Rapture by Anton Chekhov, 1883
The magic trick:
Building a story around a punch line
We begin another week of Chekhov stories with one of his early ones, and, frankly, it’s a bit silly.
Silly and simple.
It’s a one-note story. A young man returns home to his family one night, giddy at his new-found fame. Is it fame or infamy though?
We know Mr. Chekhov would go on to give us far more affecting art than this. But as it is, this is an amusing punch-line-driven tale.
And that’s quite a trick on Chekhov’s part.
“Why, what has happened? Tell us sensibly!”
“You live like wild beasts, you don’t read the newspapers and take no notice of what’s published, and there’s so much that is interesting in the papers. If anything happens it’s all known at once, nothing is hidden! How happy I am! Oh, Lord! You know it’s only celebrated people whose names are published in the papers, and now they have gone and published mine!”
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