Monday, September 7, 2015

Gooseberries - Anton Chekhov

Three short stories - The Kiss, The Two Volodyas and Gooseberries by the Russian physician, playwright and writer. Also considered one of the greatest short story writer of all times.

In 'The Kiss' a shy, young officer in the army experiences a romantic experience in a landlord's house when he loses his way. An unknown woman embraces him from behind and kisses him, mistaking him for someone else. Before he can see her face she realises her mistake and disappears. The young man's thoughts are tormented by the young lady, he imagines who she could have been and has this mad desire to go back to that town. When he does get there, at the peak of his torment, he realises the futility of it all. Brilliant.

In 'Two Volodyas', an unusual story by all means, a young and spirited lady marries an older man for his fortune. He is charming, good looking and a ladies man, but much older. The younger Volodya is his protege of sorts. The lady has a brief affair with the arrogant younger man who soon tires of her. She is then consumed with the life of her friend who was equally spirited and gregarious, popular with the men, who chooses a life of a nun. She cannot make sense of her life nor of the nun.

In 'Gooseberries' a man of town tells his friend a tale of his younger brother. The brother had a job in town and an ordinary life but he dreams of life in the village. He tells his brother how he wanted his house in the village to be - always with a gooseberries shrub in the picture. The older brother gets irritated with this. Meanwhile the younger brother marries an older woman (seems to be obsessed with this) and gets her fortune. Upon which  he buys a house in the village and gets it done exactly as he wants - gooseberry shrub and all. While narrating the story the older brother loses his cool - wondering why anyone could live a lie like that. It's obvious who is more upset.

It's a unique style as one can make out from the stories. The stories have very fine threads and are based on subtle thoughts that lie deep inside, which show as confused acts on the outside. Surprisingly enough, the stories hang around your head, despite the lack of a clear and conclusive end. The actions and thoughts of the characters are vague and frustrating in their conflict and in sharp contrast the description of the world around them is clear and precise. No wonder he is considered a master.

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