Most Russian literature is typified by a tragic darkness but Chekhov is able to get a broad smile with his story Without a Title and prove that it can be dangerous sticking with stereotypes.
The Head Gardener’s Tale
Two men sit and wait while the plants they have brought are packaged up and talking about justice the head gardener overhears and tells them a Swedish tale about a doctor who was so beloved by a town that when he was found murdered no one could believe anyone capable of killing him so they acquitted the murderer.
A journalist who has to write to order comes home and demands peace and quiet and then stays up until four in the morning writing. All the time his wife tells the children to be quiet and the word “Hush!” is the order of the day
Without a Title
This story has such a good ending, a bit like a joke, that it ranks as one of the favourites in this collection. A monastery surrounded by desert is cut off from the town until a drunken hunter appears. In response the leading member of the monks visits the town to remind them about God but comes back a broken man reeling off all of the sinful activities of the city dwellers. The next day there isn’t a soul left as all the monks have headed for the town.
Last story tomorrow…