November 10th, 2007

Chekhov

Image:Chekhov at Melikhovo..jpg

Chekhov is the best. I don't know what prompted me, but I had three quarters of an hour to fill so I picked a volume of Chekhov off the shelf and read a story called The Black Monk. It's about a guy who's only happy when he's hallucinating. His well-meaning wife and father-in-law arrange for him to be cured of his "madness" and as a result their shared world falls apart. While I was reading it and for a good time afterwards I was  thinking, "this says all that needs to be said about human nature and the human condition and I wonder Western realist fiction didn't just end here. " Yes, Chekhov is the best. 

I have four volumes of Chekhov in the Constance Garnett translation. Neat little pretty little books from the 1920s- bound in dark green cloth.  I've sometimes thought it would be nice to own the full set-  which runs, I believe, to 13 volumes. 

Having read my story I thought I'd look for online discussion and commentary- and the first thing I found was a site that houses the entire Constance Garnett Chekhov. How wonderful. I can read all his stories. And the way I feel right now I think I'm going to. 

But also how sad -because now I've really no reason to go poking about in second hand bookshops for the 9 neat little pretty little books that are missing from my collection.