Chekhov Shorts: Enemies

Title: Enemies
Date Read: 19th November 2013
Briefly: Not five minutes after his only son passes away from illness, there’s a knock at the door which stirs district doctor Kirilov from his grief. The visitor is Abogin. His wife has been taken gravely ill, and he is imploring the doctor to come with him to help his wife. Stricken with grief the doctor is unwilling to leave, but can Abogin convince him otherwise?
Afterthoughts: What begins as something as sorrowful and as heartbreaking as a man wrestling with personal grief against moral duty, turns into a tale that’s completely different. However, given the subject matter this is one of these kinds of stories that never lightens. The oppressive air of grief is ever present, and while it may not be my favourite Chekhov story by any stretch, it presents itself as a powerful and compelling piece of storytelling that should be read by all.
Notable Quote: “Here in the bedroom reigned a dead silence. Everything to the smallest detail was eloquent of the storm that had been passed through, of exhaustion, and everything was at rest. A candle standing among a crowd of bottles, boxes, and pots on a stool and a big lamp on the chest of drawers threw a brilliant light over all the room. On the bed under the window lay a boy with open eyes and a look of wonder on his face. He did not move, but his open eyes seemed every moment growing darker and sinking further into his head. The mother was kneeling by the bed with her arms on his body and her head hidden in the bedclothes. Like the child, she did not stir; but what throbbing life was suggested in the curves of her body and in her arms! She leaned against the bed with all her being, pressing against it greedily with all her might, as though she were afraid of disturbing the peaceful and comfortable attitude she had found at last for her exhausted body. The bedclothes, the rags and bowls, the splashes of water on the floor, the little paint-brushes and spoons thrown down here and there, the white bottle of lime water, the very air, heavy and stifling — were all hushed and seemed plunged in repose.

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).