April 30th, 2010

The Lady With The Dog

In keeping with my new interest in short stories, I posted another.The Lady With The Dog, by Anton Chekhov.

I have to confess that I have never studied Russian literature systematically. My sole exposure was an undergraduate class on War and Peace.

The anti-climax to the class was a showing of the soviet movie version in gothic Mandel Hall on the University of Chicago campus. The old screen was not wide enough for Sovoscope 70; so the student group showing the film hung white dormitory bed sheets to extend the width. The results were not entirely visually satisfactory. An SDS faction wanted the movie shown soviet style– eight straight hours with no bathroom breaks, but the group showing the film decided on two 3 hour segments, which was the way the film was originally released to the US. All I remember was the remarkable resemblance of the soviet Natasha to Audrey Hepburn.

At the same time, I have harbored a secret belief that all the best novels and short stories all come from Russia. Of course, this is cultural stereotyping and sheer hogwash.

The Lady With The Dog is said to be one of Chekhov’s best stories. I like it. It is austere and very sad. Two lovers, forever apart. Trapped into unrequited and unrequitable love by lust and boredom. Told with economy and grace.

Read it here.

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