‘The House With The Mezzanine’ by Anton Chekhov

The House With The Mezzanine by Anton Chekhov, 1896

The magic trick:

Combining romance with political philosophy

Classic stuff from Chekhov today. Here, he expertly blends the political and the romantic. At its heart, we get a love story between the narrator, a successful yet dissatisfied landscape painter, and the younger sister of a community organizer. But we also get a healthy dose of Chekhovian philosophy. The narrator and the community organizer have intense debates about the nature of Russian peasant society, what should be done to help and basically how all of humanity should strive to live. It’s almost like we get the “The Lady With The Pet Dog” combined with “Gooseberries.”

And that’s quite a trick on Chekhov’s part.

The selection:

“Missyuss, go away,” said Lyda to her sister, evidently thinking my words dangerous to so young a girl.

Genya looked sadly at her sister and mother and went out.

“People generally talk like that,” said Lyda, “when they want to excuse their indifference. It is easier to deny hospitals and schools than to come and teach.”

“True, Lyda, true,” her mother agreed.

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