Chekhov Shorts: The First-Class Passenger

Title: The First-Class Passenger
Date Read: 19th October 2010
Briefly: Despite being an accomplished engineer, Krikunov is annoyed with the fact that he has never become a figure of popular fame. During his journey, he bemoans his lot to the poor fellow sitting opposite him in the train carriage.
Afterthoughts: What is most thrilling about this tale is that Chekhov ruminates on a topic which has never been more relevant than it is today. We may well think that ‘fame culture’ is a product of the twenty-first century, but Chekhov illustrates quite clearly – and with much charm and eloquence may I add – that such a phenomenon was as prevalent in the nineteenth-century too. On the strength of the quality of writing I would have recommended reading this story anyway (if you can ignore the strange oddity in translation where the annoying phrase vis-à-vis is employed – what was Ms. Garnett thinking about? :)), but the fact that it is so topically relevant makes me recommend this story ten times over.
Notable Quote: “You, a man of education, getting on in years, have never heard of me — a convincing proof! It is evident that in my efforts to gain fame I have not done the right thing at all: I did not know the right way to set to work, and, trying to catch fame by the tail, got on the wrong side of her.”

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).