Ever since one of my father’s friends gave me a collection of translated short stories when I was 11, I have loved the short story. My earliest contacts with the outside world, at a time when my world knew no TV or internet, and the BBC was too boring, was through the rich world that Hemingway, Victor Hugo, Chekhov, and Jack London depicted in their masterful short stories. Of course back then I read their works translated into my native language.

The collection that I had received as a gift included Chekhov’s “The Chameleon.” A classic. It defined beaurocratic hypocrisy and forever left a distaste in my mouth for their type. Of course back then in my country life I could have identified well with the uncorrupted peasant protagonists of most of his stories. Later I went on to read most of Chekhov’s short stories and continue to do so to this day. In college I checked “The Portable Chekhov” out of the school library and kept renewing it through four years. I am doing that with one from the local library here. One of these days I should buy myself a collector’s edition of his immortal works.

But the occasion for this post, besides the fact that in two days Chekhov would have been 147 years old, is a quote I came across from Chekhov which makes me admire him as much as it makes me feel a little uneasy:

“My holy of holies is the human body, health, intelligence, talent, inspiration, love, and absolute freedom -freedom from violence and falsehood, no matter how the last two manifest themselves.”


~ by safrang on January 16, 2007.

2 Responses to “Chekhov”

  1. […] Today I treated myself to two books: Francine Prose’s ‘Reading Like a Writer,’ and a collection of Chekhov’s short stories, ‘The Portable Chekhov.’ No, this was not a spree of impulsive buying, even though I had gone to Borders only to read my gift copy of David Mitchel’s Number9Dream that I have been reading on and off for the past week (or by one account, for the past two years, since it was first assigned as course reading material which of course I skipped in favor of other non-classroom reading material.) I had meant to buy Prose’s book as early as when I sat my eyes upon it earlier in the year, and Chekhov’s collection (that has been my virtual companion for the past five years on loan from my college library and the community library here) as early as this post. […]

  2. […] upon a time when i was still in watan and my sole literary companion was a collection of 54 translated short stories, i read this story by one w. somerset maugham (i […]

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