Title: A Malefactor
Date Read: 11 March 2009
Word Count: 1437
Briefly: Denis Grigoryev stands before the judge charged with breaking Article 1081 of the Penal Code – the willful damage of a railway line. Or to be more exact, unscrewing the nuts that hold down the railway line. Denis soon reveals why he does such a thing and it turns out to be a practice that’s a bit more widespread than first thought.
Afterthoughts: Emm I don’t know whether Chekhov was having an ‘off day’ when he scribed this short, and/or whether the English translator Constance Garnett may have been as well, because this story just didn’t have the flow that other Chekhov stories seem to have. The humour is weak, the storyline shallow and the translation just feels a bit awkward. Then again maybe it’s just me on a reading ‘off day’. :o)
Notable Quote: “Denis Grigoryev!” the magistrate begins. “Come nearer, and answer my questions. On the seventh of this July the railway watchman, Ivan Semyonovitch Akinfov, going along the line in the morning, found you at the hundred-and-forty-first mile engaged in unscrewing a nut by which the rails are made fast to the sleepers. Here it is, the nut! . . . With the aforesaid nut he detained you. Was that so?”
*Story read as part of my Checkin’ Off The Chekhov Shorts reading challenge.