#082 A Tripping Tongue

Today’s story is 1262 words and can be found here:  http://www.eldritchpress.org/ac/jr/082.htm

Travis Review:

Today’s story feels modern, much like a socialite trophy-wife reuniting with her husband over dinner to tell him about her latest adventure that he funded before jet-setting off on her next foray. Perhaps my impressions are based on my time in Los Angeles in this crowd. Regardless, Chekhov sets up today’s story as a single, real-time moment over dinner. (I imagine it in a restaurant though there are no details of the location.) Natalya “in a never-ceasing flow of babble” describes her trip to Crimea with her friend Yulia. The slip of the tongue occurs when she originally denies being near Tatar guides. “I only had a glimpse of them in the distance. They were pointed out to me, but I did not take much notice of them.” Then, within a few breathes she contradicts herself to exploit her friend Yulia with a Tartar guide. While the husband points the inconsistency out, she blows it off with a statements like “You can’t take a step there without a guide” and “There, you are finding fault again.” Oblivious to the enormity of the lie she’s told, she continues her tale, because exploiting her friend Yulia is what’s most important in her young mind. By focusing her outrage on Yulia, she admits to having Mametkul, Yulia’s Tartar guide and grand passion, in her bedroom all day. This would seem like an absurd story — a woman admitting bad behavior to her husband — had I not witnessed similar exploits myself several years ago. I’ll differ from Steve, believing that she did have an affair (and I’m sure she could justify it with a phrase like “when in the Crimea” or “it’s part of their culture over there, silly”). She is still outraged and humiliated at being caught by Yulia. Her war with her frenemy is more important than concealing the truth from her husband until she finally buttons her lip at the end, possibly realizing she’s gone too far or more likely, living in her ego bubble, genuinely pouting because her husband isn’t upset at Yulia like he should be.  

Rating: 7

Steve Review:

Today we are introduced to Natalya Mihalovna, wife of Vassitchka, a civil councillor, who is reminiscing over dinner about her time in Crimea.  At first she states she “only had a glimpse [of the Tartars] in the distance” who later we discover serve as her personal guides in the mountains.  His wife tries to center the dinner conversation on gossiping about the marital transgression of her friend, Yulia, who accompanied her on the trip.  However, the husband catches her “tripping tongue” and most of the story is her denying any hint of an affair while the husband grins smugly.  I didn’t particularly enjoy this story mainly because I found the conversation boring.  It would have been interesting had Chekhov spent more time explaining Crimean culture and geography from the perspective of an aristocratic wife of a councillor.  It is never quite clear if Natalya actually had an affair but I suspect not.  However, her tripping tongue will undoubtedly give Vassitchka an advantage in any future marital debate.

Rating:  4

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