#123 A Play

Find today’s 2048 word story here: http://www.chekhovshorts.com/stories/123.html

Chekhov returns to his earlier comical and satirical roots after a recent string of dark and melancholy works. In this particular piece, Chekhov toys with formats, bringing playwriting structure into a traditional short story. I also wonder if elements of the story are a mixture of autobiography and wish fulfillment. Pavel Vassilyevitch is introduced as a famous writer not by Chekhov, but by an obnoxious admirer, Mme. Murashkin. It is as if Pavel is an everyday person to the narrator. From the beginning it obvious that things are going to go bad. “Pavel Vassilyevitch liked no articles but his own. When threatened with the necessity of reading other people’s, or listening to them, he felt as though he were facing the cannon’s mouth.” Yet as Mme. Murashik reads her work, any reader will cringe at the lines. I believe that Chekhov is mocking the saccharine, overwritten plays of his era by creating horrid, stilted lines under Murashkin’s authorship:

ANNA: You are consumed by analysis. Too early you have ceased to live in the heart and have put your faith in the intellect.

VALENTIN: What do you mean by the heart? That is a concept of anatomy. As a conventional term for what are called the feelings, I do not admit it.”

Chekhov, besides being an innovator of the short story, also brought in modern plays that were realistic and people were subtle in action and speech. According to Wikipedia he called his scripts “theatre of mood” and a “submerged life in the text.” The story ends with an act of violence, yet reader sympathize with murderer as undoubtedly the jury did too after hearing those dreadful lines.

Rating: 5

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