Chekhov Shorts: The Chemist’s Wife

Title: The Chemist’s Wife
Date Read: 11th May 2010
Briefly: Stuck in a humdrum life with an equally humdrum husband, the life of the chemist’s wife is set to get a little more exciting one evening when two officers pass by the pharmacy on their way home from an evening with the Police Captain.
Afterthoughts: Standard fare from Chekhov, but a wonderful tale nonetheless. I love Chekhov’s treatment of the character Tchernomordik – a man motivated simply by money and pharmacy – but not as much as I love the chance of freedom that he offers to the bored chemist’s wife, for the one night at least.
Notable Quote: Everything had long been asleep. The only person not asleep was the young wife of Tchernomordik, a qualified dispenser who kept a chemist’s shop at B—-. She had gone to bed and got up again three times, but could not sleep, she did not know why. She sat at the open window in her nightdress and looked into the street. She felt bored, depressed, vexed . . . so vexed that she felt quite inclined to cry — again she did not know why. There seemed to be a lump in her chest that kept rising into her throat. . . . A few paces behind her Tchernomordik lay curled up close to the wall, snoring sweetly. A greedy flea was stabbing the bridge of his nose, but he did not feel it, and was positively smiling, for he was dreaming that every one in the town had a cough, and was buying from him the King of Denmark’s cough-drops. He could not have been wakened now by pinpricks or by cannon or by caresses.

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).