Chekhov Stories

On an even hotter day today we started gardening even earlier.

While Jackie concentrated on tidying and watering,

despite the efforts of another dislodged and overhanging climbing rose, I

cleared another arm of the Rose Garden of weeds.

Just before lunch, Mark and Rob, two of Aaron’s team, arrived to set about the Back Drive. Mark pruned the hawthorn and Rob began the weeding.

A typically insightful post from josbees sent me back to reread

Nigel Lambourne’s frontispiece, ‘ ‘I followed Zinochka stealthily and saw …’ ‘ is suitably enigmatic.

The cloth boards and spine are printed with the artist’s images. The spine is rather faded, and a little spotty, but it is almost 50 years old.

Zinochka and the young boy feature in ‘Hatred’ (1887). Elisaveta Fen, in her introduction states that ‘the tale, told by a middle-aged man reminiscing about an incident in his childhood’ displays the author’s ‘seemingly effortless penetration into the mental processes of a small boy…..’conveyed with great economy and as convincingly as his more detailed analysis of the psychological states of characters in his later stories’. I would agree with these observations, but am left wondering why the adult heroine maintained hatred for her young brother-in-law for spilling the beans about what he had seen. I am reminded of a charismatic late lifelong friend of mine who inspired either love or hatred and once said to me that he didn’t mind which people felt, as long as they did not find him boring. Did Zinochka feel two sides of the same coin?

‘The girl curled herself up in the case’ illustrates ‘A Romantic Adventure with a Contrabass’ (1886). I would agree with Fen’s opinion that ‘It’s humour is light and gentle, characteristic of Chekhov in a playful mood’.

I will feature more as I work my way through the book.

Late this afternoon we drove to Pilley lake for our roughly weekly record photos. From both sides the further receding is apparent; for the second of the two shots across the reflecting lake I shifted the viewpoint to take in the foxgloves and the brambles.

On the moorland at East Boldre the cattle mostly sat and chewed the cud, while the ponies stood and grazed or chewed each other’s necks.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s delightful savoury rice; prawns of the tempura and hot and spicy variety; and tandoori chicken tikka, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Fleurie started a couple of days ago.


  1. I haven’t read Chekhov for years – I imagine the black spines of my books will have turned almost white by now as they too must be fifty years old at least. You have featured lovely animals today.

  2. haha, the ponies made me think of the couple in bed with the old line, “Honey, scratch my back.”

  3. It astonishes me how beautifully clean and well groomed the ponies and cattle of the New Forest look…
    I spend the day outside in my garden and finish the day covered in dust and ‘bits’!
    The animals seem to have a comfortable but soporific air about them today. Understandable, given the temperature!

  4. A bit nippy here for Norm to take his shirt off…what a sight. πŸ˜‰ 5C this morning. I think I’ll give the garden a miss until the temperature rises at least another 10C.

    Where do you fine these old books? This one I might have to start looking for.

  5. I like Checkov a lot. He wrote some amusing one act plays which were published by Penguin (I think), which we performed as students.

    We could do with a bit of your heat (but not too much.).

  6. I too feel I would prefer be loved or hated. God forbid I be ignored. That would be the professional actor still deep inside of me.

  7. Beautiful illustrations for your Chekov book. I am struggling with guilt, crime, sin and conscience in Crime and punishment at the moment (and not a single picture)?

  8. Yes, it’s always good to have help weeding! As for the cattle, they never look comfortable lying down to me, but I suppose they must be.

  9. I like these illustrations and the book cover. Seems like I must have read something by Chekov at some point, but don’t recall. Maybe something to explore. Some of those cows have expressive faces, like they have something to say. Glad you’re getting help with the garden.

  10. You have enlisted more support in your war against the weeds. I have read Chekhov’s stories in my teenage years. They never failed to grip and surprise me. Russian stories contain intriguing details and are intensely psychological. I will wait for more. The weekly visit to the designated spot is getting interesting!

  11. I’m pleased that Aaron’s team are finally back to assist with the garden. It must be a great relief to you both, especially in the hot weather.

    It’s still too early for the foxgloves in our garden, though I suppose they could be in bloom further down towards the valley. My rhododendrons didn’t begin to flower until about three weeks ago.

  12. I did “The Cherry Orchard” as a set book for Russian A-Level, and it’s well worth seeing or reading if you don’t know it. Supposedly Chekhov’s trademark in his short stories was always to end them on a minor note, with no really big event as an ending. It’s a long time since I read any, but most of them do fit that formula if my memory serves me well.

  13. These illustrations are filled with such depth of emotion! Amazing!
    Glad you have some helpers back to help with the garden! YAY!
    Such sweet bovine faces! πŸ™‚ And love the horses helping each other out…”No…a little to the left….yes…aw…right there! Thanks!” πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜€ The bovine and the equine all look healthy!

  14. I began paying attention to Chekhov when I began my blog. My stated purpose in blogging was to learn to write, but I avoided workshops and how-to books. Instead, I took a few aphorisms as my guides, and one came from Chekhov:
    β€œDon’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”

  15. Hello Derrick,
    I must say- I had to do a double take. The photo of the fellow without a shirt on made me say – wow! And then I realized that I have completely adapted to life in Japan after 10 years. You see, here, they would consider you absolutely insane to work in the heat without being covered up from head to toe. When we first moved here I was bewildered at how, as soon as the sun grew warm, no one ventured outside unless they were wearing long sleeves, a neck scarf, hat and long pants! Every inch of skin is shielded from the sun.
    Anyway- I was reminded of the cultural differences!
    I’m glad you have help. Gardening in high heat isn’t easy. Love the beautiful animal shots!

  16. I’ve seen some of his plays, but I don’t think I’ve read any Chekhov stories. More wonderful illustrations, as well as your own photos. I particularly like the three cattle–it’s as if you posed them. ?

  17. Curious cat that I am, I pulled out volume 3 of my Chekhov’s set which contains short stories (Stalin’s era, 1944 – 1951) to look at the illustrations. I remembered disliking them then, and I still dislike them now, although the artists had been quite famous in Soviet Russia. The three artists, going by a collective name Kukryniksy, constructed of the first syllables of their last names, excelled in the art of caricature / political cartoon. I did not feel it was appropriate to Chekhov, yet I understand the ideological message behind the style. Having said that, I am somewhat more impressed by illustrations you have shared, Derrick, but still, something elusively “Chekhovian” is lacking.

  18. My mother was very fond of Tchekov and his theater. Now short stories? I’ll make a mental note. I may get closer to decent bookstores in the near future.
    The artist is English I imagine? Good work. Similar to Hans Erni. Very much fifties or sixties.

      1. Thanks very much for the link. He was a good artist. Lived nearly a 100 years. I particularly liked the last one. 1971 I think. Very typical of the era. (I think I saw Jane Birkin lurking in the background) Cheerio.

  19. These are good illustrations, too! The ponies and cows were also a treat. πŸ™‚

    I am glad Aaron’s group is able to help you and Jackie with the work.

  20. ” The spine is rather faded, and a little spotty, but it is almost 50 years old.” The age may be wrong, but this might describe me on a bad day!

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