 Heights humour Two short pages containing four paragraphs about various kinds of “heights”: a story about the height of gullibility of a man who had shot himself because of a bad weather forecast; one about the height of inattentiveness of a surgeon who had amputated the wrong legs (his own); one on the height of civility concerning a very civil-minded civil servant; and finally one on the height of loyalty about a man who began to doubt his own political loyalty and denounced himself to the police.
- Fun with words, in a (very) mildly funny way.
6
89 1883-04-09 The Willow-tree
 [3]
drama An old man who spends his days fishing at the foot of an ancient willow-tree recounts a crime he had witnessed there when a coachman of a postal-coach had killed the postman and come over to the willow tree to hide a bag in a hollow in it. The old man had taken the bag into town and first handed it over at the post office where he’d been told to give it in at the police station, but by the time the police had finished examining it, the bag was empty. When the coachman had come back to the willow tree to get the bag he’d broken down on finding it gone, but the police refused to arrest him as the case had been officially declared unresolved. The coachman had finished badly.
- the author’s first and apparently only venture into crime fiction – crime fiction with a social-critique tinge.
7
90 1883-04-16 The Thief
 [3]
portrait of life in Russia Fyodor Stepanych is in exile in Siberia and spends his time going for walks in the god-forsaken place and wishing that he’d stolen more, as his friend Barabaev who’d been deported with him and had stolen far more was well-dressed and accepted into all the notables’ homes. Finally his wife, for whom he had committed his theft, passes by in a coach asking for directions to Barabaev’s residence.
- the author’s first of his rare tales about the life of exiles in Siberia.
7
91 1883-04-23 A Snack
 [3]
portrait of life in Russia The narrator has prepared snacks for an Easter Eve feast and a group of his friends arrive and help him set them up on the table, but they have to wait for the matins bell to ring before setting down to the feast and a director arrives who, after telling obscene jokes, suggests that they begin with the vodka while waiting for the feast to begin. They do drink a lot and at three in the morning when they leave to continue at the tavern nothing is left of the feast and most of the silver cutlery has gone too.
- not one of the author’s most memorable tales.
7
92 1883-04-23 Twenty-Six humour In a few brief diary entries the supervisor of an office describes his conflicts with his wife who has a clear preference for one of his clerks, if not all of them.
- Of no interest.
3
93 1883-04-23 Words, Words, Words the feminine condition Gruzdev, a young telephone operator, is lounging on a sofa in a hotel room asking a young women how she had become a fallen woman. She tells him all about it and he is so moved by her story that she begins to think of a novel she had once read about a fallen woman being saved by someone like Gruzdev. But then she undid three of her top dress-buttons and the story fades away.
- A not very original treatment of an ancient theme.
7.5
94 1883-04-30 The Mother-in-law Lawyer
 [3]
love story Michel’s mother-in-law comes for a talk with him a month after his marriage to her daughter Lisa. She berates him for the life he makes Lisa lead, reading and studying instead of going out dancing. Michel tells the mother-in-law that Lisa prefers those kinds of intellectual pursuits to her previous frivolous way of life, but she opens the door where Lisa’s standing with tears in her eyes who reveals to Michel that she’d been afraid he wouldn’t marry her if he knew what she really liked in life. The story ends with Michel waking up and they go off to a reception.
- a clever little skit about married life.
8
95 1883-05-07 A Classical Student A Matter of Classics childhood experience Vanya has been getting up at 4 a.m. every day to prepare for a tough exam in classical Greek and sets off with a worried prayer and a desperate wish to avoid another catastrophic mark. But when he returns home his worst fears have been realized, and his family and neighbours join in the verbal and physical punishment for his unforgivable betrayal of the family’s hopes.
- A forceful little vignette of the class distinctions based on abstruse educational criteria that played such an important social role then and later too.
8
96 1883-05-14 The Cat humour Alyosha is woken up in the middle of the night by his wife who has been scared by the terrible noise made below their window by a group of love-struck cats. He eventually deals vigorously with the situation but runs afoul of his boss, who lives in the same building and had been admiring his favourite animal in the group.
- A rather silly and contrived situation.
5
97 1883-05-21 Flying Islands

by Jules Verne
Translated by A. Chekhonte
humour John Lund is a young scientist who gives a forty-hour talk to the Royal Geographic Society in London on the subject of “Drilling Through the Moon with a Giant Drill” and is then approached by a mysterious inventor who proposes to accompany him to the moon in his special balloon-driven apparatus. They run into mysterious islands floating around the moon on which nothing grows except a tree smelling of Russian vodka and a manuscript written in a barbaric language, probably Russian. When they get back to Earth John continues to devote himself to the project of drilling a hole through the moon that will belong to Great Britain.
- this is a (very silly) spoof of Jules Verne’s novel “From the Earth to the Moon”, and one cannot help preferring the original version.
4
98 1883-05-21 My Nana humour The narrator writes a love-struck letter to a courtisane who has trouble fitting him into her busy schedule. But her maid, an acquaintance of the narrator, arranges things and he does manage to have an interview with the lady.
- A very short skit obviously written in a very short period of time.
5
99 1883-05-21 Something
 [3]
humour At two-thirty in the morning a writer is disturbed in his literary endeavours by his mother who recounts excitedly how she’d seen many strange foreigners at the Hermitage and notably a tall handsome fellow with a blue cape whom’s she’d admired all evening and who must have been a Spaniard. When the author explains to her that that was the well-known personality Rentovsky she persisted, so to be able to finish his “bad novella” the author got rid of her by agreeing that he was a foreigner.
- a very slight one-pager.
6
100 1883-05-21 The Nightingale’s Benefit Performance
 [3]
prose poem A group gathers on a grassy hillside to listen to a concert. It begins with the singing of the cuckoo, then two falcons flew overhead crying out, followed by the singing of an oriole and the croaking of a group of crows. Frogs joined in and then a river hen and a reed warbler, and after an intermission with only cricket-cries, the star of the evening gave a performance that reduced the audience, human and natural, to a stunned and appreciative silence. But a cook from the near-by mansion broke off the evening’s entertainment by slipping into the woods and capturing the star performer in the middle of its last benefit concert.
- an all-too-brief brilliancy.
9
101 1883-05-28 The Deputy, or the Story of How Desdemonov lost 25 Roubles
 [3]
humour A group of civil servants have gathered for a secret conference where they rage against the terrible way they are treated by their director, each one with an outrageous anecdote to recount. Finally they choose Desdemonov to present their demands for modern treatment to the director because he was the most eloquent and bravest of them all and “was acquainted with educated young ladies, so he was clever.” But the interview did not go as planned.
- humour with a satirical tinge.
8.5
102 1883-
06
From the Diary of an Assistant Bookkeeper humour We see the entries in his personal diary of an accountant (by definition small-minded and mean) over a period of 23 years as he writes about the poor health and alcoholism of the head bookkeeper whose position he counts on being appointed to when he dies, the sooner the better. But the head bookkeeper is made of stern stuff and the assistant bookkeeper won’t live for ever either.
- A brief and very simple three-pager.
6
103 1883-
06
Mr. Gulevich, Writer, and the Drowned Man humour The writer Ivan Ivanovitch Ivanov (a comical name, we do believe) has drowned in the Hermitage gardens in front of everyone. In view of the fact that he was a carefree, gay fellow there is suspicion of foul play and another writer, Mr. Gulevitch, who had been with him that day, testifies tearfully that he had told Ivanov some jokes from the shore while Ivanov was boating, and that Ivanov had laughed so hard that he fell off the boat. However, another witness testified that Ivanov had not laughed at all and had made a sour face at the jokes and tumbled into the water in despair. The jury is still debating the case.
- Can a suicide be comical? The jury is still out on that too.
6
104 1883-06-04 The Heroic Lady
 [3]
drama Lydia Yegorovna’s having tea on her terrace when a letter arrives from her husband telling her that she’s bankrupt and that he’s going to Odessa for a couple of months. Although most overcome by the bad news and her husband’s obvious infidelity, she nevertheless entertains an unending sequence of guests until late at night.
- a powerful theme somewhat sketchily developed.
7.5
105 1883-06-11 How I Came to Be Lawfully Wed humour The narrator recounts the decisive interview with his future wife, eagerly spied upon by their parents, when they had both confessed to each other that they loved someone else and were so overjoyed by these mutual revelations that their parents misunderstood the cause of their joy and opened up the champagne bottle to celebrate, after which it was too late to go back. A story that didn’t turn out badly after all.
- An amusing variation on an eternal theme.
8
106 1883-06-18 Just Like His Grandfather
 [3]
portrait of life in Russia On a stuffy night the narrator is prevented from going to sleep by the constant criticisms directed at him by his grandfather in the next room. He answers back, and counters each of the grandfather’s accusations of philandering, theft, immorality, etc. by citing examples of the grandfather behaving similarly in his younger days. Finally they go for a swim in the river and drink some vodka before finally setting down for the night – another evening spent just like every other one.
- neither of the protagonists being very recommendable, the story isn’t very much so either.
7
107 1883-06-19 Once a Year
 [3]
drama The Duchess’s house has been thoroughly cleaned in preparation for all the distinguished visitors who are sure to visit her on her name-day. But finally not a single one of those she had helped and spent all her fortune on arrive, so her faithful servant goes over to the apartment of her nephew and bribes him to come to visit her, to the ageing Duchess’s delight.
- not a gay story.
8
108 1883-06-24 The Potato and the Tenor Something
#2
humour A mock (one hopes) entry in a medical journal recounts how a physician examined a tenor complaining of a cramp in his throat and found that a potato that was stuck there had begun to sprout. After enquiry the tenor told him that the potato had been there for the past five years, but that it hadn’t prevented him from singing. The physician remarked however that he sang like a young jackal howling.
- A microscopic one-pager that is amusing in a way.
5
109 1883-07-02 The Death of a Civil Servant The Death of a Government Clerk satire Ivan Dmitritch, a government clerk, is taken with a fit of sneezing at the opera and notices that a general sitting in front of him, a senior civil servant, is discontentedly wiping his head. Overcome with remorse at his faux pas, Ivan excuses himself profusely after the performance, only to be dismissed abruptly by the general. The next day, wanting to properly atone for the incident, he presents himself in full attire at the general’s residence only to be rebuffed by the general even more strongly for bothering him with such triviality. Ivan Dmitritch persists nevertheless in his efforts to excuse himself, with catastrophic results.
- A spoof of servility in the civil service that is really too caricatural – at least to our modern eyes – to be effective.
7
110 1883-07-09 The Real Truth
 [3]
satire A group of civil servants are having a good-bye drink with their colleague Kanifolev, who has been dismissed for drunken behaviour and who, under the influence as usual, explains that he only drinks because of all the wrongs that the director tolerates. After being prodded by his colleagues he does in fact go over to the director’s table and delivers a speech about all the abuses that the director tolerates, but the director doesn’t understand a word he’s saying.
- perhaps meant as a subtle way of denouncing administrative incompetence, this nevertheless leaves the reader almost as puzzled as the director.
6
111 1883-07-23 A Naughty Boy That Wretched Boy humour Ivan and Anna are fishing in a sheltered spot out of sight and Ivan has accidentally held her hand and then accidentally kissed her, when Anna’s little brother pops up out of the river making fun of them and threatening to tell Anna’s parents about what she has been doing. They buy him off with a rouble but he keeps coming back with more blackmail and more demands until they find a way not only to keep him quiet but to be able to pull his ears too.
- A light, enjoyable little sketch.
7.5
112 1883-07-23 Goat or Scoundrel? humour An old man enters a drawing-room where a young woman of about eighteen is sleeping and quietly goes over and kisses her hand. The young lady awakens slightly, thinks that she is still dreaming and murmurs that in her dreams she sees only goats or scoundrels, much to the disappointment of the old lecher.
- A tiny one-page skit that does succeed in raising a slight smile in the reader.
7
113 1883-
08
The Trousseau The Dowry drama The narrator describes the visits he had made to a charming but very neglected little house in a quiet neighbourhood many years beforehand, where a forty-something woman, her 19-year-old daughter and a maid were eternally busy preparing the wedding trousseau for the (unlikely, in view of their isolation, their poverty and her looks) eventual future marriage of the daughter. Years later, on another visit the mother and daughter had visibly aged and were poorer than ever, but the preparations for the trousseau were carrying on full-time nevertheless. At a final visit things were worse than ever.
- A somewhat caricatural exploration of a serious theme indeed: the severe marital plight of isolated, poverty-stricken women in those bad old days.
7.5
114 1883-08-06 The Virtuous Clerk
 [3]
social drama An impoverished nobleman remembers the former glories of his estate and how his former serf, who brought him bottles of vodka every day, had put everything back in shipshape as he gradually took over the estate before sending him away.
- a short tale with a sociological punch.
7.5
115 1883-08-13 The Daughter of Albion A Daughter of Albion humour Otsov, a local dignitary, calls on the landowner Gryabov who is out fishing with his English governess. Gryabov, who is so obsessed with his fishing that he refuses Otsov’s invitations to go out for a drinkie, passes his time in insulting the Englishwoman, who cannot understand a word of Russian although she has been in the country for ten years, and finally wades into the water completely naked in front of her to unravel his lines. But nothing daunts the lady, who remains haughty and superior throughout.
- An amusing albeit trivial farce, with a slightly xenophobic tinge.
7
116 1883-08-27 Patronage
 [3]
humour A young man is pleading with his distinguished uncle to intervene with his director to get him reinstated, on the grounds that he was unjustly dismissed for drunkenness as one of his colleagues was more of a drunkard than him. They go to the director’s office and the young man eavesdrops on his uncle’s plea on his behalf, which is candid and effective but far from complimentary about the young wastrel.
- the goings-on in the administration in those days were just too much!
7
117 1883-09-03 An Inquiry Synopsis satire Voldyrev enters a government office seeking information about a lawsuit he is engaged in, but the official in charge of the affair pays him no attention whatsoever even though Voldyrev has put two roubles on his desk. Finally he is told that the minimum for a bribe is three roubles, and when that requirement has been met the agent becomes alert and efficient.
- A short but effective denunciation of the routine corruption prevailing in government offices of the time.
8
118 1883-09-10 The Retired Slave
 [3]
the feminine condition Nikifor Filimonych, an ageing painter, spends every evening at the local tavern telling poetic and romantic stories to the pretty sixteen-year-old Tanya, but he falls sick and when he comes back from the hospital Tanya’s gone away. He does see her though in Moscow dressed like a street girl and accompanying an old man.
- a short 700-word sketch decidedly lacking substance.
6
119 1883-09-17 Mayonnaise humour Four very short two- or three-line notes of a comical if not nonsensical nature, starting with “Astronomers rejoiced when they discovered spots on the face of the sun. A case of unparalleled malice!”, and continuing with two scenes of civil servants taking bribes and a story about a goat that behaved piggishly.
- A one-page piece of nonsense that is almost amusing, but not quite.
4
120 1883-09-17 The Retired Sea Captain A Fool humour In the form of a theatrical scene, a retired sea captain is interviewing a middle-aged woman, a professional matchmaker, as they review the qualities of the envisaged spouse for the captain (not too young, not too old, not too pretty, not too intellectual, etc.) until they end up finding a satisfactory solution.
- A short, clever skit that could even have been fuller developed.
7
121 1883-09-24 In Autumn drama On a very stormy evening Tikhon’s tavern is crowded with coachmen and pilgrims and a forty-year-old man in shoddy clothes who stands at the bar ceaselessly begging for a glass of vodka, eventually proposing his worn coat in exchange. Tikhon contemptuously refuses to give him any more vodka, until a coachman arrives who recognizes the man as his former master, and we learn the unhappy and female cause of his downfall.
- A dramatic story, an ambience evoked with talent, a remarkable achievement for a young author of twenty-three. Chekhov developed a theatrical version of this story, On the High Road, the following year (1884).
9
122 1883-09-24 In a Landau
 [3]
satire Marfusha is a young girl from the provinces who has come to Saint Petersburg to visit her noble cousins and see the sights. They go out for a drive with a certain Baron Dronkel who talks boorishly about the writer Turgenev, and who concludes by stating that Turgenev hadn’t influenced him at all.
- a good subject that never really gets going and that finishes too quickly.
6
123 1883-10-01 Fat and Thin Lean and Fat satire Two former classmates and close friends, one now very plump and the other distinctly thin, meet up at a railway station years afterwards. Although the ambience is joyful at the start of the encounter, the tone and the language suddenly change when the thin one realises that his former companion has advanced much more rapidly in the official hierarchy than he has.
- A light-handed but effective parody of the severe social barriers based on rank and station in the Russia of the time.
8.5
124 1883-10-01 The Grateful German humour A one-page anecdote about two encounters with a German who had told the narrator, when he had first given him some money in his native land, that he would never forget his generosity.
- Simple and simplistic, almost silly.
5
125 1883-10-08 Tragic Actor Tragic Role theatrical drama The daughter of a police captain becomes so enthusiastic about the theatre and about actors after seeing her first performance by a travelling company that she goes there every night, and ends up running away with the chief tragedian. But life on the road for an impoverished actor’s wife is not as magical as she had imagined.
- A severe portrayal, in a light vein, of the mores and social declassification of the acting profession.
8
126 1883-10-15 The Daughter of a Commercial Advisor
 [3]
humour The Commercial Councillor Mekhanizmov throws a party for the birthday of one of his three daughters and after a few drinks starts behaving particularly boorishly, when his eldest daughter Zina, who’s been aloof and silent until then, tells him in no uncertain terms to stop and to be quiet. This impresses the narrator, a neighbour who’s been invited to the feast and who strikes up a deep discussion with her and explains at length to her his advanced views on women’s liberty and suchlike, which lead Zina to propose a rendezvous that night in the Councillor’s garden. But that rendezvous does not go well for the narrator.
- a rather staid little sketch.
7
127 1883-10-22 A Sign of the Times humour A fellow is in the process of proposing to his beloved when they are interrupted by the lady’s brother, who wants to have a word with her. She goes out to hear him warn her that the fellow is a complete scoundrel who will sell them out if he has a chance. She agrees to be careful, goes back to the fellow, agrees to marry him, but she carefully only talks about love.
- This one-page scene has not dated particularly well.
4
128 1883-10-22 The Guardian
 [3]
humour The narrator goes into General Shmygalov’s office and tells him that he wants to marry his daughter Varvara, whereupon the General erupts in anger, declares that the narrator is too poor and doesn’t have the necessary social status and orders him to get out. But the narrator stands his ground and blackmails the General by saying that he won’t reveal how the General had squandered Varvara’s heritage, which the General denies but nevertheless invites the narrator to lunch. After lunch a marriage is arranged to everyone’s satisfaction.
- a clever and cleverly-recounted little tale.
8
129 1883-10-29 A Lawyer
 [3]
humour The daughter of a European Minister of Justice writes notes to her father at varying ages (18, 20, 22, 25, 28, 30, 35, 40) urging him to pass laws imposing fines and penalties of ever-increasing severity on bachelors who refuse to get married.
- this half-page of sarcastic jokes can, by stretching the point, be classified as a story – albeit not a very good one – in that it does outline in a way the unhappy love life of an old maid.
6
130 1883-10-29 At Sea On the Sea humour The narrator is a young sailor who had drilled peepholes with his father (!), also a sailor on the ship, in the wall of a ship’s honeymoon cabin. The two of them had waited impatiently for the honeymoon couple to retire to their cabin after dinner, as the newlywed was engaged in a lengthy discussion with a burly English businessman. Finally they do retire, and the two peeping toms see the husband pleading for a long time with his bride, who seems to be reluctant although they can’t hear what they are saying. Finally the young bride thinks for a while and then makes a sign to her bridegroom, who has been waiting outside. Surprise: the bridegroom comes back into the room with the Englishman he had been talking to at dinner, who asks the bride a question, to which she nods her head in agreement, and then he hands a roll of bills to the husband who leaves the room! The banker locks the door but we don’t know what happened next as the scandalised father took the narrator away, telling him that he was too young to be able to continue watching.
- A neat but not very nice twist at the end of this rather original two-page story.
7
131 1883-10-29 At the Post Office
 [3]
humour After the funeral service for the young wife of the elderly postmaster everyone gathered at the postmaster’s to eat pancakes and pay their respects. When the postmaster praised his late wife’s fidelity, the guests politely expressed their doubtfulness, until the postmaster explained how he had tricked everyone into believing that she was the mistress of the town’s policeman, a ploy that had effectively discouraged the attentions of all the young men present, much to their belated regrets.
- a rather effective little one-page joke.
7
132 1883-10-29 From the Diary of a Young Girl humour Six brief entries over a period of seven days in the diary of a young adolescent girl who starts flirting with a fellow who had been standing for days outside her home, only to find to her disappointment that he was a policeman who had been waiting there to arrest her brother.
- A two-page effort that couldn’t have taken more than a few minutes to write and that probably wasn’t worth the trouble.
4
133 1883-11-05 The Bird Market In Moscow on Trubnaya Square portrait of life in Russia A colourful and engaging description of a Moscow marketplace specialised in selling birds as well as other animals.
- Most successfully conveying the atmosphere of the specialised marketplace, the tactics of the peasant sellers and the characteristics of the frequent buyers and onlookers, the story is interesting as a sociological document even though the narrative is purely descriptive, without any scenario.
8.5
134 1883-11-05 The Stationmaster humour A stationmaster fights against the boredom of his job in the middle of the night by dallying with the wife of the bailiff, but one night he espies the lady’s husband approaching with a stick and he almost gets run over by the train trying to escape. Only to find that the man had peaceful albeit mercantile intentions.
- A good farce with a rather amusing twist at the end.
8
135 1883-11-12 A Slander Slander;
- The Slanderer
humour The teacher Ahineev is marrying his daughter, and the wedding festivities at his home are proceeding most successfully at midnight when Ahineev goes into the kitchen to inspect the main dish for the forthcoming supper, a splendid sturgeon in jelly. He purses his lips in pleasure and emits a kissing sound, which one of the guests thinks was a real kiss to the very buxom albeit almost-elderly cook. Ahineev promptly tells the other guests one by one that he actually hadn’t been kissing the cook but had only been admiring the dish, however the next day the rumour of his infidelity is all over town and his wife hears about it to her outrage.
- An amusing little parable about gossip and gossip-mongers.
8
136 1883-11-26 In the Living-room
 [3]
humour A couple of lovers are cooing and kissing in a living-room in front of a cozy fireplace when an old man comes in with a frown on his face. Is it the lovely young thing’s husband? No, it’s the lord of the house and he orders the two servants to go about their duties.
- a slightly amusing little one-page skit.
7
137 1883-12-03 A Children’s Primer A Collection of Tales for Children moral fable A series of nonsense stories each supposedly meant to illustrate a morality theme in a lesson-book for children (Miserliness Does Not Pay; Taunt Not Thy Neighbour; Blatant Ingratitude, etc.), with the conclusion: And so my dear children, do good and you shall triumph. Needless to say, the stories cynically do not at all illustrate their theme in the sense intended.
- A set of silly stories that might amuse some.
6
138 1883-12-03 He Understood!
 [3]
hunting story A little, old peasant is hunting in early June in the woods with a makeshift rifle and shoots a starling, but he’s caught by the intendant of the estate and brought to the estate office to be interrogated and arrested for hunting out of season and on private grounds to boot. When the “barin” (baron or noble), a retired Lieutenant-Colonel arrives he explains his love of hunting and recounts fabulous outings with the barin’s father. The man’s story is not without effect on the barin.
- a tale recounted with great sensitivity to the glories of nature and the frailties of human nature.
8.5
139 1883-12-22 On Christmas Eve
 [3]
drama A woman is waiting on the beach on the seashore in the night looking out for signs of the return of her husband and his fishing sled that’s been out on the ice all night, ice that’s about to break up. She’s joined by several other people and then the ice effectively does begin to break up, irrevocably condemning the fishing sled, when she hears the voice of her husband behind her, who’d sought refuge in a neighbouring port [6] and come back overland. But her reaction reveals to him that she’d really been hoping to become a widow, and the story ends dramatically.
- a quite intense drama, effectively related, tinged with melodrama but nevertheless most impressive.
8.5
140 1883-12-25 The Exam
 [3]
humour A man’s eldest son, who had just turned 21, comes into his father’s office to ask permission to leave and go out into the world on his own. The father agrees if the son can answer an exam consisting of a series of nonsense questions which the son answers satisfactorily, but he fails to find an answer to the last one: “Where can I borrow money?” The father tells him to come back in a month for another exam.
- a sort-of-amusing one-page skit
7
141 1884 The Skit satire After dinner with his friends Osip Fyodorovitch reads a skit of his own composition about a fellow who announces excitedly to his wife that a senior official who is interested in his daughter will be coming for a visit. All the guests initially heap praise on him but then one expresses reserves about how his boss might take offence at being caricatured, so Osip decides to remove the offending passage. One by one each of the guests points out potentially offensive or subversive aspects of his play until nothing is left of the work after Osip has agreed to make all the necessary changes.
- A most effective parody of the severe state- and auto-censorship in place at the time (and long afterwards too).
8
142 1884 To Speak or Be Silent humour Krueger and Smirnov are travelling together and Krueger, who has an outgoing personality, starts chatting with a young woman in the carriage and even gets off with her for a good while at the next station. He explains to the admiring Smirnov afterwards that one has to be talkative with people, and Smirnov puts the recipe into practice with unpleasant results, whereupon Krueger tells him that one has to know when to be silent.
- A simplistic two-pager that does, however, manage to raise a smile, it must be said.
7.5
143 1884-01-05 A Testament of Old
 [3]
drama A farcical testament in which a father leaves nothing to his son other than worthless objects and debts.
- we reluctantly classify this as a story as it does say something about the father’s wastrel life
4
144 1884-01-07 The Liberal. A New Year’s Eve story
 [3]
satire Ponayev has been liberally celebrating the New Year and is tipsily refusing to accomplish the obligatory visit to his director’s to sign the visitor’s sheet as a testimony of respect. But his wife, terrified of the prospect of him being fired for disrespect, finally drags him there, where he resolves to write his heart-felt resentments on the sheet in question. But there he sees the director himself, and although he doesn’t declare his feelings, he does manage to be somewhat intransigent. So when he finally returns to the office two days later he’s more than uncertain of the fate awaiting him and his career there.
- a satire of officialdom and obligatory subservience that hasn’t lost too much of its sting
7.5
145 1884-01-13 75,000
 [3]
drama Two friends, Vassili and Nicolai, are having a stroll in Moscow and Vassili asks Nicolai for a loan of ten troubles, but Nicolai rebukes his friend for being such a wastrel and playboy in general and in particular for having gambled away the money he’d received for pawning his wife’s bracelet. One thing leads to another and Vassili ends up with a slap on his face and one less friend. On returning home his over-joyed wife announces that the lottery ticket she had hidden from him had just won 75,000 roubles, upon which Vassili rushes off to his low-life mistress to announce the good news to her. Vassili’s wife fruitlessly searches for the ticket until she realises who had stolen it.
- strong stuff!
8.5
146 1884-01-14 The Decoration The Order satire The teacher Pustyakov has been invited for dinner on New Year’s Day at the house of a merchant who looks with contempt on anyone who doesn’t have an official decoration. As the merchant has two lovely daughters, Pustyakov needs to impress him and buys an Order of Stanislav from an officer. When he arrives at the dinner, however, he sees a colleague sitting at the table and has to cover up the decoration to prevent the colleague from seeing the illicitly-acquired decoration and causing a scandal in his school. So he has to forego all of the savoury dishes that are served because of having his right hand taken up with hiding the order from view. Eventually he realises that the colleague is doing the same thing and regrets, apart from all the food that he had missed, that he hadn’t purchased an even more prestigious medal such as the Vladimir.
- A rather silly satire about a rather silly person.
6
147 1884-01-22 The Comedian
 [3]
humour The actor Ivan Akimovich has come into Marya Andreevna’s room and just stands there awkwardly for a long while while Marya turns over in her mind her answer, finally probably favourable, to the expected forthcoming marriage proposal. But when Ivan finally blurts out what he really came for the story ends.
- a mildly amusing one-page skit.
6.5
148 1884-01-28 Unclean Tragedians and Leper Playwrights humour Featuring a theatre impresario, a playwright who is on nodding terms with devils, witches, whales and crocodiles, the King of Sweden, a Baroness, a General and many others, we follow the dilemma of the impresario as he tries to think of a plot, then the arrival of the playwright accompanied by the witches and all the others who come to help him and so on ad absurdum.
- wild wackiness.
5
149 1884-02-02 A Woman’s Revenge medical drama A doctor comes to the home of the Chelobitevs in answer to a call from the man of the house, but when he gets there he finds that the fellow has left in search of a dentist, and the doctor waits for a while before deciding to leave. Madame Chelobitev doesn’t have the five-rouble fee, but after a while a mutually satisfactory solution is reached.
- A tale with an amusing twist.
(One almost dares to wonder if it could have been based on the experience or fantasies of the author, a practicing physician.)
8
150 1884-02-04 A Young Man
 [3]
satire A young man on the way to the office of a humorous magazine is obliged to show his manuscript and satirical drawings to an official, who lectures him on the respect due to high ranks, without preventing the young man from continuing on his way to the publisher’s office.
- a very slight one-page satire of officialdom.
5
151 1884-02-09 Vanka
 [3]
social drama A senior civil servant comes out of a Moscow restaurant late at night and walks along a way before hailing a cab because they’re cheaper away from the restaurant. The cab driver Vanka tells him his life story, centred around his soft upbringing that had been brought to an abrupt end when his uncle had stolen all of the family’s capital and left for Moscow, leaving the boy to his fate as a shivering cabman.
- a solid, sad story somewhat on the short side.
7
152 1884-02-11 On the Hunt
 [3]
hunting story The narrator receives an invitation from his uncle to come to a hunt, an invitation that he cannot refuse as otherwise the uncle will disinherit him and all his family. So off he goes to his uncle’s, where he’s lovingly introduced to the uncle’s extensive stable of big hunting dogs, and the next day he’s stationed at the edge of the wood with instructions to shoot the prey when it’s chased out of the wood by the dogs, in spite of his protestations that he doesn’t know how to handle a gun. So he does his best, with catastrophic results.
- a little tale that will not convert many to empathize with hunting as a sport.
7
153 1884-02-11 The Tutor humour This is a detailed account of the struggles of a rather incompetent replacement teacher and his very incompetent pupil with arithmetic and algebra in particular, as well as Latin, geography and Russian, all to little avail as the teacher isn’t even paid for his efforts in the end.
- A brief 2-page mockery.
6
154 1884-02-15 O Women, Women! humour A newspaper editor comes home tired out after a hard day at the office and recounts his day to his wife, who finds that the awful poem that he had refused to publish was a very nice one and accuses him of being jealous of the poet, so he leaves the house in a huff determined to get drunk.
- Too simple, too shallow, too silly.
5
155 1884-02-18 A Naive Woodsman
 [3]
moral fable A fable involving a handsome young woodsman and a very pretty fairy who’s annoyed with him because she’d sent him to Earth to learn about people and thereby remove the silly expression on his face, and although he’d become a postman, a fireman, a tax collector, a teacher, a doctor, a baker, a university professor and a writer he still had a silly expression after twenty years, so she sent him back to become a civil servant, but he still had a silly expression on his face.
- a page and a half of nonsense possibly meant to be satirical.
6
156 1884-02-18 The French Ball A Reporter’s Dream humour Pyotr Semyonich receives a telegram from his editor instructing him to go straight away to the fancy French Ball. He is reluctant to go because the pay is so low, and rests a moment, promptly falling asleep and having a spectacular dream about the ball where he is treated like royalty, meets a dazzling Frenchwoman (and “the painter Chekhov”) and wins the gala prize. When he wakes up it is too late to go to the ball, but that’s no problem for this resourceful journalist.
- Quite a lot of fun!
8.5
157 1884-02-25 Choristers satire The sacristan of a village church has been intensely rehearsing a complex choral with the school’s choir in preparation for the forthcoming visit of a Petersburg dignitary, in spite of the vocal inadequacies of the singers and the hostility of the church deacon. But when the big day arrives, there is a crisis that reconciles the two churchmen.
- A serious and almost moving critique of the lack of appreciation of traditional culture by the unbelieving intelligentsia of the day.
8.5
158 1884-03-10 The Complaints Book humour This one-pager consists entirely of a number of entries in the complaints book at a railway station, such as: "Nikandrov is a socialist!"; “Since I am being expelled from service as if I am drinking, I declare that you are all crooks and thieves. Telegrapher Kozmodemyansky."; "Become a virtue."; "Katinka, I love you madly!"; “I ask you not to write extraneous things in the complaint book. For the chief of the station, Ivanov 7th.” and "Though you are the seventh, but a fool."
- (Negative) comments are superfluous.
5
159 1884-03-10 Two Letters humour Vladimir writes to his uncle asking him to see the neighbours who have just returned from a long stay abroad, with special emphasis on obtaining news of Mashenka, the daughter of the family, whom he would like to write to about his feelings for her that haven’t changed now that he has a law practice and means. The uncle obliges and writes back that Mashenka has tender thoughts for him and would indeed like him to write, adding in a postscript that he had shown Vladimir’s letter to Mashenka’s new husband, that she had acquired abroad.
- A very broad 2-page gag.
6
160 1884-03-17 Perpetuum Mobile humour An elderly forensic investigator and a doctor are on their way to perform an autopsy but decide to stop off on the way and spend the night at the house of a friend, the retired general Yezhov. The general has a newly-widowed daughter who tells the doctor that when she has insomnia she leaves the light on outside her door, and this ends up by provoking a quarrel between the two men when the doctor just wants to sleep and the old investigator wants to go and visit the lady with the light. The investigator ends up insulting the doctor who decides to go back home, but three days later they when they start off again on another autopsy and see Yezhov’s horses outside an inn, they go in to see him and his attractive nurse and so on, they are in a perpetual circle.
- A complicated intrigue of little interest.
6
161 1884-03-24 Reading theatrical drama A theatre manager is interrupted in his conversation with the patron of the theatre by a clerk requesting a signature, and he comments on the clerk’s uncouth manner and appearance. The patron exclaims that the clerk should read books to improve his state and brings him The Count of Monte Cristo the next day. Soon all of the other employees have also been given reading assignments, with quite disastrous results.
- An amusing but patronising sketch about the incurable ignorance of the average working person.
6
162 1884-03-31 Tryphon
 [3]
drama The elderly Grigory Semenovich wakes up at night to find his young wife Nastya missing from his bedside, and going out into the garden he overhears her impassioned conversation with his arrogant journeyman Tryphon. The next morning he doesn’t dare say anything to her for fear of losing her, but starts a quarrel with the arrogant Tryphon, menacing to whip him. The next evening he finds his wife with Tryphon again, and all he can think of doing is to offer Tryphon a raise if he lets him whip him just once, but Tryphon declines the offer and walks off.
- elderly men with young wives are certainly favourite targets for the author’s satire, scorn and scoffing.
6.5
163 1884-04-24 A Proud Man
 [3]
social drama The best man is chatting with a group of ladies at a wedding reception, telling them that men need brains and don’t need to be good-looking and that if they are good-looking then they’re dumb, when the ladies point out a handsome fellow sitting on the other side of the room. As no one knows who he is, the best man strikes up an acquaintance with the fellow by having a drink with him, but the fellow refuses to tell his name or even show his invitation card, so he ends up being expelled from the reception, until his identity as a workman who has an honorable position is established by his coachman and he finally does produce his invitation, explaining that he’s a proud man and doesn’t feel obliged to disclaim his identity to the first idiot who comes along.
- a rather long and drawn-out morality lesson.
7
164 1884-05-05 The Album satire The civil councillor Zhymhov is presented with a magnificent album by several of his subordinates on the occasion of his tenth anniversary of service, and is quite overwhelmed by the acclamation he has received, stressing his genius and his great contribution to the nation, to “social self-consciousness”, etc. At home he receives more compliments from family and friends, and his children take care of the album most thoroughly, not to say destructively.
- A very light but effective satire of the pretentiousness of senior civil servants.
8
165 1884-05-19 Self-indulgence
 [3]
moral fable A bailiff had the habit of boasting that he could do anything he wanted to, until a fellow told him that no one can overcome his own penchants, and to prove it took him to a shop where there were ten rubles unprotected in the till and after a half-hour of struggle against himself the bailiff broke down and took the ten roubles, after which he stopped boasting.
- a little 1-page morality fable
6.5
166 1884-06-02 The Dacha Girl
 [3]
the feminine condition A young woman looks out at the scenery in front of her dacha and ponders her fate: a year ago when she was finishing finishing-school she had mocked a friend’s terrified illusions about men, and had dreamed of meeting Turgenev and other fighters for truth and progress, and now she’s already married to a rich, young, handsome husband who leaves for work at ten o’clock sharp every morning, comes back at four o’clock all tired out, talks nonsense and never reads anything. She considers that the terror of her school-mate about men had promised her more.
- a good theme barely developed over 1½ pages.
7
167 1884-06-09 I Had an Argument With My Wife
 [3]
humour A man in a bad mood storms out of the dining-room dissatisfied with his married life in general and the meal in particular, and lies down on the couch in his study with his head under a pillow. He hears footsteps softly approaching, and after a few instants of resistance yields to the reconciliatory caresses he feels on his shoulder and turns around to embrace … what turns out to be his big dog Danka.
- a somewhat macho perception of married life no doubt meant to be amusing.
6
168 1884-06-16 Dacha Pleasure
 [3]
humour Two officials approach a woman’s bathing-house and look through a slit to search for a certain female and when they spot her one of them climbs up and goes in – but that’s the end of the story as the footnote explains what the official wanted to do.
- a half-page skit in the form of a student’s gag.
4
169 1884-06-16 Minds in Ferment satire A civil servant and a journalist are peacefully walking through a provincial town’s deserted marketplace on a particularly sultry summer day when they notice a large flock of starlings descending on cherry trees in the church-sexton’s garden. Other people observe them staring at the garden and look to see what is happening and more and more people congregate to see what’s going on. Soon the town’s gendarme and the local fireman arrive and there is a near-riot as they and others get more and more excited. Finally the crowd goes away and the journalist writes a dramatic account of the event in the next day’s newspaper.
- A rather amusing tongue-in-cheek satire on crowd psychology – and superficial journalism – that has not really lost its bite so many years afterwards.
8
170 1884-06-30 The Vaudevillian humour The actor Ivan Akimovich is visiting Maria Andreyevna, an ingénue actress, and has been standing for five minutes just looking out the window without saying anything. He then declares in ever more awkward and embarrassed terms that he has something to ask her but just can’t bring himself to blurt out his request like a lout. Maria is certain that he wants to propose to her, just as several of his colleagues had done recently, and is not at all interested as he has too many defects. But as he continues to hesitate and wander fruitlessly around, she begins to progressively think that perhaps she could marry him after all, then that maybe a ring wouldn’t be indispensable. However, when he finally does make his request there is an awful come-down for Maria.
- A short, clever gag that could have been a theatrical sketch except for the interesting thought process of the ingénue. Quite amusing in any case.
8
171 1884-07-14 Examination for a Rank
 [3]
portrait of life in Russia Efim Fendrikov, a sixty-year-old postal clerk is about to be submitted to the all-important examination for a first-class rank and is nervous because the exam is to be carried out not only by the state inspector but also by the teacher Galkin, who’s angry with him because he’d made him wait his turn at the post office to register a letter. The test goes quite well for the dictation part but when the subject of geography comes up poor Fendrikov flounders with questions about Turkey and India, and as for arithmetic he declares that he’s too old to be intelligent and pleads with the inspector to take into account his piousness, promising to pray to God forever. The exam ends to the satisfaction of one and all, although Fendrikov regrets afterwards that he’d spent a month studying stereometry for nothing.
- a most successful little comedy.
8
172 1884-07-28 Russian Coal drama Count Tulupov meets a young German engineer on a cruise on the Rhine, and on learning that he is a specialist in coal mining he invites him to come to Russia to visit the vast unexploited coal fields on the count’s estate in the Don Valley. The young German meets up with the Count in Moscow, where he is given 200 roubles to travel to the estate and write a report on the coalfields there, which he does, reporting three months later that the coalfields are worthless and asking for money to enable him to go back to Germany. The Count sets off for Italy however without replying, and the German has to walk a long way and sleep in the fields before finding someone to lend him the money to go back home.
- A flimsy story with little or no meat.
5
173 1884-08-11 The Dental Surgeon Surgery medical drama An elderly church sexton comes to a local hospital suffering from a severe toothache and is treated by the orderly in the absence of the medical doctor. The orderly decides to take the tooth out and delivers a reassuring speech about his experience in the area, but there follows a painful description of his subsequent failures to get the job done properly.
- A convincing, terrifying and at the same time amusing account of the way dental surgery was done in the bad old days.
8.5
174 1884-08-25 An Idyll
 [3]
drama A lyrical account over two paragraphs of an idyllic evening, first of entering a ball where fiery glances and naked shoulders awake all his senses, then of sitting down at a table where there were all kinds of multi-coloured banknotes, and finally of being lifted out of his chair by two sturdy plebeians, taken down the stairs and sent on his way with a slap in the face.
- an ultra-concise account of a memorable evening indeed.
7.5
175 1884-08-25 Tears Invisible to the World
 [5]
humour The military chief Rebrotesov and a group of distinguished companions come out of their club and bitterly regret that there’s nowhere to go to quench their hunger, a hunger that gets progressively worse as each one of them mouth-wateringly recalls fabulous meals they’d had in various places. Finally Rebrotesov invites them to his home where they could get something to eat, but when they get there the butler tells them that the mistress of the house has locked the cellar and has taken the key to bed with her. Rebrotesov then has to go into her room to first ask, then beg, then crawl for the precious key, subjected all the while to a violent diatribe about his habits, the hour, etc. Finally the wife gets dressed and acts the gracious hostess, thus immensely impressing the guests who have a hard time of it indeed when they finally go home and have to face their own wives.
- an authentic rarity: a really funny Russian story!
9
176 1884-09-08 The Chameleon A Chameleon satire Police superintendent Otchumyelov is strolling through the town when there is an uproar because the goldsmith Hryukin had captured a puppy that had bitten his finger and is loudly demanding that the dog be put down in reparation for the damages to his working finger. In view of the mongrel status of the animal the superintendent is initially in full agreement with the goldsmith, but someone in the crowd that has gathered says that the dog belongs to a local notable, a general, whereupon Otchumyelov promptly takes the side of the pup, and then when others point out that the general only has purebred dogs the verdict suddenly changes again, and so on until the discussion is finally ended on a comical note in the dog’s favour.
- An amusing little satire on the widespread servility so prevalent towards the upper crust of society in those days.
8
177 1884-09-13 After the Fair humour The wife of a Moscow fur merchant who has just returned from a trip to the Nishgorod Fair finds a jumbled set of notes and bills in his pocket that reveal a great deal about the wild time that the merchant had had out on the town after the fair.
- A clever two pages of fun.
7.5
178 1884-09-20 Worse and Worse Out of the Fire and Into the Fire humour The choirmaster Gradulov has had a public altercation with a certain Derevyashkin, who has brought a lawsuit against him for defamation. Derevyashkin’s lawyer persuades the choirmaster to apologise in public, which he does, but in such an aggressive manner that it only makes matters worse, and when the case is brought to court Gradulov continues in the same vein and gets the judge riled up too.
- A clever skit indeed that still hits home.
8
179 1884-09-22 What is to be Done? satire The health commission in a provincial town starts out full of enthusiasm for its mission but quickly gets distracted by the wiles of the shopkeepers and the constant proffers of tidbits and especially vodka.
- An amusing spoof of officialdom.
8
180 1884-09-27 Shambles in Rome
 [3]
humour A very complex not to say quasi-incomprehensible and very wacky play with a play-within-the play whereby an assassination attempt is abandoned in favour of presenting an even wackier set of scenes designed to achieve the same result.
- we can safely say that this 2-pager is not the author’s best play.
3
181 1884-09-29 An Eclipse of the Moon
 [3]
satire An official instruction is sent to local dignitaries to request that all the street lamps be lit for the occasion of an eclipse of the moon so that the inhabitants can see it, and there are two official messages sent in reply, one reporting that there were no street lights in that locality so the moon was eclipsed in total darkness but that nevertheless everyone could see it clearly, and the other that no eclipse occurred in that region but that there was a darkening of lunar rays.
- a mildly amusing very caricatural little (600-word) spoof of officialdom
6
182 1884-09-29 Vint Whist humour Andrey Stepanovich is coming home late at night after the theatre when he is astonished to see the lights on in the office where he’s the manager. Impressed by the idea that his staff are working late on the assignment that he’d given them, he goes up there to see what’s going on and finds them playing a strange version of whist using photographs of important people, including his own. He starts rebuking them, but when the fellows explain the intricacies of this original version of whist he tries his hand at it and gets hooked.
- Quite a lot of fun, really.
8
183 1884-10-06 In the Graveyard satire A group of friends visiting a cemetery comment on the pompous gravestones of people they knew who are buried there, and they encounter a poverty-stricken actor come for a final visit to his dearest enemy, an actor who had initially enticed him to join that unhappy (?!) and drink-prone profession.
- A nice little vignette with an effective mix of satire and social comment.
8
184 1884-10-13 Your Tongue Will Lead You to Kiev
 [3]
humour In a series of short lines spectator no. 1 at a concert asks spectator no. 2 to take off his hat, which he finally does after much resistance, but continues to declare his rights to do what he wants to until spectators nos. 1, 3, 4 5 and 6 lift him up and take him out.
- possibly intended to be of a (Russian) humorous nature.
3
185 1884-10-19 And Beautiful Things Must Have Limits
 [3]
medical drama A short series of extracts from an official’s notebook, containing random thoughts and a little story about a doctor whom he had called on at 5 in the morning to come to see his aunt who was bleeding, when the doctor took such care about his clothes, sewed on a button, prayed, made his bed and so on, so that the poor aunt was dead when they arrived. It concludes with another random thought: “But writing too much is not good.”
- a thought that the reader can only agree with.
4
186 1884-10-27 In a Home for the Terminally Ill and the Elderly
 [3]
social drama A sad story about a woman and her little daughter who have to visit the daughter’s dirty and dirty-minded grandfather – who understandably scares the little girl – every Saturday evening to listen to his ramblings about the good old days when he lorded it over hundreds of surfs, in order to get a few roubles from him that they desperately need as the woman’s husband, the son of the old ruin, doesn’t give them anything as he spends everything on drink.
- this grandfather is enough to put one off grandfathers for a good long time.
8
187 1884-10-27 The Mask
 [3]
social drama At a masquerade ball for charity a large man in a mask followed by several women and a waiter carrying drinks bursts into the reading-room where a group of unmasked intellectuals were reading newspapers, and he creates a scene by brutally ordering the intellectuals to leave him alone there, tearing up their newspapers in the process. When the policemen present at the ball are called in to expel the intruder he takes his mask off and everyone pales in fright as they see that he’s the local millionaire, manufacturer and celebrated charity sponsor. The intellectuals obediently leave the reading-room and ultimately rejoice that the millionaire doesn’t seem too angry at them.
- one of the author’s rare openly anti-capitalist stories.
8
188 1884-11-03 A Dissertation on Drama satire While a judge and a senior officer are talking in a somewhat pretentious vein about literature and the theatre over dinner they are interrupted by a boy bringing a letter from his mother to his uncle, the judge, who carries out without hesitation the flogging requested of him in the letter. The judge then carries on his discourse about artistic values without a pause.
- A very succinct but effective little 1000-word sketch that has some decidedly noteworthy lines, such as:
On the stage you see what you see in ordinary life... But is that what we need? What we need is expressiveness, a grand effect. As it is your life has bored you to tears, you’ve grown accustomed to it, got used to it, what you need is something ... something that’ll tear your nerves apart, play havoc with your insides! The actor of old used to speak with an unnatural, sepulchral voice, beat himself on the chest with his fists, roared, disappeared into the earth, but on the other hand he was so expressive! There was expression in his words. He spoke about duty, about humanity, about freedom... In each scene you saw self-sacrifice, great achievements of devotion, suffering, furious passion! And now?! Now, as you see, we have to have reality... You look on the stage and what do you see? Pfff! You see some wretch... some swindler, a worm-eaten creature in shabby trousers spouting some nonsense.
8
189 1884-11-08 A Marriage of Convenience
 [3]
humour At a wedding feast one of the guests complains about electric lights, stating that real fires are better. A telegraphist makes a remark about the efficiency of electric batteries, which causes him to be accused of intellectual pretensions and disparaging the lack of education of the hosts, whereupon a spat with the bridegroom ensues and finally the telegraphist has to leave. The next day there’s a great scene because the bridegroom is furious because he’s only been given a dowry of nine hundred roubles instead of the thousand promised.
- presented in the form of a three-part play, this has, fortunately for the author’s reputation, never been included in the list of his theatrical creations.
5
190 1884-11-10 Gentlemen of the Townsfolk: A play in two acts
 [3]
satire In the first act, at a town-hall meeting the captain of the fire brigade explains that while the ten thousand roubles allotted to his service might sound like a lot, in fact the watch-tower isn’t really as tall as it should be, so he’s awarded another two thousand to raise it by two inches. He then proceeds to explain that in Paris firemen’s captains are paid a lot more than he is, so he gets another two hundred for his compensation. In the second act there’s a real fire alert but all the fire-station staff are absent on various corrupt missions for the captain.
- a comedy in two acts that must subtly be saying something about corruption or incompetence or something or other.
5
191 1884-11-17 A Problem humour At two in the morning the narrator leaves a party in a tipsy state with his wife and his mother-in-law, and as his wife is expecting he orders a cab in spite of the objections of the penny-pinching mother-in-law. But the cab was a small one and there wasn’t seating space for all three, so there was a problem – that the narrator solved by getting the wife to stand up the whole way back home.
- Was that supposed to be funny??
4
192 1884-11-24 A Speech and a Strap
 [3]
satire A director gives a moving talk in gentle terms to his staff about their excessive liberalism, but when the effect of his speech seems to be wearing off he pulls a strap out of his pocket that causes a stir among the onlookers, provoking an anti-liberal outburst no longer camouflaged in polite language.
- a short one-page satire of the rigidly-hierarchical administrative system of the time.
7
193 1884-
12
Oysters childhood experience An eight-year-old boy is accompanying his unemployed father who, after several months of fruitless searching for work has at last determined to go begging. They are standing outside a restaurant while the father is trying to work up his courage to approach the passers-by for alms when the boy notices the strange word “oysters” on a sign inside the restaurant. The story continues in ever-starker tones as the little fellow progressively discovers the meaning of the word and the thing itself.
- One of the most sombre and striking early stories of the master, on the poignant theme of hunger-stricken poverty.
9.5
194 1884-12-01 At the Patient’s Bedside  At the Sickbed;
- At a Patient’s Bedside
medical drama Two doctors at a patient’s bedside are misinterpreting words in a political sense (one starts off by saying that he doesn’t believe in conservative methods, the other replies that he believes in a change of regime) and the patient gets anxious about this subversive talk being overheard by the authorities and begs them not to talk so loud. End of this one-page 150-word sketch.
- More a tiny gag than a story.
5
195 1884-12-01 Pictures From the Recent Past
 [3]
satire Three short episodes involving the sharp borderline practices of a bank director and his underlings. 7
196 1884-12-01 The Newest Writer
 [3]
humour Introduced by such thoughts on the subject of writing such as “What is writing? A letter is a way of exchanging thoughts and feelings; but as very often letters are written by people who are nonsensical and insensitive, this definition is not entirely accurate. We will have to stick to the definition given by an educated postal official: "A letter is a noun without which postal officials would sit idle and postage stamps would not be saleable”, this goes on to cite a number of sample quite nonsensical letters.
- more school- than college-boy humour.
5
197 1884-12-05 The Swedish Match The Safety Match satire We follow the investigation of the local authorities into the disappearance of one of the town’s citizens. One and all assume that the man had been murdered as they find blood in his room, although the man’s body can’t be located, while the police superintendent’s young and eager assistant continually finds interesting clues from which they they deduce not only exactly how he was murdered and by how many people, but by whom. Finally the assistant tracks down the owner of the main piece of evidence, a rather rare Swedish match, and the enquiry rapidly gets resolved while turning into a farce.
- An amusing spoof and a tongue-in-cheek satire on provincial bureaucracy.
8
198 1884-12-15 Marriage to the General
 [3]
satire A retired Rear-Admiral coming back from the market-place in worn-out clothes and carrying a big fish is greeted by his nephew who begs him to come to the wedding of a friend whose family desperately wants a general to be present at the wedding-table. The admiral complies and is welcomed only after the nephew explains the equivalence in ranks of a rear-admiral and a major-general, and once the admiral gets some vodka down his gullet he talks endlessly about the myriad incomprehensible-to-the-layman nautical terms that he used to use in the good old days, until he’s insulted by the hostess who declares that he wasn’t worth the fee she’d paid to the nephew to have a general at her table and he has to leave, never to attend a wedding again.
- a subtly amusing satire on pretentiousness in the common classes.
7
199 1884-12-22 A Liberal Fool
 [3]
satire To avoid the scandal at the previous year’s Christmas Eve charity performance of the provincial government, this year the choice of storytellers, singers and dance directors was entrusted to Kaskadov, a young university-educated and liberal man. In the ensuing intense discussion about what to present the liberal official rejects all of the suggested extracts from famous writers on the grounds that they would be shocking in one way or another.
- a clever spoof of illiberal liberalism.
7
200 1884-12-27 The Christmas Tree
 [3]
satire A little skit whereby the goodies on a Christmas tree laden are handed out out to the outstretched hands of grown-up children: a rich merchant’s daughter goes to a young scientist who needs a pair of horses and a proper standard of living; a railway-man earning ten thousand a year working three hours a month goes to an eager young woman; a pretty young girl from a noble family without a cent finally goes to a withered old man as even a poor poet can’t afford to feed her, and so on.
- a clever satire of the Christmas-present-giving tradition.
7
201 1884-12-28 The Exclamation Mark
 [5]
satire The collegiate secretary Efim has gone to bed offended and even insulted because at a reception the subject of education had been discussed and he’d been criticised for his lack of it and his rule-of-thumb mastery of punctuation. Trying to fall asleep he passes in review all the commas and semi-colons and question marks that he’d successfully used in his writing, until the image of an exclamation mark appeared and he realized that he’d never in forty years ever used one! When his well-educated wife explained that they were used in “addresses, exclamations and expressions of delight, indignation, joy, anger and other feelings”, he was tormented all night that he’d never had a paper in his hands in all his years of service where one of those sentiments were expressed – but the next day he finally overcame his distress by putting a double exclamation mark after his signature!!
- a clever exercise-de-style on the subject of punctuation, with a dig at bureaucracy in passing!
8.5
202 1884-12-29 Out of Sorts
 [3]
drama The bailiff Prachkin is in a bad mood after losing 8 roubles at cards and his morose reflections are constantly interrupted by his son Vanya’s singing a text by a certain Pushkin that Prachkin’s never heard of. Finally, annoyed to the breaking point he threatens to whip Vanya for having broken a window the day before.
- a very mild little 600-word skit.
6
203 1885 Two of a Kind satire The newly-married narrator is setting off with his bride on a post-nuptial visit to her relations, rather reluctantly as all of these people have high-sounding names and he himself is of very plebeian stock. But one by one all of the relatives and friends of his bride’s family are seen to be no more hoity-toity than himself, much to his relief.
- A nice little spoof of the class differentiations so important in those far-off days.
8
204 1885-01-03 Festive Duty
 [3]
satire The widow Lyudmila Semyonovna has prepared an enormous amount of food and drinks for the many guests she’s expecting to pay her the traditional visit on New Year’s Day, but only the old senior advisor Okurkin has showed up, who explains to Lyudmila that all the officials has gotten together and decided to pay a rouble each to charity in lieu of making the traditional rounds of visits. The widow is in despair, and Okurkin finally goes off to find the gentlemen to convince them to make the rounds even if they’ve already given the rouble away.
- a satire of traditions? of honours? of social obligations? of skinflint officials? of out-of-touch aristocrats? qui sait?
6
205 1885-01-05 The Case of 1884
 [3]
humour A mock (1-page) trial of the year 1884 for having failed to live up to its promise.
- a rather good idea scantily developed in these few lines.
6
206 1885-01-26 The Captain’s Uniform
 [3]
social drama The tailor Merkulov is bragging about how he used to sew uniforms for the nobility when his barroom conversation is interrupted by his wife coming to tell him that a captain’s waiting for him, and Merkulov arranges with the captain to make him a uniform in a week’s time, without as he says stooping so low as to demand payment in advance the way mere merchants do. The uniform gets made but M doesn’t get paid, apart from a clout on the head.
- a social drama in the form of a low farce.
6.5
207 1885-02-09 The Marshal’s Widow satire Every year on the estate of Madame Zavzyatov there’s a memorial service for the late marshal of the district, attended by all the local notabilities. After the service there’s a truly splendid feast in honour of the late departed – who had been famous for knocking off a whole bottle of champagne at one go – with every delicacy imaginable, with the exception of anything containing alcohol. As the feast progresses, the guests return ever more frequently to the cloakroom where many of them have things stored away in case of need.
- An amusing portrait of the Russian attitude towards festivities of any nature.
8.5
208 1885-02-23 A Living Calendar A Living Chronology humour The elderly official Sharamykin is discussing with his friend Loniev in front of his fireplace, talking about how things used to be more lively in their town, each time citing memorable occasions from the past. He needs reminders from his wife, a vivacious younger woman of thirty, as to exactly when each of these four events had taken place, and every time the wife reminds him that the event in question took place less than a year before the birth of one of their four children.
- An amusing little tale, possibly a tad scandalous in its day.
8.5
209 1885-03-03 A Report
 [3]
satire A brief missive supposedly written to a bailiff informing him that the body of a pauper without a cent on him had been found hanging from a bridge with no indication of the reason for a suicide other than that it was caused by vodka and asking whether a report should be established.
- a half-page satire of bureaucracy that might perhaps might have seemed humorous in Russia in those them days.
5
210 1885-03-09 A Man and a Dog Converse humour Alexei is under the influence and starts off a monologue about man being first ashes and dust and then the crown of creation. When he hears a dog growling in front of his own doorway he takes that as a contradiction and breaks down, confessing tearfully to his many defaults and wrong-doings. The conversation with the dog becomes physical and Alexei is in very poor shape when he wakes up the following morning.
- Clever but definitely not funny, at least for Alexei.
8
211 1885-03-09 At the Bathhouse satire The barber in a bathhouse delivers a critical speech about long-haired intellectuals, much to the ire of one of the bathers, a scrawny fellow with long locks who forcefully defends the merits of education. Much to the surprise of the barber it turns out that the man in question is a respectable church deacon, so the barber apologises to the deacon for thinking that he was educated.
- A very simple, even simplistic sketch, reflecting the struggle of intellectuals and writers of the time to acquire social recognition.
7.5
212 1885-03-23 Celebration
 [3]
humour Silly comments made to a municipal agent by various citizens on being summoned to provide the traditional contribution on the eve of a feast-day. 4
213 1885-03-23 Small Fry drama While the clerk Nevyrazimov is in the process of penning a routine letter he listens to the sounds of the Easter bells, and seeing the festivities outside he feels progressively ever more discouraged by his lack of prospects and his lack of education. Finally he consoles himself with a gratuitous act of cruelty.
- A quite effective portrayal of existential ennui.
8
214 1885-03-30 Both are Better
 [3]
humour A couple of newly-weds are sent off after the wedding-day to visit relatives on both sides, and the bridegroom cringes when they arrive at his uncle’s because of the common-place atmosphere there so unlike what he’s bound to find at his wife’s distinguished relatives, but she quickly puts him right with a vivid account of the poverty and defaults of the noble relatives in question.
- a nice theme nicely treated.
8
215 1885-04-18 Hopeless
 [3]
satire Baron Shmakhin is frustrated and bored – frustrated because the river’s over-flooded and he can’t go out to the receptions he was looking forward to, and bored because he has nothing to do to pass the five hours before suppertime. He looks at a photo album, plays checkers with himself and then with his servant, but he stops that because there’s no honour in beating one’s social inferiors, and finally out of desperation he picks up a book, by Turgenev as it so happens – and ten minutes later he’s sound asleep.
- mildly amusing about an un-amusing person and with a possible touch of social criticism.
7.5
216 1885-04-27 The Complicated Affair
 [3]
humour A church sexton is writing out two series of names of people to be prayed for that’s being dictated to him by an old peasant woman, and both of them keep getting mixed up about who goes on one list (a prayer for good health) or the other (a prayer for the dead). Finally the old lady gives him a kopek and runs off to see the deacon to decide which of the names are to be put on which list.
- possibly slightly funny in the Russia of those days, who knows?
6
217 1885-05-02 May Day at Sokolniki In Sokolniki humour Towards evening a man in a top hat, exceedingly drunk, wants to go home but his lady says no because she doesn’t want the other people at the party to see how drunk he is, as he cannot walk a straight line. When he finally just has to leave she helps him, most embarrassed until she looks around and realises that everyone else is as inebriated as he is.
- Perhaps this was more funny at the time, at least in Russia, than it seems to be here and now.
7
218 1885-05-06 The Last Mohican
 [3]
drama The narrator recounts how the domineering sister of his host Dokukin had arrived unexpectedly while on her way to the governor to complain that her husband doesn’t behave with the dignity his noble ancestry entitles him to, spending all his time being friendly with low people such as shopkeepers and merchants. Her brow-beating and hen-pecking of her obsequious husband during her stay astonish even the blasé narrator but not the host, who’s used to it but is nevertheless in utter despair after an hour of his sister’s overwhelming company.
- not the first domineering female in Chekhov’s œuvre, but probably the most fearsome one.
8.5
219 1885-05-18 In a Hotel In a Room the feminine condition Madame Nashatyrin is complaining to the proprietor of the hotel where she is staying with her two unmarried daughters about the uncouth behaviour of their next-door neighbour, a boorish and outspoken army officer. But when she learns that the officer is unmarried she changes her angle of attack. 8
220 1885-05-20 The Diplomat
 [3]
humour The titular councillor Kuvaldin’s wife has just died and a family council delegates his friend Colonel Piskarev to break the news to the councillor, but necessarily in a diplomatic way so as to break the news gently to him, who was so much in love with his wife. The Colonel obliges by first describing to K all the advantages of being a widower like himself, going out when one wants to, etc. and then proceeding to disparage the poor woman’s looks and character. He inadvertently however calls her “the dead woman” and K rapidly understands the situation and has an emotional breakdown, whereby the Colonel goes back to the family and renounces his diplomatic mission.
- morbid humour but undeniably witty and even funny.
8.5
221 1885-05-21 My "She"
 [3]
love story The narrator remembers his first love, an older woman, and the impassioned letter he had written to her threatening to commit suicide if she didn’t grant him an interview.
- on the short side (800 words) but quite readable.
7
222 1885-05-24 A Fist’s Nest
 [3]
humour An unkempt manager shows a group of potential tenants around a decrepit group of dachas that are for renting, each one worse than the other and subject to endless taxes and fees.
- not an enticing image of the dacha scene.
6
223 1885-05-24 Something about A. S. Dargomyzhsky
 [3]
humour Two brief anecdotes about a composer, both slight and in a jocular vein. 6
224 1885-05-24 The Wallet
 [3]
theatrical drama Three penniless actors walking along a railway track find a wallet containing over 16,000 roubles and delightedly contemplate what they will do with their share. The two elder ones send the young Popov to the neighbouring village for food and wine to celebrate, and in his absence agree to kill him on his return to increase their share of the booty. But Popov has similar plans of his own, and the story ends badly of course for all of them.
- satisfyingly cynical about the morals of the acting profession.
8
225 1885-05-25 Abolished!
 [3]
satire The retired Ensign Vyvertov, surprised to see that a distinguished visitor doesn’t have any epaulettes on his shoulder, learns to his dismay that all marks and titles of rank have been abolished. He goes on the rounds of the notables of his district who all confirm the catastrophic news to the ex-Ensign. After a week of fasting in isolation he decides to rebel against the new state of affairs by writing to the highest authorities and to defiantly sign his letter “Ensign Vyvertov”.
- one of the author’s most engaged satires of the hierarchical Russian social system.
8
226 1885-05-25 The Threat
 [3]
humour A gentleman whose horse has been stolen puts an ad in the newspaper to warn the thief that if the horse isn’t returned to him immediately, he’ll do to what his father did to the thief who’d stolen a horse from him. The next day the horse is secretly returned and the gentleman explained to his friends what it was that his father did on that occasion.
- a little 200-word joke of sorts.
6
227 1885-
06
My Love humour The narrator complains about the love of his life leading him astray and preventing him from reading, writing, going for walks, enjoying nature, and so on. At the end of the diatribe he reveals that her name is LAZINESS.
- A one-page quite inventive amusement.
7
228 1885-06-01 The Crow
 [3]
drama Lieutenant Strekachev out on a stroll passes by the house of a certain Mme Duda and although he only has a rouble and a kopek in his pocket he decides to go in and pay his respects. There he unexpectedly encounters a junior clerk in his service all dressed up who perorates about equality among ranks, and before the lieutenant can send him away Mme Duda comes in with two young ladies and a musician, dancing starts, they go out to wine and dine and the next day the lieutenant has a hangover and decides not to punish the upstart clerk after all.
- a lighter treatment of this kind of thing than in the author’s later works.
7
229 1885-06-03 Boots humour A hotel porter has mistakenly put the boots of the piano-tuner Semyon in the next-door room, where an actor had been staying. The actor in question has gone off with them, so Semyon has to go to the theatre to reclaim his boots, but the apparently-outraged actor puts on a performance that Semyon will not forget in a hurry. 7
230 1885-06-08 Nerves humour Vaxin has been to a spiritualist séance and thinking of the gloomy topic of after-life addressed at the séance and imagining the presence of deceased ancestors in his dark bedroom, he has trouble getting to sleep. As his wife is out at an all-night service, to escape from his lonely situation he ends up going to sleep in the room of his maid. But that was not the best solution to his problem, as he discovered when his wife came back the next morning and found him still asleep there. 7.5
231 1885-06-15 A Country Cottage humour Sasha and Varya have just been married and are admiring the romantic scenery near the train station when Sasha’s uncle descends from the train on a surprise visit with his four children, wife and mother in trail. Sasha’s and Varya’s plans for the evening have gone awry. 8
232 1885-06-15 Up the Ladder
 [3]
satire A provincial official on visit to Saint Petersburg meets to his surprise a young former tutor of his children at a reception and learns that he earns a mere 800 roubles a month. Disparagingly he wonders how such a low-paid clerk got invited to such a posh reception and on progressively learning that the clerk also has a handsomely-paid commercial position and is married to a State Secretary’s niece, he fawningly invites the young man to dinner at his hotel.
- a clever little (1-page) dig at officialdom’s worship of money and power.
7.5
233 1885-06-17 A Guard in Custody
 [3]
humour The public prosecutor Balbinski is rushing to the train station loaded down with a myriad of boxes and crates, followed by his wife. During the journey he explains to a colleague whom he meets at a way-station that he’d pretended to be sick so as to be able to go abroad for a cure, but his wife had insisted on accompanying him and that they take cheap seats in the third-class carriage. The suffering prosecutor finally finds a solution to put an end to his ordeal.
- yet another extremely negative view of married women and the marriage condition from a masculine point of view: does that possibly reveal something about the author’s own experience?
8
234 1885-06-20 My Wives
 [5]
humour A certain Raoul Bluebeard writes to a newspaper protesting against the false and outrageous portrayal of his views and life in the recently-performed opera “Bluebeard”, and proceeds to exemplify the author’s errors by describing in detail the reasons he had for first marrying and then poisoning each of his own seven wives.
- a very successful albeit indecently morbid and misogynist comedy.
8.5
235 1885-06-22 Trickery: An Extremely Ancient Joke humour A microscopic 90-word one-page joke about an English criminal condemned to death in olden times who had had a laugh on the medical man who had paid for his corpse, because he was going to be burned at the stake and not just hanged.
- A not very funny joke about a not very funny subject – what were the censors doing in Tsarist Russia to have let this one get by?
4
236 1885-06-23 An Intelligent Log
 [3]
satire The retired officer Pomoyev is summoned to court as a defendant by the judge Shestikrylov, a friend. He cannot believe that a friend would do such a thing to him but goes there anyway, to hear himself being accused of striking a former servant for not finding a comb he’d been instructed to fetch. He starts insulting the fellow until the judge calls an adjournment, instructs him to stay out of the courtroom, negotiates a settlement with the fellow and even pays the ten roubles compensation demanded. But Pomoyev continues to think that his friend isn’t really a proper judge.
- a satire of old-timers who can’t adjust to new and more democratic ways.
7.5
237 1885-06-29 Malingerers satire The homeopath Marfa Petrovna has been busy receiving her many clients all day when a neighbouring landowner comes into her office and falls down on his knees with highly laudatory compliments about the miraculous effects her homeopathic treatments have had on his rheumatism, in contrast to the failed and even dishonest attempts by classical allopathic doctors. She is so rejoiced by his transformation that she lends him money and grain, but after he leaves she notices that the rascal had never in fact taken her pills at all.
- An amusing sketch with real content and a punch that is still relevant today.
8.5
238 1885-07-01 The Burbot The Fish portrait of life in Russia Two peasants have been struggling in the water for a long time trying to wrench a large burbot out from its hiding-place under a root. After much mutual insulting they are still unsuccessful when a shepherd arrives and decides to show them how to do it, without more success. Finally the master comes along to find out what all the noise is about and joins in the fray himself. The epic struggle does eventually come to a somewhat surprising end.
- A clever yarn about country mores and a rather good portrait of the curious fascination of the act of fishing.
8.5
239 1885-07-04 From the Memories of an Idealist
 [3]
humour The idealist in question recounts how he had obtained an advance on salary of 100 roubles and gone to a dacha that he’d rented in the countryside on the advice of a friend. Surprised and charmed to discover that the landlady was a delicate young blond woman who only asked for a minimal 25 roubles rental fee, our idealist spent an ideal holiday going for walks with the pretty young thing and eating delicious food and being spoiled with cream and chocolates throughout. But the idyll came to a brutal end when he was presented with the final bill for his stay…
- a neat tale with a neat twist at the end.
8
240 1885-07-06 At the Pharmacy medical drama Egor goes straight to the pharmacy after his visit to the doctor’s to gain relief from his suffering as soon as possible, but he had not reckoned with the staid, bureaucratic, arrogant, old-fashioned and lethargic way the pharmacy was run. When at long last he is served he realises that he doesn’t have quite enough money on him and has to struggle home in a daze without the remedy.
- An interesting account of the old-time way of running a pharmacy (and of looking down on customers).
9
241 1885-07-07 A Horsey Name humour Major-General Buldeeff is suffering agonies from a severe tooth-ache when his steward remarks that he once knew a conjurer who was most successful in curing tooth-aches with his special gift of spitting a certain way. In desperation the general accepts to send his fee to the exciseman by mail but the steward cannot quite remember the man’s exact name other than that it had something to do with horses. The entire household then spends the next several days suggesting horsey-sounding names until the general’s doctor solves both the conundrum and the tooth-ache.
- An inventive play on words and on local superstitions that has however somewhat paled over time.
7.5
242 1885-07-13 It’s Not Meant to Be!
 [3]
portrait of life in Russia Two landlords, Gadyukin and Shilokhvostov, are on their way to the local elections when much to S’s scorn G begs him to turn back because they’re about to cross the path of the village priest, always an omen of something bad about to happen. And in the evening when they return, the election has effectively gone badly. A month later when they’re on their way to vote for the council elections they’ve managed to avoid the priest by leaving particularly early, but they nevertheless decide to turn back when a hare runs across the road ahead of them, another infallible sign of bad things to come.
- an interesting glimpse of country beliefs in those olden times.
8
243 1885-07-15 Gone Astray Lost humour Two lawyers are making their way home in the early hours of the morning after an evening’s celebration and have difficulty finding their homes – they have taken the wrong road, are extremely tired and confused, and mistakenly try to enter the wrong house.
- A most credible situation, treated perhaps excessively in the vein of a slapstick college prank.
7.5
244 1885-07-18 The Huntsman drama Yegor is walking with his dog hunting game-birds on a sultry autumn day when he hears his name called by Pelagea. She is the still-young woman he had married twelve years previously and who is still hopelessly in love with him. He stops to talk with her, and explains why his passion for hunting and a more genteel style of life could never enable him to live in a peasant village with her.
- An open, quite moving confrontation of surprising frankness and intensity.
9
245 1885-07-20 A Prelude to a Marriage humour A couple of newlyweds are riding home in a coach after the wedding and the husband shows her what would happen if she ever ran at him with clenched fists.
- A not-very-funny two-page skit that probably seemed just as macho then as it does now.
5
246 1885-07-24 The Intruder A Malefactor social drama Denis, an unkempt, barefooted peasant is on trial for having been discovered stealing bolts from the railway line, and he explains to the uncomprehending magistrate that that has long been standard practise in the region, as the bolts make excellent sinkers for fishing lines. The mutual misunderstanding continues to the very end, as Denis just cannot understand why he is being punished.
- A dialogue of the deaf that seems today unduly harsh about the faculties of the uneducated poor, in spite of the author’s depth of understanding of that milieu through his medical practice.
7.5
247 1885-07-27 In a Carriage
#2
 [3]
portrait of life in Russia A series of short conversations apparently taking place in a railway carriage, in each of which the person speaking is mistaken for someone of elevated social or intellectual status whereas he or she finally explains that they’re of much lower social origins (a warehouse supervisor disclaiming on his taste for expensive foreign wines, a post-office clerk explaining his love of sophisticated magazines, a fireman waxing enthusiastically about outings with great horse-carriages, a hair-dresser’s wife describing her husband’s constant convocations in high places…).
- six vignettes over 1½ pages do not constitute the author’s most lasting work of sociological analysis.
6
248 1885-07-31 Groom and Dad
 [3]
humour Petr Milkin has been dining at the home of Nastya for months now and as everyone thinks he wants to marry her, he’s obliged to have a talk with her father – who’s keen on the idea as he has seven marriageable daughters – to explain that he has come to say good-bye as he has to move to another town. But the father doesn’t see why Nastya can’t go with him so Petr progressively explains that he’s in debt, that he drinks too much, that he’s an embezzler, and finally that he’s an escaped convict, to no avail as the father finds a reason in each case to still find him acceptable for his daughter. In desperation he declares to be insane, but the father demands a medical certificate, so off he goes to a doctor who’s a friend of his, who agrees to give such a certificate to someone who wants to get married.
- an amusing spoof: yet another highly negative critique of the marriage institution.
8
249 1885-08-05 The Guest
 [3]
humour Private solicitor Zeltersky is dead tired and his dacha guest the retired Colonel Peregarin has been recounting stories about himself for hours and is still going strong. In desperation at 1 am. Zeltersky starts to read to his guest a novel he’d written in his schoolboy days, but even that doesn’t discourage the indefatigable colonel, until Zeltersky hits upon the ultimate weapon of expulsion: he asks him for a loan.
- clever and amusing.
8
250 1885-08-10 A Man of Ideas The Thinker;
- The Philosopher
humour The prison-keeper Yashkin and his guest Pfimfov, the caretaker of the county school, are sitting under a linden tree on a hot day at a table with vodka, beef and sardines, and Yashkin perorates at length about the mysteries of Russian punctuation and spelling, recalling various punishments he had received at school on their account. Pfimfov is offended by this attack on the sciences that he represents because of his school function and tries to leave, but more vodka is brought in and Yashkin meditates openly on the superfluousness of so many things and people before finally falling asleep, just as Pfimfov is thinking that at least this time Yashkin hadn’t gone onto the topics of the creation of the world and of hierarchies.
- A brief 2-page diversion, quite appropriate for a hot summer day.
7
251 1885-08-12 Horse and Quivering Doe
 [5]
drama At three in the morning the Fibrova couple is still awake as he’s tossing and turning and she’s looking melancholically out the window. The problem is that he’s a journalist and just cannot avoid having too much to drink while fulfilling his duties and he comes home in a drunken state night after night. She talks of him getting a nice position with her uncle in Tula where they could lead a decent life, and after some resistance he finally agrees with the idea. But the next morning he’s gone out as usual and the next evening he comes home as usual and she doesn’t write to the uncle.
- a strong, sad scene of considerable force.
8.5
252 1885-08-17 The Dealer
 [3]
humour Ten short extracts from a speculator’s notebook, all of a particularly trite nature (ex: "Spent for the prince’s valet’s meal 5 p. 20 k. 20 k. I sold a share of the Lozovo-Sevastopol road, and made a loss of 14 kopecks.”)
- a short page published in a comical (?) review that can’t have done much for the author’s reputation.
4
253 1885-08-19 Drowning humour A shipping agent waiting for a customer on a wharf is approached by a down-and-out actor who offers to give a performance of a drowning man with all his clothes and boots on for two roubles – only one without the boots – and when the agent declines he knocks the price down to sixty kopeks, but to no avail. However, when the customer arrives he does it for thirty, boots and all.
- An amusing sketch, perhaps not for actors but for the rest of us, yes.
8
254 1885-08-21 The Wall
 [3]
satire The young graduate of an agricultural institution sits for an interview for employment as an intendant of an estate but is scandalized by suggestions that he would be dishonest and leaves, leaving the owner of the estate to lament that so many honest candidates have presented themselves for the position, whereas it obviously requires someone of more realistic convictions, and finally resolves to re-hire the previous intendant who’d been let go for graft.
- a short and cynical skit about an aspect of farming practices that Tolstoy forgot to address in his lengthy considerations on agricultural reform in Anna Karenina.
7.5
255 1885-08-22 Advertisement humour In the form of a publicity for an anti-combustion ointment purporting to explain why some brands of matches and lanterns never light up, the text plays on words to advocate its use for various unexpected applications such as preventing loan sharks and theatre brokers from lighting up with shame; for smearing it on fiery men and women, on entrepreneurs whose business is about to go up in flames, on men in whose hearts love is all to easily kindled, and so on.
- A tiny one-page gag.
6
256 1885-08-24 The Whistlers
 [3]
portrait of life in Russia The owner of an estate is escorting his brother, a university man, around his property, extolling in particular the qualities of the peasants and illustrating his point by interviewing several of them, notably a sturdy Herculean peasant and a splendidly blossoming young girl. Back at the mansion they “talked the whole time about identity, intactness and integrity, scolded themselves and searched for meaning in the word intellectual", and after a nap had a drink and summoned the peasants to come and dance with them.
- a striking and all-too-brief portrait of the clash of cultures in the Russian countryside.
8.5
257 1885-08-26 The Head of the Family The Father of a Family drama Stepan Stepanitch is not only grumpy and aggressive towards all the members of his household after losing at cards or drinking too much, even at everyday mealtimes he cannot help but being critical and complaining to a degree. When all is going well for him he cannot understand why he is treated with such fear and reserve by one and all.
- The man’s tendency to constantly flaunt his earning powers in the face of his housebound wife, his young son and the other members of the household certainly touches the sensitivities of the modern equality-conscious reader, a sensitivity of which the author was clearly a precursor.
8
258 1885-09-02 The Village Elder The Warden portrait of life in Russia The ragged peasant Semyon is having a feast in a tavern and is explaining to the tavern keeper that he can afford to live like a prince because although he is not a man of learning he is nevertheless the best jurist in Russia whenever there are peasants to defend. He proceeds to recount how he got the wealthy but skinflint factory manager Petrov to give the peasants in his home village a hundred roubles to drink to his health, after having told them that for vodka he wouldn’t give a copper.
- A very funny story, marvellously recounted.
9
259 1885-09-09 A Dead Body portrait of life in Russia A corpse wrapped in linen is lying under a tree in the middle of a misty August night, dutifully watched over by two peasants who are keeping a fire alive. They listen to the sounds of the forest and talk to fight off their feelings of eeriness when a pilgrim comes along attracted by the fire, who asks for directions and is afraid to continue on his way alone after seeing the corpse. The scene peters out in the end when the younger peasant accepts to accompany him to the nearest village.
- A marvellous evocation of the atmosphere of uneducated Russian peasants reacting to the presence of death on a gloomy summer night, most readable in spite of the lack of a story line.
9
260 1885-09-14 Women’s Good Fortune Woman’s Happiness the feminine condition Two officials are on their way with their wives to the reception after the funeral of an army officer, but there is a crush of people also going there and the bailiffs outside only let their wives through the security barrier. This sets one of them off on a long discourse of the unfair advantages of women on all sorts of social occasions (free admission to balls, no corporal punishment, priority for seats, the magic of a dropped handkerchief, etc). He proceeds to tell about how he hears his senior civil servant, a General, being scolded shamefully by his wife and how he had also seen the general being insulted most violently by his cook at his summer residence. While he is bemoaning the privileged status of women the dance music begins, he and his colleague remaining resentfully outside.
- An amusing little 2-page tirade.
7.5
261 1885-09-16 The Cook’s Wedding the feminine condition The seven-year-old son of the household observes uncomprehendingly how the cook Pelaga is being wooed by a new cabman with the encouragement of the whole household, even though the cook is adamantly opposed to the project. His incomprehension increases as he observes the intense social pressure on Pelaga and culminates when, the marriage performed, the new husband demands an advance on Pelaga’s wages.
- Interesting for its straightforward portrayal of the social plight of single working women, as a story it remains on the first-degree level as seen through the eyes of its young narrator.
7
262 1885-09-23 After the Benefit Performance
 [3]
theatrical drama A theatre manage and an actor are celebrating the success of the vastly successful benefit performance that had just finished, bringing in over a hundred roubles for the theatre. The actor borrows twenty to go on a train trip to collect a possible inheritance and the manager accompanies him to the station, where they have a bottle while waiting for the train. Then they have a few more drinks and are joined by a comedian who tells them that the others are dining in a restaurant, and the benefit funds are all gone by the next morning.
- either a cynical or a realistic portrayal of the theatrical world – the reader will have to decide for himself.
8
263 1885-09-28 A Memo
 [3]
humour A one-page list of farcical one-line explanations by a the librarian of a provincial club to the club’s manager of what had been going on during the manager’s one-week absence.
- in a very indirect and caricatural way this does tell a story of sorts, albeit not a very comprehensible or interesting or amusing one, particularly as it uses an extremely reprehensible term – then and now – for members of the Jewish community.
2
264 1885-09-30 General Education
 [5]
medical drama Two dentists, one thin and poorly-dressed and the other very portly and wearing expensive clothes and smoking a cigar, are discussing their profession. The thin one wonders why the fat one has had so much more success than he although they both went to the same dental faculty, and the other explains his secrets of success by what he calls “General Education”: pompous surroundings, mysterious apparatuses, intensive advertisements, selling all kinds of pseudo-scientific accessories, etc. and after he jocularly recounts terrifying stories of pulling teeth, successful or otherwise, his friend admits that he does indeed lack general education.
- amusing in a scary way although not very complimentary to the dentistry profession.
8.5
265 1885-10-02 Doctor’s Advice humour Four short nonsense prescriptions on one page for various ailments: a cold, a spinning head, arsenic poisoning and persistent coughing. For example: “For arsenic poisoning, try to induce vomiting, which can be achieved by a sniff of food bought at the Okhotni Ryad market.” and “For strong and persistent coughing, try not to cough at all for three or four days, and your ailment will disappear on its own.”
- Silly beyond words.
4
266 1885-10-05 Sergeant Prishibeyev portrait of life in Russia The non-commissioned officer Prishibeyev is being tried before a judge on charges of insulting police officers and bystanders at the beach. Prishibeyev explains in his inimitably unsophisticated way that there was a crowd around the body of a man who had drowned and that he had felt it his official duty not only to disperse the crowd, which had resisted his initiative, but also to tell the police officer what his duties were and what he should be doing, advice which was not listened to with the respect due his status as a non-commissioned officer. The judge cuts short his diatribe with a one-month jail sentence. As he leaves the courtroom Prishibeyev can’t prevent himself from ordering the crowd there to break up.
- A confused anecdote with subtle criticism of something or other that we weren’t able to determine.
6
267 1885-10-05 Two Newspapermen
 [5]
humour The journalist Rybkin is preparing to hang himself on a hook in his office and when his fellow-journalist Shlepkin comes in he explains that he finds that there’s nothing interesting to write about anymore as it’s all been seen before a thousand times. Shlepkin tries to dissuade him by talking about all the interest there is to be found in the most minute details and when Rybkin contemptuously remarks that S would be capable of even writing about an egg then S complies by enthusiastically waxing liberal about the myriad of fascinating aspects there are to consider about eggs, that R counters by proceeding to hang himself, whereby S instantly writes his obituary, an article on the frequency of suicides, an editorial on their punishment and other articles on the same subject before cheerfully going off to his editorial office.
- clever and amusing in a characteristically-Russian morbid manner.
8.5
268 1885-10-07 The Psychopaths
 [3]
humour A young idler and his father are talking politics over dinner and the young man becomes more and more excited as well as more and more annoying to his sick grandfather in the next room as he imagines political catastrophes, evokes cholera plagues and goes on to discuss a celebrated criminal case that he imagines will eventually implicate his father, who’s quite terrified by the time lunch is over.
- politics and literature don’t mix very well, do they?
6
269 1885-10-12 In a Strange Land portrait of life in Russia The landowner Kamyshev is dining with Monsieur Champoun, the former tutor of his children whom he had kept on as a (paid) dinner-table companion after his children had left home. His disobliging comparisons about the French people and nation drive Monsieur to despair, but liberating himself from his virtual albeit comfortable state of serfdom is easier said than done.
- A frankly hard-hitting criticism of provincial Russian philistinism that must have raised an eyebrow or two at the time.
8
270 1885-10-14 The Indian Rooster
 [3]
humour Pelage scolds her husband for being so lazy and spending all his time lying on the sofa, and sends him out to the pharmacist to find something to cure their Indian rooster’s refusal to take nourishment. The husband goes there and confusedly explains what he wants, and when the pharmacist finally realizes that he’s not talking about himself but about a rooster he prepares a powder, but in the end after more confusion the pathetic fellow comes home empty-handed.
- this actually got printed in a Petersburg gazette!
3
271 1885-10-21 Sleepy Follies
 [3]
humour A trial is underway and the court secretary is reading the long accusation in such a monotonous voice that the accused starts to daydream about what his children and wife and mother-in-law are probably doing at home and his lawyer falls asleep dreaming about a gypsy girl. Finally the reading stops and the defender sees the gypsy girl on the witness stand and he asks her a routine question. That’s it!
- the daydreams are rather fun but the story isn’t.
6
272 1885-10-26 To Cure a Drinking Bout A Cure for Drinking theatrical drama A renowned actor arrives in a provincial town for an engagement, but to the dismay of the impresario he goes off on one of his well-known drinking bouts and will be out of action for two months at least. The theatre cashier tells the impresario that the local barber has a tried and proven method for curing drinking bouts and out of desperation the impresario calls him in, with spectacular, albeit particularly brutal, results.
- A remarkably vivid, funny and credible story.
9
273 1885-10-28 Double Bass and Flute
 [3]
theatrical drama A flute player complains at rehearsals that he can’t find a flat because they’re expensive and landlords don’t allow musicians, so the contrabass player offers to share his flat with him to reduce his costs. The flute player moves in but rapidly their different lifestyles clash – one likes to read late and the other wants the lights out early, one likes to sleep in and the other gets up at 6 etc., and finally after they’ve changed flats several times the contrabass asks the flute to leave as he’d been trying unsuccessfully to get him to leave all the time.
- the descriptions of the life-styles of the musicians are slightly interesting, at first.
6
274 1885-11 Whitebrow animal story The story follows an ageing and famished she-wolf on the prowl for food for her three cubs as she breaks into the hut of the semi-senile forest surveyor Ignat and grabs in the dark what she mistakes for a lamb, only to find out that it is the large puppy-dog of the title, Whitebrow, all black with a white patch on the brow and scarcely edible, who follows her back to he lair and plays with her cubs. The next night she tries to break in again but the pup had followed her and jumps through the hole she had made in the roof, rousing all the animals and Ignat, who thinks that the pup had made the hole in the first place and trains him with smacks to go into the hut by the front door instead. That’s it!
- An animal story somehow lacking substance that can perhaps be regarded as a precursor of Jack London’s masterful stories about dogs and wolves less than ten years later.
6
275 1885-11-04 Ninotchka
 [3]
humour The narrator’s good friend Pavel comes in to see him in a very distraught state of mind because his beloved wife Ninotchka, who for once hadn’t gone out the previous evening but spent it with Pavel, had become furious with him when Pavel began reading old letters from his college days to her, one of which was from a certain Katya. The next day Ninotchka’s still furiously jealous so Pavel has come to ask the narrator to go and see her to smooth things over. Which the narrator does most effectively, much to Pavel’s delight, although a while later he learned the truth about the narrator’s relationship with Ninotchka. A mutually satisfactory arrangement – above all for the narrator – was however agreed between the two friends.
- a most effective comedy about naive husbands and philandering friends.
8
276 1885-11-09 Dear Dog
 [3]
animal story Lieutenant Dubov expounds the myriad merits of his beloved dog Milka to the soldier Knaps and talk about selling her for a mere hundred roubles, or even fifty, but can’t prevent himself from cursing the poor animal when he shows her to Knaps. When Knaps explains that he has no money, doesn’t want a female, has no room for a dog anyway and refuses the Lieutenant’s final offer to give her to him for free, then the fate of the poor animal is sealed, and it is not a pleasant one.
- a 2-page little sketch that says something about heartless dog owners.
8
277 1885-11-11 The Writer satire The merchant Yershakov feels the influence of culture when he receives the visit of the writer Geynim, who has written an advertisement for his wares in record time. He reads out the complicated contents of his work to the merchant, who accepts the work with some minor corrections, and then there is an awkward moment when the merchant explains to the writer that he will be paid in tea and sugar rather than roubles, as that is how he pays his labourers. After some discussion Geynim accepts the payment that he converts into cash at a discount, and the merchant feels even more cultivated than before after this rewarding contact with a writer.
- A very short (2-page) and almost savage satire of the mercantile view of the writing profession.
7
278 1885-11-14 The Ballroom Pianist
 [3]
social drama A pianist comes back to his roommate’s flat at two a.m., and to explain why he’d come back from a wedding so early he recounts his encounter with a clever girl who was talking heatedly about music with him until another lady came up to her and whispered in her ear that this wasn’t a well-dressed young man but merely a pianist, which abruptly ended the conversation. So the pianist started playing serious music and got thrown out on the grounds that he must have had too much to drink.
- a cynical but rather touching vision of the role of artists in society.
8
279 1885-11-16 Overdoing It Over-seasoned portrait of life in Russia A land surveyor arrives at a post-station at the end of the day and hires a peasant to drive him to the area that he had been commissioned to survey some twenty miles further on. The little cart and its tired mare plod slowly on and night rapidly befalls the travellers as the surveyor becomes conscious of their isolation and exposure to attack. His solution to the problem is to explain in detail to the driver how heavily armed he is, but that was definitely the wrong approach, as he learns to his dismay.
- An interesting portrayal of the joys and travails of travelling on the vast Russian plains, with a number of sparkling dialogues, but somewhat tainted by its simplistic psychology.
8.5
280 1885-11-18 No Place
 [3]
satire A young man writes to his uncle an angry letter about the efforts he’d been making to find a position using the uncle’s letters of introduction, when in each case outright bribes were demanded by the friends of the uncle to consider the question. After being scandalized by three such attempts, though, the persevering young man succeeded in slipping his young interviewer a suitable bribe and landed a position, so all was well at the end.
- satisfyingly cynical and satirical.
8
281 1885-11-23 Old Age drama The architect Uzelkov returns on mission to his old town that he had left after his divorce there twenty years before, and is invited to dinner by the wily lawyer who had handled his divorce, now a wealthy old man who reveals to him during the dinner what really went on with his former wife in those faraway days.
- A striking and quite moving exploration of the theme of a critical moment in a man’s life as seen many years afterwards through another’s eyes.
9
282 1885-11-25 Sorrow Grief;
- Misery;
- Woe
portrait of life in Russia The introverted monologue of a (brutal and drink-inclined) peasant who is almost lost in a violent snow-storm driving his critically-ailing wife to the hospital, as he reviews his life and marriage.
- A subtly powerful evocation of the existential dilemma of the uneducated country-folk of that vast country-continent in those faraway days.
9
283 1885-11-30 Oh! The Public humour A chief ticket-collector on an overnight train decides to at long last stop shirking and proceeds to wake up an invalid traveller to verify his ticket, much to the outrage of the traveller and the others on the train too, who are angered by this abuse of authority. They demand excuses from him – enough to drive anyone, especially this ticket-collector, to drink.
- An amusing albeit rather inconsequential little tale.
7.5
284 1885-
12
Ariadne

10,000-word novelette
drama On a seamer from Odessa to Sebastopol the narrator is approached by a certain Shamohin, who declares to him that when Russians get together they always talk about women and abstract subjects because they are idealists. He proceeds to recount the story of his love for the vivacious young Ariadne, a neighbour near his father’s country estate who had run away with an older married man, Lubov, to live with him on a shoestring in Italy, borrowing money from everyone including Shamohin, who finally was summoned by her to join her there. Where the cynical Lubov, who “borrows” more money from him, comes up with the following memorable line: “To get on terms with a woman is easy enough, you have only to undress her; but afterwards what a bore it is, what a silly business!”. Shamohin went back to cold Russia, was summoned again by Ariadne to Rome where Lubov had abandoned her, they travelled around Italy as man and wife on funds sent by Shamohin’s father who had mortgaged all his properties for him, and finally they were on their way on this boat to southern Russia where he felt honour-bound to marry Ariadne even though there was no trace left of his old love for her. The story ends in Sebastopol with Shamohin hoping that Ariadne will be taken away from him by one of her many admirers.
- A fairly interesting story about fairly interesting people.
8
285 1885-12-02 The Rag
 [3]
satire The secretary of the provincial newspaper, all scented and dressed up, is on his way to a big reception where he’s looking forward to being looked up to as a writer although he’s really just a secretary, when to his amazement he’s not allowed in, on the instructions of the owner of the mansion. Totally frustrated in his social ambitions the secretary explains that he’s not a writer at all and that it wasn’t his fault if the owner’s daughter had a bad review in the paper, but to no avail, he’s been irremediably tainted with his association with the press and the writers who work there.
- a somewhat amusing dig at just about everyone involved.
7.5
286 1885-12-07 My Talk with Edison Edison and Chekhov humour An imagined interview with the great scientist on the occasion of an anniversary of his invention of the light bulb.
- This short one-page piece of journalism has traditionally been considered a short story, although it has no story line, a single character and was never included by the author in any of the numerous collections of his short fiction published during his lifetime.
6
287 1885-12-09 Saintly Simplicity Sacred simplicity;
Holy simplicity
portrait of life in Russia Savya, the aged priest of a little town, is delighted to by the visit of his son Alexander, a celebrated Moscow lawyer whom he hadn’t seen for fifteen years since he had sent him off to Moscow to university. The father can’t relate to the big-city life that the son has been leading: he thinks that the son must earn a thousand roubles a year to have such nice clothes and a gold watch, and the son throws out when he asks him about it that he usually gets thirty thousand. He tells his father that his divorce cost ten thousand, and so on, but Savya just thinks that Alex is a great liar. At the end of the evening he tells his son that he’s bequeathed him his life savings, fifteen hundred roubles, a sum that the son just laughs at. But Savya is nevertheless very proud of his distinguished son, a university man.
- A very amusing and even moving story, with particularly interesting insights into the lifestyle of up-and-coming big-city professionals in the Russia of the eighteen-eighties.
9
288 1885-12-14 Murder Will Out portrait of life in Russia Inspector Posudin has left his office in secret and is travelling incognito to ensure a surprise when he arrives at his destination to inspect the locals. On a hired coach going through back roads he questions the driver about what he knows of this recently-arrived official Posudin, and the driver, who has never seen him, tells him all about his little secrets and methods: his secret drinking, the names of his mistresses, the amount of bribes he will accept and the kind of foodstuffs he orders when leaving on a mission. He also tells him that the whole neighbourhood knows perfectly well that the Posudin in question is on his way and are waiting for him. Posudin has no alternative but to turn back!
- A clever little (2-page) story.
8
289 1885-12-16 A Cynic
 [3]
animal story It’s noon-hour at the zoo and the crowd has come to hear the manager, who’s already quite tipsy, give them a guided tour, which he does, at first amusing the crowd by his cynical remarks about the lost freedom of the lion and wild-cat and then about the sadness of the monkey and the gazelle. When he finally waxes philosophical about the fate of a rabbit that he brings out to feed to a boa constrictor the audience intervenes to save the rabbit and are disgusted by the manager’s cruelty. But they come back time and again to hear his “psychological” discourses.
- an impressive albeit hard-to-stomach pro-animal protest.
8
290 1885-12-18 Mari d’Elle Her Husband the feminine condition An opera singer unsuccessfully confronts her parasitical husband who has been profiting from her fame and wealth ever since she defied him to take up her artistic career.
- A resounding declaration in favour of feminine emancipation, only marred somewhat by the basic vileness of the male partner in this fruitless and endless confrontation.
PS – one can’t help wondering about the term used in the original text and adopted by the translator as the title: mari d’elle ("her husband" in fractured French), that normally would be "son mari" in the language of Molière. Did the author’s mastery of that language leave something to be desired?
8.5
291 1885-12-21 An Entrepreneur Under the Sofa
 [3]
theatrical drama A young actress is making a quick change in her dressing-room in the middle of a vaudeville performance to put on the dress for her next appearance when she hears a noise and is shocked to see the theatre manager hiding under the sofa. She covers herself up and demands that he leave, but he explains that his life is in danger as the husband of his mistress, to whom he owes five thousand roubles, is angrily looking for him, and promises the actress a big bribe to let him stay there. Do you think he honours his promise when the show and his danger are over?
- a no doubt insightful portrait of the goings-on in the theatrical world.
8
292 1885-12-25 A Dream. A Christmas Story
 [3]
social drama A pawnbroker’s assistant is sleeping in the shop on Christmas Eve and is tormented in his dreams by images of all the poor people whose belongings are stored there. He even dreams that thieves have stolen in and that instead of menacing them with his revolver he stuffs their pockets with pawned objects out of pity for their suffering and poverty, and he wakes up to find himself confronted by the manager and a policeman and taken to jail.
- a harsh and heart-felt protest against the plight of the poor in general and the heartlessness of pawnbrokers in particular.
8
293 1885-12-30 The Looking Glass The Mirror drama While looking into a mirror Nellie falls into a deep daydream about her future life with her husband-to-be, centred on the inevitable day when she will have to seek relief for him at the doctor’s during an epidemic of typhus in winter. Not the glorious future she had initially dreamed of with him!
- Centred on the everyday dangers to health and happiness, a little sketch that has real punch.
8
294 1886-01-01 Masquerades
#2
 [3]
satire A series of mini-portraits of people masquerading under various disguises: a fat old man after a hearty meal (in reality a pig); an old society woman masquerading as a philanthropist; a clever fox-entrepreneur masquerading as a sweet young woman; a tailor’s assistant masquerading as a playwright; an aggressive watchdog masquerading as a reviewer; and finally a hoofed goose masquerading as a writer.
- more a (short 1½-page) comical essay with social-critique intonations than a story.
5
295 1886-01-04 New Year’s Eve Martyrs
 [3]
satire A well-dressed man is creating a public disturbance by lying on his back unconscious in the snow, and when he’s carried into the police station he’s recognized as a senior civil servant, who recounts the long list of people he’s had to visit of New Year’s Day and all the food and drink he’d been obliged to consume to avoid offending people, and when he’s advised to go home and rest he explains that he still has some more obligatory rounds to make and totters off. Meanwhile five other similar cases have been brought into the police station.
- a convincing and almost-amusing account of an important tradition at the time.
8
296 1886-01-06 Art portrait of life in Russia Seryozhka is a 30-year-old lazy sluggard who has a great talent for creating magnificent holy icons out of snow and ice on the frozen river for the annual festival of Epiphany. Once a year he dominates one and all, ordering them around, vilifying and exploiting them, as they patiently wait for the great moment when his latest masterpiece will be ready and the great ceremony can begin.
- Infused with the intense religiosity of country folk, what starts off as a peasant farce gradually becomes a pageant of considerable beauty and significance.
9.5
297 1886-01-08 A Night in the Cemetery
 [3]
drama Ivan Ivanovich is asked to recount a scary story so he tells how after on New Year’s party in the usual condition he got lost walking home in a pitch-black howling rainstorm and finally fell over what turned out to be a tombstone, where he sat down to rest and then after hearing soft steps approaching he felt a light hand on his knee and a howl. He woke up in front of a monument store where he’d fainted after a guardian had laid his hand on his shoulder.
- no doubt more effectively told after everyone has had a few digestives than in cold, hard-hearted print.
7
298 1886-01-11 A Blunder Foiled!;
- Failure
satire A couple of parents anxiously listen in on a fateful interview between their marriageable daughter and her suitor, waiting for the fateful moment of tenderness when they will be able to burst in upon the couple and confront the suitor with an icon, thereby rendering a wedding obligatory as per the custom of the time. But things do not go according to plan.
- An amusing tongue-in-cheek satire of old-fashioned Russian religious traditions.
7.5
299 1886-01-13 The First Debut
 [3]
drama Assistant solicitor Pyaterkin is returning home in a coach in a bad, very bad mood after his first appearance in court when he was tongue-tied, mocked by the jurors and scoffed at by the opposing party. But they are overtaken by a storm and the coach has to stop at a wayside inn where he finds his opponents in court discussing legal issues. After more aggravation he breaks down, but his ex-opponents take care of him and explain that it’s always like that on one’s first day in court.
- a simple and almost touching tale.
8
300 1886-01-19 The Telephone humour A man is trying to get through to the Slavyansky Bazaar Hotel on the telephone and progressively and with increasing difficulty gets connected to a little girl, to a businessman, to a manufacturer, to the Exchange, to the little girl again, and finally to the Slavyansky Bazaar Hotel, who pass him back to the Exchange. It finishes with the notation (Continuation ad Infinitum).
- A story that said something to everyone everywhere in those days and for a good hundred years afterwards too.
8
301 1886-01-20 Children Kids childhood experience While waiting for their parents to come home from a night out, a group of six children play intensely at cards, with kopecks, prestige, the thrill of competition, the joy of gaming and the simple reluctance to go to bed driving each of them on in their different ways.
- A small masterpiece, like a Dutch genre painting of an everyday scene most effectively translated into words.
8.5
302 1886-01-25 The Biggest City
 [3]
humour An English journalist is driving through the provincial town of Tim when the coach is blocked by a pile of mud, so the journalist falls asleep after enquiring the name of the town. An hour later he’s woken up by the jolting of the carriage which has fallen into a huge puddle and told that they’re still in Tim and similarly again two hours later when he sees the coachman trying to help the horse out of a sea of mud. So the journalist wrote home that the biggest town in Russia isn’t Saint Petersburg or Moscow, but Tim.
- making fun of both Englishmen and Russian mud: trop facile!
7
303 1886-01-25 The Opening
 [3]
humour Opening with a citation from Krylov (“Tearing up the dung heap, The rooster found a grain of pearls…”) we are shown the State Councillor Bakhromkin musing on his evening’s encounter with a woman he had admired for her beauty twenty-five years earlier and who had changed dramatically since. Doodling as he meditates on this gloomy theme he discovers a talent for sketching and proceeds to test it further with more sketches, all successful. He then thinks what a shame it was that he hadn’t discovered his artistic talents in his youth as he would have left behind him a reputation that he could never achieve as a civil servant. But then he thinks of the awful clothes and food and drink and lodgings that artists have to put up with and finally goes to bed thankful that his artistic talents hadn’t been discovered earlier.
- a rather charming story with a somewhat gloomy vision of artistic vocations
8
304 1886-01-27 Longing Misery 2 drama We follow a cabman on a wintry day in Saint Petersburg as he waits for fares in the cold and the snow and tries to share with his rare customers his heartbreak at having just lost his only son.
- A relentlessly bleak portrayal of the struggle for existence of a very ordinary person, with perhaps a touch too much pathos.
8.5
305 1886-02-01 The Night Before the Trial
 [3]
drama The narrator is on his way to his trial for bigamy but the weather is so bad that he has to put up for the night at a very smelly way-station, where he finds himself on a couch sharing a room with a couple who are suffering terribly from bed-bugs. So he proposes his Persian-powder remedy for the bedbugs and to reassure the charming lady assures her that he’s a doctor which of course he isn’t. Put in confidence, the lady asks him to investigate her chest problems and sends her husband out on an errand. The long session with the lady has just ended when the husband returns and insists on paying him ten roubles – but when our false doctor shows up in court the next day he recognizes the judge as the (discontented) husband of the lady who had treated him so agreeably, and is filled with foreboding for the fate that’s awaiting him.
- a good read.
7.5
306 1886-02-03 An Upheaval The Commotion the feminine condition Mashenka, a highly-educated young woman who has just taken up a position in a wealthy household as a governess comes back from a visit to find the mistress of the house in the process of searching her room, looking for an expensive brooch that has been stolen. She is outraged but her inferior social position has and always will put her at a disadvantage confronted with awful people like the mistress of this rich house.
- A sensitive and moving investigation of the social plight of educated but moneyless young women in a rigid society.
9
307 1886-02-08 Conversation Between a Drunk and a Sober Devil
 [3]
moral fable A retired official is having his sixteenth straight drink when he sees a green devil beside him. So he offers him a drink and gets him talking or rather complaining about how difficult a devil’s lot is these days when it’s so hard to find things to tempt people with that they haven’t already done a thousand times. In the morning the devil has gone.
- a moral fable about the relationship between drinking and the devil?
7.5
308 1886-02-10 An Actor’s End Death of an Actor theatrical drama Shtchiptsov, a huge and very powerful actor in a travelling company, is having a violent argument with the manager of the group when he feels something snap in his chest and he totters off to his hotel room to recuperate. All of the actors in the company visit him in turn, each with their own remedy for his ills, but Shtchiptsov has only one thought: to return to his home town a thousand miles away, to die there.
- A comedy about the easy-going life of an acting company on the surface, a hard-hitting drama on the next level down.
9
309 1886-02-15 The Foolish Frenchman satire A short sketch about a Frenchman who has gone into one of Moscow’s most famous restaurants and observes his rather young table neighbour devouring such a phenomenal quantity of blinis, sturgeon, caviar, salmon, soup and other foodstuffs that he thinks he’s deliberately committing suicide. He finally goes over to him to comfort him in his distress, but the fellow shows him that everyone else in the restaurant is eating just as much, and the Frenchman leaves in a daze at the miraculous bellies of the Russian people.
- A gastronomically impressive comedy.
8.5
310 1886-02-15 The Requiem Requiem portrait of life in Russia Andrey Andryitch is in church for the memorial service for his dead daughter, an actress, and is severely reprimanded by the priest for having written the word harlot­ in his memorial message about her. For him, who had brought her up at a distance, her profession was a shameful one, assimilable with the world’s oldest, and nothing the priest can say can prevent him from tenderly addressing her as a harlot in his prayers.
- A moving insight into the mindset of the time in the Russian countryside.
9
311 1886-02-22 Anyuta the feminine condition Anyuta is the pale, fragile, twenty-five year-old mistress of a medical student who takes her for granted and has no intention whatsoever of continuing their relationship after his studies. She is lent to his friends as a model and used by him for anatomy studies as a being of no significance whatsoever.
- A harsh analysis of the plight of uneducated women of the time – and a most uncomplimentary comment on the humanity of medical students that the author knew only too well, having been one himself.
9
312 1886-02-22 On Mortality: A Carnival Tale humour A tiny, 300-word sketch about a senior civil servant’s gluttony at the dinner table, centred on his anticipation of tasting freshly-made blinies adorned with caviar, cream, salmon and other tidbits.
- This shortest of short stories does have a moral, although it’s more a morality skit than a story.
6
313 1886-03-01 A Person
 [3]
social drama The young Mischa is very excited about an advertisement for a clerk in the Tax Office, but the advertisement asks for a biography of the applicant which Mischa doesn’t know how to do. Pushed on by his mother who direly needs some income he finally produces a confused page-long essay that he sends off at last. But the position has been taken when he goes to the office to make enquiries two weeks later.
- a sad little tale with unfortunate comical overtones quite out of place to modern eyes.
6
314 1886-03-03 Ivan Matveyich humour The man of the title is a learned professor who is excessively cross at his literary assistant for being late once again. When the youth does arrive he berates him roundly, starts dictating a fairly incomprehensible academic thesis at him, and then takes the greatest pleasure in listening to the boy recount stories of hunting in his homeland.
- A spoof of academia that has a real and almost surprising core of sensitivity.
8
315 1886-03-03 Poison
 [3]
love story Peter Petrovich is an idealist and is so much in love with Captain Kadykin’s daughter that he scorns the idea of a dowry out of principle, but the Captain wants to avoid any misunderstanding and forces on him a bill of exchange from the doctor Klyabov who owes the captain 400 roubles. After the mariage Peter Petrovich realizes that they need some furniture, that the 400 roubles would take care of, so he goes to the doctor’s early in the morning to collect the debt. However the doctor explains that all his belongings are in his wife’s name so calling the bailiff in would serve no purpose and Peter goes away empty-handed. After further unsuccessful attempts to collect the 400 roubles, Peter pounds in anger on the table and the honeymoon is over.
- a tad long-winded and a tad too cynical about idealistic young lovers.
7
316 1886-03-08 The Witch portrait of life in Russia A poor and very dirty country sexton lies in his bed at night listening to the howling of a blizzard outside and, ignorant creature that he is, accuses his wife of being a witch and of somehow having started the storm so as to entrap stray visitors. Soon the bells of the post-carriage are heard and the postman and his assistant come in, having lost their way. The postman is young, sturdy and handsome, a complete contrast to the sexton, who had married his young and attractive wife three years earlier. We follow the increased tension between the postman, the wife and the surly sexton, more convinced than ever that she is indeed a witch.
- A quite masterful evocation of (backward) country life and passions in the Russia of old.
9
317 1886-03-10 A Story Without An End humour The narrator, a doctor, remembers being called to a neighbour’s home where he discovered in the dead of night the corpse of a former actress in her coffin, and in the next room the blood-stained body of the woman’s husband, an actor who had shot himself out of despair. Much confusion followed, as the man’s wound was only a superficial one in spite of all the blood, and the man couldn’t be prevented from discoursing on the psychology of suicide and his miserable plight. A year later he ran into the man again, well-dressed and full of gaiety and busy charming a group of young ladies.
- An interesting portrayal of an actor who couldn’t stop posing even in the face of death.
8
318 1886-03-12 A Joke  The Little Joke humour The narrator remembers going on a dangerous sleigh-ride with a girl who was terrified by the prospect, and playing a prank on her by declaring in a ghostly voice that he loved her just at the scariest moment of the ride – to such an extent that she wanted to do it over and over again. The experience of being told that she was loved by what seemed to be the wind or some other force marked her for the rest of her life.
- A fanciful tale, well told.
8.5
319 1886-03-15 Agafya portrait of life in Russia Savka is a strong, handsome young man who is too lazy to work at anything and is the poorest fellow in the village as a result. He has an irresistible attraction for the women of the village, though, who visit him surreptitiously at night while he is on duty as the watchman of the village kitchen-gardens. The narrator, who enjoys Savka’s company while fishing, recounts how Agafya, a young newlywed, throws all caution to the winds for the sake of a few hours in Savka’s company.
- A quite engrossing tale of passion in the countryside, imbued with a kind of poetic realism that makes the it very hard to forget.
9
320 1886-03-15 My Conversation With the Postmaster
 [3]
satire A long conversation about the need for postage stamps, seals and the vast amount of bureaucracy that the narrator’s mother had needed to send her son a rouble by post.
- much ado about nothing.
5
321 1886-03-17 The Wolf Hydrophobia drama Nilov is a thickset, very powerful man who had been attacked by a wolf when out for a walk at night while staying with his friend Maxim during a hunting expedition. He managed to survive by strangling the wolf, but not before being bitten. The beast was strongly suspected of having had rabies and he is desperate to find salvation, even though there is no known remedy for hydrophobia. He does eventually survive, and when a collection is taken up for Maxim, who had just been bitten by a mad dog, he just contributes ten roubles.
- A cruel tale, for which the author prepared another, more civilized and optimistic ending fifteen years later that was never published during his lifetime.
8.5
322 1886-03-22 To Paris!
 [3]
humour The teacher Lampadkin and the Council Secretary Gryaznov are returning home somewhat tipsy from a birthday party and when Gryaznov intervenes in a dog fight on their way both of them get bitten. As everyone thinks the dog had rabies a collection is taken up for them and it’s decided to send them to Pasteur in Paris for treatment. But they have a drink at the stop in Kursk on the way and spend all the money and that’s the end of the trip.
- a light tale somewhat heavily narrated.
7
323 1886-03-24 Spring
 [3]
humour An account of spring and its effect on various citizens: a pretentious gardener convinced he knows everything there’s to know about nature, a zealous hunter dreaming of standing for hours waiting for prey to come along, and a clerk with literary ambitions whose suitcase is full of rejected manuscripts and whose youth is passing away as the spring soon will.
- a rapid overview of several uninteresting people in the interesting context of a glorious spring breaking out, surely saying something or other about something or other.
5
324 1886-03-29 A Nightmare portrait of life in Russia A local notable comes back to his country residence where he is disappointed by the uncouth manners and appearance of the young local priest whom he had summoned to arrange for the creation of a school in the village. Eventually, however, he discovers the incredible poverty in which the priest and others of his diocese, such as the local doctor (!), are living.
- A sensitive, moving tale of devotion, dedication and suffering contrasting with the comforts of middle-class life.
9
325 1886-03-29 Lots of Paper
 [3]
satire A series of official letters about an epidemic of diphtheria in a series of villages, beginning with the case of one child falling sick and then the progressive closing of all the schools in the district, concluding with a newspaper article talking about the excessive child mortality rate in the district and in the same article about a splendid society wedding where the bride had a dowry of a million roubles and a prosperous estate.
- a biting overview of the catastrophic medical situation in the countryside, with a bitter reference to the life-style of the wealthy.
7.5
326 1886-03-29 The Rook
 [5]
satire A conversation with a rook about values and longevity in which the narrator asks how old the rook is, who says he’s 376 years old and admits that he’d done nothing in all that time other than eat, drink and multiply, while the narrator imagines all the places he could have visited, all the newspaper articles he could have written, how many times he could have gotten married and calculates the vast amount of interest a rouble would have earned in all that time. But the rook denies that he’s wasted his time by pointing out that he’s never fought or killed another rook, while men can’t remember a year when there hadn’t been a war, and he lists all the terrible things that men do that rooks don’t. The conversation ends when the rook gets tired of elaborating all of mankind’s many failings and flies off to join his brethren.
- a brilliant miniature!
9
327 1886-03-30 On the River
 [3]
portrait of life in Russia The ice has broken on the river and the villagers all rush onto the bridge to see the spectacle. After the first lot of ice has broken up and floated away a second rush comes along from further upstream, and then the scene switches to a group of poor people coming down to the village on a raft rather than walk the whole way.
- a vignette of life in the countryside that doesn’t end quite as smoothly as it began.
7.5
328 1886-04-05 Grisha childhood experience A two-year old boy meditates on a rush of new sights and experiences – horses, cats, soldiers, fruit-sellers, a tall man kissing his nurse, etc. – as he goes for a walk in the springtime with his nurse.
- An original account of one day in a very young boy’s life, with the following memorable reflection by the boy: “Nurse and mama are comprehensible … but what papa exists for is unknown."
8
329 1886-04-07 Love love story The narrator remembers the poetic fervour that had seized him when he had stayed up most of the night feverishly composing his first love letter to his future bride – and mediates on the contrast between his romantic illusions and the reality of her character so feminine and down-to-earth, so different from his own.
- A nice little monologue, humorous although somewhat facile, that concludes however with the striking and quite moving confession that he just does not know what his love for her consisted of.
8.5
330 1886-04-13 Easter Eve Easter Night;
- The Night Before Easter;
- On Easter Eve
- Holy Night
portrait of life in Russia The narrator describes his experience of attending an early-morning celebration of Easter Eve in the countryside after crossing a river in flood in the middle of a very starry night, admiring the fireworks and listening to the boatman’s account of the sudden demise of the still-young and very gifted church deacon while composing Easter hymns.
- A particularly powerful, poetic text and a fascinating account of the mix of popular fervour and nonchalance that surrounded that very special ceremony throughout Russia then, and no doubt later too.
10
331 1886-04-19 Ladies drama The Director of Elementary Schools is in the process of dismissing a teacher from the position he had held for the past fourteen years because he had quite lost his voice and must abandon the teaching profession without any pension. Faced with the plight of the poor man, married and father of two, he remembers that an administrative post will be liberated shortly and offers the position to the grateful man. But on coming home his wife tells him that one of her closest friends has approached her for the position for an idle good-for-nothing young relative, and that is followed up with letters from the wives of a number of town notables and even from the Governor in the young man’s favour. The superintendent is faced with the choice of bitterly disappointing his wife and his social relations or breaking his promise to the distressed former teacher, and the reader knows which way he will go.
- A biting critique of nepotism and bureaucratic indifference.
9
332 1886-04-21 Strong Impressions Overwhelming Sensations humour A group of jurors is retained in court for the night. They had heard earlier in the day a witness stumble while describing an important moment, and pass their time in recalling each in turn a striking moment that had left them with a particularly strong impression. The last one to intervene remembers a debate he had had with a young lawyer friend before the friend had become nationally famous, about whether eloquence could win over truly firmly-held convictions, and tells how the friend had managed in a short while to persuade him not only that his soon-to-be wife was unworthy of him, but that he should write her a letter breaking off their engagement and post it on the spot.
- A brilliant demonstration of the power of the spoken word.
9
333 1886-05-03 A Fairy Tale
 [3]
animal story A half-page joke in which a fly buzzes around a room bragging to all the other insects that it collaborates with all the newspapers and to demonstrate the truth of its assertion pointed out all the spots it had left on one of them. 7
334 1886-05-03 A Gentleman Friend A Familiar Man the feminine condition Vanda has just left the hospital and has no home to go to and not a penny in her pocket. What to do? She feels quite undressed without a proper hat and shoes and a fashionable jacket, so she decides to ask a gentleman friend, a doctor, for a loan, but that turns out badly. She does manage to find resources however, and how she does that is left to the imagination of the reader.
- A rather abrupt little tale with a real sting about the social plight of poor single women.
8
335 1886-05-05 A Happy Man humour Ivan Alexyevitch comes into a railway carriage in a somewhat excited state after having stopped off for a glass at the latest stop, finds an old friend there, and promptly launches into a lengthy explanation of his joy at just having gotten married and how nothing could spoil his state of bliss that day. When the conductor comes along, however, he finds that he had gone into the wrong train at the last stop and that while his bride has gone off to Saint Petersburg, he is now on his way to Moscow.
- An amusing little farce with a charming, theatrical-like set of dialogues.
8.5
336 1886-05-06 The Privy Councillor satire The narrator recounts the visit of his uncle, a prestigious senior civil servant, and how the effort of treating him like visiting royalty wore his mother down so much that she ended up by paying him to spend his vacation abroad.
- An elaborate satire of the civil-service ranking system that played such an important role in the Russian society of the time.
8.5
337 1886-05-19 A Day in the Country portrait of life in Russia We follow Terenty, an impoverished cobbler, as he accompanies two homeless young orphans on a long excursion around the countryside, sharing his extensive knowledge of nature with them.
- A simple but touching tale with a poetic tinge, imbued with the author’s profound sympathy for life’s underdogs.
9
338 1886-05-24 In a Boarding House
 [5]
humour In a girl’s boarding house the maths teacher Dyryavin is trying to get a raise in salary from the mistress of the establishment, and to get her in the right frame of mind he laments that women nowadays aren’t nearly as beautiful as Mme Jevousaime used to be and even still is. Madame objects that there are still some pretty girls and summons the seventeen-year-old Paltseva, a breath-taking beauty, to prove her point. She scolds the girl for not having good enough math marks while Dyryavin stares at her daydreaming about what she’ll be doing in the summertime, but when she goes out he stands his ground and tells Madame that she has a finer nose than Paltseva, and he does end up getting his raise.
- an irresistible little skit.
8.5
339 1886-05-25 At a Summer Villa At the Cottage humour Pavel Ivanitch has been happily married for eight years when he receives an anonymous love-letter fixing a tryst in a secluded spot that evening. Scornful at first at the very thought, then perplexed, then intrigued, he finally decides to see what it is all about, and gets an unexpected surprise, and a good lesson to boot.
- A light, most readable little comedy.
8
340 1886-05-26 Nothing To Be Done
 [3]
drama The notary Nikolai Kapitonov gets up in the middle of his after-dinner nap to fetch his newspaper and surprises his wife with Vanya, the young tutor of his children, in a compromising position. The young fellow rushes out and after a rather cynical discussion with his wife Nikolai goes out to find Vanya and tells him that they cannot continue to live under the same roof and as the house belongs to his wife, Nikolai will go away and leave Vanya with his wife and children. The student is rather taken aback and the next conversation scares him off completely when Nikolai confides in him that his wife is really a tramp not worth a penny.
- amusingly cynical about the marriage institution (as usual).
8
341 1886-05-31 The Boredom of Life
 [3]
portrait of life in Russia When Anna Mikhailovna’s only daughter died, she died too in a way, as she sold her town house for a song, gave up eating meat and moved to her manor house in the country, where she became a devoted quasi-doctor specializing in healing the sores and ills of poor people. Eventually her estranged husband, a retired general, contacted her and finally arrived at her manor for a stay. Although he was critical of her medical activities and lectured the peasants waiting to see her on their drunkenness and thievery, they became reconciled and lived again as man and wife. But all good things must come to an end and Anna was left alone again with religion as her only consolation.
- a long and somewhat painful account of decline and loneliness in old age.
8.5
342 1886-06-07 Romance With Double-Bass humour A musician carrying his heavy double-bass, walking alongside a stream on his way to a reception, decides to go for a swim and sees a beautiful maiden sleeping on the bank a little further down where she had been fishing. He leaves a bouquet on her line for her and goes back only to find that his clothes have been stolen by thieves, so he hides under a bridge awaiting nightfall. The young woman finds her line to be caught on the bottom and takes off her clothes to go into the water to untangle it, whereby the thieves steal her clothes too. So she also hides under the bridge where she meets the musician who proposes to put her in his case and carry her to safety, but that doesn’t work out either, much to the eventual confusion of both of them.
- A farcical fable, so silly that one wonders how it ever got printed in the first place.
4
343 1886-06-16 Panic Fears portrait of life in Russia The narrator recalls three incidents when almost-supernatural phenomena had unexpectedly frightened him while travelling through the countryside.
- Nicely recounted, the three incidents in question nevertheless lack substance.
7
344 1886-06-21 The Chemist’s Wife humour Two officers pass a chemist’s shop late at night and go in to buy knick-knacks and especially to talk and flirt and perhaps more with the chemist’s attractive young wife. Things go well but the husband is right there sleeping away, for the moment...
- A very simple but quite charming little episode.
8
345 1886-06-23 Not Wanted Superfluous portrait of life in Russia Zaikin arrives in the resort town where his family is staying and progressively becomes more and more dissatisfied with the discomforts and the hectic pace of vacation life.
- A rather tepid tale.
7
346 1886-06-28 A Serious Step humour Aleksei and his wife Martha are upset first because their daughter Lidochka has gone for a walk in the garden with the young Fyodor, and then when she comes back all upset after the walk and shuts herself up in her room, and finally when she sends off a message to the young man. Aleksei grumbles about young people not consulting their elders about serious steps like marriage, but things work out in the end without his help.
- A short and almost-amusing sketch on the eternal conflict between the generations.
7.5
347 1886-07-05 The Chorus Girl drama Pasha is entertaining her gentleman friend Kolpakov in her summer villa when the doorbell rings, and after Kolpakov retires to the inner room she opens the door to an elegant woman in distress who demands to see her husband because he’s wanted for embezzlement. The woman is desperate to find nine hundred roubles to avoid her husband being arrested, and begs Pasha to render the valuable objects that she’s convinced Pasha’s husband must have given her. Finally she humiliates herself to such an extent that Pasha does give her all her valuables even thought they didn’t come from her husband.
- An excessively theatrical scene, but with heartfelt dialogues.
8
348 1886-07-12 The Schoolmaster drama The schoolmaster Sysoev feverishly prepares for the annual school banquet where he will be honoured once again, but almost collapses getting there because of his poor health. He crosses swords with rivals at the reception and makes a strangely embittered and self-centred speech before we finally learn the truth about his dramatic state of health.
- A long series of awkward incidents and unpleasant remarks by the central character lessen the impact of the story on the reader.
7
349 1886-07-14 A Troublesome Visitor A Troublesome Guest drama The old forester Artyom is telling a young hunter who has sought shelter in his isolated cabin about the rough people who regularly come into his cabin pretending to seek shelter and who often try to rob him of his money, when all of a sudden they hear the cries of a woman in difficulty. The hunter goes out to help but Artyom refuses to accompany him, and when the hunter returns there’s a menacing scene indeed.
- A simplistic, theatrical encounter in an isolated forest cabin that held promise but peters out ineffectually at the end.
7
350 1886-07-19 A Rare Bird
 [3]
satire A tiny 150-word skit in which a writer asks a police detective to introduce him to thieves, murderers, swindlers and various other types of criminals which the detective has no problem with, but when he asks to meet some honest people the policeman has to think deeply about finding such a “rara avis” (rare bird). 6
351 1886-07-28 Other People’s Misfortune social drama The young lawyer Stepan and his bride Vera are on an excursion in the countryside to visit a house that they’d seen advertised for sale. The visit is a success even though the house needs repairs and changes need to be made, as Stepan points out with aplomb to the old man guiding them. They decide to purchase the lovely property (with the wife’s dowry) anyway, and Stepan in particular is totally insensitive to the distress of the family that is devastated by the loss of their precious family home.
- A straightforward account of a theme later addressed in The Cherry Orchard to greater effect, the decline of the landed gentry.
8
352 1886-08-04 Women Make Trouble You and You drama The magistrate Popikov is woken up in his home at 5 a.m. by Ivan, an unkempt peasant who had been summoned to appear before him at 11 a.m. to testify in an affair of assault. The judge decides to hear him anyway, and the man in his confused and semi-illiterate manner recounts the affair that had started when he pulled a boy’s ears for throwing stones at ducks in a pond, much to the disapproval of the accused man, a certain Drykhunov, who ended up inviting Ivan to continue the discussion in a tavern. Where after eight glasses of vodka (each) there was a general free-for-all during which Drykhunov gave just about everyone there a bash in the head, including his own wife, the eventual plaintiff in the affair, who happened to come along towards the end to bring him home. Ivan sums up the affair with the declaration “Women make trouble!”.
- A frankly amusing tale, most colourfully recounted.
8.5
353 1886-08-09 The Husband drama A cavalry regiment has come to town and the townspeople organise a ball to welcome them. The eponymous husband of the title is a tax-collector who becomes progressively more and more upset at seeing his wife enjoying her dancing so much, and finally orders her to leave long before the evening is over. A key moment of revelation of the true state of their unhappy marriage.
- A severe, perhaps too severe, indictment of the banality of bourgeois life in the provinces.
8
354 1886-08-16 A Misfortune A Calamity the feminine condition Sofya, a twenty-five year-old married woman, is walking in the woods with Ilyin, a family friend, and is asking him to stop pestering her with love letters and to either be satisfied with just being a friend or to just go away. But Ilyin is not to be put off with words: he’s really in love with her, he has an intellectual’s command of language and Sofya is tormented by her increasing realisation of his attractiveness.
- A compelling account of a young woman’s conflicting sensual and moral impulses.
8.5
355 1886-08-16 A Pink Stocking the feminine condition On a rainy day Somov feels cooped up and irritable, and after reading the lengthy letter that his pretty young wife has just been writing to her sister he berates her severely for her innumerable faults of grammar and expression, complaining that she is too little educated and incapable of carrying on intellectual conversations. But then after the memorable thought “Granted that it is her vocation to love her husband, to bear children, and to mix salad”, this essentially macho man – even for the time – remembers that learned women are usually tedious and liable to contradict and confront one, so he concludes that it’s better to live with simple ones, and that one can only discuss intellectual subjects with men.
- A vivid albeit skimpy overview, voluntarily caricatural, of the feminine condition and traditional male-superiority complexes.
7.5
356 1886-08-18 Martyrs Sufferers humour A young woman falls sick with a nervous ailment, much to the distress of her husband, who stays at her side imagining her forthcoming death and funeral until she asks him to amuse her by putting on a Jewish accent, which he does so successfully that she rapidly recovers her spirits and her good health and goes off to the theatre. But the husband’s so worn out that he’s put on sick leave.
- A frankly inconsequential tale that has not well passed the test to time.
6
357 1886-08-23 The First-Class Passenger social drama A passenger in a first-class train compartment regales a fellow-traveller with a discourse on fame (defined by Pushkin as “a bright patch on a ragged garment”), recounting his many exploits as a leading architect and bemoaning the fact that actresses, singers and athletes of all sorts, not to say criminals, were so much better-known than those in intellectual occupations.
- An amusing and not-at-all-outdated outburst.
8
358 1886-09-06 Talent satire Yegor, a very indolent and ill-kempt artist, is about to move out of his lodgings much to the dismay of the landlady’s daughter Anna, utterly bewitched by his artistic aura. In the evening he has a drinking session with two other artists, both as unknown and unproductive as he is, but the young Anna is enraptured by their talk of future greatness.
- A sharp portrait of the self-deluding mentality of budding artists, too caricatural however for our timid taste.
7.5
359 1886-09-08 The Dependents The Spongers portrait of life in Russia The elderly artisan Zotov gets up in the early morning and performs his ritual prayers and housework, only to discover that he has no tea left whatsoever. He gets furious with his two animals, a dog and a horse, who are starving and need to be fed, and after drinking tea and vodka with his one friend decides to leave home to live with his only relative, a distant great-niece, and to take the bothersome animals to the slaughter-house.
- A grim tale of loneliness, poverty, ignorance, brutality and social distress.
9
360 1886-09-13 The Jeune Premier theatrical drama A young actor impresses his audience in a reception in a provincial town with his boastful tales of his successes both in theatres and also with the women in the audiences, when he oversteps the mark by telling how he had had an affair with a beautiful young woman in the town of one of the guests, much to the outrage of the guest, the uncle of the young woman in question. Who demands that he retracts and apologises on the spot or there will be a duel. The story is false, but the actor is too worried about what his fellow actors will say if he admits it, so he leaves without apologising – but then starts to really worry about the potentially fatal consequences of his bravado.
- A pitiless critique, very nicely done, of male braggadocio.
9
361 1886-09-15 In the Dark humour The wife of the assistant procurer wakes up in the middle of the night and sees a man slipping through their downstairs window. Alarmed, she wakes her husband up, who reluctantly (he supposes that the fellow is the cook’s lover, the local fireman, with the memorable line “What’s a fireman for if not to make love to the cook?”) goes down to wake up the cook and get her to make the fellow leave. But the cook denies all and the incident is almost over, but not quite.
- A clever and most amusing tale of everyday life and love in those (amazingly modern-sounding) times.
8.5
362 1886-09-20 A Trivial Incident social drama On a hunting expedition with a still-young and quite reclusive Russian prince (nicely portrayed as “straight-forward and honest, not a bully, not a fop, and not a rake – virtues which, in the eyes of the general public, are equivalent to a certificate of being a nonentity and a poor creature”), the narrator recounts how they had been prevented from hunting in the forest of of Madame Kandurin, an immensely rich young heiress with whom the prince had formerly been connected by local gossip. To resolve the matter the two go to the lady’s mansion to seek permission to hunt there, while the prince confides to the narrator that his situation is quite desperate as he is about to lose his own estate. On encountering the heiress the narrator realises the extent of the prince’s sad situation and how close he had formerly been to an entirely different fate.
- A very touching story, beautifully told and quite pregnant with understanding of the social conditions of the time.
10
363 1886-09-25 A Bright Personality
 [3]
social drama The narrator sees a woman across the road eagerly seizing the newspaper every morning and either rejoicing or despairing depending on what she reads there. Intrigued and impressed by the intellectual tastes of the apparently sophisticated woman he bribes her janitor to find out more about her, and finally gains access to her while her husband is out, when she explains that she scrutinizes the paper each day to find out how many paid-for lines her husband, a writer, had published each day.
- an amusing indirect portrayal of the day-to-day existence of struggling writers.
7.5
364 1886-09-25 A Drama
 [3]
humour In the form of a one-act play, a suitor comes to ask a father for his daughter’s hand, the father declares that he doesn’t want to be deprived of such a precious support in his old age, the suitor starts to leave, and the father runs after him gratefully accepting the proposition.
- a tiny half-page (not-very) comical sketch.
7
365 1886-09-27 A Tripping Tongue humour Natalya has just come back from a holiday in the sea-coast resort of Yalta with a friend, and babbles on endlessly to her husband about her vacation there, but says a little bit too much about their handsome Tatar guides and the gay time they’d had.
- A charming and almost naughty tale about marital relations then and there and at all times and everywhere.
9
366 1886-09-29 A Trifle From Life A Trifle From Real Life;
- A Trifling Occurrence
drama Nikolay Ikyitch visits the dwelling of his mistress who is absent, and while resting there gets into conversation with her eight-year-old son. The boy mentions his father in a moment of distraction, and, swearing Nikolay to secrecy on his most sacred honour, proceeds to reveal how the nurse takes him and his little sister to see their father twice a week, recounting the comments that the father makes about Olga and Nikolay. In the face of these revelations the outraged Nikolay Ikyitch has not the slightest qualm about breaking his vow of secrecy to the boy.
- A sharp, sad, almost painful little tale, only too true to life.
8.5
367 1886-10-07 Difficult People Hard People drama Pyotr is about to leave for his university studies in Moscow but his father, a very tight-fisted and almost-prosperous small farmer, just cannot bear the thought of giving him the money he needs for his trip and expenses. A terrible scene involving the entire family ensues.
- A stark, dramatic, even melodramatic portrayal of a loveless family life ruined by the passion for the almighty rouble.
9
368 1886-10-09 Ah, Teeth!
 [3]
medical drama Sergey Alexeyevich Dybkin, a lover of the stage arts, has a severe toothache, and after suffering through all the household remedies his entourage suggests, he rushes of to the dentist in greater agony than ever. But the waiting-room is packed and he has to painfully wait an eternity for his turn. When he’s finally admitted and begs for relief, he’s informed that this is a lawyer’s office and that the dentist’s office is on the lower floor.
- a painful reading experience, but memorable!
8
369 1886-10-11 In the Court portrait of life in Russia In the local courthouse a trial is underway and the judge, the prosecutor and the defence attorney are all as bored by the proceedings as usual. Their lethargy is not troubled in the least when a middle-aged peasant is brought in on the charge of murdering his wife with an axe. The evident slovenliness of the enquiry and the probable innocence of the accused man do not prevent the relentless machinery from grinding along pitilessly and unfeelingly as usual.
- A surprisingly interesting evocation of the atmosphere in those regional courts of justice.
9
370 1886-10-11 Revenge
#2
humour While taking a break in the kitchen from yet another losing card-game, Leo Turmanov overhears his wife arranging a mail-drop with one of his best friends, and resolves to get his revenge on the fellow and his unfaithful wife by playing a clever trick on them. But it doesn’t work out at all as planned.
- A short and rather silly sketch, although undeniably amusing in a juvenile sort of way.
7
371 1886-10-12 Whining
 [3]
portrait of life in Russia A man writes to a friend describing his daily routine in what we rapidly understand is a hut in Siberia, to which he has been exiled for embezzlement that was actually committed by the woman he loved. His rage knows no bounds when, in the middle of a crisis of severe toothache, he reads a newspaper account describing him as leading a life of luxury and debauchery on the proceeds of his misdeeds.
- almost depressingly morose.
7.5
372 1886-10-23 The Proposal humour The young landowner Valentin Petrovich puts on his best clothes to pay a visit to the estate of his neighbour, the very beautiful Princess Vera Zapiskina. He mumbles and hems and haws, and finally blurts out that he has a proposal to make. Contrary to what the Princess is expecting, he proposes to set up a jointly-owned factory on their estates to process lard.
- A microscopic 400-word story but a clever and amusing one.
8.5
373 1886-10-25 A Peculiar Man drama A midwife is called upon after midnight by a well-dressed man to come to his home at once, and as she is about to leave the man starts bargaining for a cut-rate price for her services, all the time invoking the noblest of motives. Finally she proposes to work for nothing rather than the two roubles the man insists upon, which he refuses to agree to and leaves in a huff. But he does come back later after failing to find an alternative, settles for three roubles rather than the standard five, and she carries out her duties faithfully and efficiently. But the tone of over-weening moral rectitude and the fanatical miserliness in the prosperous household are too much for her to bear.
- A grim little tale with a strong and almost too-forceful tone of moral judgement on the social ravages of an avaricious mentality.
9
374 1886-10-26 My Household
 [3]
humour The author recounts how he delivers a lecture each morning to his wife, mother-in-law and sister-in-law on the privilege they have of being in the same dwelling as himself, and then he sends them off to do all the work of dealing with editors and creditors while he relaxes and thinks. Severe punishment is meted out if any of them fail to please him in any way, and at night while he’s sleeping the three women stay on guard to make sure thieves don’t break in to steal his work.
- a writer’s dream of a world of macho writers and subservient women, presumably and hopefully more fiction than fact, then and now.
7.5
375 1886-10-29 Mire Tina drama The young officer Sokolsky calls upon the rich young (Jewish) heiress of a vodka factory to collect a debt of her recently-deceased father that he urgently needs in order to get married. After making the interesting remark “I can’t make out what possesses people to get married! Life is so short, one has so little freedom, and they must put chains on themselves!”, she wonders why he needs five thousand rubles for that, and the officer explains that if officers get married before the age of twenty-eight they must leave the service and pay that sum in amends. The lady, in her twenties and subtly attractive, fetches the money and invites the lieutenant to dinner, babbling all the time about her jewishness and her tastes and her likes and dislikes. You’ll never guess how the story ends.
- A most impressive account of the shock of cultures and the wiles of womanhood.
9
376 1886-10-30 For the Information of Husbands
 [3]
humour A survey of the different techniques in different sectors of society for seducing other men’s wives, from the ordinary novel-inspired one of romantic sighs and “understanding without words”, etc. to the one of cousins on moonlit nights, to the commoner’s one of incessant harassment, and so on up to the sophisticate’s remote-distance approach of complimenting the lady so enthusiastically to her husband that her insatiable curiosity is finally indirectly aroused when the husband recounts all that to his beloved wife.
- a clever, very readable preliminary version of the later fully-developed Boa Constrictor and Rabbit.
8
377 1886-11-01 The Lodger humour Brykovich rushes out of his flat late at night fed up with the bossiness of his wife, the owner of the lodging-house where they live. He encounters the musician Khalyavkin, who is behind with his rent and is unsuccessfully trying to get his key into his lock after a night out with fellow artists, and starts berating him for being in arrears. The musician replies that Brykovich doesn’t pay any rent either and is just as much a hanger-on as he is, and when he finally gets the door open they continue the somewhat heated debate in the room. Brykovich asks for tea but there isn’t any so he settles for vodka and the conversation lasts until dawn – the start of a great friendship.
- A clever tale about a clever fellow with an original attitude towards his landlord.
8.5
378 1886-11-03 A Dreadful Night portrait of life in Russia In the courtyard of an estate the dogs are barking, three servants are staring at the horizon and the lady of the house comes out to see the skyline all ablaze – the neighbouring village is on fire! After a number of worried and idle remarks they decide to go to the village to better see what’s happening there, and it’s even worse than they had thought; the church has burned down and most of the town has gone up in flames. The lady just wishes it had been a bad dream.
- A surprisingly detached account of a severe catastrophe.
8
379 1886-11-10 Calchas theatrical drama This account of the (early) morning after the night before starts off nicely with: “Comedian Vasily Svetlovidov, a stout, strong old man of 58 years old, woke up and looked in surprise around him. In front of him, on either side of a small mirror, two stearin candles burned out. The still, lazy lights dimly lit a small room with painted wooden walls, full of tobacco smoke and twilight. All around were visible the traces of the recent meeting of Bacchus with Melpomene, a meeting secret, but stormy and ugly, like a vice.” It goes on to describe the ageing comedian’s despair at finding himself alone at his age with no family to go to, and when he sees the prompter, who had been sleeping in his prompter’s box, he bares his soul to him, recalling the actress he had once loved who had rejected any idea of marrying an actor.
- A brief but moving evocation of the down-side of the acting profession, at least then, certainly beforehand, and perhaps sometimes afterwards too.
9
380 1886-11-15 Dreams portrait of life in Russia Two constables are escorting a frail man looking more like a monk than a tramp on a long march through the countryside to the local prison. The man, who refuses to give his name, does recount his upbringing and elaborates at length on his beliefs and convictions. He says that he had been sent to prison in his youth as an accomplice when his mother had been convicted of murder, and tells the policemen about his love of fishing and his dream of being sent to a settlement in Eastern Siberia where he could get a land grant, get married and raise children.
- A moving evocation of the plight of a condemned man.
9
381 1886-11-15 Hush! satire Ivan Yegoritch, an impoverished and most unsuccessful journalist, returns home late at night lamenting on “the agonising discord in the soul of a writer who has to amuse the crowd when his heart is heavy or to shed tears at the word of command when his heart is light” and wakes up his wife to order tea and to instruct her not to let him be disturbed because he is going to write. He sits down at his desk where all his writing equipment is neatly arranged, and he does proceed to write for hours, all the while issuing orders to his family for more quiet and for more tea. When his subject has been exhausted he finally goes to bed and sleeps till mid-afternoon while his admiring family trembles from fear of disturbing him.
- A sharp dig at pretentious writers of all persuasions.
8
382 1886-11-17 At the Mill portrait of life in Russia Miller Alexei is standing outside his mill looking surly and when two monks arrive he starts bitterly complaining about them fishing in his river, using particularly foul language all the while. He continues by shouting insults at a worker who has been drinking and when an old lady, who turns out to be his mother, comes asking for help, he refuses abruptly and prepares to leave. When she offers him a piece of cake that she has brought he thrusts her hand aside, but the horrified reaction of the monks has an effect on him, and he repents.
- A despairing vision of the common man, or at least of the common miller.
8.5
383 1886-11-22 Excellent People satire Vladimir Semyonitch is a graduate of the faculty of law who has a management job on a railway but who explains to one and all that his work is literature. He has written some articles for a local newspaper and writes weekly on literary matters for them, has all the characteristics and tics of a typical literary man, and is the object of devoted admiration of his sister, a former doctor who had abandoned her profession after the sudden death of her husband from typhoid. With the interesting comment that “That was just at the period – in the eighties – when people were beginning to talk and write of non-resistance, of the right to judge, to punish, to make war; when some people in our set were beginning to do without servants, to retire into the country, to work on the land, and to renounce animal food and carnal love.", the narrator describes how even the sister loses faith in him and his future.
- An interesting satire on pretentiousness in the literary realm, perhaps a tad too involved and intellectual for simple folk like us.
8
384 1886-11-24 An Incident An Event childhood experience Vanya and Nina, little children of six and four respectively, wake up to discover that the house cat has given birth to kittens, and their joy is unbounded. Their day is centred around the three little beings, even if their joy and wonder is not shared by their parents who end up by forbidding them to go into the kitchen to play with the kittens. And when their uncle arrives that evening, his huge dog puts a definitive end to their childish delight.
- A cruel story not for children about casual indifference to animals that was so widespread in those days apparently, almost as shocking to us now as it must have been then to Vanya and Nina.
8.5
385 1886-11-27 The Playwright
 [5]
satire A worn-out-looking individual enters a doctor’s office and announces that he’s a playwright. Much impressed by this superior kind of profession, the doctor asks him to describe his way of life, which he gladly does, telling how he gets up at twelve and sometimes even earlier, has two or three shots of vodka depending on how much he’d drunk the day before, then a little breakfast of just cutlets and sturgeon with three or four drinks, then to the porterhouse and the billiard hall, followed by five or six glasses at lunch before going to the theatre where his buddies keep insisting that he has drinks of one kind or another so that by the third act he can hardly stand up any more, then to parties or masquerade balls and so on. Asked when he writes his plays he says that he pays someone to translate a foreign play that he then adapts to the Russian way of life…
- a very funny if (hopefully) overly-cynical vision of the writing profession.
8.5
386 1886-11-29 The Orator satire The collegiate assessor Kirill Babilonov, who “had died of the two afflictions so widely spread in our country, a bad wife and alcoholism”, was being buried, and one of his colleagues goes off to get Grigory Petrovitch, a celebrated local orator, to deliver the funeral oration for the deceased assessor. Which he does most impressively, except that he thought the deceased was another of Gregory’s colleagues, also an assessor, and describes the man as a clean-shaven (not true) bachelor (not true either) and as an incorruptible civil servant unwilling to take bribes (not at all true), much to the annoyance of the surviving assessor.
- An amusing farce with a nice thrust at glib gabbers.
8.5
387 1886-12-01 In Trouble
 [3]
love story Nikolai Putokhin is in trouble because he’s been on a five-day binge and gotten fired from his job in the process, is suffering from a splitting headache, is contemplating suicide and, worst of all, is wondering what he could possible say to his wife and imagining in all its unpleasant detail the terrifying reception he’ll get when he goes home. Where he finally does go after a last couple of drinks to fortify himself, but it turns out much differently than he’d expected.
- a subtly powerful drama about an everyday tragedy.
8.5
388 1886-12-08 The Commission
 [3]
drama Pavel Sergeich has been commissioned by the editor of a weekly publication to write a "more gruesome and more effective" Christmas story, that has to be done that very day, so he sits down to write a tale based on a gruesome crime that had been committed in his home town some ten years beforehand. But every time he finishes a paragraph or two he’s summoned by his wife and his house guests to participate in the singing session they’re having – that he enjoys both participating in and criticizing – so that paragraphs describing gruesome situations and dramatic events are interspersed with Christmas-time revelry. Finally the house guests tear his manuscript from him so that he can go out with them for a sleigh-ride.
- a convincing account of a writer’s everyday life of conflicting pressures from family and editors.
7
389 1886-12-13 A Work of Art The Objet d’Art humour Sasha Smirnov arrives in the office of his doctor with a present for the physician in lieu of payment, to thank him for having saved his life. The object in question is an antique bronze of two naked young women, a family heirloom that is not at all to the doctor’s taste who has innocent young children in his home, so the doctor contrives to give the work of art to a bachelor friend who had performed legal services for him. The young man finds it too risqué for him though, and gives it in turn to Shashkin, a comedian, who finds it an embarrassment to his many lady visitors, so he gives it to... and so on until it comes back to the doctor.
- An entertaining little yarn on the theme of Arthur Schnitzler’s celebrated later play La Ronde.
8.5
390 1886-12-15 The Jubilee
 [3]
theatrical drama A feast is underway in a hotel to celebrate the twenty-five years of the tragedian Tigrov in the artistic field. All the theatre staff are present except the manager, who’d declined to contribute to the cost of the dinner out of stinginess. Toasts are given, vodka and wine are drunken and Tigrov is in the process of denouncing the wrongs in the theatrical profession when the manager comes in for a glass of vodka, which prevents T from completing his discourse as planned. Afterwards they go out for more celebrating and the evening ends with Tigrov more penniless and disillusioned than ever.
- a particularly unflattering portrait of the theatrical milieu by an author who later became one of its most celebrated exponents.
8
391 1886-12-20 Who Was To Blame? animal story A high-school teacher is upset to find his Latin textbook nibbled by mice, so he sets the maid the task of training their two-month old little kitten to catch them. To help the process along Pyotr sets a mouse-trap to capture the things alive and releases them right before the little cat’s eyes. But the kitten, who had been dreaming of ferocious exploits, is terrified of the things, and is finally thrown out of the house for being so useless. A year later, now a big, experienced tomcat, he has another encounter with the mouse world that is no better than the first.
- A pleasant little fable
7.5
392 1886-12-25 On the Road drama Introduced by an evocative citation from Lermontov: “Upon the breast of a gigantic crag, A golden cloudlet rested for one night.”, we follow the unfolding of an intense conversation in a country inn during a snow-storm between a big, powerful man who is resting there for the night with his little daughter and a young noblewoman on her way to a family property nearby, who has been obliged to stop over at the inn because of the severity of the storm. The man has done everything, seen everything, believed in everything from religion to nihilism and back, and opens his soul to his young fellow-traveller, especially about the role women had played in his life. She is on the verge of being overcome by his force and his charm and his passion for the things he believes in, but... life must go on.
- A story of great force and conviction, a magnificent portrayal of the Russian soul if one can say such a thing, which this story seems to say one can.
10
393 1886-12-25 Vanka #2 childhood experience Vanka is a nine-year old orphan and shoemaker’s apprentice in Moscow who takes advantage of Christmas Eve when the whole household is out at the church service to write a long, impassioned letter to his grandfather, his only relative, describing the terrible conditions in which he lives, his constant near-starvation and his utter lack of prospects, begging him to take him away from his Hell on earth. Proudly he finishes his long letter and puts it in the mailbox, vainly addressed simply To Grandfather in the village­.
- A moving account of a sad social situation, the plight of young orphan apprentices in big cities and no doubt elsewhere too.
9
394 1886-12-27 It Was Her!
 [5]
drama A trio of young maidens at a reception beg the elderly Colonel to tell them a story, so he talked about the good old days when he was a dashing aide-de-camp on mission and got caught in a snow-storm and had to stay the night at the mansion of a rich Polish count. After chatting and playing cards with the countess, he was shown into a spooky sort of room where he just couldn’t get to sleep and had been wondering about ghostly spirits when he heard footsteps and felt a woman’s arms around him declaring that she loved him! A eulogistic description followed of the lady’s unforgettable charms, and the maidens were utterly fascinated by the story until he told them that the next day when he left he knew just who she was – his own wife, who’d been sleeping in the room next door! The maidens were so disappointed by this flat ending that he told them he was only kidding and changed it to a more suitable one for them, whereby they snuggled up to hear more.
- a nicely-told tale with a good twist at the end.
8.5
395 1886-12-27 Man. A bit of philosophy love story A one-page story about a young man at a ball who’s feeling depressed by the endless rounds of ladies and flowers and champagne in his life, is asking himself why he exists and is telling himself that the lot of man is indeed an unhappy one. But just as he begins to think that he will be happy when he ceases to be, a young woman of remarkable beauty comes over and asks him for a glass of water, and he hurries off to fetch one.
- Short, very very short, but effective.
7.5
396 1887-01-04 New Year’s Torture
 [3]
portrait of life in Russia The narrator describes his ordeal on New Year’s Day when his understanding wife sends him out on the ritual tour to visit relatives with a list of people to be seen or else, and after dutifully suffering through long political narratives, listening to plaintive lamentations, being reminded of unpaid debts, being forced to give a loan and being obliged to down too many glasses of rowanberry wine, he’s scolded fiercely on coming home for smelling of wine and is accused of having spent the day with another woman.
- a sort-of-amusing account of a long-honoured tradition.
8
397 1887-01-05 Champagne A Wayfarer’s Story drama The narrator recounts a New Year’s Eve he had passed on duty in a remote railway post with his wife when they had opened up a precious bottle of authentic champagne. He had let the bottle slip and his wife was dismayed because that was an evil omen, and he irritatedly exclaimed to her that his situation and his whole life was at such a low point already that it couldn’t possibly get worse. He then left for a walk on the steppe to calm down and came back to find that it certainly could, and it did.
- A short but tough story of decline and despair, most impressive.
9
398 1887-01-12 Frost portrait of life in Russia A big popular feast out-of-doors has been planned for Epiphany and it goes ahead with skating, tobogganing and music even though there are twenty-eight degrees of frost. When the wealthy elderly mayor arrives, he orders drinks and regales one and all with tales of fighting against the frost in his poverty-stricken youth. Then the governor recounts how his whole regiment stayed motionless one night for thirteen hours without fire in bitter cold in wartime against the Turks for fear of being spotted by the enemy; the bishop tells how he had fallen off his sled in Siberia and narrowly escaped death from freezing; and the mayor just can’t be stopped with more reminiscences of severe Russian winters.
- A colourful, memorable portrait of a winter gathering in the Russia of the times.
9.5
399 1887-01-19 The Beggar drama Skvortsov, a Petersburg lawyer, is stopped by a poorly-dressed beggar who explains that he is a teacher who has been unfairly dismissed and needs help to travel to a position in the province – but Skvortsov recognizes the man who had told him an entirely different story only a few days before. After giving him a lecture about his lying, his idleness and his drunkenness, he offers him work chopping wood. The man accepts, comes back regularly, and finally gives up his drinking habits and gets a regular job as a clerk. When Skvortsov meets him two years later in a theatre the man explains what the key event that had changed his life really had been that first day at work.
- A morality sketch with a nice, unexpected twist at the end.
8.5
400 1887-01-20 Enemies medical drama On an appropriately dark September evening the only child of the district doctor Kirilov has just died of diphtheria when a well-dressed, elegant man arrives at his door in a panic, urgently requesting that the doctor come to care for his wife. Kirilov is completely stunned with despair at what has happened to him and his wife and can hardly talk, but the man insists and Kirilov acknowledges that he is obliged by the regulations to go with the man, which he does at last. When they finally arrive, what they discover shocks and scandalises both men, each entirely dominated by the personal drama that they are living through.
- An almost unbearable tale of great intensity and sensitivity.
10
401 1887-01-24 The Good German humour Ivan Karlovitch is a senior foreman of German origin on the paternal side who is making a surprise visit home to Moscow after four months away on mission. He arrives home in the evening feeling joyous after a couple of bottles of beer at the station and telling the cabman that he wants to secede from Germany, only to find a stranger sleeping in one of the beds in his bedroom. He rushes off in despair to a tavern declaring that he now wants to secede from Russia, and writes a fiery letter to his parents-in-law denouncing their daughter. After mailing the letter he finally returns home to confront his wife one last time, only to learn that she had sublet their bedroom to boarders and that he should quiet down so as not to wake them up.
- A reasonably amusing fable about husbands, beer, Germans and (not) rushing to hasty conclusions.
8.5
402 1887-01-26 Darkness portrait of life in Russia A young peasant stops a doctor comIng out of the hospital of a provincial town to beg him to let his brother, a convict who had been brought to the hospital for treatment, be released so that he can work the family forge and feed his mother and family who are all starving for want of resources. The doctor dismisses him as he has no authority to do any such thing, and then the peasant walks twelve miles to another town where he had been told that the person responsible for peasant affairs resides. To no avail of course, and the story ends with the peasant and his elderly father uselessly prostrate in the snow before the doctor, once again pleading for his help in getting the convict released.
- A terribly dark image of the way uneducated peasantry of the time lived on the borderline of extreme hunger and even starvation.
8.5
403 1887-02-02 Polinka drama Polinka is shopping in an elegant drapery establishment where she requests that Nikolay Timofeitch takes her order. When he arrives, in between discussion of various articles for Polinka and her mother, the two converse in low terms, one reproaching the other for no longer coming to see her, the other explaining that there is no point since the she goes out regularly on walks with a student who he is convinced has only one thing in mind for her and that is not marriage – especially since students in those days did not have the right to get married (!). A perfect dialogue of the deaf, that cannot and does not end happily.
- A clever sketch with a very solid emotional background in spite of its high-spirited commercial spiel in the foreground.
8.5
404 1887-02-09 Drunk satire We follow Frolov, an extremely wealthy, boorish and unhappy man as he flings money around in a very fancy restaurant, drinking far too much, eating practically nothing and grossly insulting the servants and the various musicians in the restaurant that he has reserved for himself and his lawyer, a close friend. To whom he ends up confessing the root cause of his repulsive rage – he no longer loves the woman he had married only two years previously. With a problem like that nothing can be done by the friend or the restaurant personnel – he must eventually just go home and continue his miserably rich existence as best he can.
- A terribly negative portrait of the wealthy crust of society, convincingly portraying however the extent to which Russian exuberance can and did and probably still does go when fused with an explosive mix of massive wealth, massive amounts of alcohol and the intensely Russian form of melancholy.
8.5
405 1887-02-21 An Inadvertence A Rash Thing to Do;
- Carelessness
humour Describing the state of the normally sedate Pyotr Petrovitch on coming home at two o’clock in the morning from a christening party, the author remarks “Spirituous liquors are like sea-water and glory: the more you imbibe of them the greater your thirst.” Pyotr, a widower living with his sister-in-law Dashenka, a strict old maid, decides to have one last drop of vodka and takes a drink from the bottle in the dark to avoid waking up the household. Instantly he feels his insides exploding and he collapses in terror, smelling the distinctive odour of paraffin and realising that his last moments had come. Staggering into Dashenka’s room for help, he only succeeds is getting her outraged by his effrontery at having drunk the paraffin without her permission, so he decides to go to a doctor’s for help. But as “a doctor is only readily found when he is not wanted”, that is easier said than done, as none of them answer the door and even the pharmacist refused to help because, according to the documentation that he grumpily consulted at length, it was a purely medical question. The next morning he was still alive, but had to listen to Dashenka endlessly criticising the inferior quality of the paraffin that she had been provided with.
- A mildly amusing medical comedy.
7.5
406 1887-02-21 Verochka Verotchka love story Ivan Alexeyitch is leaving his hosts on a late-summer evening after having spent several months with them on a mission for the government. Used to Petersburg lodgings and the hectic pace of life in the big city, he has been enchanted by the warm hospitality of his host and his young daughter Verotchka, by the home-made wine that had been flowing freely, by the beauty of the surrounding fields and forests and the charm of summer in their splendid countryside.
The daughter walks with him along the road to town when he has finished his good-byes, and when they pause she breaks down in an impassioned avowal of her love and admiration of him. But Ivan Alexeyitch, a lonely bachelor of twenty-nine, has had little experience with women, finds that “by declaring her love for him she had cast off the aloofness which so adds to a woman’s charm”, and cannot find it in his heart to respond in kind to her, even though he “frankly acknowledged to himself that it was not the intellectual coldness of which clever people so often boast, not the coldness of a conceited fool, but simply impotence of soul, incapacity for being moved by beauty, premature old age brought on by education, his casual existence, struggling for a livelihood, his homeless life in lodgings.”. And life went on for both of them.
- A powerful and poetical text, one of the master’s finest.
10
407 1887-02-23 Shrove Tuesday On the Eve of Lent humour We follow the household routine as Pelageya Ivanovna wakes up her husband to help their son Styopa with his arithmetic, which he tries to do although the difficulties of dividing fractions by other fractions rapidly gets him most confused. We see him aimlessly trying to help Styopa avoid yet another mark of one (out of five), we listen to him tell stories of his own schoolboy years, we see tea being served and the cook coming in to pay her respects to the members of the family, and we realize that this is the last day before the seven-week fasting period of Lent. That’s it!
- A sort-of-interesting account of one day in the life of a typically bourgeois family of the time, but unsatisfying nevertheless.
6
408 1887-02-28 A Defenceless Creature humour A lady comes to the office of the bank manager Kistunov to ask for reimbursement of a sum that had been unduly taken from the pay of her husband, and Kistunov patiently explains to her that her husband was employed by the army and that this is a bank. But the lady persists, explaining that she has already been refused several times, that no one knows where she should go, that she is poor and hungry, and so on and so on. Finally Kistunov asks each of his staff in turn to deal with her, but to no avail as she continues to ramble on endlessly at cross-purposes. Out of desperation, K. finds a solution to her problem, to everyone’s satisfaction but his own.
- A Kafkaesque comedy forty years before The Castle, odd and somehow amusing and even touching.
8.5
409 1887-03-02 A Bad Business drama The night watchman in a village graveyard finds an old man wandering around who says he is a pilgrim. He tries to accompany him to the exit but there are problems, the old man is not as inoffensive as he seems to be, there is an eerie atmosphere in the cemetery, and the watchman realises that he is in serious trouble.
- A suitably troubled atmosphere for a cemetery story at midnight.
8
410 1887-03-07 Home childhood experience Yevgeny Petrovitch, the prosecutor of the circuit court, comes home to be told by the governess that his seven-year old son Seryozha has been found smoking. He summons the boy, remembering the harsh punishments that used to be dealt out for such misdemeanours in his own youth (thrashings, expulsion from school) and explains rationally to the boy that smoking reduces the number of years one lives, but the boy doesn’t seem to be paying much attention and continues drawing images and playing with his father’s beard. The father, who is at a loss how to deal with the motherless boy, then tells him an invented fable involving a castle and a boy of his age whose only fault was that he smoked, so that the boy died and his father had no one to help him and robbers came and destroyed the palace and its beautiful gardens.
- Interesting but not all that convincing.
8
411 1887-03-09 The Lottery Ticket drama Ivan Dmitritch sits down to read the evening paper and notices right away that the winning lottery number starts with the same four digits as his own ticket. He and his wife try, initially unsuccessfully but then with more and more gusto, to imagine what they could possibly do with the 75,000-rouble prize money. But then Ivan realises that the ticket is in his wife’s name, that she would be a difficult travel companion and would probably begrudge giving him money while showering it upon her numerous relatives who would all come running for it. They each start to hate the other for wanting to monopolise the winnings, and feelings rapidly deteriorate until they finally find that the last two numbers were wrong after all. Their cozy life has all of a sudden taken on a much darker, sombre and depressing aspect.
- A modern-sounding and quite believable tale
8.5
412 1887-03-16 Too Early! portrait of life in Russia Slyunka and Ryabov, two peasants, passionately plead with the inn-keeper Semyon to let them have the gun that Slyunka had pawned there so that they could go out to shoot snipe, but to no avail. The two sportsmen go out anyway to watch the rooks and the cranes flying overhead, hoping to see the long-awaited snipe come back too.
- An interesting evocation of the passion for hunting among country folk on all of the rungs of the social ladder, and a nice portrait of the autumn landscape teeming with life.
8.5
413 1887-03-18 An Encounter
 [3]
portrait of life in Russia Efrem is driving around the countryside in a cart with an image of Our Lady of Kazan and a sign appealing for funds for the rebuilding of his village’s church that had been struck by lightening, and meets Kuzma, a strange-looking fellow at the side of the road who follows him along, talking about life in the prison he’d just been released from. When they arrive in the next village they share lodgings, but when Efrem wakes up the next morning Kuzma is very tipsy and the money he’d had under his shirt had gone. Efrem considers it an act of sacrilege that will be punished somehow and continues on his way with Efrem in his trail, who finally confesses and returns most of the money he’d stolen to the holy man Efrem. The two soon part ways.
- a sensitive account of country ways, religious and otherwise.
8.5
414 1887-03-23 Typhus drama Lieutenant Klimov is travelling home on the train and becomes increasingly uncomfortable, hot and feverish, dreaming in patches of being comfortably in his bed at home, looked after by his beloved sister Katya and his faithful orderly Pavel. Eventually he does arrive home and is carried to bed, where Katya, Pavel, a doctor and a priest all intensely take care of him. When he eventually survives the attack of typhus, he finds out that his dear sister had died helping him.
- A terribly moving tale of disease and death, told most originally through the eyes of the survIving sufferer.
9
415 1887-03-28 Life’s Hardships
 [3]
humour Lev Popov is laboriously calculating the monthly payments he’ll have to make on a loan, calculating the interest, tax and stamp payments for each month, but his concentration is continuously disturbed by a piano pounder upstairs, a medical student loudly reciting lessons in the next room, and his wife’s incessant complaints about her toothache and cold. At the end the total of the repayments that he’s calculated over 20 years is so phenomenal that he starts even more painfully over again.
- painfully effective!
7.5
416 1887-03-30 In Passion Week childhood experience We participate in the key events of the Easter Week ceremonies, notably the ritual of confession and the Easter Day service, through the eyes of a devout young boy.
- An interesting peek into the mindset of the young faithful believers of the time.
8
417 1887-04-11 A Mystery satire The senior civil servant Navagin is perplexed to find in the list of his visitors on Easter Sunday the name of an unknown person, Fedyukov, whose name had appeared on the annual list for the past thirteen years. Unable to identify the mysterious visitor, Navagin appeals to his wife, an adept of spiritualism, for help and she engages in conversation with the spirit of the departed Fedyukov most successfully. Soon she has Navagin immersed in the rituals of spiritualism and studying supernatural phenomena every day. He finally writes a huge opus on the subject and he is on the verge of sending it off for publication when he discovers the banal truth about the mysterious Fedyukov’s identity.
- A scientific man’s amusing denunciation of the vogue for spiritualism that was so widespread at the time.
8
418 1887-04-13 The Cossack drama The recently-married farmer Tortchakov is driving home across the countryside with his wife after the Easter service when he encounters a Cossack sitting on the ground beside his horse, too ill and famished to carry on, who begs him for a piece of the Easter cake that he has had blessed during the service. Tortchakov’s wife indignantly refuses to cut into the blessed cake so they carry on, but the next day, filled with remorse, Tortchakov sends the servants out with food and a piece of the cake for the Cossack, who’s nowhere to be found. Feeling guilty because of his lack of charity, he quarrels bitterly with his wife for the first time, and takes to drinking more and more regularly. From then on things went steeply downhill for the whole household.
- A parable with a religious and even superstitious overtone.
9
419 1887-04-18 The Letter humour A very stressed church deacon explains to his reverend father that his son has renounced his religion and is living in sin with an unmarried woman, so the articulate senior priest dictates a stern letter of rebuke to his son for him. Delighted with the letter the deacon adds some local news in a friendly manner at the end, spoiling the whole moral effect of the missive. 8
420 1887-04-20 Boa Constrictor and Rabbit humour An experienced rake explains to his guest his quasi-irresistible technique for seducing attractive wives, involving making incessant compliments about the lady to her own husband, whom one arranges to meet regularly by accident, in such effusive terms that he invariably repeats them to the lady. After a while he tells the husband that he is terribly depressed and is contemplating suicide at night in a park, so the lady out of the goodness of her heart goes out there to save him, and voilà!
- Clever and even convincing.
8.5
421 1887-04-25 Spring
#2
 [5]
animal story Provisionally aptly entitled “Cat’s Monologue”, this is a speech made to humans by a tomcat explaining to them all the pitfalls and dangers and adventures a cat goes through in the spring-time to find and seduce his lady-loves.
- very funny and quite a must for anyone who wants to understand cats better. After Hoffmann’s The Life and Opinions of the Tomcat Murr and Soseki’s I Am a Cat, this is a miniature reference-work on the subject!
8.5
422 1887-04-27 The Critic
 [3]
theatrical drama An aged actor meets a journalist friend and insists on them having a drink together, which of course leads to another and so one, all the while proclaiming that there are no decent actors or actresses anywhere in Russian anymore, not like in the good old days.
- apparently a standard subject of conversion among theatrical people in those times.
7
423 1887-05-04 An Adventure The Incident drama A cab-driver tells a passenger the story of how his father had fallen victim to robbers after bragging in a café that he was taking five hundred roubles of rent-money to town. He had been accosted by thieves afterwards, but not before he confiding the money to his little daughter who had fled through the surrounding woods. She lost her way though, and finally came to a cabin where a woman gave her shelter and food and listened to her story. Unfortunately this was the home of the chief of the robbers and the woman gave them the money when they arrived after having killed the father while searching for his money. The story doesn’t end there, though, because the robbers, who spent the night drinking to celebrate their success, had underestimated the resourcefulness of the little girl.
- A hard tale about nasty people who do get their comeuppance in the end, fortunately.
8.5
424 1887-05-11 The Examining Magistrate The Investigator drama An examining magistrate tells a doctor while they are driving to an inquest that “there is a great deal that is enigmatic and obscure in nature; and even in everyday life one must often come upon phenomena which are absolutely incapable of explanation.” When the skeptical doctor declares that there’s no effect without a cause and that if there’s a death there must be a reason for it, the magistrate proceeds to tell him of a woman who had for months predicted the exact date upon which she would die. The doctor insists that there had to be a cause, and it turned out that the lady was with child and that she had died the day after giving birth. When the doctor declared that she had probably poisoned herself as soon as the baby was born the magistrate admitted that the story was about his own wife, who had found him with another woman during her pregnancy. End of friendship between the magistrate and the doctor.
- A distressing drama of deceit.
8.5
425 1887-05-18 Aborigines The Philistine satire An excessively grumpy retired lieutenant of Polish extraction heaps insults on his Russian tenant and neighbours all day long, notably treating them as lazy, good-for-nothing “aborigines”, in the company of the architect Finks, of German extraction, who listens to his twaddle all day long, plays endless games of cards with him, and finally goes home late in the evening after having had a three-hour siesta. The pensioner finally goes to bed venting his spleen on the furniture in the room. Neither man has been an example of anything to anyone.
- No doubt intended as a satire on national caricatures, the racist tone of the lieutenant’s diatribes is hardly to the taste of any modern reader.
5
426 1887-06-01 Volodya drama Volodya is a frail seventeen-year-old student thinking about the critical exam the following day that could result in his expulsion from school, about his inferior social position at the house of the Shumihins where he and his mother are guests, and about the attractiveness of the Shumihins’ thirty-year-old married cousin. When the lady in question appears dressed in a towel fresh from bathing she taunts him about his shyness as he is at a total loss for words. When he does stammer out three intimate words and grasps her around the waist she only laughs, tells him he needs to be more charming and goes on her way. He deliberately misses the train back to town that night, has another encounter with the lady in the middle of the night, and definitively misses his examination the next day by over-sleeping. On going back to town in the train with his mother they quarrel bitterly and things go from bad to worse to definitively catastrophic.
- A dark tale about awful people that ends awfully.
7
427 1887-06-05 Happiness Fortune portrait of life in Russia Two shepherds on the steppe in the middle of the night exchange thoughts with an overseer who has stopped nearby. The talk is centred on evil spirits and the treasures that they are all convinced lie hidden below the many ancient burial mounds scattered about the steppe, and about how evil spirits prevent men from uncovering those treasure, although the older shepherd cannot tell the others just what he would do with the treasure that he is looking for.
- A poetical description of the vast Russian steppe at night, steeped in mystery and superstition.
8.5
428 1887-06-08 Bad Weather Hate drama Nadyezhda and her mother are playing patience and reading in the summer villa of Nadyezhda’s husband, the lawyer Kvashin, who has stayed in town to work and to avoid all the rain there has been in the resort area. After five days of his absence Nadyezhda decides to go into town to help the poor lonely man with his cooking and cleaning, and finds that the apartment had been locked up for five days although Kvashin had written that he never left the flat. But Kvashin arrives the next evening with a good story to explain his absence from the apartment and all is well again.
- A straight-forward tale of marital unfaithfulness, hardly redeemed by the gullibility of the woman and definitely blackened by the man’s mental contempt for her and her mother as “tradesmen’s wives”.
7
429 1887-06-13 A Drama
#2
A Play humour A well-known author is visited by a lady unknown to him who begs him profusely to let her read him a play of hers, and out of weakness of character he submits to the request, even though the only works that have ever interested him are his own. Her play turns out to be an interminable love-melodrama of the most boring kind, but the author doesn’t have the courage to stop her, and ultimately in a fit of desperation he resorts to violence.
- A silly satire of would-be writers.
6
430 1887-06-15 One of Many
 [3]
humour A distraught father carrying various objects comes to a friend’s house and sinks down on the couch exhausted, asking if he can lend him a revolver. He proceeds to describe the hellish life he’s leading during his family’s holiday at a near-by dacha when he not only has to go out incessantly for diverse errands for his wife, but also for all the neighbours who ask him to get things for them too while he’s at it. And then there are the mosquitos and his wife’s concerts and all the other things he has to do for her. On leaving, his friend asks him if he wouldn’t mind taking a sewing machine to a lady friend of his who lives in the area.
- a particularly gloomy vision of a family holiday, from a servile husband’s point of view at least.
7.5
431 1887-06-22 First Aid drama First a (tipsy) sergeant-major and then a well-meaning gentlewoman intervene to help a group of peasants try various methods to fully revive a drunken peasant who had fallen into the river and had only barely been rescued in time. But to no avail, or rather because of the ineffectual and violent remedies applied by one and all to the poor man he doesn’t survive the treatment inflicted upon him.
- No doubt intended as a critique of inappropriate traditional methods of first aid, as a story it lacks both humour and humanity.
6
432 1887-06-29 An Unpleasant Story
 [5]
drama Zhirkov arrives late at night in a cab in pouring rain at the home of his mistress, with a large bundle of commissions she had told him to bring, but when she opens the door she informs him that her husband had arrived from Paris, so Zhirkov is left standing in the rain with no cabbie in sight. Finally to get rid of the bundle he rings again but this time it’s the husband who answers so he pretends to have mistaken the address and continues to get soaked outside. Finally he rings again and tells the husband that he’s a delivery agent, whereupon the husband lets him shelter inside for a while. But then the wife wakes up and when she sees the two of them she introduces them and sends the husband off to bed so that she can be alone with Zhirkov.
- delightfully scandalous.
8.5
433 1887-07-04 A Transgression humour The dignified collegiate assessor Miguev remembers being accosted on the street the week before by his former servant Agnia, who had threatened to leave her baby on his doorstop and to reveal all to his wife, accompanied by a demand for five thousand roubles. He discovers shortly afterwards a tightly-wrapped baby asleep on his doorstep, and at first decides to get rid of it by depositing it on the doorstep of a friend, but at the last moment, looking at the baby and imagining its future, he has regrets and brings it home, confessing his fault to his wife and begging her forgiveness before rushing out of the room. But there has been a misunderstanding.
- A farce on a theme that is hard to laugh about in general and here too.
7
434 1887-07-05 From the Diary of a Violent-tempered Man Notes from the Journal of a Quick-Tempered Man humour A high-minded and very irascible professor strives unsuccessfully to concentrate on his work in the face of constant social harassment by his female neighbours who can’t understand why he hasn’t married yet.
- This tale investigating male frailties faced with female wiles and willpower stands out as a small masterpiece of comic fiction.
9
435 1887-07-14 Uprooted portrait of life in Russia The narrator remembers a long conversation with a young man, recently-converted to Orthodoxy from the Jewish faith, at the great monastery in the Holy Mountains in the Ukraine, where thousands of people had congregated for the yearly festivities there. The young man had a restless, tortured spirit, was constantly on the move, and deeply impressed the narrator with his eternal quest for what might be called enlightenment.
- A fascinating account of the atmosphere at major pilgrimages in the Russian Empire at the time.
9.5
436 1887-07-20 A Father drama Musatov, the black sheep of his family, is a very dissolute old man who has come to his son’s lodgings to borrow ten roubles, promising to pay him back the following Tuesday. When the son dutifully obliges, the man confesses that he was lying about the repayment and launches on a lengthy monologue decrying his drunken habits and how he shamelessly exploits the good will of his children. The son patiently listens, gives his father new boots, and accompanies him home in a cab, interrupted by several stops when the father rushes into taverns for more drinks. Finally he has tea at his father’s shabby home, all the time listening to further confessions of dissolution and drunkenness.
- A moving story of filial respect and fatherly disrespect.
9
437 1887-07-25 A Happy Ending humour Semyon Ivanovitch, a severe head-guard of fifty-two, explains to Lyubov Grigoryevna, an experienced matchmaker who has come for a visit while he was off duty, that “a married man has always more weight in society than a bachelor... I am a man of the educated class, with money, but if you look at me from a point of view, what am I? A man with no kith and kin, no better than some Polish priest.” He proceeds to outline his feelings with regards to pretty women (too worrisome), thin women (not plump enough), educated women (too opinionated and can’t sew), wealthy women (he wouldn’t want to marry one for money), poor women (raising children is expensive) and so on, all the time plying the lady with wine, until a mutually satisfactory solution is found.
- An amusing exploration of an eternal theme.
9
438 1887-08-03 In the Coach-House The Coach-House;
- In a Barn
childhood experience Alyosha, an eight-year-old boy, is playing cards with his grandfather, a coachman at a fine mansion, the house porter and an old salt-herring merchant, all of whom every now and then comment on the day’s big event, the suicide of the father of the house, an only son. Severe comments are made about suicides and how they must be refused church funeral services, and a story is told of how a young nobleman who had shot himself howled constantly in his grave after his mother had bribed the authorities to let him be buried there. That night Alyosha hears howling and is terrified.
- An interesting account of popular superstitions and attitudes towards a very dramatic subject.
8.5
439 1887-08-08 Intruders: an Eyewitness Account
 [3]
humour A landlord describes the confusion caused in the town by a pair of well-dressed men who came into his inn and first complained about the flies and the cockroaches, which showed that they were strangers, then made all sorts of calculations before arranging for a table to be set up outside at punctually 5 in the morning. They were obviously responsible for the catastrophe that happened then that put the whole town in turmoil: a sort of frying pan had come over the sun and everything turned black!
- a postscript mentions that the story was written on the occasion of the eclipse of the sun on the 7th of August 1887.
7.5
440 1887-08-09 Before the Eclipse
 [3]
humour A dialogue between the sun and the moon to prepare a forthcoming eclipse, where they decide to concentrate the shadow on the south of Russia because western Europe is too blasé, and ending with the moon respectfully suggesting to His Lordship the sun that he goes easy on the beer otherwise there’ll be too many clouds.
- a (very little) bit of imaginative fun.
6.5
441 1887-08-10 Zinotchka childhood experience A group of sportsmen is spending the night in a peasant’s hut and they have been endlessly talking about dogs, women, first love and snipes when the stoutest of them all talks not about his first love but his first hate. He was eight years old at the time and had taunted his governess and his brother after seeing them kissing each other, and had earned the undying hatred of the young woman when he revealed their secret to his very strict mother.
- A good tale about a bad boy.
8
442 1887-08-17 The Doctor drama An eight-year-old boy is dying of a brain tumour (!) and the doctor, who doesn’t know how to comfort the mother, an old friend, asks her to tell him at long last whether her husband really is the father of the boy (!!) or whether it is in fact one of the two other men who are also secretly supporting her (!!!).
- Too much melodrama, no matter how artfully told, is just too much!
7
443 1887-08-24 The Siren humour A group of magistrates has come out of a congress and pauses in a deliberation-room before taking off their uniforms and going home for dinner. The chairman of the congress starts rapidly writing his dissenting opinion on the case they had been analysing and a philosophically-minded judge stands aloof at a window thinking pessimistic thoughts, when the secretary of the session starts talking about food and the best way to prepare a large number of dishes. The chairman gets distracted from his dissertation, some go out with a hungry expression on their faces, and finally they all rush out exasperated by the secretary’s incessant chatter about food and then beauties and finally politics.
- A scintillating series of mouth-watering descriptions of a great many savoury dishes.
8.5
444 1887-08-29 The Reed-Pipe  The Pipe  portrait of life in Russia A hunter encounters an elderly shepherd playing monotonously on his reed-pipe in the woods while surveying his herd, and listens as the old man laments at length on the way everything in nature is going to ruin.
- A particularly gloomy forecast of the future of the natural world.
8
445 1887-09-12 The Avenger humour Pavel has just found his wife in flagrante delicto with another man and had gone to a gunsmith’s to buy a gun with which to get his revenge. He can’t quite make up his mind if he wants to shoot both of them and then commit suicide, just the two of them, or only himself, and the gunsmith extolls the virtues of the different makes for the different purposes. He even contemplates doing nothing, but is embarrassed to have taken up so much of the gunsmith’s time and realises that he can’t just simply leave without buying anything. He finally makes a decision.
- A spoof that seems to have lost its sting, if it ever had one, with the passing of time
7
446 1887-09-14 The Post portrait of life in Russia The nephew of the local postmaster gets a free ride in the middle of the night on a postal-wagon that’s on its way to the train station. He admires the scenery and the difficulties of the terrain as they flash along; they almost have an accident; and he is unable to strike up a conversation with the surly driver who resents his presence. That’s all.
- A nicely-described drive in the starlit Russian night, nothing more.
7
447 1887-09-21 A Wedding
 [3]
portrait of life in Russia A wedding takes place and all goes rather well, even if the father of the bride drinks too much: the bridegroom does too, but who doesn’t, and the bride remains in control of the new family home.
- a rather sedate description of a universally important moment.
7
448 1887-09-28 The Runaway childhood experience Pashka, a seven-year-old boy and his mother had walked to the hospital in the rain across the countryside at night, then waited for two hours for the doors to open, then for a long time in the waiting-room. When Pashka was finally examined the doctor berates the mother for not having brought him sooner as his arm was so badly infected – she had let him rot for six months – that he had to be operated on and Pashka, who had never before been separated from his mother, had to stay there overnight. Wandering around the different wards he sees terrible things and runs out of the hospital in the evening in terror. We don’t know what happened in the end to Pashka – probably an amputation – but we do know that the doctor did find him before it was too late.
- A sensitive account of a poor peasant boy learning about death and disease the hard way, seen through his own eyes.
8.5
449 1887-10-19 A Problem
#2
drama The three uncles of Sasha are holding a family council to decide what to do about a major family crisis: the twenty-five-year-old wastrel had forged a false promissory note for a considerable sum of money. Now that it’s due the family’s reputation will be ruined if the case goes to court, and Sasha will go to prison unless the family pays the debt. Sasha waits patiently outside for the verdict, not really caring which way it will go. When the kindliest of the uncles manages to get agreement on paying the debt, Sasha asks him for a hundred roubles so that he can go and celebrate with friends.
- A delicate portrait of the eternal conflict and contrast of goodness, badness, innocence, guilt, moral values and nihilism all in a few pages. Infuriating and fascinating at the same time.
9
450 1887-10-24 Intrigues humour We follow the thoughts of Doctor Shelestov as he rehearses in front of a mirror the speech he intends to make at the meeting of his medical association that has been summoned to judge an unspecified misdeed of his. We see how he intends to denounce the incompetence and faults of all of his enemies, apparently all of the other doctors on the committee of the association, not to mention the members of the Jewish faith, and how he dreams of turning the event in his favour by a coup d’état that would put him in power and enable him to purge the Association of his enemies. But the image he sees of himself in the mirror is not very impressive and as he leaves for the meeting he meditates bitterly on how one and all are intriguing against him.
- This doctor is a sick man! But his interior monologue is a juicy one indeed.
8.5
451 1887-10-29 The Old House portrait of life in Russia A house-owner doing a final tour of a large house about to be torn down recounts the many different kinds of people who have lived in the various room over the past many years.
- None of the stories are very gay, all have a melancholy tint of decline and decay.
8.5
452 1887-10-31 The Cattle-dealers The Cold Blood portrait of life in Russia An old man, accompanied by a lethargic grandson, is conducting eight van-loads of cattle – without fodder or water – on a long journey in winter to the big town far away, and has to endlessly bribe the railway personnel to allow his vans to proceed on their way.
- This longish 7000-word story is certainly rife with realistic anecdotes about the trials and travails of transporting cattle by rail in the Russia of the times. But the evocative tale remains essentially anecdotal.
8
453 1887-11-09 Expensive Lessons humour Vorotov is a cultivated man who knows Greek and Latin but feels handicapped by not knowing French or German, so he engages a French teacher to come and give him lessons every day. She turns out to be an elegant and most attractive young Frenchwoman and Vorotov, presented as “having never seen virtuous Frenchwomen before … reflected that this elegantly dressed young lady with her well-developed shoulders and exaggeratedly small waist in all probability followed another calling as well as giving French lessons”, was easily distracted from the straightforward reading lessons she gave him. Although he did once start to make a declaration to her, her startled reaction soon put an end to that but not to the fruitless lessons, as Vorotov just couldn’t bear being without her delicious presence.
- Amusing but somewhat inconclusive, and excessively simplistic about young ladies in general and no doubt about young French ones in particular.
8
454 1887-12-05 The Lion and the Sun satire Kutsyn, the mayor of a town just this side of the Urals who has a bee in his bonnet about collecting medals goes quite bonkers when a Persian magnate visits the town and he starts dreaming about acquiring the Persian Order of The Lion and the Sun. So although the magnate doesn’t speak a word of Russian and Kutsyn doesn’t know any foreign languages, he manages to repeatedly wine and dine the visitor and to escort him around the city day and especially night. He does manage to achieve his aim, but then he starts dreaming of a Serbian order.
- A somewhat heavy-handed satire on officialdom and the magic of official honours.
7.5
455 1887-12-07 In Trouble
#2
A Misfortune humour The whole town is talking about the arrest of the bank manager and most of his staff, and the merchant Avdeyev is as vociferous in his criticisms as any. When it is pointed out to him that he’s on the committee of auditors of the bank whose report he signed, he explains that he can hardly read and knows nothing about accounts. The reader is not surprised to learn that Avdeyev’s turn will soon come.
- A satire of commercial mores with a distinctly juvenile touch.
7
456 1887-12-15 The Kiss

7,600-word novelette
drama An artillery brigade arrives in a village on their way to camp and the officers are invited for tea by the elegant local landowner. All nineteen officers duly join in the outing and are regaled by tea, drinks, delicacies, wine, elegant conversation and dancing with the numerous ladies of the household that is full of guests. We follow one officer, short and rubicund and almost middle-aged, practically an outcast among his fellow officers, as he wanders around the huge mansion and is actually kissed in the neck in the dark by one of the ladies of the house, who seems to have mistaken him for another. He spends the rest of the story wondering who that delicious person might have been.
- A delicate evocation of the manners of the time in polite society – and of the unhappy destiny of an unhappy man.
9.5
457 1887-12-21 The Boys Boys childhood experience Young Volodya arrives home for the Christmas holidays with a somewhat mysterious friend, Lentilov, a thin, dark, reserved fellow. Instead of joining in the preparations for Christmas the two boys spend all their time poring over maps of Eastern Russia and America: as Volodya’s sisters discover by spying on them, they are planning to run away to America to find gold and ivory and become pirates. They do set out on Christmas Eve but don’t get very far before being brought back, much to the relief of the parents, needless to say. On parting with his mother who has come to fetch him, Lentilov signs in the eldest daughter’s book his name as “Montehomo, the Hawk’s Claw, Chief of the Ever Victorious.”
- An odd account of the mentality of adolescent boys.
7
458 1887-12-25 A Lady’s Story Natalia Vladimirovna love story The lady of the story recounts how she’d been riding gaily through the woods nine years before in hay-making time with Pyotr Sergeyitch to fetch the letters from the train station. They’d then raced back to her home before an oncoming storm, which they contentedly watched from the safety of her veranda. Pyotr declared on the spot that he loved her and she reciprocated in like – but there was an insurmountable social barrier between them, as he was only a plebeian and she was a noblewoman. Nine years later when both of them are lonely and single and meet again, she realises that her life had been wasted and regrets that he hadn’t insisted more that rainy day nine years previously.
- A touching tale touchingly told.
9
459 1887-12-25 Kashtanka

7,700-word novelette
In Learned Society animal story Kashtanka is a fox-like female mongrel dog that one day during an outing with her carpenter master has gotten lost after her master had gone into one too many taverns. She’d been found by a kindly man who gave her shelter in a back room where he also kept a cat and a gander that he’d trained to perform stunts and took with him for performances where the man was a clown. He also trained Kashtanka to do tricks too. One day the gander was fatally stepped on by a horse, and Kashtanka was taken to replace it at the circus act – but right away there was a cry of recognition and she was reunited with the carpenter and his little boy.
- A nice little story perhaps somewhat too uneventful to be very impressive.
7
460 1888-01-01 A Story Without a Title moral fable A tale of an isolated, self-sufficient monastery in the fifth century in lush surroundings in a beautiful forest separated by a difficult desert from the nearest town over fifty miles away, with a saintly Father Superior who spoke wonderfully and played the organ most movingly. One day a drunken hunter who’d lost his way came to the monastery, told them of all the sin and evil-doing and faithlessness that was rife in the town, and urged the monks to go there and preach the good word rather than just eating and drinking their fill in their comfortable little corner of paradise. The Father Superior goes there to remind the townspeople of the Christ they’d forgotten, and when he comes back three months later he promptly shut himself up in a cell without eating or drinking for seven days and nights. When he describes in detail to the monks the sinful things he’d seen in the town they all abandoned the monastery to go to the town too.
- A powerful but perhaps too cynical parable about the attractiveness of sin.
8
461 1888-01-25 Sleepy Let Me Sleep;
- Sleepyhead
social drama Varka, a thirteen-year-old nurse, is trying to rock a little baby to sleep in her cradle but the baby persists and Varka gets sleepier and sleepier while she is trying to quieten the baby. She is brutally awakened by a blow on the head from the master of the house because she’d fallen asleep and the baby was still crying. She tries to stay awake all night while rocking the baby and in the early morning, still dead tired, she carries out an extensive series of household duties and is again charged with rocking the screaming child to sleep. In a state of exhausted hallucination she puts a final end to the baby’s wailing by strangling it and then lying down for a sound sleep at long last.
- A powerful tragedy most convincingly narrated.
9
462 1888-02 The Steppe

(The Story of a Journey)

39,000-word novella
portrait of life in Russia The long journey of Yegory, a young eight-year-old boy travelling with his uncle and a priest in an ancient carriage across the Ukrainian steppe to a distant town where he’ll go to school. On the way they meet a wagon-train driven by peasants with whom the young boy travels most of the way to his final destination, while the uncle goes off in search of a buyer for his wares
We see the sights and sounds of the steppe in the day and at night – the birds, the animals, the winds and the storms and the rivers and the fish – and we listen with Yegory to the talk of the peasants and their quarrels and their tales, especially of bandits and robberies and murders, and we are plunged intensely into the atmosphere of that vast and populous land.
- A simple and straightforward tale, narrated in subtly poetical terms by a writer who loved that land and its people. A quiet masterpiece.
10
463 1888-04-18 Excerpt
 [3]
humour Five short excerpts from the diary of a retired senior civil servant, all of a more or less, mostly less, jocular content. 4
464 1888-04-22 A Compelled Declaration
 [3]
humour A farcical play sub-titled “Hasty Equestrian Death” by a certain Tarantulov, in which a countess and her lover are pursued by the count who finally catches them when the countess’s horse falls dead and the count gives the coachman a hundred-rouble reward. After that one-page effort Tarantulov begs the pardon of the theatrical association that performed this mock-play and proposes to buy lottery tickets from the proceeds, among other wacky resolutions.
- a strange and wacky story but a story nevertheless in a way – not however one that contributed to the author’s immense theatrical reputation.
3
465 1888-05-25 Lights

15,000-word novelette
drama The engineer Ananyev is working late at night with his assistant and the narrator, a casual visitor to their worksite in a railway camp. As they plan the next day’s work there is debate about the value of what they are doing and indeed of the value of any worldly endeavour in view of the inevitability of death and destruction at some point: what is the meaning of life anyway? This sort of thing continues in an expansive, enthusiastic, almost emotional, rather Russian way for some good time, and to illustrate how as a younger man he himself had harboured similar nihilistic thoughts, the engineer recounts his heartless seduction of a despairing woman he had met by chance in a resort town many years previously.
- A long, intense, complex work of considerable force.
9
466 1888-06-03 An Unpleasantness An Awkward Business;
- Trouble;
- Worldly Trifle
medical drama Grigory Ivanovitch is an experienced doctor doing his rounds at the hospital who is so upset with his incompetent assistant for being inebriated on duty that he utterly loses his temper and strikes the fellow. The consequences of this act on the life of the hospital and on the career of the doctor and the assistant, and the play of forces at work in the hospital organisation and in the regional judicial system – for there are judicial consequences – are the marrow of this story.
- An interesting and intricate psychological analysis of the forces at work in the medical system of the time.
9
467 1888-09-21 The Beauties the feminine condition The narrator remembers two incidents in his youth when he had unexpectedly encountered remarkably beautiful adolescent girls, and the extraordinary influence each in turn had exercised on all of the youths and men who had caught a glimpse of them that day.
- Remarkably effective evocations of memorable moments.
9
468 1888-10-27 The Party

12,900-word novelette
The Name-day Party;
- The Name-day
drama We follow the thoughts of Olga Mihalovna, a highly educated young heiress who happens to be in an interesting condition, as she assumes her duties as hostess for a large group of people who have come to celebrate the name-day of her husband, a prominent and still youthful jurist with a particularly strong personality. She meditates increasingly bitterly on her handsome husband’s tendencies to bombast, on his opinionated political declarations, and particularly on his attractiveness to women. As the day progresses through dinner, tea, and supper and the guests finally leave after midnight, her stress and dissatisfaction evolve into a crisis of epic moral and physical dimensions.
- A fascinating account of a particularly unhappy day in the life of a sensitive, educated and wealthy young woman.
9.5
469 1888-12-25 The Cobbler and the Devil The Shoemaker and the Devil moral fable A poor cobbler exhausted by his work dreams that he had struck a bargain with an abusive client – who is in fact the devil in person – to sell his soul for riches, a new wife and a new life. But all good things must come to an end.
- A simple and basically simplistic fable impregnated with sympathy for the poor and with animosity for the arrogant rich.
8
470 1889 A Nervous Breakdown

9,000-word novelette
The Seizure;
- The Fit;
- An Attack of Nerves
drama Vassiliev, a sedate law student, is enticed one evening by his two best friends to come with them to the red-light district of Moscow. He goes along in a spirit of friendship but is severely depressed by what he sees and the sordidness of the people and the places they have visited. He meditates at length on the stupidity of the common people and the essential baseness of his friends who participate in the exploitation of the fallen women he saw that night, and returns home to ponder further on the state of humanity.
He goes back to the district the next night though to try to understand what he has seen and heard there, and the following day his friends find him in such a state of nervousness that they take him to a psychiatrist for medical treatment. Life carries on nevertheless.
- An interesting, in-depth, perhaps somewhat excessively wordy exploration of the eternal theme of fallen women in a very Russian, “philosophical”, intellectual kind of way.
9
471 1889-01-01 The Bet moral fable A banker remembers a conversation he’d had fifteen years before with a student about capital punishment, when the student had expounded so vehemently on how preferable life imprisonment was to the death sentence that the banker had bet him two million roubles that he couldn’t possibly stand to spend a long period such as fifteen years in solitary confinement and would prefer anything to such a fate. The bet had been made, the student had spent fifteen years – that were drawing to a close the next morning – in solitary confinement with all the food, wine and books that he desired, without once having left the small room in which he had been confined. But now the banker feels differently about the prospect of losing such a sum...
- A nicely-told fable that somehow seems excessively intellectual and contrived today in spite of its lofty intentions.
7.5
472 1889-03-26 The Princess drama Princess Vera Gavrilovna arrives in a splendid carriage at the historic monastery of N—, converses animatedly and charmingly with the Father Superior, and tours the grounds in style, as she has been in the habit of doing for several years during the summer months. She likens herself to a graceful bird bringing joy and grace into the solemn institution. On her walk she sees the doctor Mihail Ivanovitch, to whom she expresses her regrets for the loss of his wife the previous year. The conversation takes an unexpected turn though as the doctor’s severe demeanour provokes her into probing his obvious lack of sympathy for her lamentations about the mistakes she had made since she had last seen him: the doctor tells her bluntly about what he and everyone else really think about her condescending and self-centred attitude towards everyone, her ineffectual acts of charity, her superficiality and in fact her essential worthlessness.
- Straight talk that rings ever so resoundingly down to us so many years later.
9.5
473 1889-04-29 A Forced Declaration No Comment humour A one-page sketch wherein there’s a first tiny scene in which a Countess and her lover are fleeing from the lady’s husband who’s chasing them and who catches up because the horse that their driver’s furiously whipping suddenly dies (!). In a second even shorter scene the lover flees and the count rewards the driver with a hundred roubles that the driver refuses out of respect for the nobility (!!). This is followed by a letter from the sketch’s author listing a series of demands on the Society of Dramatic Writers that is in turn followed by a rebuttal from the Society in question.
- Complete nonsense!
3
474 1889-
11
A Dreary Story

24,000-word novella
A Boring Story;
- A Dull Story;
- A Tedious Story;
- A Tedious Story from an Old Man’s Journal
drama Professor Nikolay Stepanovitch, a famous professor of medicine, ponders at length on his unsatisfying life, his unloving family, his financial problems, his fatuous colleagues, his failing health and his insomnia, and recounts to the reader his surprisingly unhappy daily existence and notably his intense but essentially unsatisfying relationship with the one person who really counts for him, his god-daughter Katya.
- A quite extraordinarily intense, moving reflection on science and art and learning and values and on what makes life really worth living.
10
475 1890
 [4]
A Letter
 [5]
letter A letter from an intellectual to a lady friend that starts out advising her to read a book that he’s sending her, describing it with lines like “You read and see between the lines, how an eagle soars in the sky and how little it cares about the beauty of its feathers at this time. Thought and beauty, like the hurricane and the waves, should not know habitual, definite forms.” and elegantly concluding his elegy with “You cannot imagine how joyful and cheerful it is to write even idle nonsense, when you know that your kind eyes will be looking at these lines.” The letter continues with a description of a debate with a dear friend who declared that the time he’d spent reading philosophy, poetry and fiction had been wasted, and after some very Russian-intellectual thoughts on the question of art he concludes the account with “Travnikov poisons himself with a yearning for immortality and eternal bliss, but I am not that greedy and this short, small, but beautiful life is quite enough for me.” After recounting how he’d explained to his mother the reasons why he’d abandoned his theological studies, he ends this remarkable missive with “I wish I could come to you now! I would like to go with you to the mountain just once, and I would like nothing more. Cherry blossoms? Not yet, though. Goodbye, be happy, be healthy, be merry and do not forget the cripple Ignaty Bashtanov, who is sincerely devoted to you and who loves you with all his heart.
- truly a masterpiece, surely one of the finest letters in all of Russian literature – quite on the level of Mme de Sauvigné’s correspondence and of Kafka’s Letter to Father, we do believe!
9.5
476 1890
 [4]
At the Zelenins’
 [3]
drama Masha Z reads a letter from her mother who’d just arrived in Yalta where the weather was terrible, she felt awful, the local doctor said that her Moscow doctor hadn’t analyzed her lung problem correctly but not to give up hope, and her teenage son who was with her had pleurisy and a high temperature but not to worry and to write soon. End of letter and of story.
- sad and too depressing for words.
7
477 1890
 [4]
Nice Things
 [3]
drama A doctor is summoned to the bedside of a clerk in a hospital, who’s 31 although he looks ten years older, eats badly and insufficiently and works long hours in an office for 40 roubles a month. The doctor diagnoses a catarrh of the stomach and advises him on a diet and way of life compatible with his means, to which the clerk agrees and remarks that the main thing is to breathe clean air and to get married. The doctor agrees that that’s good too, for those who can arrange it.
- a short and probably incomplete text apparently written before 1890, quite possibly in preparation for the powerful 1898 story A Doctor’s Visit.
7
478 1890-04-01 Thieves The Horse-Stealers;
Robbers
drama Yergunov, a hospital assistant, is returning one evening during Christmas week from an errand when he is caught in a snow-storm and loses his way. He finally comes upon an inn that he recognizes as being frequented by horse-thieves but has no alternative but to take shelter there, where there are in fact two known horse-thieves as well as the attractive daughter of the house. She brings in food and wine and vodka, Yergunov exchanges stories with the fellows who drink much less than he does and who leave early on. When he tries to prevent them from taking his horse, that the doctor had lent him for his errand, the girl blocks the door and Yergunov loses his head, and soon after his job. The story ends rather badly for all concerned except the horse-thieves.
- An interesting excursion into the mindset of a poor soul lost in a cruel world.
9
479 1890-12-25 Gusev Goussiev drama Gusev, a simple and sometimes delirious discharged soldier, is coming home from the Far East in a hammock in the sick ward of a military ship and he’s suffering like the others in the ward from the continuing rocking of the ship, the pounding of the waves and the severe heat. He carries on a desultory conversation with his neighbour, a certain Pavel Ivanitch, who rallies incessantly against the system and the inevitable fate of the men in the sick bay, most of whom are dying. We follow Gusev and Ivanitch to the bitter end.
- A poignant portrayal of a simple man facing death uncomprehendingly far from home.
9.5
480 1891-06-25 Peasant Wives Women the feminine condition A travelling merchant comes into an inn with a little boy, an orphan he had adopted, and recounts to the innkeeper the dramatic tale of the little boy’s parents: how the mother had fallen in love with the merchant while the father was away in the army, how she had refused to go back to her husband when he returned, how she had been mercilessly beaten, how she had poisoned the husband and been condemned to imprisonment and died there. The story makes an impression on the innkeeper’s wife and his attractive young daughter-in-law, who are both miserable with their lot in life, and they dream of similarly getting rid of the awful men in their lives as the new day breaks out amidst shouting and insults and haggling over prices.
- A dark vision full of drama of life in the countryside, where all of the people portrayed, apart from the little boy, are pretty nasty human beings.
9
481 1891-
12
The Duel

39,900-word novella
The Bad Good Man drama We follow the stormy relationship of Laevsky, a youngish government official in a small Crimean town, with his common-law wife Nadyezhda, who had left her husband for him two years previously and with whom Ivan would like to break off relations but lacks the courage and the finances to do so properly. So he asks – endlessly – for advice from his generous and warm-hearted friend the doctor Samoylenko, and debates – endlessly, in a very Russian way – with himself and with his entourage on the moral consequences of his various options and on the meaning of life, etc. His tireless self-indulgence and self-centredness provoke the enmity of an officer who has his eye on Nadyezhda, and in a frenzy of agitation about borrowing enough money to be able to flee to Moscow, Laevsky insults the officer who is only too happy to demand a duel. That event changes everything for everyone in the story.
- A work of practically novel length (in English, but not in Russian, where it has 32,000 words), but clearly more a long story that has been stretched out by the numerous lengthy scenes of soul-searching and introspection, the tensions and mental anguish described so well that they almost succeed in interesting the reader in the fate of the fatuous central character.
8.5
482 1892 Neighbours

7,600-word novelette
drama Pyotr Mihalitch and his mother are devastated by what his young sister has just done – run away to live with an unmarried, middle-aged neighbour. Pyotr hesitates at first about what to do but finally sets off on horseback in a storm and in a stormy mood for a confrontation with the illicit couple, whose financial and social situation is very bleak. After much soul-searching discussion with the two of them there is a reconciliation of sorts and Pyotr returns home, a wiser and a sadder man.
- A moving tale of an intense moral confrontation that is a revelation of character and values for all parties concerned.
9
483 1892-
01
The Wife

18,000-word novella
My Wife drama The narrator, a prosperous engineer involved in writing the history of railroads, receives an anonymous letter about the famine that the peasants in the villages near to his estate are suffering from, begging him to do something to help them. He promptly summons his best friend and his wife, with whom he has been separated for two years and who is living an independent existence on the ground floor of his estate, to organise a relief committee. But he meets with unexpected resistance from his wife who accuses him of always wanting to control everything around him, and as the story progresses he learns more about her, about what his friends and neighbours think of him, and about himself.
- A powerful story artfully told with a very strong social content.
9.5
484 1892-01-05 The Grasshopper

10,000-word novelette
The Butterfly;
- The Fidget;
- Jumper
drama Olga Ivanovna is an artistic-minded young woman who has married Dymov, a very serious, very dedicated and very hard-working doctor who is most understanding of her tendency to incessantly visit and invite artists and musicians of all kinds, ceaselessly searching out the acquaintanceship of celebrities of all sorts. He even tolerates unflinchingly her vacation fling with a well-known artist who flaunts their relationship in front of him and his friends and who treats her more and more casually. She learns too late that the most celebrated person she had ever met was the man she had married.
- A fluid tale of flightiness with a subtle undertone of bitterness about the chasm between the artistic and the scientific worlds.
9
485 1892-04-07 After the Theatre love story Nadya is a sixteen-year old girl who has just come back from the opera in a state of rapture, spending the rest of the evening in her room writing and then tearing up impassioned love letters in the style of “Eugene Onegin” to the two fellows, a student and a young officer, who have been courting her. She has a lot of fun doing so and is very happy to be sixteen, pretty and loved by handsome fellows. That’s it.
- A nicely-recounted moment of joyful youth, an impressionist sketch of a passing moment, with no story line whatsoever though.
7
486 1892-04-18 Fragment A Fragment;
- From the Notebook of a Country Squire
humour A tiny 450-word selection of comments on birds, his housekeeper and virtue by a retired civil servant, found by a traveller in a roadside inn that used to belong to the civil servant in question.
- Can this really be considered a short story? It apparently is and probably shouldn’t be, but it is fiction of sorts and it is entertaining in a very small way.
6
487 1892-05-02 The Story of a Commercial Venture satire When Andrei Andreyevich inherited four thousand roubles from his mother he decided to open up a bookstore because his provincial town had gone astray in ignorance and prejudice, indulging in all kinds of practices except reading. For quite a while the only customers were his friends who came to borrow books, but then a potential customer came in to buy pencils which he didn’t sell, so he decided to add writing equipment and school supplies to the store’s offerings. Then a girl came in to buy stamps and he added postage and stamps, and so on – after a while he was selling a large variety of goods, and when the grocer next door was arrested for fraud he extended his shop and his trade to groceries too. Now when his friends ask him what he’d read lately he replies that he now does more positive things.
- A short (2-page) satire of the commercial trade.
7.5
488 1892-05-09 In Exile portrait of life in Russia Two exiles in Siberia, an old man of sixty and a young Tatar, talk about their lives there. The older man has been in Siberia for a long time and is quite happy with his simple, carefree existence manning a ferry-boat, and he expounds on the positive side of the Siberian experience, while the young Tatar, who barely speaks Russian and is oppressed and shunned by one and all because of his ethnic origins, is desperately miserable and dreams at length about his young wife from whom he had been taken away.
- An interesting peek into life in that vast land, sketchy and limited but nevertheless touching.
8
489 1892-06-13 A Fishy Affair moral fable A carp fell in love with a beautiful maiden bathing in its pond and determined that nothing would be so nice as to die at her hands. He bit on her hook while she was fishing but survived the ordeal and went mad, and when a young poet came bathing in the pond our carp mistook him for the lovely young lady and kissed him on the back. This infected the poet with pessimism, an infection that he spread in the offices of his publisher. That is why all Russian poets thereafter were pessimists.
- A short two-page tongue-in-cheek fable that might have seemed charming in its day.
5
490 1892-
11
Ward No. 6

20,000-word novella
Ward 6 drama Progressively we are introduced to the five inmates of a particularly dirty, ill-kept ward for mentally-ill people in the hospital of a remote provincial town, to the brutal warden, and then to the well-meaning but ineffectual doctor who visits the patients daily and who is the central figure of this in-depth investigation into his long physical and intellectual decline.
- A text of considerable power in spite of the endless long and generally confused “philosophical” debates on moral and ethical values between the doctor and his favourite patient.
9
491 1892-12-24 Terror Fear drama The narrator recounts his last stay with his intimate friend Dmitri, when Dmitri had unburdened his heart about his terrible state of nerves in general and his terrible relationship with his wife in particular. That did not fall on deaf ears, as the narrator had been deeply attracted to Dmitri’s wife and had only hesitated to pursue the matter out of respect for their friendship. That evening, unforgettable, things came to a head.
- A beautifully-narrated account of passion and conflicting loyalties.
9.5
492 1892-12-27 The Terrible Night
 [3]
drama Ivan Panikhidin turned pale on recounting an unforgettable dark night when coming home from a spiritist séance on Christmas Day thinking of the moment when a saucer had uttered words by Spinoza whom they’d managed to summon: “Your life is nearing sunset... Repent…" and the saucer had added “Tonight!”, he’d finally arrived in the dark in his room where on lighting a match he saw a coffin! Terrorized, he ran out and not wanting to go back to his room went to the apartment of a friend (who’d later committed suicide) who wasn’t at home, and on opening his door with the key from its hiding-place he saw another coffin! In desperation he ran over to the residence of doctor Pogostov who’d been with him at the séance, whom he met on the stairs, and you know by now what they found on entering his flat… The mystery was explained by a letter in that final coffin from another friend, whose undertaker father-in-law had just gone bankrupt. That friend didn’t last long either…
- in effect a pretty scary story!
8
493 1893 An Anonymous Story

30,000-word novella
The Story of an Unknown Man;
- The Story of a Nobody
drama The narrator is a highly-educated, well-off political activist/idealist suffering from consumption who knows that his days are numbered, and who for political reasons has taken a position as a footman in the house of the son of a political enemy, with the aim of learning the family’s secrets and if possible bringing about their downfall. The story rapidly turns into an account of the son’s lifestyle, his disinterest in anything political, his compulsive reading, his arrogance, his ironical attitude to everyone and everything around him, his dissipation and especially his tumultuous affair with the elegant and independently wealthy Zinaida, who is desperately in love with him and who soon leaves her house and home to descend on him and his inherently bachelor ways. The narrator, who sympathises with her frustration at the lack of warmth and understanding she receives, is so taken up with her that he intervenes when the inevitable crisis comes, and we follow them as they flee to Italy and the south of France fruitlessly seeking health and happiness.
- A strong story of conflicting ideas, ideals and emotions, beautifully recounted.
9
494 1893-12-28 The Two Volodyas drama Young Sofya has married the wealthy Colonel Volodya, thirty years her senior, partly for financial reasons – she didn’t have three roubles to her name beforehand – and partly to spite her girlhood idol, another Volodya. After a visit to her sister Olga, now a nun, she realises that she has been shallow and dishonest with herself and that she hates her husband and would like to have good relations again with the other Volodya. That doesn’t work out as well as she had hoped, though.
- A well-told tale of shallowness, self-deception and frustration.
8.5
495 1894 A Woman’s Kingdom

16,000-word novelette
drama Anna Akimovna, who is nearing thirty and is still unmarried, has inherited from her uncle a large steel-products factory employing almost two thousand men, whose functioning she leaves to others while doing her best to spend as best she can the large sums of money that she regularly receives to (mostly) help the poor, with whom she empathises in view of her own proletarian upbringing. We are at Christmas time and she meets a young, handsome foreman during a charity visit distributing funds on Christmas Eve, whom she has trouble keeping out of her mind all the next day while she receives endless protocol visits from the town’s notables and the staff of the factory and while she discusses marriage and matrimony with her closest friends, with her maid and with the hired help in the kitchen. She finally faces up to the reality of her loveless life and the social impossibility of a serious relationship with the foreman.
- A sensitive portrait of a well-meaning and very privileged young woman, and a fascinating portrait of the burgeoning Russian industrial society.
- In this story there is the following interesting reference to Maupassant:
"Of all contemporary writers, however, I prefer Maupassant.” Lysevitch opened his eyes. “A fine writer, a perfect writer!” Lysevitch shifted in his seat. “A wonderful artist! A terrible, prodigious, supernatural artist!” Lysevitch got up from the sofa and raised his right arm. “Maupassant!” he said rapturously. “My dear, read Maupassant! one page of his gives you more than all the riches of the earth! Every line is a new horizon. The softest, tenderest impulses of the soul alternate with violent tempestuous sensations; your soul, as though under the weight of forty thousand atmospheres, is transformed into the most insignificant little bit of some great thing of an undefined rosy hue which I fancy, if one could put it on one’s tongue, would yield a pungent, voluptuous taste. What a fury of transitions, of motives, of melodies! You rest peacefully on the lilies and the roses, and suddenly a thought — a terrible, splendid, irresistible thought — swoops down upon you like a locomotive, and bathes you in hot steam and deafens you with its whistle. Read Maupassant, dear girl; I insist on it.”
9
496 1894-
01
The Black Monk

12,500-word novelette
drama Andrey Vallilitch has been worn out physically and nervously by his tireless university work and has been advised to spend the summer in the countryside to recuperate, which he does by visiting his former guardian Pesotsky, a famous horticulturist, and his daughter Tanya in their magnificent estate-nursery. The site is splendid and the welcome whole-hearted, but Andrey still spends too much time working and very little sleeping and has strange encounters with a supernatural figure, a black monk who descends from the skies to discuss values and ideals with him. His hosts are overworked and very highly strung too, and although Andrey and Tanya discover a mutual passion for each other, Andrey’s state of mental tension, dissatisfaction and anguish continues to get worse as his intellectual and physical health – he is increasingly consumptive – declines. A final encounter with the black monk puts an end to everything.
- A strange but moving and convincing portrait of psychic anguish and decline.
9
497 1894-02-06 Rothschild’s Violin Rothschild’s Fiddle drama Yakov Ivanov, a poor, elderly and very religious man, ekes out a living making coffins in a small provincial town where not many people ever seem to die, and earns a few half-roubles on the side playing the fiddle in the town’s Jewish orchestra. Which he disliked doing because of the piercing, plaintive way the flute player Rothschild played everything right beside him, so he developed a virulent hatred for Rothschild in particular and of Jews in general. But one day, as his wife Martha was taken ill and seemed to be rejoicing at the thought of escaping from her life of misery with him by dying, he started wondering about the way he had spent his life with her, and when after her death he too was taken ill and Rothschild came to ask him to play again in the orchestra, he called him brother, played one last time for him and bequeathed his precious violin to him on his dying bed.
- A simple but moving story of reconciliation and redemption, masterfully recounted.
10
498 1894-04-14 The Student drama Ivan comes home late in the evening on Good Friday after a day’s shooting and stops at the fireside of neighbours, two widows, where he recounts the story of how Peter renounced Jesus three time before the cock crowed, in accordance with Jesus’s prediction. As dawn breaks he reflects on the impact of the story on the widows and is struck with a sense of the continuity of history down through the ages.
- A brief meditation on religion and nature.
8
499 1894-
07
The Teacher of Literature

9,200-word novelette
The Russian Teacher love story We follow the young teacher Nikitin as he hesitatingly courts Masha, an eighteen-year-old beauty with whom he is madly in love, as he finally works up the courage to kiss her and propose to her, as he gets married, as he contemplates his happiness and new-found material ease thanks to her dowry, and finally as he comes to grips with his mediocrity and his mediocre fate as a not-particularly-gifted teacher in an unimportant town far from the vibrant intellectual centres of Moscow and Saint Petersburg.
- A very evocative, almost poetical description of the social life of the time in a small town that ends surprisingly abruptly with the central character’s sudden and somewhat surprising disillusioned introspection.
9
500 1894-08-28 At a Country House In a Manor House drama Pavel Rashevitch is entertaining a young magistrate, Meier, who is a potential suitor for one of his two unmarried daughters, and makes the grievous mistake of holding forth incessantly on one of his favourite subjects, the inherent quasi-genetic superiority throughout the ages of those with blue blood, the aristocracy. The guest tries to leave after a while but Pavel insists that he stay for supper with his daughters, when he continues with his monologue. Not only does it upset the guest, who finally tells him that he’s of plebeian origin and leaves in a huff, but also his daughters who realize that the young man will never come back. Pavel’s relations with his daughters will never be the same.
- Yet another example of the tendencies of so many of Chekhov’s characters to talk so much that not only the reader tires of them but everyone in the story too.
- We note in passing the prophetic declaration: “What out forefathers gained in the course of ages will be tomorrow, if not today, outraged and destroyed by these modern Huns...
7.5
501 1894-12-25 The Head Gardener’s Story The Head-Gardener’s Story moral fable The narrator participates in a conversation after a flower-sale at a horticulturalist’s where, when the subject of crime came up, a Swedish gardener recounts a fable from his home country about how the murder of a particularly noble and beloved doctor was so incomprehensible to the citizens of the town that the magistrate decided to let the proven killer go free as a gesture of his faith in humanity.
- An admirable little fable about the need for faith in the essential goodness of human nature (?).
8.5
502 1895
 [4]
Schulz
 [3]
childhood experience A minuscule 300-word account of a schoolboy warily going to school fearing the reception he was going to get from his Russian teacher for having failed to learn his assigned text and remembering his now-lost enthusiasm for school at the beginning of the year, followed by a short description of a sturdy mathematics teacher also going to the school in sturdy galoshes that matched his personality.
- no doubt an incomplete text, which would explain it never having been printed during the author’s lifetime.
5
503 1895 The Helpmate  His Wife drama Nikolay, a surgeon with failing health – he has consumption – discovers a telegram in his wife’s room from her lover in Nice and confronts her with it when she finally arrives home at five in the morning after yet another night out. She admits that she is in love with the fellow and wants to go to live with him, but when he offers her a divorce on her terms her attitude is surprising to say the least.
- A stark account of a stark situation, smoothly recounted.
9
504 1895 The Murder

12,800-word novelette
Murder drama Matvey, a former factory worker, is a devoutly religious man who loves singing and talking to one and all about his cherished religion. His cousin Yakov, who has inherited the family’s money and owns the tavern where Matvey sleeps, is also intensely religious but in an extremely individualistic way, performing his own services at home as he considers the church priests and their services to be impure. The difference of beliefs between the two is heightened by the constant reproaches of Matvey to his cousin and tragedy for all of them strikes when words turn to blows and Matvey ls fatally struck on the head during the struggle.
- A penetrating study of the ultra-religious mind, a surprisingly engrossing work of considerable power.
9
505 1895 Three Years

35,000-word novella
drama Laptev, the wealthy son of a very successful Moscow businessman, is completely in love with Yulia Sergeyevna, who is some fifteen years younger than him, and after a first unsuccessful attempt to reveal his feelings for her he finally manages to brusquely blurt out a marriage proposal. Completely taken aback by this unexpected offer from someone so old, so ugly, and so unknown to her she initially refuses, but changes her mind the next day for material reasons. We follow them to Moscow where she begins to feel at home, especially with Laptev’s somewhat younger friends, although her feelings towards her husband have grown no warmer. They discuss a lot, she eventually has a baby, the baby gets sick and dies, they become reconciled and Laptev continues to wonder about life and love and what use it is having so much money.
- A long, a very long, a too-long tale of dissatisfaction and ennui, by far the least successful of the author’s longer works of prose fiction, in our humble opinion.
6
506 1895-10-22 Anna on the Neck The Order of St. Anne drama Anna is a young eighteen-year-old who has married Modest Alexeitch, a wealthy government official of fifty-two. She is dismayed on realising during their honeymoon trip to a monastery (!) that her husband is a terrible skinflint and that she has even less money after her marriage than before. But he does dream of honours and of gaining His Excellency’s favour, so when the yearly charity ball takes place he gives her money for a gown that she looks wonderful in. The tremendous success she has at the ball leads her to a whirlwind social life, her husband finally acquires the coveted Order of Saint Anne, and she has learned how to put her husband in his place.
- A fable with a certain charm and a certain bite.
8.5
507 1896-04 The House With the Mezzanine An Artist’s Story;
- A Painter’s Story
love story The narrator is an artist who is passing a particularly idle summer in a villa in the countryside. He discovers at the end of a tree-lined avenue nearby a large house where two young women live with their mother, and starts visiting them every day, arguing about values and art and science and society with the socially very active elder daughter and walking along the beautiful country paths with the younger sister. When he makes a declaration of love to the latter, she rushes off to talk things over with her family – and has left for good the following day with her mother, as ordered by the elder sister. The narrator never sees any of them again.
- A touching tale, with a strong infusion of poetics and politics, of what might have been (if only one hadn’t been so opinionated!).
9
508 1896-12 My Life

37,000-word novella
The Story of a Provincial drama The narrator is the black sheep of the leading architect of the town, in disgrace because he has been dismissed from nine different jobs. Earlier, his friends had advised him to either go into the army, work at a pharmacist’s or in a telegraph office, but now that he is over twenty-five and has done all of that most unsuccessfully, his family have pretty well given up on him. He himself can see no reason why he shouldn’t take up a manual working-class job in spite of his noble parentage, and for the essence of this account of his career he works as a labourer or a house-painter in spite of the violent opposition of his father and the general mockery of the town’s citizens, whom he despises because of their lack of culture, of morality and of elevated ideas. He lives in poverty and is happy to be applying his ideals of universal equality and the elimination of privilege to his own life, as he ceaselessly explains to one and all, notably to his sister, to his fellow workers, to his employers and to Misha, the woman in his life. He eventually marries her although that ends badly, and his sister has an affair with a married doctor that ends even worse. Finally we see how contented he is with his life as a working man, as he feels that he is showing the way towards humanity’s future.
- A long, too-long account of a life spent searching for meaning in the lower level of society, in spite of the material and social difficulties involved in that quest, a direction that no doubt touched a chord in many a reader in the Russia of the times, although probably less so in more recent days. But on the purely literary level it is undeniably flat, repetitive, wordy, uneventful and generally lacks the shine present in so many of the master’s other long later works of fiction.
7
509 1897-08-23 Peasants

13,000-word novelette
The Moujiks;
- The Muzhiks;
- The Men
portrait of life in Russia Nikolay, a waiter in a Moscow hotel, has been taken ill and has had to leave his job. Unemployed and penniless, he returns to his home village with his wife and little daughter, but life there is far from the snug memories he had retained from his childhood. They live with the rest of his large family in a small hut at the edge of a very poor village, where dirt, poverty, grossness, violence and alcoholism are everywhere. There is very little food, what there is is awful, foul language is the rule and the children, regularly beaten, are quite deprived of any proper education. At the end their lot is so bad that the survivors – Nikolay is not one of them – leave to look for work as servants in Moscow.
- A grim vision – some at the time, like Tolstoy, thought it was too grim – of the social situation in the countryside in pre-revolutionary Russia, realistically conveyed with talent and understanding.
9
510 1897-11-02 The Petchenyeg The Savage;
- The Petcheneg
portrait of life in Russia A gentleman on a train in the Ukraine accepts the offer of his fellow traveller Ivan Zhmuhin, a retired Cossack officer, to stay the night at his home before continuing on his journey by carriage to a nearby village on legal business. After a long evening discussing life and values with Ivan and seeing the lifestyle of his family, he learns why they had been called Petchenyegs – savages – by a land surveyor who had also spent a night there several years previously.
- A fascinating account of the lifestyle in a Cossack farm in the Don valley.
9
511 1897-11-16 At Home In my Native Corner portrait of life in Russia Vera is a vigorous, well-educated young woman who returns to her family home on the steppe in the Ukraine after the death of her parents. It is as beautiful as she remembers, her aunt and her elderly grandfather greet her kindly and there are many neighbours and visitors, but the way of life is very different from the elegant big-city life she had been brought up in, the family finances are not brilliant, she does not fit in with the people she has to frequent, notably a close-mouthed manager of a nearby factory who seems very interested in her, and existential ennui sets in. She finds a way out of her unhappiness and dissatisfaction, though.
- An example of the master’s narrative art at its best.
9.5
512 1897-12-21 In the Cart The School-mistress portrait of life in Russia Marya Vassilyevna, who has been brought up in Moscow but has been a schoolmistress in a village for thirteen years, is driving to town to collect her monthly salary when her cart is overtaken by that of a neighbouring landowner, Hanov, a man of forty showing signs of decline although still handsome and even attractive to her. But the lot of a country schoolmistress is a difficult one, the material conditions are very poor, the roads are very bad, the peasants are reluctant to pay the costs, there is corruption everywhere, she is frustrated in her vocation at every turn, she does not get the recognition she knows she merits, and although the encounter with Hanov sets off a long train of thought about her condition, life must carry on as usual, somehow.
- A most evocative account of a teacher’s lot in life in the provinces, a small masterpiece.
9
513 1898-02-02 A Visit to Friends All Friends Together;
- With Friends
drama Podgorin, a thirty-year-old lawyer, receives a mail from Tatyana and Varya, two young women of his age with whom he had been very close ten years previously, asking him to come for a visit to Tatyana’s family home, where she lives with husband and two young children and her young sister Nadezhda. He feels obliged to go, knowing that the husband is a wastrel and a profligate and that they probably have financial problems. Which certainly is the case as they are bankrupt, the estate is about to be sold, and Ta, Va and Na are desperate at the prospect of being deprived of the ancient family home. They ask him for legal help, the husband asks him for a loan and the young sister would clearly like to bring him into their family. They talk, they dance, they sing, they recite poetry and go for walks, but Podgorin can’t help them and cuts short his visit the next morning.
- A sad story, even though the women in the story are impractical and the husband is a weakling and a loser, a story possibly symbolic of decline and loss of things in general and of past attachments in particular, recounted in a straightforward and realistic manner.
9
514 1898-07 The Man in a Case A Hard Case;
- The Encased Man;
- The Man in the Shell;
- The Man in the Case
drama Two sportsmen are spending the night in a barn and exchanging stories while they wait for dawn to break. One of them is a high-school teacher who tells how one of his colleagues, a teacher of ancient Greek, lived as if he were hiding from the world – wearing high collars and a low hat, never speaking to others during social visits, sleeping with curtains around his bed and above all being extraordinarily disapproving of anything that wasn’t in strict accordance with tradition and administrative and religious rules and regulations. He was unmarried, of course, and his colleagues and especially their wives decided one day to make a match for him with the gay, attractive sister of a new teacher in the town. Everyone participated in the effort, arranging outings and parties, and all was going well until the day when the young woman came riding by on a bicycle with her brother. That was too much modernity for the teacher of classical languages and believer in old-time ways, and the clash that followed with the brother put a definitive and quite tragic end to the story.
- A portrait of the life of teachers in a provincial community cleverly integrated into a fable about the pitfalls of conservatism.
9
515 1898-08 About Love Concerning Love love story With the charming phrase “from the window we could see a grey sky, trees drenched in the rain; in such weather we could go nowhere, and there was nothing for us to do but to tell stories and to listen”, the narrator proceeds to recount how his host, a hard-working landowner, tells his guests about the warm welcome he had received in the neighbouring town from a judge and his lovely and very friendly wife, and how he had waited – too long – to let the lady know how he really felt about her, just as she was leaving the town for ever with her husband and two children.
- A quite moving tale of repressed feelings that has a most authentic ring to it.
9
516 1898-08 Gooseberries The Gooseberries portrait of life in Russia Two friends, Burkin and Ivan Ivanovitch, are walking through the countryside admiring the scenery when a rainstorm breaks out and they seek shelter in the nearby farm of another friend, Alehin, who welcomes them warmly and provides them with a bath, a change of clothes and tea with jam. Ivan then tells them the story of his brother Nikolay, a modest civil servant in Moscow who had saved up all his life and then married an elderly heiress to be able at long last to achieve his life’s ambition of buying a country estate with its own garden and especially with his beloved and long-dreamed-of gooseberry bushes. His new life suited him admirably, but when Ivan went to visit him he found him to be a completely self-centred egotist putting on airs and perfectly adapted to the shallow, uncharitable life of a country notable.
- Very nicely evoking the Russian countryside, impregnated with a strong moral hue in favour of social justice not to say socialism, the story abounds in memorable phrases such as:
Once a man has fished, or watched the thrushes hovering in flocks over the village in the bright, cool, autumn days, he can never really be a townsman ",
and
Once a man is absorbed by an idea there is no doing anything with him “,
and
Money, like vodka, makes a man queer ",
and
A change to good eating and idleness always fills a Russian with the most preposterous self-conceit ",
and
the illusion which exalts us is dearer to us than ten thousand truths " (Pushkin),
and
a happy man only feels so because the unhappy bear their burden in silence, but for which happiness would be impossible. ".
9.5
517 1898-09 Ionitch Ionych;
- Doctor Startsev
love story When the doctor Dmitri Ionitch Startsev was appointed district doctor near the town of S---, he was informed that although there weren’t many distractions in the town there was a library, a theatre, a club and a number of interesting families, notably the Turkins, the leading citizens of the town. When he finally got around to visiting them he had a rather boring time listening to the father of the household telling jokes, to the mother reading her own novels, and to the daughter playing interminably and very loudly on the piano. The latter was attractive though, and he ended up becoming more and more fascinated with her although the feeling was not really mutual, and one night he actually proposed to her – to no avail as she had her heart set on getting away from the town and her parents and studying music in Moscow. That didn’t work out as planned, but by the time she came back to live with her parents, the doctor had become more prosperous and stouter and had learned to live without her.
- A sophisticated critique of small-town society and the people in it that no longer has quite the impact it might have had originally.
8
518 1898-12 A Doctor’s Visit A Case History;
- A Medical Case
drama A renowned doctor in Moscow is summoned by the owner of a large factory in the region to come to the aid of her ailing daughter, and sends his assistant Korolyov on the mission. Korolyov finds that the young woman, who lives alone with her mother and a governess, is healthy but neurasthenic, and stays the night at the factory at the pressing request of the anxious mother. He is struck by the eerie atmosphere of the gigantic garment factory, and has an intense dialogue with the young woman about the inherent fruitlessness of her mercantile and oppressive role in society. The visit ends inconclusively.
- A heartfelt and quite intense sociological critique of the inherent inequality of wealth in modern society, infused with lofty thoughts about the ideals of the younger generation such as “We, our generation, sleep badly, are restless, but talk a great deal, and are always trying to settle whether we are right or not" and “Life will be good in fifty years’ time … It would be interesting to have a peep at it.” and “Korolyov … thought of the time, perhaps close at hand, when life would be as bright and joyous as that still Sunday morning.”.
9.5
519 1899-01 On Official Duty On Official Business;
- On Duty
portrait of life in Russia A magistrate and a district doctor are detained by a snowstorm and arrive late in the village where they are on an official inquest into the suicide of an insurance agent, and are obliged to spend the night there to be able to interrogate the witnesses the following morning. The magistrate, a young man who had graduated only two years previously, decides after a moment of hesitation and a long conversation with the elderly local constable not to stay the night in the sinister council building where the suicide had taken place, and goes with the doctor to the house of a colleague nearby where they arrive in time for supper and card-playing, dancing and flirting with the numerous young women in the household. The storm becomes even more severe and it is only two days later that the magistrate and the doctor finally leave the haven of comfort – where the constable is treated with contempt by their hosts – to continue with the formality of the inquest.
- An intense and vivid meditation on the contrast between the sophisticated life in the metropolis and the simpler way of life, even for well-off and well-educated people, in remote districts.
9
520 1899-01-03 The Darling the feminine condition Olenka is a tender-hearted young woman appreciated by everyone and called affectionately by one and all “You darling!”. She falls in love with her lodger, a theatre manager, and enthusiastically takes up the life of the theatre, soon talking constantly like him about his problems with the theatre business, with the inclement weather, with the actors, and so on. But there was a void in her life when he died, that was rapidly consoled by a neighbour, a portly timber merchant, whom she married and with whom she similarly took up all his cares about the timber business to the exclusion of everything else. When he died in turn she got in the habit of conversing at length with a veterinary surgeon, with whom a relationship sprung up in spite of the fact that he was still married and had a son. She took up all his comments about animal diseases and was happy with him until he went back to his wife and son. Then when the surgeon came back with the boy she took in the young fellow, now a high-school student, incessantly repeating all his comments about the school and the teachers. But she was happy and was called “Darling” by the neighbours again.
- A slightly amusing fable about the feminine condition that has not well passed the test of time.
7
521 1899-01-03 The New Villa The New Dacha drama The engineer Kutcherov is in charge of the construction of a new railway bridge and builds a villa nearby for his family. But although his wife tries to help the peasants in the neighbourhood, there are constant conflicts with them over encroachment of their cattle in his gardens and over petty thefts, and he and his family are considered to be unwanted strangers by the unruly, uneducated and poverty-stricken locals. When the bridge is finished he moves away and sells the villa to a local official, who is accepted by the peasants as a neighbour although he ignores them completely.
- A striking tale of class friction with a strong streak of realism not to say cynicism about the noble nature of the peasantry so dear to the hearts of the big-city intelligentsia of the time.
9
522 1899-12 The Lady with the Dog Lady with a Lapdog;
- The Lady with the Toy Dog
love story Gurov, a married man with a family, is on holiday on his own in Yalta where he is attracted to a woman who has just arrived there alone except for a small lapdog. He strikes up a conversation with her and proceeds to apply his practiced charm on her while accompanying her on excursions on the seafront and in the region. She succumbs, as expected, and they separate after a while when she is summoned back to her home by her husband. But when Gurov returns to his beloved big-city life in Moscow he starts to find things unexpectedly tiresome, and he realises that he misses the lady with the lapdog – to the extent that he seeks her out in her home town and renews their relationship, unexpectedly profound for both of them.
- A moving account of a relationship of surprising intensity, masterfully recounted. Without a doubt one of the master’s finest masterpieces.
10
523 1900-01 At Christmas Time social drama Vasilisa, an illiterate peasant woman, gets a local scribe to write a letter for her at Christmas time to her daughter Yefima, whom she hadn’t seen since she had left their village with her husband after their marriage four years beforehand to find work in Moscow. The letter arrives on New Year’s Day and we discover that Yefima now has three little children and dreams of returning to her home village, but lives in permanent terror of her authoritative husband who is a porter in a medical establishment and who keeps forgetting to mail his wife’s letters to her parents.
- A possibly caricatural excursion into the mindset of (very) uneducated poor folk of the time, no doubt of sociological interest but necessarily limited otherwise.
8
524 1900-01-24 In the Ravine

20,000-word novella
In the Hollow;
- In the Gully
portrait of life in Russia In the remote village of Ukleevo in the Ukraine (aka Little Russia) the only notable event that has happened over the past twenty years was when the deacon had gobbled up all four pounds of the caviar at a wedding. There are three cotton factories and a tanning-yard next to the village, where there is a grocer’s shop run by Grigory Tsybukin, who sells legally or illegally everything that there is a market for and who has a large family whose comings and goings are followed in detail throughout this saga.
- An in-depth account of life in a remote village, of considerable interest.
8.5
525 1902 The Bishop drama Bishop Pyotr is celebrating the service on the eve of Palm Sunday and is seized with such emotion by the occasion, by his general state of ill-health, and by the glimpse he has had, or thought he had had, of his old mother in the crowd that he starts weeping, and everyone in the crowd starts weeping with him. After the service he returns to the monastery where he is staying and finds that in fact his mother, who had really been in the audience, had come to see him with one of his many nieces (his mother has had nine children and about forty grandchildren!). He is not feeling at all well, and he thinks about his mother and her strange, excessively respectful attitude towards him because of his elevated function, about his childhood and about his religious life. He soon dies from the consumption he had long been suffering from, and is soon forgotten by everyone except his old mother.
- A delicate, sensitive account of the last few days of a delicate, sensitive person.
9.5
526 1903-12 Betrothed

7,600-word novelette
A Marriageable Girl;
- The Fiancée;
- The Bride
the feminine condition Nadya is a twenty-three year-old young woman engaged to be married, and we follow her as she meditates on her future, listens to her old family friend Sasha on visit from Moscow who is critical of her family’s idle life in this provincial town, and realises that she no longer loves her kindly and intelligent fiancé, who is as idle and uninteresting as the other people in her life – her neurasthenic mother and her dominating grandmother. She finally flees from the mediocre life that was waiting for her there to study at the university in Saint Petersburg, and at the end of the story she sees Sasha again, who is dying of consumption, and her mother and grandmother one last time.
- A sombre story of a young woman’s dreams, doubts and determination to control her own destiny, recounted with grace and empathy.
9
527 ?
 [7]
A Doctor’s Romance humour A doctor analyses in mock-medical terms his wife’s constitution and concludes that her only deviation from the norm is that she is chatty and somewhat loud. As his mother-in-law suffers from the same ailments, when the two of them spend twenty-three hours out of twenty-four shouting at the top of their lungs, he himself shows signs of mental derangement, combined with suicidal tendencies. The recommended solution to the problem is … amputation of the tongue (!), which the doctor proceeds to discuss in a favourable light.
- Not at all funny, not even then probably, or rather hopefully.
4
528 ?
 [7]
An Editor’s Romance humour An editor talks about his wife in technical terms: “delightful hair, exquisite eyes – not a single typographical error. I line-edited her and we married”. But things went rapidly downhill and she was soon found kissing cadets, although the editor had forbade her any general distribution. To no avail, so he let her go (back to her parents).
- What might have initially seemed a good idea didn’t work out well.
5
529 ?
 [7]
Easter Greetings satire In an anteroom visitors come in one by one on Easter Day to sign their names in the visitor’s book of their supervisor. But he isn’t satisfied with the authenticity of the signatures and sends his servant to everyone’s residence to get them to come back and sign again. The next day the signature sheet is empty, so the supervisor forges all the signatures himself to save face.
- This might have been meant to be a cruel satire of a pretentious ceremony, but it was a paltry effort nonetheless.
5
530 ?
 [7]
Salon de Variétés humour The tipsy narrator (he declares that one has to be tipsy before going into one of these places) describes the various kinds of people one meets in a low-life night-club, and concludes that it’s a wonderful place to leave.
- Not funny, not interesting, not a story and not worth the trouble.
5

2. INDEX OF STORIES IN ALPHABETIC ORDER

75,000
A Bad Business
A Blunder
A Boring Story
A Brief Anatomy of Man
A Bright Personality
A Calamity
A Case History
A Case in Court
A Chameleon
A Children’s Primer
A Classical Student
A Collection of Tales for Children
A Compelled Declaration
A Confession, or Olya, Zhenya, Zoya
A Council
A Country Cottage
A Cure for Drinking
A Cynic
A Daughter of Albion
A Day in the Country
A Dead Body
A Defenceless Creature
A Dissertation on Drama
A Doctor’s Romance
A Doctor’s Visit
A Drama
A Drama #2
A Dreadful Night
A Dream
A Dreary Story
A Dull Story
A Fairy Tale
A Familiar Man
A Father
A Fishy Affair
A Fist’s Nest
A Fool
A Forced Declaration
A Fragment
A Gentleman Friend
A Glossary of Terms for Young Ladies
A Guard in Custody
A Happy Ending
A Happy Man
A Hard Case
A Horsey Name
A Hypnotic Seance
A Hypnotism Session
A Joke
À l’Américaine
A Lady’s Story
A Lawyer’s Romance: A Protocol
A Lawyer
A Letter to a Learned Neighbour
A Letter
A Liberal fool
A Living Calendar
A Living Chattel
A Living Chronology
A Lost Cause
A Malefactor
A Man of Ideas
A Marriage of Convenience
A Marriageable Girl
A Matter of Classics
A Medical Case
A Memo
A Misfortune
A Misfortune
A Modern Guide to Letter-Writing
A Mystery
A Naive Woodsman
A Naughty Boy
A Nervous Breakdown
A New Illness and an Old Cure
A Night in the Cemetery
A Nightmare
A Painter’s Story
A Peculiar Man
A Person
A Pink Stocking
A Play
A Poisonous Incident
A Prelude to a Marriage
A Problem #2
A Problem
A Proud Man
A Ram and a Lady
A Rare Bird
A Rash Thing to Do
A Report
A Reporter’s Dream
A Seance
A Serious Step
A Sign of the Times
A Sinner from Toledo
A Slander
A Snack
A Speech and a Strap
A Story That’s Hard to Name
A Story Without a Title
A Story Without An End
A Tedious Story from an Old Man’s Journal
A Tedious Story
A Testament of Old, 1883
A Thousand and One Passions, A Scary Night
A Transgression
A Trifle From Life
A Trifle From Real Life
A Tripping Tongue
A Trivial Incident
A Troublesome Guest
A Troublesome Visitor
A Visit to Friends
A Wayfarer’s Story
A Wedding
A Woman Without Prejudice
A Woman’s Kingdom
A Woman’s Revenge
A Work of Art
A Young Man
Abolished!
Aborigines
About Love
Advertisement
Advice
After the Benefit Performance
After the Fair
After the Theatre
Agafya
Ah, Teeth!
All Friends Together
America in Rostov on the Don
An Actor’s End
An Adventure
An Anonymous Story
An Artist’s Story
An Attack of Nerves
An Awkward Business
An Eclipse of the Moon
An Editor’s Romance
An Encounter
An Enigmatic Nature
An Entrepreneur Under the Sofa
An Event
An Idyll - But Alas!
An Idyll
An Inadvertence
An Incident at Law
An Incident
An Inquiry
An Intelligent Log
An Unpleasant Story
An Unpleasantness
An Unsuccessful Visit
An Upheaval
And Beautiful Things Must Have Limits
Anna on the Neck
Anyuta
Ariadne
Art
Artists’ Wives
At a Country House
At a Patient’s Bedside
At a Summer Villa
At Christmas Time
At Home
At Sea
At the Barber’s
At the Bathhouse
At the Cottage
At the Mill
At the Patient’s Bedside
At the Pharmacy
At the Post Office
At the Sickbed
At the Zelenins’
Bad Story!
Bad Weather
Because of Little Apples
Before the Eclipse
Before the Wedding
Betrothed
Bibliography
Bliny
Boa Constrictor and Rabbit
Boots
Both are Better
Boys
Calchas
Carelessness
Cases of Mania Grandiosa
Celebration
Champagne
Chase Two Rabbits, Catch None
Children
Choristers
Concerning Love
Confession, or Olya, Zhenya, Zoya
Confession
Conversation Between a Drunk and a Sober Devil
Conversation
Dacha Pleasure
Darkness
Daydreams
Dear Dog
Death of an Actor
Difficult People
Dirty Tragedians and Leprous Playwrights
Doctor Startsev
Doctor’s Advice
Double bass and flute
Dreams
Drowning
Drunk
Easter Eve
Easter Greetings
Easter Night
Edison and Chekhov
Elements Most Often Found in Novels, Short Stories, etc.
Encountered
Enemies
Examination for a Rank
Excellent People
Excerpt
Expensive Lessons
Experienced
Failure
Fat and Thin
Fear
Feast-Day Gratuities
Festive Duty
First Aid
Flying Islands
Foiled!
For the Information of Husbands
Fortune
Fragment
From a Retired Teacher’s Notebook
From the Diary of a Violent-tempered Man
From the Diary of a Young Girl
From the Diary of an Assistant Bookkeeper
From the Memories of an Idealist
Frost
General Education
Gentlemen of the Townsfolk: A play in two acts
Goat or Scoundrel?
Gone Astray
Gone
Gooseberries
Goussiev
Grateful
Green Scythe
Grief
Grisha
Groom and Dad
Gusev
Happiness
Hard People
Hate
He and She
He Understood!
Heights
Her Husband
His Wife
Holy Night
Holy Simplicity
Home
Hopeless
Horse and Quivering Doe
How I Came to Be Lawfully Wed
Hush!
Hydrophobia
I Forget!!
I Had an Argument With My Wife
In a Barn
In a Boarding House
In a Carriage
In a Carriage #2
In a Home For the Terminally Ill and the Elderly
In a Hotel
In a Landau
In a Manor House
In a Room
In a Strange Land
In a Wolf’s Cage
In Autumn
In Exile
In Learned Society
In Moscow on Trubnaya Square
In My Native Corner
In Passion Week
In Sokolniki
In the Carousel
In the Cart
In the Coach-House
In the Court
In the Dark
In the Graveyard
In the Gully
In the Hollow
In the Living Room
In the Ravine
In the Train Car
In Trouble
In Trouble #2
Intrigues
Intruders: an Eyewitness Account
Ionitch
Ionych
It Was Her!
It’s Not Meant To Be!
Ivan Matveyich
Joy
Just Like His Grandfather
Kashtanka
Kids
Knights without Fear and Without Reproach
Ladies
Lady with a Lapdog
Late-blooming Flowers
Lean and Fat
Let Me Sleep
Letter to a Reporter
Letter to a Scientific Neighbour
Letters to the Editor
Life as a Series of Questions and Exclamations
Life’s Hardships
Lights
Little Apples
Longing
Lost Busines
Lost
Lots of Paper
Love
Malingerers
Mama and Mr. Lentovsky
Man and Dog Converse
Man. A bit of philosophy
Mari d’Elle
Maria Ivanovna
Marriage in 10-15 Years’ Time
Marriage to the General
Martyrs
Masquerades
Masquerades #2
May Day at Sokolniki
Mayonnaise
Minds in Ferment
Mire
Misery
Misery #2
Modern Prayers
Mr. Gulevich, Writer, and the Drowned Man
Murder Will Out
Murder
My "She"
My Conversation With the Postmaster
My Household
My Jubilee
My Life
My Love
My Nana
My Talk with Edison
My Wife
My Wives
Nadia N.’s Vacation Homework
Natalia Vladimirovna
Neighbours
Nerves
New Year’s Eve Martyrs
New Year’s Torture
Nice Things
Ninotchka
No Comment
No Place
Not Wanted
Notes from the Journal of a Quick-Tempered Man
Nothing To Be Done
O Women, Women!
Oh! The Public
Old Age
On a Dark Night
On a Nail
On Christmas Eve
On Duty
On Easter Eve
On Mortality: A Carnival Tale
On Official Business
On Official Duty
On the Characteristics of Nations
On the Eve of Lent
On the Hunt
On the River
On the Road
On the Sea
On the Train
Once a Year
One of Many
Other People’s Misfortune
Out of Sorts
Out of the Fire and Into the Fire
Overdoing It
Overseasoned
Overwhelming Sensations
Oysters
Panic Fears
Patronage
Peasant Wives
Peasants
Perpetuum Mobile
Persons Entitled to Travel Free of Charge on the Imperial Russian Railways
Pictures From the Recent Past
Poison
Polinka
Questions and Answers
Questions Posed by a Mad Mathematician
Rapture
Reading
Rejected Love
Reluctant Scammers
Requiem
Revenge
Revenge #2
Robbers
Romance With Double-Bass
Rothschild’s Fiddle
Rothschild’s Violin
Rural Surgeons
Russian Coal
Sacred Simplicity
Saint Peter’s Day
Saintly Simplicity
Salon de Variétés
Sarah Bernhardt Comes to Town
Schulz
Self-indulgence
Sentimentality
Sergeant Prishibeyev
Shambles in Rome
Shrove Tuesday
Slander
Sleepy Follies
Sleepy
Sleepyhead
Small Fry
Something
Something #2
Something about A. S. Dargomyzhsky
Soothsayer and Soothsayeress
Sorrow
Spring
Spring #2
Strong Impressions
Sufferers
Superfluous
Supplementary Questions for the Statistical Census
Surgery
Synopsis
Talent
Tears Invisible to the World
Terror
That Wretched Boy
The Album
The Avenger
The Bad Good Man
The Ballroom Pianist
The Baron
The Baroness
The Beauties
The Beggar
The Bet
The Biggest City
The Bird Market
The Bishop
The Black Monk
The Boredom of Life
The Boys
The Bride
The Bridegroom
The Brother
The Burbot
The Butterfly
The Captain’s Uniform
The Case of 1884
The Cat
The Cattle-dealers
The Chameleon
The Chemist’s Wife
The Chorus Girl
The Christmas Tree
The Clever Janitor
The Coach-House
The Cobbler and the Devil
The Cold Blood
The Collection
The Comedian
The Commission
The Commotion
The Complaints Book
The Complicated Affair
The Cook’s Wedding
The Correspondent
The Cossack
The Critic
The Crooked Mirror
The Cross
The Crow
The Dacha Girl
The Darling
The date, Although it Took Place, But …
The Daughter of a Commercial Advisor
The Daughter of Albion
The Dealer
The Death of a Civil Servant
The Death of a Government Clerk
The Decoration
The Dental Surgeon
The Dependents
The Deputy, or the story of how Desdemonov lost 25 rubles
The Diplomat
The Doctor
The Dowry
The Duel
The Eclipse
The Encased Man
The Exam
The Examining Magistrate
The Exclamation Mark
The Fair
The Father of a Family
The Fiancée
The Fidget
The First Debut
The First-Class Passenger
The Fish
The Fit
The Fool
The Foolish Frenchman
The French Ball
The Good Friend
The Good German
The Gooseberries
The Grasshopper
The Grateful German
The Guardian
The Guest
The Head Gardener’s Story
The Head of the Family
The Head-Gardener’s Story
The Helpmate
The Heroic Lady
The Horse-Stealers
The House With the Mezzanine
The Huntsman
The Husband
The Incident
The Indian Rooster
The Ingenuity of Mr. Rodon
The Intruder
The Investigator
The Jeune Premier
The Jubilee
The Kiss
The Lady with the Dog
The Lady with the Toy Dog
The Last Mohican
The Letter
The Liberal
The Lion and the Sun
The Little Joke 
The Lodger
The Looking Glass
The Lottery Ticket
The Man in a Case
The Man in the Case
The Man in the Shell
The Marriage Season
The Marshal’s Widow
The Mask
The Men
The Mirror
The Mother-in-law Lawyer
The Moujiks
The Murder
The Muzhiks
The Name-day Party
The Name-day
The New Dacha
The New Villa
The Newest Writer
The Night Before Easter
The Night Before the Trial
The Nightingale’s Benefit Performance
The Objet d’Art
The Old House
The Only Means
The Opening
The Orator
The Order of St. Anne
The Order
The Party
The Patriot
The Petcheneg
The Petchenyeg
The Philadelphia Conference
The Philanthropist
The Philistine
The Philosopher
The Pipe
The Playwright
The Post
The Potato and the Tenor
The Princess
The Privy Councillor
The Proposal
The Psychopaths
The Rag
The Real truth
The Reed-Pipe
The Requiem
The Retired Sea Captain
The Retired Slave
The Rook
The Runaway
The Russian Teacher
The Safety Match
The Savage
The Schoolmaster
The Schoolmistress
The Secrets of the Hundred and Forty-Four Catastrophes
The Seizure
The Sheet of Paper
The Shoemaker and the Devil
The Sinner from Toledo
The Siren
The Skit
The Slanderer
The Spongers
The Stationmaster
The Steppe
The Story of a Commercial Venture
The Story of a Nobody
The Story of an Unknown Man
The Student
The Swedish Match
The Teacher of Literature
The Telephone
The Temperaments
The Terrible Night
The Thief
The Thinker
The Threat
The Trial
The Triumph of the Victor
The Trousseau
The Turnip
The Tutor
The Twenty-ninth of June
The Two Volodyas
The Vaudevillian
The Village Elder
The Villains and Mr. Egorov
The Virtuous Clerk
The Wall
The Wallet
The Warden
The Whistlers
The Wife
The Willow-tree
The Witch
The Wolf
The Writer
The Zealot
Thieves
This and That (Letters and telegrams)
This and That: Four Vignettes
Three Years
Tina
To Cure a Drinking Bout
To Paris!
To Speak or Be Silent
Too Early!
Tragic Actor
Trickery
Trickery: An Extremely Ancient Joke
Trouble
Troubling Thoughts
Tryphon
Twenty-Six
Two in One
Two Letters
Two Newspapermen
Two of a Kind
Two Romantic Stories
Two Scandals
Typhus
Up the Ladder
Uprooted
Vanka
Vanka #2
Verochka
Verotchka
Village Doctors
Vint
Visiting Cards
Volodya
Ward 6
Ward No. 6
What is to be Done?
Which One of the Three? (An old but ever-new story)
Whining
Whist
Whitebrow
Who Was To Blame?
With Friends
Woe
Women Make Trouble
Women’s Good Fortune
Women
Words, Words, Words
Worldly Trifle
Worse and Worse
You and You
Your Tongue Will Lead You to Kiev
Zinotchka


3. ANALYSES

3.1 ANALYSIS BY THEME

TYPE/THEME NO. OF TITLES % AVG. RATING
humour 182 34.3% 6.6
drama 102 19.2% 8.2
satire 71 13.4% 7.2
portrait of life in Russia 56 10.6% 8.4
the feminine condition 20 3.8% 7.9
love story 19 3.6% 8.1
social drama 17 3.2% 7.7
theatrical drama 14 2.6% 7.9
childhood experience 13 2.5% 8
moral fable 12 2.3% 6.8
medical drama 10 1.9% 7.7
animal story 7 1.3% 7.4
hunting story 5 .9% 7
prose poem 1 .2% 9
letter 1 .2% 9.5
TOTAL 530 100% 7.4

3.2 ANALYSIS BY PERIOD

PERIOD NO. OF TITLES % AVG. RATING
1880-1885 [8] 297 56% 6.8
1886-1903 233 44% 8.1
TOTAL 530 100% 7.4

3.3 ANALYSIS BY LENGTH OF STORY

short story: < 7,500 words; novelette: 7,500-17,499 words; novella: 17,500-40,000 words

LENGTH OF STORY NO. OF TITLES % AVG. RATING
short stories 505 95.3% 7.3
novelettes 17 3.2% 8.7
novellas 8 1.5% 8.6
TOTAL 530 100% 7.6

4. QUALITY ASSESSMENT

RATING NO. OF TITLES % AVG. RATING QUALITY ASSESSMENT
1-6 128 24.1% 5.3 Poor
7 134 25.3% 7.2 Average
8 177 33.4% 8.2 Good/Very good
9-10 91 17.2% 9.2 Excellent/Masterwork
TOTAL 530 100% 7.4
QUALITY COUNT = Good+Excellent = 268
QUALITY RATIO = Good+Excellent = 51%
EXCELLENCE RATIO = Excellent = 17%

THIS IS THE HIGHEST QUALITY COUNT (number of top-quality stories) OF ANY OF THE AUTHORS ANALYSED ON THIS SITE


5. OTHER WORKS INCLUDED IN SOME ANTHOLOGIES OF CHEKHOV STORIES


5.1 OTHER WORKS INCLUDED IN SOME ENGLISH-LANGUAGE ANTHOLOGIES OF CHEKHOV STORIES

no. date pub. English_Title____________ Genre Synopsis/Comments_________________________________________
1 1880-03-09 Elements Most Often Found in Novels, Short Stories, etc. humorous list A 2-page list of elements found in the works of fiction referred to in the title: “a Count, a Countess,.. fair-headed friends and red-haired foes,... a rich uncle,... a doctor with a serious face,… a butler,…. The end.”
2 1880-06-15 Nadia N.’s Vacation Homework humorous essay A list of homework questions with farcical answers, such as: “Give five examples of relative clauses." A. "The railroad is screechy, carries people, and is maid of rails and materials.”
3 1881-09-17 The Temperaments
(According to the Latest Science)
sarcastic essay a (too-)long diatribe about what’s wrong with people, mostly men, of various negative dispositions: sanguine, phlegmatic, choleric and melancholic. Possibly supposed to be funny. Not a story: no characters, no plot, no dialogue. A college-student’s essay that understandably never got republished or translated.
4 1882-02 Supplementary Questions for the Statistical Census satirical questions Ten brief wacky questions proposed for the census, such as “Are you a clever person, or are you an idiot?”; and “Is your wife a blond? A brunette? A starlet? Or a red-head?”; and “What were you thinking about the night you filled in these census forms?”, etc.
A one-page joke.
5 1882-02-20 Questions Posed by a Mad Mathematician humorous questions A one-page list of eight rhetorical and nonsense questions such as “I was chased by 30 dogs, 7 of which were white, 8 grey, and the rest black. Which of my legs was bitten, the right or the left?; and “What is the sum of the following numbers?”; and “My mother-in-law is 75, and my wife 42. What time is it?”
6 1883-01 Bibliography humorous list A one-page list of eight wacky book titles that supposedly have just been published, such as “On the Abolition of Customs Duties on Bamboo Sticks Imported from China.”; “Coffee-table Book for Military Quartermasters and Cashiers.”; and “How to Pinpoint the Universe.
7 1883-01 Soothsayer and Soothsayeress humorous sketches Five brief one-paragraph scenes where soothsayers predict someone’s future, usually to the satisfaction of the customer, for example: The doctor’s wife is looking into the future with the help of a mirror and sees … coffins. “That can only mean somebody will die,” she thinks. “Or … that my husband’s practice will flourish this year.”
8 1883-02 Questions and Answers jokes This tiny text entirely consists of the following four questions and answers:
1) Q: How can you tell what she’s thinking? A.: Search her premises.
2) Q: What can an illiterate man read? A.: A heart.
3) Q: Does the wife love me? A.: Whose wife?
4) Q: When can you sit and stand at the same time? A.: When you’re sitting in jail.
9 1883-04-30 The Philadelphia Conference mock scientific debate A two-page, 300-word mock account of an academic conference debating Darwinism and the inherited characteristics of the main European nations.
10 1883-08-23 A Brief Anatomy of Man humorous mock-medical essay A brief overview of various parts of the human anatomy, with flippant remarks about each of them: A face – the mirror of the soul (except in the case of lawyers).; The eyes – these are the police commissioners of the head.. The tongue – an enemy of man and a friend of the devil and women., etc.
11 1883-10 A New Illness and an Old Cure humorous essay A 100-word text about the symptoms of medical students facing a dissection. Here it is in full: “Operations on the body produce symptoms analogous to bouts of fitful fever (febris intermutens). Before making the incision, spasms of the peripheral vessels induce pallor. Pupils dilate. Our general deduction is that the sight of the approaching specialists agitates the vascular motor center and the nervus oculomotorius. A chill ensues. During the incision, we note a rise in body temperature and hyperestesia of the skin. After the incision has been performed there is a fever. Sweat breaks out.
On the basis of this analogy, I propose that all medical students dissecting a cadaver take a dose of quinine before corn­ing to school.
12 1884-03-31 Maria Ivanovna an author’s monologue about authors A monologue by an author who wants to write a story about the eponymous Maria but is feeling feverish and out of sorts and explains why authors have to write even in such cases as otherwise they would be replaced by even sillier people wanting to recount their love affairs. A tongue-in-cheek essay on a writer’s vocation.
13 1884-06-09 Letter to a Reporter humorous letter A one-page, 127-word letter to a reporter telling him that the author of the letter already knew all the faits divers (crimes, accidents, fires and so on) that had appeared in the paper that day, ending with a very mild insult.
14 1884-11-17 On the Characteristics of Nations humorous essay A text that purports to outline the national characteristics of various nationalities – the French (frivolous), Swedes (live in remote areas), Greeks (traders), Spaniards (strum guitars and fight duels), Circassians (drink and brawl), Persians (wage war on Russian bedbugs) and the British (value time and have no time for dinner). Has not dated well.
15 1885-09-28 The Marriage Season humorous essay A two-page list of mock newspaper advertisements by people looking for a mate, all with dubious declarations or outrageous demands on the prospective partner (“dowry of fifteen to twenty thousand roubles”, “not over the age of twenty-five, must have capital”; “will bring in two thousand a year”; “although she is a widow is in fact a virgin”; etc.
16 1885-11-21 Marriage in 10-15 Years’ Time satirical essay In the form of a short sketch prefaced and suffixed with the author’s satirical comments on the question, the author extrapolates current tendencies for marriage negotiations somewhat into the future, highlighting the purely commercial nature of the event and with an implied criticism of unthinking female acquiescence to male dominance.
17 1886-01-04 Letters to the Editor humorous essay Four comical letters to editors of various journals.
18 1886-02 Bliny essay on cuisine A light-mannered essay on the thousand-year-old traditional way of preparing that quintessential Russian dish, bliny.
19 1886-06-07 Persons Entitled to Travel Free of Charge on the Imperial Russian Railways humorous list A two-page list of the many different kinds of people entitled to free passage on first- and second-class carriages, concluding with those entitled to free passage in the third class: “All passengers who have purchased tickets for first- or second-class carriages, but cannot secure a place as said carriages are filled with passengers travelling for free.”
20 1886-07 A Glossary of Terms for Young Ladies humorous aphorisms A one-page list of the following seven farcical aphorisms on different kinds of love:
If a diligent schoolgirl loves studying physics, then this is physical love.”;
“When young people declare love in a car, it’s carnal love.”;
“If a young lady doesn’t love you, but your brother, then it’s brotherly love.”;
“When people love spraying themselves with scents, then this is sensual love.”;
“When an elderly maid loves dogs, cats, and animals in general, then this is an animalIstic love.”;
“Husband is the word for a man who, out of pity and by police injunction, helps fathers feed and clothe their daughters.”;
“A rutting life is postmen and coachmen in autumn down broken, rutted roads.”
21 1892-03-05 From a Retired Teacher’s Notebook

aka From a Retired Teacher’s Diary
humorous aphorisms A one-page, 240-word series of six humorous aphorisms on education, such as “As the vocative case and certain rare letters of the Russian alphabet are practically obsolete, teachers of Russian should in all fairness have their salaries reduced, inasmuch as this decline in cases and letters has reduced their work load.” and “When teaching science one should above all ensure one’s pupils have their books bound, inasmuch as one cannot bang them on the head with the spine of an unbound book.”
22 ?
 [6]
Feast-Day Gratuities
(From the Notebook of a Provincial Scrounger)
humorous essay A list of comments by a house porter on the tenants of several buildings who do or do not give him adequate tips on the occasion of a feast-day.
23 ?
 [6]
A Modern Guide to Letter-Writing humorous essay An essay on letters that starts with the definition “A letter is a noun without which postal clerks would end up jobless and stamps unsold.”, and continues with sample letters on various themes: “A letter to one’s superior”; “A letter to one’s inferior”; “A love letter”; “A letter to a friend”; “A business letter”, “A risky letter”; “A letter of invective” and finally “A letter to a writer”.
24 ?
 [6]
Troubling Thoughts humorous essay A classics professor, whenever he oversees student presentations or attends teachers’ meetings, mentally asks himself insolvable questions such as “What would happen if the floor were the ceiling and the ceiling the floor? Are ancient languages profitable or unprofitable?” and so on. He elaborates at length on the possible answers to “What would happen if men dressed like women?”.
25 ?
 [6]
Visiting Cards humorous list A one-page list of the visiting cards that the author has been graced with on New Year’s Day by his acquaintances, all either from people with either farcical names or titles.

5.2 OTHER WORKS INCLUDED IN SOME RUSSIAN-LANGUAGE ANTHOLOGIES OF CHEKHOV’S STORIES

date of pub. English translation Russian title Genre Comments________________________________________
1 1881-10-24 Antosha Chekhonte’s Advertisement Office Контора объявлений Антоши Ч humorous list Two pages of farcical advertisements.
2 1882 [1] A Love Affair Роман incomplete text A 24-word description of a love affair found in the author’s papers, entirely consisting of the following text: “Bridegrooms, where are you? Lelya slammed the door, told the maid to go to hell, fell on the bed and bit the pillow painfully.”
- with the best will in the world, we cannot qualify this unpublished work as a short story, it is just too microscopic.
3 1882 [1] Advertisements and Announcements Рекламы и объявления humorous list a one-page list of nonsense advertisements.
4 1882 Buckwheat Porridge Praises Itself Гречневая каша сама себя хвалит humorous aphorisms A one-page uncompleted manuscript consisting of nonsense aphorisms such as “Xi. The name of the Greek letter ξ, meaning the number 600. A hint at 666 (the number of the beast). Let us be horrified! The same, 600, is the number of Shards’ permanent staff and the number of thousands of subscribers... (If we believe the post-office officials, we have 600 000 subscribers.)”
5 1882-02-12 Comical Advertisements and Announcements Комические рекламы и объявления humorous list A two-page list of utterly farcical newspaper advertisements.
6 1882-03-06 The Alarm Clock Calendar for 1882. March-April Календарь «Будильника» на 1882 год. Март—апрель humorous list A long list of nonsensical agenda entries for every day in March and April of the following kind “There will be no war between the Spanish and Austrians this week.”
- we cannot find it in our hearts to describe this as a story, short or otherwise.
7 1882-12 [1] Letter to the Editor Письмо в редакцию satirical letter A group of women write a short (350-word) but very irate letter to a Moscow newspaper protesting against its intolerable realism and materialism.
- possibly meant to be amusing to silly men at the expense of silly women, and understandably never published during the author’s lifetime.
8 1882-03-23 Meeting Spring Встреча весны (Рассуждение) essay A rather nice essay on the spirit in the air in a big town when spring starts to show her promising face.
9 1883-01-15 Thoughts of a Reader of Newspapers and Magazines Мысли читателя газет и журналов satirical essay Nine short extravagant and wholly-incomprehensible-to-the-modern-reader comments on various Russian journals of the time.
10 1883-01-16 Bibliography Библиография humorous list A farcical 150-word list of the titles of books that have supposedly just been put on sale (ex: “Is there any money in Russia, and where is it?”)
11 1883-02-05 What’s better? Что лучше? Праздные рассуждения штык-юнкера Крокодилова humorous aphorisms Sub-titled “Idle reasoning of the Bayonet Junker Krokodilov”, this consists of eight very short aphorisms on the title theme starting with “Adults and children can go to the tavern, but only children can go to school.” and ending with “All literacy cannot be denied. Denial would be madness. For it is useful if a person can read: "Drinking house.
12 1883-05-09

Ober-upper

Обер-верхи humorous sketches A short half-page series of four farcical jokes on the theme “heights” (The Height of Credibility, The Height of Distraction, The Height of Citizenship and The Height of Good Intentions)
13 1883-09-10 My Ranks and Titles Мои чины и титулы humorous sketches Fifteen farcical self-defining declarations by a clerk, such as “I am a messenger. Every morning my wife sends me to the market for provisions.”, “I’m a knowledgeable person when it comes to drinks and snacks.” and “I am a battery commander when I have a battery of bottles at my disposal.
- a 300-word, half-page gag.
14 1883-10-15 List of Exhibitors Awarded With Iron Medals for the Russian Section at the Amsterdam Exhibition Список экспонентов, удостоенных чугунных медалей по русскому отделу на выставке в Амстердаме humorous list Fifteen one- or two-line farcical awards over a half-page, such as “to the Russian ruble – for compressibility at all temperatures” and “Collegiate Registrars in St. Petersburg – for elastic spines”.
15 1883-10-15 My Witticisms and Sayings Мои остроты и изречения humorous aphorisms Six one- or two-line farcical aphorisms such as “There are more Okhotnoryadsky butchers in Russia than meat.
16 1883-12-31 Philosophical Definitions of Life Философские определения жизни humorous aphorisms 7 brief farcical aphorisms such as “Our life is like a type-setting box filled with punctuation marks. (Confucius).
17 1884-01-14 Contract of 1884 with mankind Контракт 1884 года с человечеством humorous essay A mock half-page legal document between the author and the year 1884 in which the author engages to celebrate the new year with champagne and so on, and the new year engages to fail to fulfil all his hopes and to have no more than 12 months.
18 1884-01-14 Mixed-up Advertisements Перепутанные объявления Ten advertisements that have gotten all mixed up in the printing process such as “Three-storey janitor seeks governess’s place.” and “The Samolet Steamship Company is looking for a maid’s place.”.
19 1884-02-18 Forgiveness Прощение humorous list Fourteen mostly one-line farcical statements of forgiveness on the lines of “I forgive all living, cramping, crushing and suffocating things... like tight boots, corset, garters, etc.” and “I forgive myself that I am not a nobleman and have not yet mortgaged my fathers’ estates.
- can this be considered a story, short or otherwise? Surely not!
20 1885-03-02 Service Notes Служебные пометки humorous list A series of ten abstruse inscriptions by subordinates on the visitor’s sheet of a dignitary, such as “A bird is known by his feathers, a good petitioner by his gratitude.
21 1884-03-23 Life Descriptions of Remarkable Contemporaries Жизнеописания достопримечательных современников humorous text A farcical biography of a quack inventor of a mud paste advertised successfully as a universal healing ointment as well as for lipstick, wax, tar and caulk, to cure binge eating and to treat bedbugs and other parasites.
- clearly in the joke category.
22 1884-04-14 The Fruit of a Long Reflection Плоды долгих размышлений humorous aphorisms Eight short one- or two-line aphorisms of wisdom such as “It’s easier for a woman to find many husbands than one...” and “Vodka is white, but it stains the nose and blackens the reputation.
23 1884-04-14 Some Thoughts on the Soul Несколько мыслей о душе humorous essay After declaring that he believes in the transmigration of the soul, the author explains his belief with “I was a puppy when I was born, a lapwing goose when I entered life. Determined to join the civil service, I became a nettle seed. I was called a cudgel by my boss, a donkey by my mates, and a cattle by my freethinkers. Travelling on the railways I was a hare, living in the countryside among the peasants I felt like a leech. After one embezzlement I was a scapegoat for a while. When I got married, I became a horned cattle. Having finally made it out on the real road, I acquired a belly and became a triumphant pig.”.
- a 200-word, half-page joke
24 1884-05-12 Unconventional Thoughts Несообразные мысли humorous essay A teacher who secretly harbours audacious thoughts ponders frequently on abstruse questions such as “What would happen if there were ceilings instead of floors and floors instead of ceilings?”, and “What would happen if men dressed as women?”, which he finds easy to answer by providing a short series of one- or two-line examples of men adjusting their necklines, creating scandals by lifting up their skirts to cross puddles, and so on.
- a short 400-word piece of nonsense.
25 1884-05-26 Dacha Rules Дачные правила humouous essay Fifteen short rules about life in the country such as “It is forbidden for madmen, insane persons, persons suffering from contagious diseases, the elderly, minors and lower ranks in the army to live in the country house, for nowhere is there so much danger of marrying as in the open air.
26 1884-06-16 The Perfect Exam. The short answer to all the long questions Идеальный экзамен. Короткий ответ на все длинные вопросы humorous text A question-and-answer session between a teacher and a student consisting entirely of wacky questions and correspondingly abstruse answers such as “Teacher. Who waters the streets of Moscow? Pupil. The rain.” and “Teacher. What does physiognomy mean? Student. Physiognomy is the mirror of the soul, which is as easily broken as any other mirror.” as well as this pointed exchange “Teacher. You have now said that the earth is a ball. But you forget that it has high mountains, deep ravines and Moscow pavements, which prevent it from being round! Student. They prevent it from being round as much as dimples on an orange or pimples on your face.
- Q.: can we somehow classify this as a story in the same sense of the word as used for Maupassant and Jack London and Stefan Zweig and the mature Anton Chekhov? A.: no.
27 1884-10-06 Goose Talk Гусиный разговор humorous text An account of the conversations among a flock of geese, young and old, flying in formation and talking a lot of nonsense over a full page.
28 1884-10-27 The Sign Вывеска joke Entirely consisting of the following 2-line (Russian version of a) gag: “In Rostov-on-Don, on Sadovaya Street, the following sign hangs over the shop of a merchant of grave monuments: "Master of Memory".
29 1884-12-29 A Proposal Предписание (1884) humoruous essay A mock-serious proposal by a civil servant to his superior of the rules that should be posted on the occasion of the yearly visit to pay respects (not to make noise, not to smoke, not to bring live animals, not to scatter food on the floor, etc.)
30 1885-01-04 Champagne #2 Шампанское humorous essay This little diatribe starts off powerfully with “Don’t believe champagne... It sparkles like a diamond, transparent like a forest brook, sweet like nectar; it is more valuable than the labour of a worker, the song of a poet, the caress of a woman, but... stay away from it!” and continues with throwaway lines like “On stepping onto the slippery slope, a woman always starts with champagne, that’s why it hisses like the serpent that seduced Eve!” but nevertheless it doesn’t have much effect almost a century and a half later.
31 1885-01-24 Not Pernicious Thoughts Не тлетворные мысли humouous aphorisms Half a page of non-pernicious and non-funny aphorisms such as “Better a lecherous canary than a pious wolf” and “If your wife cries a lot, use blotting paper. Not witty, but practical”.
32 1885-01-25 Shrovetide Rules of Discipline Масленичные правила дисциплины humouous list Seven short and very silly rules such as “Before Shrovetide go to the master and have your stomach pumped” and “Spend on flour, vodka and grainy caviar, don’t forget that you still have to deal with the apothecary’s dachshund”.
33 1885-03-16 About March О марте humorous essay A nonsense-text on the eponymous month that starts off with “The month of March got its name from Mars, who, according to Ilovaysky’s textbook, was the god of war. The military leader’s service record has been lost, so little is known of his identity. Judging by the nature of his amorous enterprises and the credit he enjoyed with Bacchus, it must be assumed that he was an army infantryman with the rank of staff-captain or above, while occupying the post of god of war.
34 1885-03-20 A Prose Toast Тост прозаиков prose toast A real-life page-long toast to the 20th anniversary of the magazine “The Alarm”
35 1885-03-20 A Woman’s Toast Женский тост prose toast A rather straightforward toast to women apparently pronounced at a banquet.
36 1885-03-20 Rules for Beginning Authors Правила для начинающих авторов.
Юбилейный подарок - вместо почтового ящика
humorous essay Eighteen rules for authors, some rather good (“Be decent. Don’t sell things you steal, don’t publish one and the same thing in two editions at a time, don’t present yourself as Kurochkin, don’t call foreign things as original, etc. In general, remember the Ten Commandments.” ) and some amusing (“Fame is a bright patch on a singer’s shabby cloth, but literary fame is imaginable only in those countries where the word "literary" is not used in the "Dictionary of 30 000 foreign words".) and mostly just silly (“It should be remembered that accidental authorship and authorship à propos is better than permanent writing. A conductor who writes poetry is better off than a poet who does not serve as a conductor.”).
37 1885-04-05 About April Об апреле humorous essay A half-page nonsense-text on the month of April with phrases such as “April got its name from the Latin verb of the 4th conjugation aperire, which means to open, unlock, for in this month the earth is unlocked in order to release the plants. In this way, the young man’s chin is uncovered to give an unhindered passage to the beard that wants to grow.
38 1885-04-27 Life is Beautiful! Жизнь прекрасна!
Покушающимся на самоубийство
humorous aphorisms A dozen short maxims on seeing the bright side of things such as “When a splinter gets in your finger, rejoice: "Good thing it’s not in your eye!" and “If your wife cheats on you, rejoice that she cheated on you and not your fatherland”.
39 1885-05-04 About May О мае humorous essay A mostly nonsense-filled half-page on the month of “love, lilacs and white nights.
40 1885-05-18 About This and That О том, о сём jokes Four short little jokes, the best one being the first: “One of the plays by the Moscow playwright M failed in its first performance. Strolling through the theatre foyer and gloomily looking around, the author asked a friend he met: "What do you think of my play? “I think," the friend replied, "that you would feel much better now if it were not written by you but by me.
41 1885-03-30 Red Hill Красная горка humorous essay An abstruse not to say nonsense text on the colour red associated with spring, culminating in a Russian joke (i.e. possibly funny to [only] Russians) about Germans that doesn’t bear repeating.
42 1885-06-01 Trifles Финтифлюшки jokes Five trifling jokes told over half a page.
43 1885-06-14 Fishy Business Рыбье дело. Густой трактат по жидкому вопросу humorous aphorisms A series of aphorisms on the theme of fish and how some people resemble some species.
- a sarcastic view of many varied human and piscine species.
44 1885-07-27 Something Serious Нечто серьёзное humorous essay a set of 13 one- or two-line nonsensical propositions for articles to be added to the Penal Code for offenders such as “high-school students who quote famous authors in their love letters without indicating the source.” and “civil servants who pretend to have the title of Excellency.
45 1885-07-27 About June and July Об июне и июле humorous essay A half-page of declarations about these two months that explains “In May and August Russians wear fur coats and click their teeth; hence Russian summer consists only of June and July.
46 1885-08-24 About August Об августе humorous essay A mostly-nonsense half-page text on the month of August composed of declarations like “With the Romans August was the sixth of the year and was called sextilis, but with us it is the eighth and is called August in honour of the Roman emperor Augustus, who founded the Augustinian order and composed the romance "Ah, mein lieber Augustin".
47 1885-10-02 Opinions on a Hat Disaster Мнения по поводу шляпной катастрофы humorous aphorisms Eight short thoughts of women on the subject of wearing hats in a theatre.
48 1885-11-02 A Guide For Those Who Want to Get Married Руководство для желающих жениться humorous essay A long series of pronouncements about the nature of various kinds of women (blondes are usually virtuous, modest and sentimental; brunettes are mobile, fickle, capricious and hot-tempered, redheads are are sly, deceitful, wicked and conniving) and the kind of wife they are likely to become (blondes soon sour, get fat and wilt; a brunette wife is the whole Inquisition; all that it takes is a good shout at a redhead to make her curl up and kiss you) and carries on at length with quasi-comical analyses of the characters of women with various kinds of eyes (intelligent women rarely have black eyes) and ways of walking (a hasty gait, with faltering looks, indicates carelessness and levity) and so on.
49 1885-12-07 Home Remedies Домашние средства humorous aphorisms A short set of farcical one- or two-line recipes for various ailments on the line of “To keep the oil from going rancid, eat it quickly” and “For adultery. Take an unfaithful spouse and hang a sign on her forehead: "It is strictly forbidden to outsiders, etc.".
50 1886-01-04 Business Cards Визитные карточки humorous aphorisms Ten farcical inscriptions on farcical business cards to illustrate the introductory epigram “An ancient wise man once said: "Tell me who you get business cards from and I’ll tell you who you know”.
51 1886-01-11 A Competition Конкурс humorous text A newspaper competition for the best letter submitted by a male writer in which he “declares his love, proves that he is really in love and suffers; draws a parallel between mere infatuation and true love; describes his new sensations without going into deep analysis; asks for her hand; is jealous of Ix and Zeta; describes the pains he suffers at the mere thought of rejection; bows to her father and mother; subtly and cautiously asks about dowry and... all this in no more than 50 lines.
52 1886-04-26 About Women О женщинах humorous essay An essay on women that starts out with “Since the creation of the world woman has been regarded as a harmful and malignant creature” and ends with “In short, she is cunning, talkative, vain, deceitful, hypocritical, selfish, talentless, frivolous, wicked... Only one thing is nice about her, and that is that she brings to light such sweet, graceful and terribly clever souls as men
- not quite in line with the modern vision of the question, and not a story either.
53 1886-05-10 A Literary Table of Ranks Литературная табель о рангах humorous essay A possibly-serious classification of all the Russian literary talents living at the time in terms of the ranking they would have if the established ranks of the Russian civil service were applied to them. There would be no one in the top rank (Full Privy Councillor), only Leo Tolstoy and Goncharov would have the second rank, just Saltykov-Shchedrin and Grigorovich the third rank, Ostrovsky, Leskov and Polonsky the fourth rank, and so on down to the lowest rank, plus a certain Okreitz who wouldn’t be ranked.
54 1886-07-12 Dictionary for "young ladies" Словотолкователь для "барышен" humorous aphorisms 9 short one- or two-line aphorisms about the young ladies such as “If a diligent girl at an institute likes to do physics, it will be physical love” and “If a young lady loves your brother instead of you, it’s brotherly love”.
55 1886-10-18 Statistics Статистика humorous essay A one-page essay on the percentage of letters that are worthless (72%), love letters (5% of which only one proposes marriage), letters asking for a loan (5%), with poems (2%), etc.
56 1888-10-26 N. M. Przewalski Н.М.Пржевальский humorous text A mock and clearly farcical obituary of an imaginary scientific explorer on the occasion of his death in a far-flung region of Asia.
57 1888-12-04 Our Poverty Наше нищенство humorous essay An essay on begging that points out that the higher levels of society ask and take rather than beg, and proceeds to condemn in no uncertain terms the insensitivity of Russians of all walks of life to the sufferings of others, ending with the forceful declaration “Street begging is only a small part of a big general thing. It is not the cause that needs to be fought, but the one that produces it. When society in all its strata, from top to bottom, learns to respect other people’s labour and other people’s kopecks, domestic and any other kind of poverty will disappear by itself.
58 1893-01-24 The Good News Хорошая новость humorous essay A short essay purportedly praising Moscow University for having introduced a course on the art of speaking in public, citing a number of examples showing that the Russian people is in dire need of such instruction.

6. REFERENCES

6.1. ENGLISH-LANGUAGE ANTHOLOGIES OF CHEKHOV STORIES


- Complete Works of Anton Chekhov, tr. by Constance Garnett, Delphi Classics (1959)
(with 204 stories translated into English);

- The Unknown Chekhov, stories and other writings, tr. by A. Yarmolinsky, ed. Peter Owen (1959)
(with 20 stories newly-translated into English).

- The Undiscovered Chekhov, tr. by Peter Constantine, Duck Editions (2002)
(with 51 stories newly-translated into English).

- The Prank, The Best of Young Chekhov, tr. by Maria Bloshteyn, New York Review Books (2015)
(with 12 early Chekhov stories)

- Anton Chekhov, Little Apples and other early stories, tr. by Peter Constantine, Seven Stories Press (2016)
(with 40 stories newly-translated into English)


6.2. ENGLISH-LANGUAGE SITES

- Project Gutenberg: downloadable Chekhov stories in English
(with 215 stories translated into English)

- Anton Chekhov bibliography in the English-language Wikipedia
(identifying 298 stories – including 2 duplicate entries and 11 titles that we don’t classify as stories, as shown below.)

Wikipedia list of Chekhov stories


6.3. RUSSIAN-LANGUAGE SITES

1. The Alexei Komarov Index of Chekhov’s Works

2. The Russian Public Digital Library index of Chekhov’s works

3. The Russian Wikisource index of Chekhov stories


Footnotes

[1Chekhov’s novels were Untimely Victory (1882) and The Shooting Party (1884).

[2Chekhov’s 16 plays were Platonov (1881), On The High Road (1884), On The Harmful Effects of Tobacco (1886), Swansong (1887), Ivanov (1887), The Bear (1888), The Marriage Proposal (1889), A Tragedian In Spite of Himself (1889), The Wedding (1889), Tatiana Repina (1889), The Wood Demon (1889), The Festivities (1891), The Seagull (1896), Uncle Vanya (1900), Three Sisters (1901) and The Cherry Orchard (1904).

[3This story has not been translated into English to date. Its Russian-language title can be seen in the article The 204 untranslated Chekhov stories to date elsewhee on this site.

[4published posthumously – the date indicated is the date of composition.

[5This story has been translated into English for the first time on this site. Its Russian-language title can be seen in the article The 204 untranslated Chekhov stories to date elsewhee on this site.

[6Taganrog, the author’s home town.

[8for analytical purposes, we have classified the four undated stories (nos. (527-530) in the period 1880-1885.