“Chekhov Shorts”: The Looking-Glass

Title: The Looking-Glass
Date Read: 24 August 2009
Word Count: 1536
Briefly: Obsessed with the thought of marriage, Nellie, the daughter of a landowner, constantly dreams day and night about the time when she will finally be wed. Her dreams become so vivid that she begins to visualise her future life being played out in the reflection of her looking-glass.
Afterthoughts: I was surprised by this story because it reads in a way that doesn’t make it instantly recognisable as a work of Chekhov. Aside from minuscule elements of Chekhovian humour this is a more serious story from the Russian master (there’s even a hint of Poe about it). Not a particularly bad story but not as well-rounded as I’ve found most Chekhov shorts to be.
Notable Quote: “And so it was not strange that, seeing before her a handsome, gently smiling face, she was conscious of bliss, of an unutterably sweet dream that could not be expressed in speech or on paper. Then she heard his voice, saw herself living under the same roof with him, her life merged into his. Months and years flew by against the grey background. And Nellie saw her future distinctly in all its details.”

Rating: ★★½☆☆

*Story read as part of my Checkin’ Off The Chekhov Shorts reading challenge.

About Rob

Rob, a self-confessed bibliophile, is without any hope of rehabilitation. He gets unnaturally excited over anything book-shaped, and if book sniffing were a crime then he would have been locked up years ago (which wouldn't bother him in the slightest provided his cell was lined with books).


  1. It must be noted that you largely contributed to my undertaking of reading more short stories (much more). I’ve even started the Chekhov / Maupassant challenge, though am much much much, much much slower than you. I’ve got to admit having a thing for PG Woodehouse’s, Kafka’s and Hemingway’s, but I’ve expanded my readings to Mansfield, Roth, Munro, …
    Thank you Rob.

  2. And I forgot to mention the fifty-two stories ! Shame on me since they are highly enjoyable.

  3. Rob (Twitter: robaroundbooks)

    Nick – I’m deeply honoured that you’ve attributed your increase in short story reading to me. Of course I only gave you your initial spurt. It’s the great short story tellers themselves – Chekhov, Maupassant et al, who’ve really motivated you to read more.

    And absolutely Nick, Harper Perennial’s fine Fifty-Two Stories is a great motivator for short story reading.