Find today’s 2522 word story here: http://www.chekhovshorts.com/stories/057.html
In this story, Chekhov writes a great character study of self-delusion. A hypersensitive, love drunk man of letters with a booming ego gives a first person account of his life from the ecstasy of writing a love letter to the present, his wedding night. It is apparent that the “love” this narrator feels for Sasha is superficial as they are mismatched in education and interest. This best exemplified when he asks Sasha what kind of books she has and she responds with “All sorts.” This response reminded me of 2008 American Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin‘s response to the question, what newspapers and magazines she had read. (Her answer was “…all of them, any of them…“) More examples are given about how he and Sasha are out of sync when his visits to her during the engagement end up in pure frustration. I also had the impression that the narrator is friendless from the section where he loses his temper and “…went out of the house and walked about the streets in the company of the new cane I had bought.” I would argue that the narrator is in love with being in love. Sasha could have been any other young woman, so long as she was not brighter or more educated than him. His insecure ego requires him to wed somebody beneath him. Soon this glossy varnish of love will fade and all of his wife’s flaws that he has been cataloguing and forgiving “it all almost unconsciously…” will turn into a self-aggrandizing tale of misery.
The complexities of love for love sake…Chekhov introduces us to an unnamed man who takes us on the journey of his life from love’s first lustful bite to realities of life as a husband. I found myself openly laughing at a few of the observations he makes as he comes to know his dear Sasha. The context of a few lines like “not a single comma”, “some other boring object”, “my outing is knocked on the head”, and “I want a glass of beer” were particularly humorous. I started off assuming that he believed his love for Sasha was so great that it caused anything she did to necessarily fail in order to prove it to himself–reminiscent of a Seinfeld episode. By the end, I’m left wondering how long their marriage will last. Is it true that he loves her enough to “forgive it all” or will her list of defects, and the fact that he focuses on them, make him wish for someone else? It’s difficult to say…the story is too short. I agree with Travis in that I think he is in love with being in love…but I also think there is a deeper truth being revealed. Nobody’s perfection outlives the first date because nobody is perfect. Thankfully perfection has very little to do with love and is certainly not a requirement. The problem with our narrator is he appears tolerant but unhappy with Sasha. This does not bode well as I would argue happiness, unlike perfection, is a requirement for love.