Tag Archives: anton chekov

Dostoevsky’s works and characters give a detailed image of 19th C Russia

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DOSTOEVSKY

Fyodor Dostoevsky, one of Russia’s most influential writers, Culture Trip says, was influenced by the many hardships he experienced in his life. In an oppressive Tsarist Russia, he was arrested in 1849 for belonging to a literary group that discussed banned books critical of Tsarist Russia and was sentenced to death. But the sentence was commuted at the last minute. He spent 4 years in a Siberian prison camp and 6 years of compulsory military service in exile.

His barracks in Omsk, Siberia, as he describes it, in summer was intolerable closeness, in winter unendurable cold. All the floors were rotten. Filth on the floor an inch thick; one could slip and fall, “We were packed like herrings in a barrel. There was no room to turn around. From dusk to dawn it was impossible not to behave like pigs”. Classified as one of the most dangerous convicts, Dostoevsky had his hands and feet shackled until his release. In prison he suffered a lot of seizures, burned by fever, trembling and feeling too hot or cold, every night. Dostoevsky suffered a great deal and his suffering is reflected in his works.

His experiences helped him to create memorable characters that together formed a detailed image of 19th C Russia. Culture Trip says that Dostoevsky’s works bring forward the ‘little man’, a person you would pass on the street without giving a second thought, but in fact represents the life of the majority of people. They are the backbone of a country and only through understanding the life of a voiceless human can the psychological portrait of a country begin to be painted.

Thus, Crime and Punishment (1866) is the story of a poor man that commits a crime in order to survive, but then deals with a greater struggle than poverty- extreme guilt. Along the way, the reader encounters some of the lowest and pitiful creatures that inhabited the streets of St. Petersburg.

The Idiot (1869) has Myshkin as the main character, who is one of the most gentle and kind characters in literature, stuck in an imperfect world of judgmental and cunning people. Returning after undergoing treatment in a mental hospital, his involvement in a scandalous love affair leads him to be mistreated by people around him. That brings him back to where he started- a mental institution.

Dostoevsky’s first novel, Poor Folk (1846) is based on an exchange of letters between two people in St. Petersburg- the elderly Makar Devushkin and his beloved Varvara Dobroselova, a social novel that gives voice to the disadvantaged people in society. Devushkin’s love for his distant cousin Varvara leads him to continuously search for money to help support her, hoping one day he will eventually marry her. In the end she loses interest in him, after a rich widower, Mr. Bykov, proposes to her.

The other acclaimed novel, Demons I 1871-72) is a social and political satire, a psychological drama and a large scale tragedy. Demons is an allegory of the potentially catastrophic consequence of the political and moral nihilism that were becoming prevalent in Russia in the 1860’s .A fictional town descends into chaos as it becomes the focal point of an attempted revolution orchestrated by master conspirator, Pyotr Verkhovensky . The mysterious aristocratic figure of Nikolai Stavrogin, Verkhovensky’s counterpart in the moral sphere dominates the book.

Dostoevsky’s last novel, The Brothers Karamazov, (1880) is a passionate, philosophical novel that enters deeply into questions of God, free will and morality. It is a theological drama dealing with problems of faith, doubt and reason, in the context of a modernizing Russia with a plot that revolves around the subject of patricide.    

He also wrote what is called a Writer’s Diary, a collection of his writings. Despite a gambling addiction he acquired and times when he had to beg for money, he became one of the most widely read and highly respected Russian writers. Just as he was influenced by a wide variety of philosophers and authors including Pushkin Gogoi, Augustine, Shakespeare, Scott, Dickens and others, in turn he influenced a great number of later writers , including Russians such as Solzhenitsyn, Anton Chekov, philosophers like Friedrich Nietzsche and Jean Paul Sartre. His books have been translated into 170 languages.

Dostoevsky’s body of work consists of 12 novels, 4 novellas, 16 short stories and numerous other works. His most acclaimed novels include Crime and Punishment (1866), the Idiot ( (1869) , Demons  (1872) and the Brothers Karamazov (1880).His 1864 novella, Notes from Underground is considered to be one of the first works of existentialist literature.   

 Compiled by Janina Gomes 

https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

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Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases especially cancer. Our posts are meant for our readers that includes both children and adults and it has a huge variety in terms of content. We also accept donations for our mission. Should you wish to donate for the cause. The bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

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Our Publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(The book is about a young cancer patient. Now archived in 8 prestigious libraries of the US that includes Harvard College Library; Harvard University Library; Library of Congress; University of Washington, Seattle; University of Minnesota, Minneapolis; Yale University, New Haven; University of Chicago; University of North Carolina, at Chapel Hill University Libraries. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in libraries and archives of Canada, Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai; Jaipuria Institute of Management, Noida; India. Shoolini University, Yogananda Knowledge Center, Himachal Pradesh and Azim Premzi University, Bangalore).  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi; Available for reading in Indian National Bibliography, March 2016, in the literature section, in Central Reference Library, Ministry of Culture, India, Belvedere, Kolkata-700022)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be the undying characteristics of Lucknow. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014. It is included for reading in Askews and Holts Library Services, Lancashire, U.K; Herrick District Library, Holland and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Library, Mecklenburg County in North Carolina, USA).

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. It was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

(Is a story of an Indian salesman who is, humbly qualified. Yet he fights his ways through unceasing uncertainties to reach the top. A good read not only for salesmen. The book was launched on 10th February, 2018 in Gorakhpur Lit-Fest. Now available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

RHYTHM … in poems

(Published in January 2019. The book contains 50 poems. The poems describe our day to day life. The book is available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

MIRAGE

(Published in February 2020. The book is a collection of eight short stories available in Amazon, Flipkart and Notion Press)

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THE LADY WITH THE DOG by Anton Chekov

Copyright@shravancharitymission

Khidki (Window)

–Read India Initiative—

This is only an attempt to create interest in reading. We may not get the time to read all the books in our lifetime. But such reviews, talk and synopsis will at least convey what the book is all about.

    “The Lady with the Dog” is a short story by Anton Chekhov. First published in 1899. It describes an adulterous affair between Dmitri Dmitritch Gurov, an unhappily married, Moscow banker, and Anna Sergeyevna Von Diderits, a young married woman. The affair begins while both are vacationing alone in the Crimean sea resort of Yalta. The story comprises of four parts: Part I describes the initial meeting in Yalta, Part II the consummation of the affair and the remaining time in Yalta, Part III Gurov’s return to Moscow and his visit to Anna’s town, and Part IV Anna’s visits to Moscow. This is one of Chekhov’s most famous pieces of short fiction. Vladimir Nabokov, (Russian-born American novelist) for instance, considers it as one of the greatest short stories ever written. It has an average plot to my mind but then it is an interesting read.

    Dmitri Gurov works for a Moscow bank. He is under 40, married and has a daughter and two sons. But he is unhappy in his marriage, resulting in monotony and meaninglessness of his life. He is frequently unfaithful to his wife, and considers women to be of “a lower race”. While vacationing in Yalta, he sees a young woman walking along the seafront with her little Pomeranian, and endeavours to know her. The lady, Anna Sergeyevna, is also unhappily married and vacationing without her spouse. Anna and Dmitri soon commence an affair, and spend most of their time together, often walking and taking drives to the nearby village of Oreanda. Though, she is expecting her husband to come to Yalta, he eventually sends for her to come home, saying that something is wrong with his eyes. Gurov sees her off at the station. As they part, both feel that they would never see each other again, and that their brief affair is over.

    Returning to Moscow, to his loveless marriage, and to his daily routine, working by the day and clubbing by the night, Gurov expects to soon forget young Anna. But to his surprise, her memory keeps haunting him. Unexpectedly, he feels, he is deeply in love for the first time in his life, after many affairs and just as he is approaching middle age. He strongly feels that he must see Anna, despite the obvious complications. On the ruse of going to St. Petersburg to take care of some business, he sets off to her town to find her. Learning the location of the family’s residence from a hotel porter, he finds the house, only to realize that it would be futile to intrude. In despair, he rationalizes that Anna has probably forgotten him and found someone else, and heads back to his hotel.

    In the evening, he remembers having seen a sign earlier in the day announcing the opening performance of ‘The Geisha.’ When he reasons that Anna and her husband might come to see the play. So, he goes to the theatre. And, as expected the couple enters the theatre and he watches them intently. When the husband goes out for a smoke during the first interval, Gurov greets Anna, who is bewildered and runs from him. After following her through the theatre, he confronts her and she confides that she has been thinking of him constantly. Frightened, she begs him to leave and promises to come see him in Moscow.

She makes excuses to occasionally come to Moscow, telling her husband that she is going there to see a doctor, which he “believes and does not believe”. They are both now fully aware that for the first time in their lives they have actually fallen in love, and they both wonder how they might overcome the many challenges that face them and achieve their fervent wish to permanently live together. They desperately try to come up with a plan, but the story ends without offering a resolution:

    “They . . . talked of how to avoid the necessity for secrecy, for deception, for living in different towns and not seeing each other for long stretches of time. . . . and it was clear to both of them that . . . the most complicated and difficult part of their journey was just beginning.”

   Nabokov wrote about that unconventional ending:

“All the traditional rules … have been broken in this wonderful short story…. no problem, no regular climax, no point at the end. And it is one of the greatest stories ever written.”

    Interpretations and philosophical reflections

    The story beautifully captures the quiet desperation of the two protagonists, their dissatisfaction with their meaningless lives and loveless marriages, and their craving for something better. Their deep love for each other fills that void and radically transforms their outlook on life. But that love also breaks their hearts, for, in 19th century Russia, they find it almost impossible to break away and start a new life together.

    The story can be seen as “Gurov’s spiritual journey—his transformation from a connoisseur of women to a man tenderly devoted to a single ordinary woman.” The story can also be seen as “playing with the paradox that a lie—a husband deceiving a wife or a wife deceiving a husband—can be the fulcrum of truth of feeling, a vehicle of authenticity.”

    Maxim Gorky, another great Russian writer from a working-class background, saw the importance of the story as a wake-up call to people “to let go of sleepy, half-dead existence.”

    Robert Fulford offers yet another interpretation of the story:

    “What Chekhov says in this sophisticated parable is that love radically alters the landscape of existence. When touched by love, we know the world in a different way. Love changes the inner landscape, too. Under the pressure of love, Gurov looks inside himself and sees someone he has not known before, someone capable of feelings that he barely knew existed.”

    Gurov often looks behind his immediate surroundings and reflects on the meaning of our existence. Here for instance is one poetic passage:

    ‘Yalta was hardly visible through the morning mist; white clouds stood motionless on the mountaintops. The leaves did not stir on the trees, crickets chirped, and the monotonous hollow sound of the sea, rising up from below, spoke of the peace, of the eternal sleep awaiting us. So it must have sounded when there was no Yalta, no Oreanda here; so it sounds now; and it will sound as indifferently and monotonously when we are all no more. And in this constancy, in this complete indifference to the life and death of each of us, there lies hidden, perhaps, a pledge of our eternal salvation, of the unceasing movement of life upon earth, of unceasing progress towards perfection. Sitting beside a young woman who in the dawn seemed so lovely, soothed and spellbound in these magical surroundings—the sea, mountains, clouds, the wide open sky—Gurov thought how in reality everything is beautiful in this world when one reflects: everything except what we think or do ourselves when we forget our human dignity and the higher aims of our existence.”

    Chekhov poetically describes his vision of what real love could be like:

    “Anna Sergeyevna and he loved each other like people very close and akin, like husband and wife, like tender friends; it seemed to them that fate itself had meant them for one another, and they could not understand why he had a wife and she a husband; and it was as though they were a pair of birds of passage, caught and forced to live in different cages. They forgave each other for what they were ashamed of in their past, they forgave everything in the present, and felt that this love of theirs had changed them both.”

    In the story we see Dmitri Gurov who is bored with his wife and views women as the lower race and uses women to bring an excitement to his other-wise dull life. Dmitri falls in love with the lady, Anna, when on vacation in Yalta. They are forced to go back to their normal life. Gurov cant stop thinking about her and realizes he loves her. He travels through the country to try and find her and tell her how he doesn’t want to live without her. The story brings a strong ironic ending because Gurov who thought of women to be inferior and using them only for excitement, is now chasing one across the country wanting nothing more than to be with her.

By Kamlesh Tripathi

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https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

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Share it if you like it

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Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases especially cancer. Our posts are meant for our readers that includes both children and adults and it has a huge variety in terms of content. We also accept donations for our mission. Should you wish to donate for the cause. The bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

*

Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(The book is about a young cancer patient. Now archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be its undying characteristic. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. It was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

(Is a story of an Indian salesman who is, humbly qualified. Yet he fights his ways through unceasing uncertainties to reach the top. A good read not only for salesmen. The book was launched on 10th February, 2018 in Gorakhpur Lit-Fest. Now available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

RHYTHM … in poems

(Published in January 2019. The book contains 50 poems. The poems describe our day to day life. The book is available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

(ALL THE ABOVE TITLES ARE AVAILABLE FOR SALE IN AMAZON, FLIPKART AND OTHER ONLINE STORES OR YOU COULD EVEN WRITE TO US FOR A COPY)

*****

 

 

 

BOOK TALK: THE BET by Anton Chekov

Copyright@shravancharitymission

THE BET

by Anton Chekov

Khidki (Window)

–Read India Initiative—

This is only an attempt to create interest in reading. We may not get the time to read all the books in our lifetime. But such reviews, talk and synopsis will at least convey what the book is all about

    Anton Chekov, was a Russian playwright and a short-story writer. He was considered to be the greatest, among the writers of short fiction in history. His career as a playwright produced four classics. His best short stories are held in high esteem by many renowned writers and even critics. Chekov all his life practiced as a medical doctor along with his illustrious literary career. ‘Medicine is my lawful wife,’ he once said, ‘and literature is my mistress.’

    ‘The Bet’ is an 1889 short story by him about a banker and a young lawyer who enter into a bet. To, decide what is better death penalty or life in prison.

    The story opens with the banker reminiscing the occasion, of the bet some fifteen years ago. The guests at that party that he was hosting that day fell into a discussion of capital punishment. The banker argued that capital punishment is more humane than life imprisonment. Where, the young lawyer disagreed. Insisting he would choose, life in prison rather than death. So, to, arrive at a conclusion. They agree to a bet of some two million roubles. Thinking the lawyer won’t be able to spend fifteen years in solitary confinement. Thus the bet was struck. When the lawyer cast’s himself into isolation, for fifteen years.

    The man spends his time in confinement reading books, writing, playing piano, studying, drinking wine and educating himself. One finds him growing intellectually throughout the story. We see various phases in his term of imprisonment over the years. At first, the lawyer suffers from serious loneliness and depression. But soon he begins vigorous studies. About languages and other related subjects. Then, he ventures into a mix of science, literature, philosophy and some other random subjects. Further, he ends up reading some six hundred volumes in the course of four years. Then the Gospel followed by theology and histories of religion. In the final two years, the imprisoned lawyer reads immensely subjects of chemistry, medicine and philosophy and at times works of Byron or Shakespeare.

     In the meantime the banker’s fortune declines. He all of a sudden realises that if he loses the bet, paying off the debt will leave him bankrupt.

    So, the day before, the fifteen-year period concludes. The banker resolves to kill the lawyer so that he doesn’t have to pay him the money. And on his way to do so, the banker finds a note written by the lawyer. The note only declares that during the time of his confinement. He has learned to despise material goods as fleeting things and he believes that knowledge is worth more than money. Therefore, he elects to renounce the reward of the bet. The banker is moved and shocked to his bones after reading the note. He kisses the strange man on the head and leaves the lodge weeping, relieved not to have to kill anyone. The prison warden later reports, that the lawyer has left the guest house. Thus losing the bet but proving his point that solitary confinement is more humane than death punishment as it gives a chance to a person (the lawyer in this story) to develop himself. The lawyer also unwittingly saves his own life by writing the note.

 CHARACTERS

    The lawyer is seen to be persistent, intelligent and self motivating. He doesn’t break down in the 15 years of imprisonment as the banker had foretold. He is intelligent by the virtue of reading so many books, which reflects on his eagerness to associate with other men, rather than claiming the final prize. He starts as a young impatient person, ready to spend 15 of his best years of life for 2 million roubles. His character of being a person with no interest in materialistic luxury is reflected when he renounces the 2 million and settles with just having proved his point.

    Whereas, the banker likes to be in a position of authority. Where, he likes to wield power over others. Especially those, who happen to disagree with him. The character changes drastically from the beginning of the story when he seems to be very free handed as he easily bets to pay two million. But later, lack of wealth drives him to dishonesty and a plan for murder. This also signifies the weak character of the banker. He is very attached to the materialistic luxuries of life and values human life less than his luxuries. So he plans to kill the lawyer for money and nothing but money changes his mind.

By Kamlesh Tripathi

*

https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

*

Share it if you like it

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Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases especially cancer. Should you wish to donate for the cause. The bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

*

Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(The book is about a young cancer patient. Now archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be its undying characteristic. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. It was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

(Is a story of an Indian salesman who is, humbly qualified. Yet he fights his ways through unceasing uncertainties to reach the top. A good read not only for salesmen. The book was launched on 10th February, 2018 in Gorakhpur Lit-Fest. Now available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha

(ALL THE ABOVE TITLES ARE AVAILABLE FOR SALE IN AMAZON, FLIPKART AND OTHER ONLINE STORES OR YOU COULD EVEN WRITE TO US FOR A COPY)

*****