#137 The Old House (A Story told by a Houseowner)

Find today’s 2424 word story here: http://www.chekhovshorts.com/stories/137.html

Travis review:

In today’s story, Chekhov tells a tale of misfortune through the voice of a landlord. It could be summarized as the slow downfall of a family after the mother’s death. This story stood out to me for it’s writing style. Long, blocky paragraphs with summaries and foreshadowing.  “…when fate wants to wipe you and your family off the face of the earth, it remains inexorable in its persecution, and the first misfortune is commonly only the first of a long series.” The narrator is dispassionate, seeming to have no emotional connection to the story he is telling. Whether his tenant, Putohin, is sober and apologetic with the rent or drunk and not making payments at all, it doesn’t seem to matter to him. It’s just the facts. Putohin’s depression and subsequent drinking lead the family to ruin, but the act of pilfering his son’s jacket for vodka is what finally unravels the widower. His last gasp of optimistic air, “It’s high time, indeed, to come to my senses. I’ve made a beast of myself, and now it’s over,” is immediately undercut by the landowner. “…[I] am tempted to say: “It’s too late, dear fellow! You are a dead man already.”” After the family’s sad fate is summarized, the landlord continues with the story of the next tenant. Human tragedy is just another anecdote the man tells.

Rating: 5


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