‘Misery’ by Anton Chekhov, trans. Constance Garnett

I cannot make up my mind whether it is the case that, as I get older, I become more in touch with my emotions, or whether, as I get older, life’s painful reality becomes more apparent. Perhaps they amount to the same thing. Either way, I cry more now than I used to. This Chekhov story might stand as a marker of the change. A long time ago — fifteen years at least, perhaps twenty — I went on a Chekhov jag, reading his stories and little else for months. I read this story then, I know I did, but it vanished from my memory until I read it again last summer and found myself bawling at its end in a way that might have made my younger self laugh. Also, that line about cakes of snow falling off the horse’s back.  

In Anton Chekhov’s Short Stories (W. W. Norton, 1979) and available online here, in a different translation

One thought on “‘Misery’ by Anton Chekhov, trans. Constance Garnett

  1. My first Chekhov story. Read it 40 years ago, and it still breaks my heart, more than ever now. The ending description of the horse breathing on Iona’s hands, which prompts him to tell story of his dead son — that’s what does it for me. I can feel that breath as if I were standing in Iona’s place.

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