Wednesday, 4 March 2009


(Virtual Tour 2009 - Around Europe without Leaving Your House)Russian literature is so vast, but this time my choice was made simply because of visual stimulation (by the way doing IQ tests I get the highest scores for visual abilities). Quite small green, red, blue, brown and yellow books stashed on my grandma’s shelves attracted my attention. These happened to be compediums of short stories written by Anton Chekhov.

I’ve heard that name before, I knew he was a writer, I knew one of his plays (“The Cherry Orchard”) nether the less there wasn’t anything else I could have told you about him. But now my knowledge has increased. So hopefully I won’t ever forget that Anton Chekhov is considered to be one of the greatest short-story writers in world literature.

He was a doctor (I could have guessed it after reading his story “Ward Number 6”), who used to say “medicine is my lawful wife and literature is my mistress”. It is thought that he started writing his stories for money, but later on Chekhov’s artistic ambition grew and he developed his original style - used something that is called “stream-of-consciousness” – portrayed inner monologues of his characters.

From the stories that I read the one that made the biggest impact on me is called “Rothschild’s Fiddle” (later on I found out that Russian composer Veniamin Fleishman even composed a one-act opera that was called “Rothschild’s Violin” – must be a very sad one).

The main character of the story Yakov Ivanov - a poor old coffin-maker is so engrossed in counting his losses that he never notices anything that’s around him: scolds his wife and tries to save on everything. He can’t work on a Sunday – it’s a loss, someone from his village is sent to a hospital in town and later on dies there – it’s a loss. When Yakov’s wife gets ill he makes a coffin for her and after she dies he writes out an invoice: Marfa Ivanova – 2r. 40kp. And of course it’s a loss… Yakov managed to realize what his mistakes were, but I guess it’s really sad that he did so just before his death. (I’m not going to mention the fiddle and who Rothschild is – I need to leave some secrets.)

Reading this story I thought of myself and how I like to count my time... Sometimes I believe that I haven’t got time even for a hug or a few friendly phrases – that would be a loss of precious minutes! But then am I not just like Yakov? Am I not robbing my loved ones of something that could make them happier?

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