#174 The Teacher of Literature

Today’s 9145 word story can be found here: http://www.chekhovshorts.com/stories/174.html

Travis review:

Today’s story can be framed as a young schoolteacher who pulled himself up from poverty and marries into a wealthy family only have his optimistic, happy nature turn into existential turmoil when he learns he might not have been a master of his own fate. The story, told in two parts is not laid out the way I described it above. Starting with a horse ride, Nikitin rides along with two sisters as they frolic across the countryside, playing pranks on villagers and laughing. It is interesting that the narrator is madly in love with the youngest daughter, Masha, but Chekhov spends much more time and details with the older, intellectually imperious Varya. A woman who’s unyielding opinions often caused Nikitin to do the following: “…he jumped up, clutched his head in his hands, and with a moan walked round the table, then he sat down a little way off.” The second half of the story is interesting because it is told in first person for several paragraphs through a diary. It is an abrupt change as Nikitin describes his wedding and how his financial condition has improved with Masha’s dowry. Chekhov also creates interesting distractions in the story. Nikitin has to contend with a pair of dogs in both parts that he loaths and make him ill at ease. Nikitin also has a teaching colleague, Ippolit Ippolititch, who is nothing more than conventional quotes and the shell of a man who is scared to live life. At the end of the story I wasn’t convinced with Nikitin’s despair about the family he married into is pure vulgarity. From the beginning there were signs of the wealthy family exercising their power, but Nikitin can’t say he was entirely ensnared into marriage. Masha’s father even dissuaded him, telling him to live out his youth. Despite the false note at the end, I liked the story as it felt well rounded and complete.

Rating: 6

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