‘The Horse Stealers’ by Anton Chekhov, translated by Constance Garnett

The protagonist in this story is a weak, vainglorious and complaisant man who is nonetheless entrusted with an important package. Sheltering from a blizzard in a low inn, surrounded by brigands whom he feels the unaccountable urge to impress, it is obvious from the beginning that he is going to meet his downfall. But as a reader, my capacity to care was not reduced by the inevitability – in fact it was increased by it. The notion that character is fate is demonstrated beautifully; there’s this sense of clear-eyed empathy for human weakness – but also the sheer romance of folly, its allure and siren song, and the call of the void beneath it.

First published in 1890. Collected in The Horse-Stealers and Other Stories, Macmillan, 1921, latterly Ecco Press, 1986

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s