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Selected Stories of Anton Chekovby Anton Chekhov
Synopses & Reviews
The Death of a Clerk
One fine evening the no less fine office manager Ivan Dmitrich Cherviakov1 was sitting in the second row of the stalls, watching The Bells of Corneville2 through opera glasses. He watched and felt himself at the height of bliss. But suddenly . . . This but suddenly occurs often in stories. The authors are right: life is so full of the unexpected But suddenly his face wrinkled, his eyes rolled, his breath stopped . . . he put down the opera glasses, bent forward, and . . . ah-choo As you see, he sneezed. Sneezing is not prohibited to anyone anywhere. Peasants sneeze, police chiefs sneeze, sometimes even privy councillors sneeze. Everybody sneezes. Cherviakov, not embarrassed in the least, wiped his nose with his handkerchief and, being a polite man, looked around to see whether his sneezing had disturbed anyone. And now he did become embarrassed. He saw that the little old man sitting in front of him in the first row of the stalls was carefully wiping his bald head and neck with his glove and muttering something. Cherviakov recognized the little old man as General Brizzhalov,3 who served in the Department of Transportation.
I sprayed him thought Cherviakov. He's not my superior, he serves elsewhere, but still it's awkward. I must apologize.
Cherviakov coughed, leaned forward, and whispered in the general's ear:
Excuse me, Yr'xcellency, I sprayed you . . . I accidentally . . .
Never mind, never mind . . .
For God's sake, excuse me. I . . . I didn't mean it
Ah, do sit down, please Let me listen
Cherviakov became embarrassed, smiled stupidly, and began looking at the stage. He looked, but felt no more bliss. Anxiety began to torment him. In the intermission he went up to Brizzhalov, walked around him, and, overcoming his timidity, murmured:
I sprayed you, Yr'xcellency . . . Forgive me . . . I . . . it's not that I . . .
Ah, come now . . . I've already forgotten, and you keep at it said the general, impatiently twitching his lower lip.
Forgotten, but there's malice in his eyes, thought Cherviakov, glancing suspiciously at the general. He doesn't even want to talk. I must explain to him that I really didn't mean it . . . that it's a law of nature, otherwise he'll think I wanted to spit. If he doesn't think so now, he will later . . .
On returning home, Cherviakov told his wife about his rudeness. His wife, it seemed to him, treated the incident much too lightly. She merely got frightened, but then, on learning that Brizzhalov served elsewhere, she calmed down.
But all the same you should go and apologize, she said. He might think you don't know how to behave in public
That's just it I apologized, but he was somehow strange . . . Didn't say a single sensible word. And then there was no time to talk.
The next day Cherviakov put on a new uniform, had his hair cut, and went to Brizzhalov to explain . . . Going into the general's reception room, he saw many petitioners there, and among them was the general himself, who had already begun to receive petitions. Having questioned several petitioners, the general raised his eyes to Cherviakov.
Yesterday, in the Arca
Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, the highly acclaimed translators of War and Peace, Doctor Zhivago, and Anna Karenina, which was an Oprah Book Club pick and million-copy bestseller, bring their unmatched talents to The Selected Stories of Anton Chekhov, a collection of thirty of Chekhov’s best tales from the major periods of his creative life.
Considered the greatest short story writer, Anton Chekhov changed the genre itself with his spare, impressionistic depictions of Russian life and the human condition. From characteristically brief, evocative early pieces such as “The Huntsman” and the tour de force “A Boring Story,” to his best-known stories such as “The Lady with the Little Dog” and his own personal favorite, “The Student,” Chekhov’s short fiction possesses the transcendent power of art to awe and change the reader. This monumental edition, expertly translated, is especially faithful to the meaning of Chekhov’s prose and the unique rhythms of his writing, giving readers an authentic sense of his style and a true understanding of his greatness.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
The Death of a Clerk
One fine evening the no less fine office manager Ivan Dmitrich Cherviakov1 was sitting in the second row of the stalls, watching The Bells of Corneville2 through opera glasses. He watched and felt himself at the height of bliss
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