Please find the 37,799 word novella here: http://www.chekhovshorts.com/stories/184.html
Chekhov presents as he has in many stories, a passionate young man full of intense ideology. Unlike most of the young men in his stories though, Misail is cut from a different cloth. His talk is not idle bluster. He follows through on his passion to give up his social position that is so important to his father and to not only to live the life of peasant, but to become one. He is undaunted by the humiliation and threats given to him from opposite sides of the social spectrum, from the governor to the village idiot. I have to admit the entire time I thought he might give up and go back to his rich father, playing the part of the prodigal son. Much like the lyrics in Pulp’s song Common People, “But still you’ll never get it right, ‘Cause when you’re laid in bed at night, Watching roaches climb the wall, If you called your dad he could stop it all...” I didn’t believe that Misail would continue to live in the wallow of poverty since he could so easily pull himself out. Yet, even under the worst circumstances, losing his wife, his sister, his housing… he does not change his situation. Chekhov, writing in the first person through Misail’s point of view, documents all the corruption of the rich and powerful that Misail sees and then has Misail endure petty corruptions of the peasants. He never linked the corruption at the top effects the attitudes of those on the bottom. It was more of a wretched mass of humanity, but at least the poor were obvious in their deceit. Misail, while arrogant and brash in the beginning, becomes more like a Christ like figure, taking numerous insults and indignities while remaining honest that he is respected. It is also interesting that two rich women were interested in Misail as well. His intentional poverty had made his a star. Although this story is long, I enjoyed it because it wasn’t numerous chapters of men chatting about philosophy, but chapters with action along with discussion and thoughts about man’s place in the universe.