Find today’s 6381 word story here: http://www.chekhovshorts.com/stories/197.html
I’m not sure why this story is considered one of the best in Chekhov’s canon. It is a good, solid story about a philanderer falling love for the first time with a conquest. Both adulterers are racked with emotions, yet it seems that Anna has more guilt and misery than Gurov. Yet Gurov has more to lose as the last chapter shows him walking with his daughter to school and discussing weather with her while he is on his way to a secret rendezvous with Anna. There are powerful internal scenes like Gurov seeing Anna as “…his sorrow and his joy…” and Anna looking at Gurov “….with dread, with entreaty, with love; she looked at him intently, to keep his features more distinctly in her memory.” Chekhov leaves the story open ended with the “…pair of birds of passage, caught and forced to live in different cages” committing to each other and presumably willing to travel the hard road of divorce and scandal. In previous stories such as The Duel, where a young man has made off with a married woman, or An Anonymous Story, where a married woman crashes in her lover’s apartment unannounced, we see the debilitating effects of the choice to leave one’s partner and carry on a new life. Chekhov ends where the real story begins. “A Woman with A Dog” is a set up for a larger story that doesn’t happen. I’m not a fan of the “artistic” choice to leave a story open without a true conclusion. Writing full endings takes courage. There are ways to write an open end where the reader knows that things will end up horrible or happy. We know things will be tough for Gurov and Anna, but we don’t know whether they’ll be able to stick together through all the turbulence that is coming. While superbly executed, I find this story lacks for not crossing the finish line.