The 204 untranslated Chekhov stories to date: overviews, comments and ratings

(actualisé le ) by Ray

Research in the extensive Russian-language documentation of the works of Chekhov has enabled us to collate that information with our own detailed inventory of the master’s works in English to identify the large body of Chekhov stories that has remained untranslated into English to date.

We have inventoried 204 currently-untranslated stories that are listed below by date of initial publication in Russian newspapers and journals, with for each text:
- an English version of the title:
- the original Russian-language title;
- an overview of the story;
- our comments on the story;
- our appreciation of the literary interest of the story, on a scale of 1-10.

As can be seen, a certain number of these stories are of great interest – comical shetches, moral and sociological dramas and just straightforwardly good and even inspired stories – most of which will be published in English translations on this site in the near future.

The Russian tradition has been to include in the corpus of his stories a considerable number of short humorous essays, mostly written during his medical studies in Moscow, that we prefer not to classify as stories but as "Other Texts". We have found 60 never-translated texts in this category in the Russian catalogues that are identified and commented on separately below.

Stories that have been translated on this site since the initial publication of this article are highlighted in green, and can be seen in full by clicking on the title.


TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. THE 204 UNTRANSLATED CHEKHOV STORIES TO DATE: OVERVIEWS, COMMENTS AND RATINGS

2. OTHER UNTRANSLATED TEXTS BY CHEKHOV CLASSIFIED AS STORIES IN SOME RUSSIAN DOCUMENTS

3. RUSSIAN-LANGUAGE DOCUMENTATION ON CHEKHOV STORIES


1. OVERVIEWS OF THE UNTRANSLATED CHEKHOV STORIES TO DATE

date of
pub.
English_translation Russian Title Comments____________________________________________ Rat-
ing
1 1880-07-06 My Jubilee Мой юбилей a short 400-word mock-celebration by a (presumably fictitious) author of the 2,000th rejection of his texts by editors. 4
2 1882
 [1]
The Secrets of the Hundred and Forty-Four Catastrophes, or the Russian Rocambole Тайны ста сорока четырех катастроф, или Русский Рокамболь 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
3 1882-02-03 In a Wolf’s Cage На волчьей садке 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
4 1882-02-25 I Forget!! Забыл!! 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
5 1882-05-07 “The Date, Although it Took Place, But …” «Свидание хотя и состоялось, но...» 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
6 1882-05-20 The Correspondent Корреспондент 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
7 1882-06-22 Lost Business Пропащее дело 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
8 1882-06-26 Bad story! Скверная история Нечто романообразное 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
9 1882-06-29 The Twenty-ninth of June Двадцать девятое июня (Рассказ охотника, никогда в цель не попадающего) 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 the story Saint Peter’s Day that had been published the same day a year earlier.
6.5
10 1882-07-13 Which One of the Three? Который из трех?
(Старая, но вечно новая история)
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
11 1882-07-23 He and She Он и она 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
12 1882-07-25 The Fair Ярмарка 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
13 1882-07-30 The Baroness Барыня 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
14 1882-11-20 Encountered Нарвался 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
15 1882-12-16 Two Scandals Два скандала 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
16 1882-12-16 The Good Friend Добрый знакомый 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
17 1882-12-20 The Baron Барон 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
18 1882-12-31 Revenge Месть 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
19 1883
 [1]
Mama and Mr. Lentovsky Мамаша и г. Лентовский 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
20 1883
 [1]
The Ingenuity of Mr. Rodon Находчивость г. Родона 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
21 1883
 [1]
The Sheet of Paper Лист 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
22 1883
 [1]
The Villains and Mr. Egorov Злодеи и г. Егоров 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.
- slightly amusing in spite of its excessive (half-page) brevity.
7
23 1883-
01
Experienced Пережитое.
Психологический этюд
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-pager.
6
24 1883-
01
Reluctant Scammers Мошенники поневоле. Новогодняя побрехушка 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
25 1883-01-05 Masquerades Ряженые 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
26 1883-01-05 The Crooked Mirror Кривое зеркало 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
27 1883-01-08 Two Romantic Stories Два романа 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
28 1883-01-16 Rejected Love Отвергнутая любовь 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
29 1883-01-19 The Confession Исповедь 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
30 1883-01-22 Cases of Mania Grandiosa Случаи mania grandiosa.
Вниманию газеты "Врач"
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
31 1883-01-22 On a Dark Night Темною ночью 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
32 1883-01-22 The Only Way Единственное средство 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’s undeniably clever, funny and even interestingly perceptive.
8
33 1883-01-29 Gone Ушла 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
34 1883-02-05 On a Nail На гвозде 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
35 1883-02-07 Modern Prayers Современные молитвы 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
36 1883-02-10 A Woman Without Prejudice Женщина без предрассудков.
Роман
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
37 1883-02-12 A Council Совет 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
38 1883-02-12 Grateful Благодарный. Психологический этюд 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
39 1883-02-15 The Zealot Ревнитель 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
40 1883-02-19 A Ram and a Lady Баран и барышня. Эпизодик из жизни "милостивых государей" 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
41 1883-02-19 Sentimentality Размазня 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
42 1883-02-22 A Poisonous Incident Ядовитый случай 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
43 1883-02-26 The Triumph of the Victor Торжество победителя
(Рассказ отставного коллежского регистратора)
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
44 1883-02-27 The Patriot Патриот своего отечества 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 fortunately for him is in Russian that no one else understands.
- a nicely-done little (1-page) joke.
7.5
45 1883-03-03 The Clever Janitor Умный дворник 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
46 1883-03-05 The Bridegroom Жених 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
47 1883-03-09 The Fool Дурак. Рассказ холостяка 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
48 1883-03-12 A Story That’s Hard to Name Рассказ, которому трудно подобрать название 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
49 1883-03-12 The Brother Братец 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
50 1883-03-14 The Philanthropist Филантроп 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
51 1883-03-26 A Conversation Разговор 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
52 1883-03-26 Trickery Хитрец 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
53 1883-04-02 Knights Without Fear and Without Reproach Рыцари без страх и упрека 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
54 1883-04-09 The Willow-tree Верба 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
55 1883-04-16 The Thief Вор 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
56 1883-04-23 A Snack Закуска. Приятное воспоминание 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 many memorable tales.
7
57 1883-04-30 The Mother-in-law Lawyer Теща-адвокат 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
58 1883-05-21 Something Кое-что (1883) 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
59 1883-05-21 The Nightingale’s Benefit Performance Бенефис соловья. Рецензия 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 performer 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 in the middle of its last benefit performance.
- an all-too-brief brilliancy.
9
60 1883-05-28 The Deputy, or the Story of How Desdemonov lost 25 Roubles Депутат, или повесть о том, как у Дездемонова 25 рублей пропало 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 D became utterly tongue-tied in the director’s presence and found himself handing over 25 roubles that didn’t belong to him to the redoubtable tyrant.
- a rarity: a funny Russian story!
8.5
61 1883-06-04 The Heroic Lady Герой-барыня 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 sketchily developed.
7.5
62 1883-06-18 Just Like His Grandfather Весь в дедушку 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
63 1883-06-19 Once a Year Раз в год 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
64 1883-07-09 The Real Truth Сущая правда 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
65 1883-08-06 The Virtuous Clerk Добродетельный кабатчик. Плач оскудевшего 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
66 1883-08-27 Patronage Протекция 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
67 1883-09-10 The Retired Slave Отставной раб 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
68 1883-09-24 In a Landau В ландо 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
69 1883-10-15 The Daughter of a Commercial Advisor Дочь коммерции советника 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
70 1883-10-22 The Guardian Опекун 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
71 1883-10-29 A Lawyer Юристка 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
72 1883-10-29 At the Post Office В почтовом отделении 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
73 1883-11-26 In the Living-room В гостиной 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
74 1883-12-03 He Understood! Он понял! 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
75 1883-12-22 On Christmas Eve В рождественскую ночь 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 [2] 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
76 1883-12-25 The Exam Экзамен на чин 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
77 1884-01-05 A Testament of Old Завещание старого, 1883-го года 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
78 1884-01-07 The Liberal. A New Year’s Eve story Либерал. Новогодний рассказ 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
79 1884-01-13 75,000 75 000 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
80 1884-01-22 The Comedian Комик 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 asks her for a glass of vodka the story ends.
- a mildly amusing one-page skit.
6.5
81 1884-02-04 A Young Man Молодой человек 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 skit.
5
82 1884-02-09 Vanka Ванька 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
83 1884-02-11 On the Hunt На охоте 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
84 1884-02-18 A Naive Woodsman Наивный леший.
Сказка
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
85 1884-03-31 Tryphon Трифон 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
86 1884-04-24 A Proud Man Гордый человек. Рассказ 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
87 1884-05-19 Self-indulgence Самобольщение.
Сказка
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
88 1884-06-02 The Dacha Girl Дачница 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
89 1884-06-09 I Had an Argument With My Wife С женой поссорился. Случай 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 odd perception of married life no doubt meant to be amusing.
6
90 1884-06-16 Dacha Pleasure Дачное удовольствие 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
91 1884-07-14 Examination for a Rank Экзамен на чин 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
92 1884-08-25 An Idyll Идиллия 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
93 1884-08-25 Tears Invisible to the World Невидимые миру слезы. Рассказ 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
94 1884-09-27 Shambles in Rome. A Comic Oddity in 3 Acts, With 5 Pictures, a Provocateur and Two Failures "Кавардак в Риме".
Комическая странность в 3-х действиях, 5-ти картинах, спрологом и двумя провалами
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
95 1884-09-29 An Eclipse of the Moon Затмение Луны. Из провинциальной жизни 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
96 1884-10-13 Your Tongue Will Lead You to Kiev Язык до Киева доведет 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
97 1884-10-19 And Beautiful Things Must Have Limits И прекрасное должно иметь пределы 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
98 1884-10-27 In a Home for the Terminally Ill and the Elderly В приюте для неизлечимо больных и престарелых 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
99 1884-10-27 The Mask Маска 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
100 1884-11-08 A Marriage of Convenience Брак по расчету (Роман в 2-х частях) 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
101 1884-11-10 Gentlemen of the Townsfolk: A play in two acts Господа обыватели : Пьеса в двух действиях 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
102 1884-11-24 A Speech and a Strap Речь и ремешок 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 skit
7
103 1884-12-01 Pictures From the Recent Past Картинки из недавнего прошлого Three short episodes involving the sharp borderline practices of a bank director and his underlings. 7
104 1884-12-01 The Newest Writer Новейший письмовник 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
105 1884-12-15 Marriage to the General Свадьба с генераломРассказ 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
106 1884-12-22 A Liberal Fool Либеральный душка 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
107 1884-12-27 The Christmas tree Елка 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 and somewhat sacrilegious spoof of the Christmas-present-giving tradition.
7
108 1884-12-28 The Exclamation Mark Восклицательный знак (Святочный рассказ) 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
109 1884-12-29 Out of Sorts Не в духе 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
110 1885-01-03 Festive Duty Праздничная повинность 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
111 1885-01-05 The Case of 1884 Дело о 1884 годе 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
112 1885-01-26 The Captain’s Uniform Капитанский мундир 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
113 1885-03-03 A Report Донесение 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 report that might perhaps might have seemed humorous in Russia but probably not elsewhere.
5
114 1885-03-23 Celebration Праздничные. Из записок провинциального хапуги 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
115 1885-03-30 Both are Better Оба лучше 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
116 1885-04-18 Hopeless Безнадежный.
Эскиз
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
117 1885-04-27 The Complicated Affair Канитель 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
118 1885-05-06 The Last Mohican Последняя могиканша 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
119 1885-05-20 The Diplomat Дипломат. Сценка 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
120 1885-05-21 My "She" Моя "она" 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
121 1885-05-24 A Fist’s Nest Кулачье гнездо 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
122 1885-05-24 Something about A. S. Dargomyzhsky Кое-что об А. С. Даргомыжском Two brief anecdotes about a composer, both slight and in a jocular vein. 6
123 1885-05-24 The Wallet Бумажник 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
124 1885-05-25 Abolished! Упразднили! 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
125 1885-05-25 The Threat Угроза 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
126 1885-06-01 The Crow Ворона 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
127 1885-06-15 Up the Ladder Вверх по лестнице 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
128 1885-06-17 A Guard in Custody Стража под стражей. Сценка 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
129 1885-06-20 My Wives Мои жёны 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
130 1885-06-23 An Intelligent Log Интеллигентное бревно. Сценка 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
131 1885-07-04 From the Memories of an Idealist Из воспоминаний идеалиста 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
132 1885-07-13 It’s Not Meant To Be! Не судьба! 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
133 1885-07-27 In a Carriage
# 2
В вагоне. Разговорная перестрелка 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
134 1885-07-31 Bridegroom and Dad Жених и папенька. Нечто современное. Сценка Petr Milkin has been visiting 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 – when he explains that he’s come to say good-bye because 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, but to no avail as the father finds a reason in each case to still find him acceptable. In desperation he declares to be insane, but then the father demands a medical certificate so off he goes to a doctor friend of his, who agrees to give such a certificate only to someone who actually wants to get married.
- an amusing spoof: yet another highly negative critique of the marriage institution.
8
135 1885-08-05 The Guest Гость. Сценка 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
136 1885-08-12 Horse and Quivering Doe Конь и трепетная лань 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
137 1885-08-17 The Dealer Делец 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
138 1885-08-21 The Wall Стена 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 the subject in Anna Karenina.
7.5
139 1885-08-24 The Whistlers Свистуны 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
140 1885-09-23 After the Benefit Performance После бенефиса. Сценка 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
141 1885-09-28 A Memo Записка 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
142 1885-09-30 General Education

Latest Findings in Dental Science
Общее образование. Последние выводы зубоврачебной науки 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
143 1885-10-05 Two Newspapermen Два газетчика. Неправдоподобный рассказ 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
144 1885-10-07 The Psychopaths Психопаты. Сценка 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
145 1885-10-14 The Indian Rooster Индейский петух. Маленькое недоразумение 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
146 1885-10-21 Sleepy Follies Сонная одурь 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
147 1885-10-28 Double Bass and Flute Контрабас и флейта. Сценка 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
148 1885-11-04 Ninotchka Ниночка. Роман 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 (cynical) comedy, almost surprising for a Russian author.
8
149 1885-11-09 Dear Dog дорогая собака 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
150 1885-11-14 The Ballroom Pianist Тапер 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
151 1885-11-18 No Place Без места 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
152 1885-12-02 The Rag Тряпка. Сценка 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
153 1885-12-16 A Cynic Циник 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
154 1885-12-21 An Entrepreneur Under the Sofa Антрепренёр под диваном 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
155 1885-12-25 A Dream. A Christmas story Сон. Святочный рассказ 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
156 1886-01-01 Masquerades
#2
Ряженые 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
157 1886-01-04 New Year’s Eve Martyrs Новогодние великомученики 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
158 1886-01-08 A Night in the Cemetery Ночь на кладбище. Святочный рассказ 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
159 1886-01-13 The First Debut Первый дебют. Рассказ 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
160 1886-01-25 The Biggest City Самый большой
город
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
161 1886-01-25 The Opening Открытие 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
162 1886-02-01 The Night Before the Trial Ночь перед судом 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
163 1886-02-08 Conversation Between a Drunk and a Sober Devil Беседа пьяного с трезвым чертом 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
164 1886-03-01 A Person Персона 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
165 1886-03-03 Poison Отрава 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
166 1886-03-15 My Conversation With the Postmaster Мой разговор с почтмейстером 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
167 1886-03-22 To Paris! В Париж! 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
168 1886-03-24 Spring Весной 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
169 1886-03-29 Lots of Paper Много бумаги 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
170 1886-03-29 The Rook Грач 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
171 1886-03-30 On the River На реке. Весенние картинки 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
172 1886-05-03 A Fairy Tale Сказка 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
173 1886-05-24 In a Boarding House В пансионе 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
174 1886-05-26 Nothing To Be Done От нечего делать. Дачный роман 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).
8.5
175 1886-05-31 The Boredom of Life Скука жизни 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 rather long and somewhat painful account of decline and loneliness in old age.
8.5
176 1886-07-19 A Rare Bird Rara avis 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
177 1886-09-25 A Bright Personality Светлая личность. "Рассказ идеалиста" 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
178 1886-09-25 A Drama Драма <1886> 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
179 1886-10-09 Ah, Teeth! Ах, зубы! 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
180 1886-10-12 Whining Нытье. Письмо издалека 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
181 1886-10-26 My Household Мой Домострой 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
182 1886-10-30 For the Information of Husbands К сведению мужей.
Научная статья
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
183 1886-11-27 The Playwright Драматург 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
184 1886-12-01 In Trouble Беда 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
185 1886-12-08 The Commission Заказ 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.
8
186 1886-12-15 The Jubilee Юбилей 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
187 1886-12-27 It Was Her! То была она! A trio of young maidens at a reception begs 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! An 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
188 1887-01-04 New Year’s Torture Новогодняя пытка. Очерк новейшей инквизиции 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
189 1887-03-18 An Encounter Встреча 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
190 1887-03-28 Life’s Hardships Житейские невзгоды 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
191 1887-04-25 Spring
#2
Весной. Сцена-монолог 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
192 1887-04-27 The Critic Критик An old 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
193 1887-06-15 One of Many Один из многих 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
194 1887-06-29 An Unpleasant Story Неприятная история 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
195 1887-08-08 Intruders: an Eyewitness Account Злоумышленники (Рассказ очевидцев) 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
196 1887-08-09 Before the Eclipse Перед затмением : Отрывок из феерии 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
197 1887-09-21 A Wedding Свадьба 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
198 1888-04-18 Excerpt Отрывок Five short excerpts from the diary of a retired senior civil servant, all of a more or less, mostly less, jocular content. 4
199 1888-04-22 Compelled Declaration Вынужденное заявление 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 story but a story nevertheless in a way – not however one that augments the author’s considerable theatrical reputation.
3
200 1890
 [1]
At the Zelenins’ У Зелениных 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
201 1890
 [1]
A Letter Письмо
(конец 1880-х — начало 1890-х
годов)
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 and of Kafka’s Letter to Father – we do believe!
9.5
202 1890
 [1]
Nice Things Красавицы (конец 1880-х — начало 1890-х годов?) 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
203 1892-12-27 The Terrible Night Страшная ночь 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 had 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
204 1895
 [1]
Schulz Шульц 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

2. OTHER UNTRANSLATED TEXTS BY CHEKHOV CLASSIFIED AS STORIES IN SOME RUSSIAN DOCUMENTS [THAT WE DON’T CLASSIFY AS STORIES]

date of pub. English_translation Russian title Comments___________________________________________________
1 1881-10-24 Antosha Chekhonte’s Advertisement Office Контора объявлений Антоши Ч Two pages of farcical advertisements.
2 1882
 [1]
A Love Affair Роман A 24-word description of a love affair 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’s just too microscopic.
3 1882
 [1]
Advertisements and Announcements Рекламы и объявления a one-page list of nonsense advertisements.
4 1882 Buckwheat Porridge Praises Itself Гречневая каша сама себя хвалит 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 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 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 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) 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 Nine short extravagant and wholly-incomprehensible-to-the-modern-reader comments on various Russian journals of the time.
10 1883-01-16 Bibliography Библиография 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 Answers to All the Long Questions Идеальный экзамен. Короткий ответ на все длинные вопросы 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 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 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) 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 Шампанское 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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! Attempted suicide Жизнь прекрасна! Покушающимся на самоубийство 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 1885-05-02 A Woman From a Drunkard’s Point of View Женщина с точки зрения пьяницы The drunkard in question proceeds to compare women of various ages and categories to drinks of many different sorts.
- not exactly in line with modern view of the female portion of humanity.
40 1885-05-04 About May О мае A mostly nonsense-filled half-page on the month of “love, lilacs and white nights.
41 1885-05-18 About This and That О том, о сём 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?" The friend replied “I think that you would feel much better now if it were not written by you but by me.
42 1885-03-30 Red Hill Красная горка 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.
43 1885-06-01 Trifles Финтифлюшки Five trifling jokes told over half a page.
44 1885-06-14 Fishy Business Рыбье дело. Густой трактат по жидкому вопросу 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.
45 1885-07-27 Something Serious Нечто серьёзное 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.
46 1885-07-27 About June and July Об июне и июле A half-page of declarations about these two months that explains “In May and August Russians wear fur coats and click their teeth, hence the Russian summer consists only of June and July.
48 1885-08-24 About August Об августе 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".
49 1885-10-02 Opinions on a Hat Disaster Мнения по поводу шляпной катастрофы Eight short thoughts of women on the subject of wearing hats in a theatre.
50 1885-11-02 A Guide For Those Who Want To Get Married Руководство для желающих жениться 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.
51 1885-12-07 Home Remedies Домашние средства 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.".
52 1886-01-04 Business Cards Визитные карточки 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”.
53 1886-01-11 A Competition Конкурс 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 X and Z; 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.
54 1886-04-26 About Women О женщинах 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.
55 1886-05-10 A Literary Table of Ranks Литературная табель о рангах 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.
56 1886-07-12 Dictionary for "Young Ladies" Словотолкователь для "барышен" 9 short one- or two-line aphorisms about 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”.
57 1886-10-18 Statistics Статистика 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.
58 1888-10-26 N. M. Przewalski Н.М.Пржевальский A mock and clearly farcical obituary of an imaginary scientific explorer on the occasion of his death in a far-flung region of Asia.
59 1888-12-04 Our Poverty Наше нищенство 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. That’s not what needs to be fought against, but what 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.
60 1893-01-24 The Good News Хорошая новость 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.

3. RUSSIAN-LANGUAGE DOCUMENTATION ON CHEKHOV’S STORIES

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 texts


Footnotes

[1published posthumously.

[2Taganrog, the author’s home town.