#158 Gusev

Find today’s 5602 word story here: http://www.chekhovshorts.com/stories/158.html

Travis review:

It is interesting that today’s story is named after one of the invalid soldiers and not titled “Sick Bay” or “Voyage Home.” While the story centers around Gusev and we see a few of his fever dreams, it is his fellow patient, Pavel Ivanitch, that says anything introspective or intelligent. Gusev is a brute and a dullard relieved from duty as a servant’s officer for fighting four Chinamen because he was bored. And according to him, his brother is even more cruel and stupid. I like the set up of sick soldiers and sailors stuck in room on a boat unable to move. It could be a play. Pavel would remain as he is, but Gusev would need to be more active (and interesting.) Chekhov invests unnecessary time in dreams about bulls without eyes and Gusev humiliating himself. Interesting, but not memorable. He also gives vivid descriptions of the ocean, marine life and the sky above. “The sky turns a soft lilac. Looking at this gorgeous, enchanted sky, at first the ocean scowls, but soon it, too, takes tender, joyous, passionate colours for which it is hard to find a name in human speech.” It was interesting to follow a funeral at sea and the descent of the corpse, but the best part of the story is  when an unnamed soldier dies in the middle of a card game. “Suddenly something strange happened to one of the soldiers playing cards. . . . He called hearts diamonds, got muddled in his score, and dropped his cards, then with a frightened, foolish smile looked round at all of them. “I shan’t be a minute, mates, I’ll . . .” he said, and lay down on the floor.” That scene is more memorable than the rest of the story.

Rating: 

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