Chekhov Shorts: A Trifle from Life

Title: A Trifle from Life
Date Read: 13th September 2011
Briefly: Nikolay Ilyitch Belyaev goes to visit the home of his long-term love interest, Olga Ivanovna Irnin. Finding Olga Ivanovna not at home, Nikolay Ilyitch settles down on a lounge chair in the drawing-room to wait for her. He soon discovers that he’s not alone. Olga’s young son Alyosha is also in the room. Nikolay begins striking up a conversation with the boy he has ignored completely since beginning his relationship with the boy’s mother.
Afterthoughts: What I adore about Chekhov is the way in which he swoops in on a small but episodic moment in a character’s life and delivers detail, before flying off again into the big blue yonder, leaving the reader to piece together whatever he can from a story that has no resolution. This perfectly titled story is a great example of this. The reader must decide for himself what will become of the characters in this story as a consequence of certain events, and that’s no bad thing (and fairly typical of Chekhov). It gives a sense of continuity; a suggestion that the characters have a life outside of the story, and that to me is something almost magical.
Notable Quote: In the twilight of the evening, Alyosha’s face, with his white forehead and black, unblinking eyes, unexpectedly reminded Belyaev of Olga Ivanovna as she had been during the first pages of their romance. And he felt disposed to be friendly to the boy.

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).