Chekhov Shorts: Sleepy

Title: Sleepy (*note – the translation read for this review was Pevear & Volokhonsky’s in Selected Stories of Anton Chekhov (Bantam Books)
Date Read: 16th March 2010
Briefly: The masters of the little nurse Varka are unrelenting in their demands of the thirteen-year-old. By day she lifts and carries, and by night she is forced to rock the cradle of a baby; who more often than not lies awake crying. Given that she has started to hallucinate, Varka is in desperate need of some sleep.
Afterthoughts: A superb tale from Chekhov, and one which plays on the whole idea of sleep deprivation leading to madness. Take a read of this one and you’ll find your empathy giving way to shock.
Notable Quote: The baby’s crying. For a long while he has been hoarse and exhausted with crying; but he still goes on screaming, and there is no knowing when he will stop. And Varka is sleepy. Her eyes are glued together, her head droops, her neck aches. She cannot move her eyelids or her lips, and she feels as though her face is dried and wooden, as though her head has become as small as the head of a pin.

Rating: ★★★★☆

*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. Such a great example of moving between dreams and reality. Such a great story.

    • Rob (Twitter: robaroundbooks)

      He captures the concept incredibly well doesn’t he? What an ending too eh? *evil grin*