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Thread: Chekhov Short Story Thread

  1. #1021
    Of Subatomic Importance Quark's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Janine View Post
    Ok, I am going to answer this one first, so I don't get behind again.
    I'll hold off on responding to this post so you can catch up. I'll just include it in with my next post tomorrow.
    "Par instants je suis le Pauvre Navire
    [...] Par instants je meurs la mort du Pecheur
    [...] O mais! par instants"

    --"Birds in the Night" by Paul Verlaine (1844-1896). Join the discussion here: http://www.online-literature.com/for...5&goto=newpost

  2. #1022
    Of Subatomic Importance Quark's Avatar
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    Some things I noticed about the most recent chunk of text:

    Tea, biscuits, butter, and jam were brought in, followed by raspberries and cream. At seven o'clock, we had supper, consisting of six courses
    This family appears to overdo everything. The mother keeps repeats her exclamation of surprise (Ach!) over and over again throughout this story, both mother and daughter work on a trousseau which already fills several trunks, and now they sit down to six course meal. I'm not sure whether it because they have nothing else to do or whether it's due to obsession, but the family definitely is prone to excess and repetition.

    and while we were at supper I heard a loud yawn from the next room. I looked with surprise towards the door: it was a yawn that could only come from a man.
    The reader is introduced to the uncle in much they same way the daughter is introduced. He's heard behind a door before he's ever seen, and this make it feel like there's a whole inner world of this house which the narrator isn't seeing.

    "That's my husband's brother, Yegor Semyonitch," the little lady explained, noticing my surprise. "He's been living with us for the last year. Please excuse him; he cannot come in to see you. He is such an unsociable person, he is shy with strangers. He is going into a monastery. He was unfairly treated in the service, and the disappointment has preyed on his mind."

    When I pretended to be greatly struck by her work, she flushed crimson and whispered something in her mother's ear. The latter beamed all over, and invited me to go with her to the store-room.
    The daughter may think the narrator is flirting with her here, and that could be the motivation for inviting him back.

    "This is her trousseau," her mother whispered; "we made it all ourselves."
    More pride from the mother

    After looking at these forbidding trunks I took leave of my hospitable hostesses.
    Forbidding? That's an odd word choice. I think a better translation would be "enormous" here--at least, that's how many of the other versions translate it.

    It happened that I was able to keep this promise. Seven years after my first visit, I was sent down to the little town to give expert evidence in a case that was being tried there.
    So he blows them off, apparently. Nice.

    As I entered the little house I heard the same "Ach!" echo through it.
    Much of this episode is just a repeat of their previous encounter to show that nothing has changed. The only differences here appear to be connect to the male characters who were introduced but never really present in the previous section. This reinforces the static feeling of the women. Nothing ever happens to them, but growing old. The men however experience some change. The colonel is promoted and the uncle at least makes an attempt at entering the clergy.

    Yegor Semyonitch is alive, but I have no good news to tell of him. They would not have him in the monastery on account of -- of intoxicating beverages. And now in his disappointment he drinks more than ever. I am thinking of going to the Marshal of Nobility to lodge a complaint. Would you believe it, he has more than once broken open the trunks and . . . taken Manetchka's trousseau and given it to beggars. He has taken everything out of two of the trunks! If he goes on like this, my Manetchka will be left without a trousseau at all."
    Yegor acts as antagonist here, as he steals the trousseau. Like time, he's slowly taking away the mother and daughter's opportunity. Just as it becomes more difficult to marry the daughter as she gets older, it's even more difficult to marry her without a trousseau.

    Quote Originally Posted by Janine View Post
    Oh, are they long? I have a book of several playwrites and it's not a thick paperback. I didn't think "The Cherry Orchard" was that long. Also, to me, plays read faster. Usually they are basically quick dialogue. Is Three Sisters a long play?
    I think they're about the size of Ivanov. That is, barely printable. The one act plays, though, are quite short. Some could be printed in less than seven pages.

    Quote Originally Posted by Janine View Post
    No, you can't find the whole thing - it's a play on stage - they don't even allow cameras or video cameras into the theaters. I just saw some stills and heard some excerpts from it. You didn't see any true moving videos of the play, did you? I would die to see those. I heard his performance was stellar. I would die to see it but of course, I don't have the money to fly off to London.
    What I saw was only about a minute long. It was probably just a promotional video, or something. I never saw the entire thing--or anything close.


    Quote Originally Posted by Janine View Post
    A lot of people cannot get into "The Return of the Native" for some reason; but I guarantee if you do, you won't regret it. It starts out slow perhaps. I have the movie version with a very young Katherine Zetta-Jones and Clive Owen. It's pretty close to the novel with a few liberties. You can always cheat and watch that first. The book can be a little confusing at times. I liked the book emensely, though.
    It's good to know there's a movie, in case you get bored with the book. A good out is always nice to have.
    "Par instants je suis le Pauvre Navire
    [...] Par instants je meurs la mort du Pecheur
    [...] O mais! par instants"

    --"Birds in the Night" by Paul Verlaine (1844-1896). Join the discussion here: http://www.online-literature.com/for...5&goto=newpost

  3. #1023
    Of Subatomic Importance Quark's Avatar
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    I came across a mention of "The Trousseau" in a book that approaches Chekhov's works from a historical and sociological angle called Chekhov And His Russia. I'm surprised I found anything on this story, actually. It's a rather obscure tale. One could say that the story itself is buried in trees and never visited. This old book (published 1948) says a few words about the setting and characters--including the uncle:

    We see the little house of a colonel's family in a quiet Moscow street, a white house overshadowed by trees. In the drawing-room the atmosphere is stuffy, with a smell of mothballs; the portrait of a bishop hangs on the wall. It is the setting for one of those stories of a respectable army family which could be paralleled in many literatures, the shy daughter with wole chests full of her home-made trousseau, who waits in vain, the father's death, and the uncle, the skeleton in the family cupboard, who sells the precious trousseau for drink and has to be reported to the marshal
    This is another reading of the brother-in-law. He could represent the part of the family that doesn't live up to expectations. The mother and daughter hold their roles well, but not everyone apparently is so disciplined.
    "Par instants je suis le Pauvre Navire
    [...] Par instants je meurs la mort du Pecheur
    [...] O mais! par instants"

    --"Birds in the Night" by Paul Verlaine (1844-1896). Join the discussion here: http://www.online-literature.com/for...5&goto=newpost

  4. #1024
    The Poetic Warrior Dark Muse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Quark View Post
    This family appears to overdo everything. The mother keeps repeats her exclamation of surprise (Ach!) over and over again throughout this story, both mother and daughter work on a trousseau which already fills several trunks, and now they sit down to six course meal. I'm not sure whether it because they have nothing else to do or whether it's due to obsession, but the family definitely is prone to excess and repetition.
    Perhpas the overdoing it with the meal in particular also relates to the mother's delusions about thier family and station in life, the way in which they fancy themselves to be aristacratic. They do not have much, and yet when they have a guest over, they plan this rather large elabortate meal.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quark View Post
    The reader is introduced to the uncle in much they same way the daughter is introduced. He's heard behind a door before he's ever seen, and this make it feel like there's a whole inner world of this house which the narrator isn't seeing.
    This could further empasize the isolation and privacy of the family, and the role of the narrator as being an outsider looking into this strange world, which is not often penetrated by the outer world, but usually keeps contained within itself. It is also interesting, that during his whol visit he remained completely oblivious ot the pressence of the brother-in-law, nor was he mentioned before until now.

    I think the pressence of the old laides mentioned early, who are also glimpse through a door way and not truly "explained" or introduced, are another glimpse of this inside and unknown world within the house that the narrator is not privy to.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quark View Post
    The daughter may think the narrator is flirting with her here, and that could be the motivation for inviting him back.
    Is it possible that the mother did see a potential suitor in the narrator and perhaps this is part of the reason why she makes such a display of the trousseau which she is so proud of?

    So he blows them off, apparently. Nice.
    LOL. In spite of his assertion at the start of the story, that he never could forget the house, probably after he had returned back to his own life they had passed from his mind untill he found himself having to return to the same area again, in which he thought he would drop in upon them, because they were such a currious family.

    Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before. ~ Edgar Allan Poe

  5. #1025
    Of Subatomic Importance Quark's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dark Muse View Post
    In spite of his assertion at the start of the story, that he never could forget the house, probably after he had returned back to his own life they had passed from his mind untill he found himself having to return to the same area again, in which he thought he would drop in upon them, because they were such a currious family.
    I noticed that discrepancy, too. The narrator is suddenly careless about the house that he would "never forget." Did Chekhov forget what he just wrote? Possibly, but I think there's better explanation. The narrator is supposedly writing these lines over eight years after he first met the family. He may not have registered the importance of the story until after his third meeting with the family. That meeting shows the tragedy fully played out, and Chekhov may be pointing readers past the comical first scene toward the more meaningful later scenes. It's only now that the narrator, who has witnessed the entire action of the story, can say that he will "never forget." Chekhov had written many funny little one-scene stories prior to "The Trousseau," but here the writer is breaking out of that mold. This story is trying--perhaps desperately--to be something more, and the narrator's forgetting about the house until the very end may be Chekhov's way of showing his ambition to the reader.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dark Muse View Post
    Perhpas the overdoing it with the meal in particular also relates to the mother's delusions about thier family and station in life, the way in which they fancy themselves to be aristacratic.
    Yes, I would say so. I imagine the mother taking pride in the meal, as she does her French. The six courses might also have something to do with the uniqueness of the occasion. They don't have visitors often. When one does show up, they lavish meals on him simply because they can, and they haven't had the opportunity of feeding anyone yet. I'll say more about this below.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dark Muse View Post
    This could further empasize the isolation and privacy of the family, and the role of the narrator as being an outsider looking into this strange world
    This is my impression, too. I'm tempted to go even further and say that this makes the narrator less critical because he can't pass judgment if he doesn't know the extent of the house and these characters' lives. The house's inner-rooms are like the parts of the mother's and daughter's experience that he will never see, and hence can never really come to any conclusions about. This might make him less judgmental about what he cannot see, and more sympathetic to what he can see.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dark Muse View Post
    Is it possible that the mother did see a potential suitor in the narrator and perhaps this is part of the reason why she makes such a display of the trousseau which she is so proud of?
    It's vaguely suggested that the mother and daughter see the narrator as a potential husband, but I don't know whether that's the motivation here. They could just be showing them the trousseau because it's what consumes most of their time. Like the elaborate meal, they have things which are impressive but don't get to use or show off much. It's natural that they would bring them out when they finally have a visitor. If I were working tirelessly on a boat (I'm not, but say I were for some reason) and someone came over, I would practical shove them to go see my boat. And I wouldn't do it because I thought they were interested boating. I would do it because the boat is something that is important to me, and I never get to show it off. The meal and trousseau could be like my hypothetical boat: stupid obsessions which unwitting visitors have to put up with. That said, it also could be subtle suggestion to the narrator that he should marry the daughter.
    "Par instants je suis le Pauvre Navire
    [...] Par instants je meurs la mort du Pecheur
    [...] O mais! par instants"

    --"Birds in the Night" by Paul Verlaine (1844-1896). Join the discussion here: http://www.online-literature.com/for...5&goto=newpost

  6. #1026

    Creation Scrap Book

    ScrapBookingnut.com provides you good reference Scrap-Book for scrap booking phrases, titles, captions and quotes.

  7. #1027
    Our wee Olympic swimmer Janine's Avatar
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    Ok, read all the posts; so fell free to carry on, and go forward with the text, without me today. I am not feeling well at all; wondering if I got the stomach virus my grand-daughter was coming down with on Monday when I went to visit her. We didn't realise she was sick until yesterday. Today I woke up feeling direly ill. This has not been my month.

    So far, I agree with everything both of you pointed out. Good work, Quark, digging up that background information. I think that scoundrel uncle does play a major role in this, in the way he keeps taking the articles of clothing from the trousseau and selling them. Now the work seems even more futile for the mother and daughter, so it makes the tale more poignant than ever.
    "It's so mysterious, the land of tears."

    Chapter 7, The Little Prince ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

  8. #1028
    Of Subatomic Importance Quark's Avatar
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    The last section of the story:

    A little bald-headed masculine figure in a brown coat and goloshes instead of boots darted like a mouse across the passage and disappeared. "Yegor Semyonitch, I suppose," I thought.

    I looked at the mother and daughter together. They both looked much older and terribly changed. The mother's hair was silvered, but the daughter was so faded and withered that her mother might have been taken for her elder sister, not more than five years her senior.

    "I have made up my mind to go to the Marshal," the mother said to me, forgetting she had told me this already. "I mean to make a complaint. Yegor Semyonitch lays his hands on everything we make, and offers it up for the sake of his soul. My Manetchka is left without a trousseau."

    Manetchka flushed again, but this time she said nothing.

    "We have to make them all over again. And God knows we are not so well off. We are all alone in the world now."

    "We are alone in the world," repeated Manetchka.

    A year ago fate brought me once more to the little house.

    Walking into the drawing-room, I saw the old lady. Dressed all in black with heavy crape pleureuses, she was sitting on the sofa sewing. Beside her sat the little old man in the brown coat and the goloshes instead of boots. On seeing me, he jumped up and ran out of the room.

    In response to my greeting, the old lady smiled and said:

    "Je suis charmée de vous revoir, monsieur."

    "What are you making?" I asked, a little later.

    "It's a blouse. When it's finished I shall take it to the priest's to be put away, or else Yegor Semyonitch would carry it off. I store everything at the priest's now," she added in a whisper.

    And looking at the portrait of her daughter which stood before her on the table, she sighed and said:

    "We are all alone in the world."

    And where was the daughter? Where was Manetchka? I did not ask. I did not dare to ask the old mother dressed in her new deep mourning. And while I was in the room, and when I got up to go, no Manetchka came out to greet me. I did not hear her voice, nor her soft, timid footstep. . . .

    I understood, and my heart was heavy.
    "Par instants je suis le Pauvre Navire
    [...] Par instants je meurs la mort du Pecheur
    [...] O mais! par instants"

    --"Birds in the Night" by Paul Verlaine (1844-1896). Join the discussion here: http://www.online-literature.com/for...5&goto=newpost

  9. #1029
    The Poetic Warrior Dark Muse's Avatar
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    I looked at the mother and daughter together. They both looked much older and terribly changed. The mother's hair was silvered, but the daughter was so faded and withered that her mother might have been taken for her elder sister, not more than five years her senior.
    Here it seems as if the daughter is starting to become the mother, or more like her mother. And it is interesting the way in which, though both have grown older it is the daughter who ends up dying before the mother. Perhaps because she was not strong enough to live in such a life as the mother had created, and while the mother had the trousseau the daughter really didn't have anything, in her silent pleas of wanting something more with her desires to marry some day in spite of the odds against her.

    "I have made up my mind to go to the Marshal," the mother said to me, forgetting she had told me this already. "I mean to make a complaint. Yegor Semyonitch lays his hands on everything we make, and offers it up for the sake of his soul. My Manetchka is left without a trousseau

    Manetchka flushed again, but this time she said nothing.

    "We have to make them all over again. And God knows we are not so well off. We are all alone in the world now."
    This reminds me of Ulysses and the wife, who everyday would unsew that she had sewn the day before in order to stall time to keep her suites at bay. She keeps working on the trousseau while the brother in law continues to steal it away. While she complains about it, I do not feel as if she really actually really do anything about it, I think a part of her needs the trousseau to truly never end, because if and when she did complete it then she would have nothing left and would have to face the realty.

    A year ago fate brought me once more to the little house.
    This just struck me as interesting, that though he says "fate" brought him back he does not really give a reason for why he would be there again, as the first two visits he clearly stated some act of business which had brought him there. Now his reason for coming seems a bit more ambiguous.

    Also is there meant to be some significance in the fact that he visits the house 3 times, considering the fact that the number 3 is considered to be a powerful symbolic and spiritual number.

    "It's a blouse. When it's finished I shall take it to the priest's to be put away, or else Yegor Semyonitch would carry it off. I store everything at the priest's now," she added in a whisper.
    Even though the daughter is dead the mother is still swing, as it seems that the blouse is not truly intended for anyone to ware since she says she is going to have it put away somewhere so her brother-in-law cannot take it. Why should she care anymore what happens to the clothes? Though she does not mention the word trousseau it is as if she is still working on it.

    Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before. ~ Edgar Allan Poe

  10. #1030
    Of Subatomic Importance Quark's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dark Muse View Post
    Here it seems as if the daughter is starting to become the mother, or more like her mother. And it is interesting the way in which, though both have grown older it is the daughter who ends up dying before the mother. Perhaps because she was not strong enough to live in such a life as the mother had created, and while the mother had the trousseau the daughter really didn't have anything, in her silent pleas of wanting something more with her desires to marry some day in spite of the odds against her.
    The daughter's aging is definitely linked to her mental state and her lifestyle in the house--somehow. Most immediately, Chekhov is trying to render the daughter as a pathetic victim, but I think it goes beyond that to make a comment on her feelings and lifestyle. You're right that it probably refers to her being overburdened, and being separated from the fruits of her labor. She doesn't see anything come from her sewing, and on some level that has to be disappointing. Beyond that, though, I think Chekhov makes her age more quickly than the mother because the daughter represents youth, hope, and vigor. Having her age and die makes us realize how stifling the house is--perhaps more than just having the mother age and die. This is all a bit of stretch, though. Really, if disappointment could make someone age then my parents would look like they're ninety.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dark Muse View Post
    This reminds me of Ulysses and the wife, who everyday would unsew that she had sewn the day before in order to stall time to keep her suites at bay. She keeps working on the trousseau while the brother in law continues to steal it away. While she complains about it, I do not feel as if she really actually really do anything about it, I think a part of her needs the trousseau to truly never end, because if and when she did complete it then she would have nothing left and would have to face the realty.
    Are you talking about the mother here? I could see either the mother or daughter as complicit. They don't have much else to do, and the trousseau distracts them away from rather unpleasant realities.

    I like the comparison with Ulysses, too. This story is very much a retelling of the epic, but it's an ironic retelling. Instead of the husband returning, he dies. Instead of the sewer fending off suitors, she dies. Instead of a loyal son, there's a irresponsibly uncle. What's supposed to happen doesn't in Chekhov's tale, and that sets up the sad ending.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dark Muse View Post
    This just struck me as interesting, that though he says "fate" brought him back he does not really give a reason for why he would be there again, as the first two visits he clearly stated some act of business which had brought him there. Now his reason for coming seems a bit more ambiguous.
    Maybe the narrator is starting to admit that the story isn't about him. He realizes that the reason for him being there isn't important.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dark Muse View Post
    Also is there meant to be some significance in the fact that he visits the house 3 times, considering the fact that the number 3 is considered to be a powerful symbolic and spiritual number.
    Perhaps it less spiritual and more about storytelling. Aristotle claims that all stories have a beginning, middle, and end. This story may be playing off that assumption. "The Trousseau" has three sections which correspond to the three parts of a story, but they're all the same. They don't break down into beginning, middle, and end. Instead, each just repeats the same scene over and over again.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dark Muse View Post
    Even though the daughter is dead the mother is still swing, as it seems that the blouse is not truly intended for anyone to ware since she says she is going to have it put away somewhere so her brother-in-law cannot take it. Why should she care anymore what happens to the clothes? Though she does not mention the word trousseau it is as if she is still working on it.
    That does reinforce your idea about the sewing being obsessive, and not really about making a trousseau. Yeah, the mother continues to sew well after it's time to sew here. Why? I tend to agree with you that there's something desperate about her needlework. She doesn't know what else to do, and it keeps her from thinking about dead relative and missed chances.
    "Par instants je suis le Pauvre Navire
    [...] Par instants je meurs la mort du Pecheur
    [...] O mais! par instants"

    --"Birds in the Night" by Paul Verlaine (1844-1896). Join the discussion here: http://www.online-literature.com/for...5&goto=newpost

  11. #1031
    Our wee Olympic swimmer Janine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dark Muse View Post
    Here it seems as if the daughter is starting to become the mother, or more like her mother. And it is interesting the way in which, though both have grown older it is the daughter who ends up dying before the mother. Perhaps because she was not strong enough to live in such a life as the mother had created, and while the mother had the trousseau the daughter really didn't have anything, in her silent pleas of wanting something more with her desires to marry some day in spite of the odds against her.
    First, I will start by answering your post, Dark Muse, even though Quark also commented. I think this is true about the mother and daughter resembling each other. It would be inevitable being in such close proximity to each other day in and day out. They really are trapped in a world they have created. Ever hear the phrase - "you are your own worst enemy"? or "I have created a monster". The sewing addiction is obesessive and it's a sort of monster that is gobbling up the vitality of both women. The house is a stiffling place. It would seem that sewing these clothes could be creative but it appears that is not Chekhov's own observation on this situation. It may have started out as a good thing, even 'hopeful', but then after years of total dedication to this obsession, concerning the daughter's trouseau, it's become totally unhealthy for both women; to the reader, at first it appears to be quite ridiculous, odd, obscurd; until the end when it becomes clear just how tragic this all is. I don't think it that unusal that the daughter could die before the mother. She would feel the most trapped emotionally, perhaps the most stress of her situation, the most hopefulness and futility. It could also have been a common disease that killed her at such a young age. It mentions in the beginning that she had some scares from Smallpox. I don't know a lot about the disease but it may have left her body in a weakened state, more susceptical of disease. Afterall, her mother did have something of a life at one time, being married and raising her as a child. This daughter has no chance at all at any of that. She is like a blossom unopened, thwarted. She is never gotten a chance at her life. It's hardly imaginable how she can stay sane or breath in such a closed in and restricted environment. I think that your last line makes perfect sense. I would totally agree with it, Dark Muse.

    This reminds me of Ulysses and the wife, who everyday would unsew that she had sewn the day before in order to stall time to keep her suites at bay. She keeps working on the trousseau while the brother in law continues to steal it away. While she complains about it, I do not feel as if she really actually really do anything about it, I think a part of her needs the trousseau to truly never end, because if and when she did complete it then she would have nothing left and would have to face the realty.
    That's an interesting analogy. I don't recall that too well, didn't read much of the Greek Mythologies and if I did it was eons ago in HS. Here again, I think your paragraph and comments make a lot of sense. The making of the trouseau is so habitual now, what indeed would the two do if they were not sewing...stare at blank walls, sit in dark rooms. I think the whole idea of the trousseau is 'hope'. We know it's a futile hope but it's 'hope' in the way they are seeing it. We know it's hollow hope. It's not anyway realistic or possible.

    This just struck me as interesting, that though he says "fate" brought him back he does not really give a reason for why he would be there again, as the first two visits he clearly stated some act of business which had brought him there. Now his reason for coming seems a bit more ambiguous.
    That's a keen observation. I had noticed that as well and wondered about it. I am not sure what to make of it really.

    Also is there meant to be some significance in the fact that he visits the house 3 times, considering the fact that the number 3 is considered to be a powerful symbolic and spiritual number.
    I think Quark answered this below when he speaks of a story in terms of 3 parts. That seems to work well with many short stories. I know Lawrence has employed the same device or the same way to separate events, although many times he has many more parts to his short stories. I just read one with over 10 parts. It was one of his longest stories.

    Even though the daughter is dead the mother is still swing, as it seems that the blouse is not truly intended for anyone to ware since she says she is going to have it put away somewhere so her brother-in-law cannot take it. Why should she care anymore what happens to the clothes? Though she does not mention the word trousseau it is as if she is still working on it.
    Habit like I said. It seems this is all she now knows. If she didn't do this, she most likely would just die herself. I think the sewing at this point is just a matter of self preservation and survival. She is old, but at least she is doing something.

    Ok...onto Quark's next. I am so sorry to have neglected this thread this week. I was feeling awful all week long...stomach problems, etc. I could only manage popping in and out online; nothing too taxing.
    "It's so mysterious, the land of tears."

    Chapter 7, The Little Prince ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

  12. #1032
    Our wee Olympic swimmer Janine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Quark View Post
    The daughter's aging is definitely linked to her mental state and her lifestyle in the house--somehow. Most immediately, Chekhov is trying to render the daughter as a pathetic victim, but I think it goes beyond that to make a comment on her feelings and lifestyle. You're right that it probably refers to her being overburdened, and being separated from the fruits of her labor. She doesn't see anything come from her sewing, and on some level that has to be disappointing. Beyond that, though, I think Chekhov makes her age more quickly than the mother because the daughter represents youth, hope, and vigor. Having her age and die makes us realize how stifling the house is--perhaps more than just having the mother age and die. This is all a bit of stretch, though. Really, if disappointment could make someone age then my parents would look like they're ninety.
    Ok, now I am answering yours, Quark, although you did answer Dark Muse's posts specifically. Does that make sense? I don't want to leave anyone out. I agree wholeheartedly with your first statement. The aging house mirrors the aging inhabitants. I think the fact she never see the fruits of her labors must have been very disheartening, issuing forth a very dismal outlook and attitude about life. She would have to feel totally frustrated or resigned to her situation. I do feel for her. I don't see anyway she can possibly break out and become herself or blossom into a vibrant young woman, who might be eligable for marriage. Her plight is a dead end from the beginning. I hear you about parents and aging; I think I would also look ninety by now, adding up various disappointments in my life. I think having the daughter die off relatively young makes the story of the trousseau and dressmaking more ironic and futile.

    Are you talking about the mother here? I could see either the mother or daughter as complicit. They don't have much else to do, and the trousseau distracts them away from rather unpleasant realities.
    I agree, I think I already did in my earlier post. Mother and daughter are like the patterns on the floor. The daughter the mere pattern of what the mother wish for her but knows not really how to go about that but to make the trousseau and the would the state of being married.

    I like the comparison with Ulysses, too. This story is very much a retelling of the epic, but it's an ironic retelling. Instead of the husband returning, he dies. Instead of the sewer fending off suitors, she dies. Instead of a loyal son, there's a irresponsibly uncle. What's supposed to happen doesn't in Chekhov's tale, and that sets up the sad ending.
    Interesting comparison, as I said. Quark, do you think Chekhov would have had that earlier story in-mind? Of course, Chekhov sticks to the brutal realistism, true to the harsh reality we see demonstrated here.

    Maybe the narrator is starting to admit that the story isn't about him. He realizes that the reason for him being there isn't important.
    I will have to think about this. I never thought him that signifcant actually, only as a sensitive observer and one who felt sympathy for the young woman trapped in her situation.

    Perhaps it less spiritual and more about storytelling. Aristotle claims that all stories have a beginning, middle, and end. This story may be playing off that assumption. "The Trousseau" has three sections which correspond to the three parts of a story, but they're all the same. They don't break down into beginning, middle, and end. Instead, each just repeats the same scene over and over again.
    I liked Chekhov's use of this repeating in each of the sections. I found it very effective story telling. It's quite brilliant. I noticed this same division in a few other of his stories and some repetition with alteration. It's an interesting way to present the story.


    That does reinforce your idea about the sewing being obsessive, and not really about making a trousseau. Yeah, the mother continues to sew well after it's time to sew here. Why? I tend to agree with you that there's something desperate about her needlework. She doesn't know what else to do, and it keeps her from thinking about dead relative and missed chances.[/QUOTE]
    "It's so mysterious, the land of tears."

    Chapter 7, The Little Prince ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

  13. #1033
    Of Subatomic Importance Quark's Avatar
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    Hi, Janine. Good to see you back. I hope you're feeling better now. It sounded like a bad stomach flu you had. Your post has a lot of points, so I won't get to everything tonight. Let me start with these few, though. What did you think of the story, by the way? This is one of his earlier ones, and people tend to consider his earlier work a little more shallow than his later stories. We've read a few of those later works, so I wonder how think this compares.

    Quote Originally Posted by Janine View Post
    Interesting comparison, as I said. Quark, do you think Chekhov would have had that earlier story in-mind? Of course, Chekhov sticks to the brutal realistism, true to the harsh reality we see demonstrated here.
    It's hard to tell. The Odyssey is quite a famous story, and the parallel is strong. It's difficult to imagine Chekhov not making that connection, but, at the same time, he doesn't play off of it that much. Usually when someone's explicitly trying to make a connection to another work they put in something that makes it more obvious to the reader. They might name a character after a person in the Odyssey--or name their novel Ulysses. Chekhov here just takes the outline of the Odyssey, and doesn't make the parallel that obvious. He's done that before, though. "About Love" is an ironic retelling of Anna Karenina. This could be an ironic retelling of the Odyssey, but like I say it's difficult to tell the extent to which Chekhov wanted readers to make that connection.

    Quote Originally Posted by Janine View Post
    I liked Chekhov's use of this repeating in each of the sections. I found it very effective story telling. It's quite brilliant. I noticed this same division in a few other of his stories and some repetition with alteration. It's an interesting way to present the story.
    That's a good point, and I think it all goes back to that irony you brought up. While we're on subject I'd like to give a good definition of the ironic, but I'm feeling lazy (and it's also incredible uncomfortable sitting here in 87% humidity). I'll just quote a definition since I'm not up to the task at the moment:

    Ironic: A mode of literature in which the characters exhibit a power of action inferior to the one assumed to be normal in the reader or audience, or in which the poet's attitude is one of detached objectivity
    Good enough. That works, and I think this defines the story well. It also partially explains the repeated scenes. By showing the characters in these never-changing scenes it portrays the characters as static and powerless. Any change that does happen to these characters occurs in between scenes, and so it makes them appear even less active than perhaps they are. This feeds into that ironic feeling that the story has.
    "Par instants je suis le Pauvre Navire
    [...] Par instants je meurs la mort du Pecheur
    [...] O mais! par instants"

    --"Birds in the Night" by Paul Verlaine (1844-1896). Join the discussion here: http://www.online-literature.com/for...5&goto=newpost

  14. #1034
    Our wee Olympic swimmer Janine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Quark View Post
    Hi, Janine. Good to see you back. I hope you're feeling better now. It sounded like a bad stomach flu you had. Your post has a lot of points, so I won't get to everything tonight. Let me start with these few, though. What did you think of the story, by the way? This is one of his earlier ones, and people tend to consider his earlier work a little more shallow than his later stories. We've read a few of those later works, so I wonder how think this compares.
    Thanks Quark. I don't know what it was, but Brooke thankfully got over it in a few days; I am still feeling the effects, since I have a very weak stomach anyway. I hope I am back to 'my' normal self soon.

    Ok, so will you address my very good points sometime soon? I guess you wish to wrap this story up by this end of this month and move on. Will we be taking a month's break or doing another Chekhov? I think a month would be good; maybe meantime we will start a new story in L; not promises, just thought.

    You kidding; I liked this story very much. I told you before it struck a note with me. I am now thinking it struck more of a personal note, than I realised at first. I can't go into that, since it's personal; but oddly enough, since we started to discuss this story this month, I realised I am feeling a lot of this stagnation myself within my family right now; even with our house needing repairs. At times, I found it hard to post because of this very fact, then add my being sick to the equation and those was my reasons for being so many times absent. I am still sorry about all that; just unfortunate. This story strikes me in a very personal way indeed. I think the narration of the audiobook is wonderful, as well. That last statement from Branagh had just the right tone to it, it left me stunned. Reading the actual words of the story online has revealed even more to me.

    Quark, I honestly, don't know if I compare weak stories to strong stories in authors. I sort of look at each as separate entities, which have been written in various times in the author's lives and I take that into account. I have done that with the Lawrence short stories, even the novels. I enjoyed Lawrence's first novel, as much as his last novels. I put them into perspective. "The White Peacock" was not a complete work. It had it's flaws; but it also contained some of the most fresh and beautifully poetic passages I have ever read of Lawrence's work. Therefore, to me, it was memorable. I still think about it all the time. I see the short stories of both authors equally; so I don't think, this being an early work takes away from it anything for me. It has a sort of youthfulness to the observation, which may be fresher than his other works. I am not sure where you said this tale lies exactly within Chekhov's body of work; how old did you say he was when he wrote it? I don't see this work as 'shallow' at all, so I would not agree with those critics. I think an early work can be more simply stated and have just as much impact as a later work that is more developed or sophisticated. Right now a great many critics are depating the early play of Chekhov's "Ivanhov", recently performed in London, West End. It's an early play and perhaps not as developed but of the scenes I heard excerpts of I was captivated. I think these author genius' had what it takes from the very beginning. You know, the newer fiction coming out today cannot compare to even weak Lawrence or weak Chekhov. Their works are still masterpieces, early or late.

    It's hard to tell. The Odyssey is quite a famous story, and the parallel is strong. It's difficult to imagine Chekhov not making that connection, but, at the same time, he doesn't play off of it that much. Usually when someone's explicitly trying to make a connection to another work they put in something that makes it more obvious to the reader. They might name a character after a person in the Odyssey--or name their novel Ulysses. Chekhov here just takes the outline of the Odyssey, and doesn't make the parallel that obvious. He's done that before, though. "About Love" is an ironic retelling of Anna Karenina. This could be an ironic retelling of the Odyssey, but like I say it's difficult to tell the extent to which Chekhov wanted readers to make that connection.
    I get your drift here and I like this idea. It may have been in the back of his mind, the earlier tale, and this may have influenced him or inspired him. All artists and authors take from other sources. There is nothing at all wrong with that or nothing taking away from their original ideas. As they say in the Bible "there is nothing new under the sun".

    That's a good point, and I think it all goes back to that irony you brought up. While we're on subject I'd like to give a good definition of the ironic, but I'm feeling lazy (and it's also incredible uncomfortable sitting here in 87% humidity). I'll just quote a definition since I'm not up to the task at the moment:
    The dictionary one was helpful. Thanks for posting it. Oh, I hate this humidity. You have it there, too? I hate all this darn rain we have been having. Yikes, half the summer is over and it rains nearly everyday; not to mention these annoying thunderstorms, which have also restricted my computer time. I hope Mr. Sun comes out soon. We need cheerier, drier weather to uplift our spirits.

    Good enough. That works, and I think this defines the story well. It also partially explains the repeated scenes. By showing the characters in these never-changing scenes it portrays the characters as static and powerless. Any change that does happen to these characters occurs in between scenes, and so it makes them appear even less active than perhaps they are. This feeds into that ironic feeling that the story has.
    When you pointed this out in your last post, I thought right away of Lawrence and his use of repetition to structure a story. I'm not sure that Chekhov and Lawrence weren't much alike in that way. I can think of both authors, using this sectioning in their works and it's very effective story-telling....also, it guides the reader to stay attentive, building a sort of suspense.

    Good point here you are making, about the never-ending scenes revealing the unchangablity and stagnation of the characters and situation. Chekhov cleverly spaced this story out with years between the visitor from the outside world looking in, observing. Each time he arrives back at the scene the stagnation is not much altered except that there is subtle evidence of death, which occurred in-between his visits. And yes, indeed this all fits into the whole wharted and ironic feeling of the story, also the deadliness lingering always in the atmosphere of this house.
    "It's so mysterious, the land of tears."

    Chapter 7, The Little Prince ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

  15. #1035
    Of Subatomic Importance Quark's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Janine View Post
    I think the fact she never see the fruits of her labors must have been very disheartening, issuing forth a very dismal outlook and attitude about life. She would have to feel totally frustrated or resigned to her situation. I do feel for her.
    I'm wondering about the smallpox now. The narrator does mention that she has a mark of it on her nose, and that might have something to do with her death. I don't know about the aging, though. That seems tied to the point Chekhov is trying to make about her disappointment and exhaustion. I thought it was a little unrealistic, but, whatever, Chekhov wanted to make this point extra clear to us. It reminds me of those Victorian novels where they use faces and postures as part of their characterization. Dickens will say "she had very secretive eyes," and then eight-hundred pages later you find out that she has some secret. Chekhov usually avoids this kind of characterization, but he succumbs to it here. Sometimes it's done well--Lawrence, in face, does it well--but when there's such a one-to-one relationship between feature and characteristic it's kind of clumsy.

    Quote Originally Posted by Janine View Post
    I hear you about parents and aging
    I kid about that, of course.

    Quote Originally Posted by Janine View Post
    I never thought him that signifcant actually, only as a sensitive observer and one who felt sympathy for the young woman trapped in her situation.
    No, he isn't significant in himself, but his reactions to what he's sees are important. As he progresses in the story, his relationship with the family and his own story changes. In some places he's very casual about the whole affair, but in other places he's deeply affected by what he experiences.

    Quote Originally Posted by Janine View Post
    Will we be taking a month's break or doing another Chekhov? I think a month would be good; maybe meantime we will start a new story in L; not promises, just thought.
    That would work. We probably won't do another story in this thread, as it's taken us so long to get through this one. I had planned on maybe doing two this month, but it's almost July now and we're just finishing "The Trousseau." I'd be up for a Lawrence story in July, though.

    Quote Originally Posted by Janine View Post
    I think the narration of the audiobook is wonderful, as well. That last statement from Branagh had just the right tone to it, it left me stunned. Reading the actual words of the story online has revealed even more to me.
    Yeah, he did a good job. He reads all the stories a plaintive undertone, and it really works with this story. The sadness in "The Trousseau" is an undertone. The narrator doesn't dwell on it directly until the very end.

    Quote Originally Posted by Janine View Post
    Quark, I honestly, don't know if I compare weak stories to strong stories in authors. I sort of look at each as separate entities, which have been written in various times in the author's lives and I take that into account.
    Understandable. Every story attempts something different from the others that precede it or follow it. They also reflect the concerns of the author at a given time in their life, and it's helps if we look at them in the right context. But, at the same time, we can compare them to our own life, and understand them in that context. What did we get out of reading the story? I got a lot from stories like "The Lady with the Dog," "Ward No. 6," and "About Love." "Neighbors," though, was a bore. We didn't read that story--largely on account of it being a bore. That's not to say that "Neighbors" is objectively a bad story. Some people think it's great. It just didn't do much for me. Other readers, however, might have different tastes from mine, and I'd like to hear about them because when I choose stories I like to pick ones that's entertaining and worth posting about.

    Quote Originally Posted by Janine View Post
    I have done that with the Lawrence short stories, even the novels. I enjoyed Lawrence's first novel, as much as his last novels. I put them into perspective. "The White Peacock" was not a complete work. It had it's flaws; but it also contained some of the most fresh and beautifully poetic passages I have ever read of Lawrence's work. Therefore, to me, it was memorable. I still think about it all the time. I see the short stories of both authors equally; so I don't think, this being an early work takes away from it anything for me. It has a sort of youthfulness to the observation, which may be fresher than his other works.
    Lawrence's early works are still widely read, but I don't think Chekhov's have faired so well. Partially (or maybe entirely) this is because Chekhov didn't consider himself an artist during at the beginning of his career. He rushed many of his early stories to magazines just to get a buck. It wasn't until later that he began to put real, earnest thought into storytelling. I get the sense that Lawrence took his first works more seriously.

    Quote Originally Posted by Janine View Post
    I am not sure where you said this tale lies exactly within Chekhov's body of work; how old did you say he was when he wrote it?
    I don't even remember what I wrote. I think I said he was 24, which would put this around 1882.

    Quote Originally Posted by Janine View Post
    I don't see this work as 'shallow' at all, so I would not agree with those critics. I think an early work can be more simply stated and have just as much impact as a later work that is more developed or sophisticated. Right now a great many critics are depating the early play of Chekhov's "Ivanhov", recently performed in London, West End. It's an early play and perhaps not as developed but of the scenes I heard excerpts of I was captivated. I think these author genius' had what it takes from the very beginning.
    Yeah, if anyone said to me that earlier work is always of poorer quality than later work I wouldn't take that person seriously. There is no rule that states that a first attempt must always fail, and many first novels or stories are better than anything that follows them. A frequently cited example of this is Pynchon's V. The book got the author much publicity, but his later novels fell flat on their face. Some people remember Gravity's Rainbow fondly, but a lot of the later stuff is questionable. Yet, in Chekhov's case, I think the earlier works are a little weaker. Or, to put it a better way, they're just more frivolous. Usually they involve stock characters acting out stock situations with stock gags. I wouldn't lump "The Trousseau" in with those stories, though. The situation may be a stock one, but the characters, the humor, and the pathos are not. I thought the story was affecting, and even beautiful at times. It was a good pick Janine.

    Quote Originally Posted by Janine View Post
    You know, the newer fiction coming out today cannot compare to even weak Lawrence or weak Chekhov. Their works are still masterpieces, early or late.
    Hear, hear

    Quote Originally Posted by Janine View Post
    When you pointed this out in your last post, I thought right away of Lawrence and his use of repetition to structure a story.
    It reminds me of "The Man who Loved Islands," actually--in structure, at least. There were three islands, right?
    "Par instants je suis le Pauvre Navire
    [...] Par instants je meurs la mort du Pecheur
    [...] O mais! par instants"

    --"Birds in the Night" by Paul Verlaine (1844-1896). Join the discussion here: http://www.online-literature.com/for...5&goto=newpost

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