Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Chekhov's Stories (1): Enemies

This story is about the generation of an emnity between two men. For one it is fleeting and personal, but for the other it is more general and will last for the remainder of his life.

At the start we are taken into the home of a doctor called Kirolov just after his only child has died from diptheria. A man called Abogin appears and insists that the doctor follow him back to his house to treat his wife, a woman he claims is close to death herself.

As a writer two things appealed to me most of all about this tale. Firstly Chekhov waited before presenting us with descriptions of both men, playing quite subtly with assumptions his readers might already have made. Secondly, the story demonstrates how a single event can have a superficially similar, but ultimately very different impact on the lives of two characters.

When asked, I usually cite Joseph Conrad as my favourite author. But in spite of the fact that I have a long unrealised plan to re-read Victory, it has been over a decade since I picked up one of the old sea dog's novels. While Anton Chekhov is nominally one spot down at No2 within this private canon, I do keep coming back to his wonderful stories. (Quite possibly because they are short!). This blog post series will cover my latest re-immersement...

No comments: