Monday, February 11, 2008

Chekhov short stories - second installment.

I have decided to work my way through a collection of Chekhov stories in order to try and improve my writing. Here are three I have read today:

Oysters (1884).

A starving child sees a sign above a restaurant advertising oysters. He asks his father (a beggar) what they are and he is told they are marine animals. He then imagines eating them. When he finds out later that they are eaten alive his imaginings become grotesque but still he eats. Eventually he calls out for them and is taken in and given some by passers-by. He ends up back in his room with his father (who has still eaten nothing) musing that he should have asked for some money off the rich people who had paid enough for 5 dinners for the oysters.

A Living Chronology (1885).
Very funny. An elderly man recounting how lively his town used to be to a dashing 40 year old officer. The elderly man's wife, who is 30 and a little more listens. The old man remembers past events and important visitors according to the births of his children - but plus a year. It is only when the third child is described as swarthy (and whose arrival) was about a year after a visit from some dark Asiatics that I realised but then I am pretty stupid about these things.

The Huntsman (1885).
A sad affecting story. A 40 year old handsome huntsman suddenly encounters a 30 year old female herd-girl in a lane (who turns out to be his wife). Through their conversation and a kind of omniscient view-point - which freely enters both heads - it becomes obvious that she loves him but he has no interest in her. She pleads with him to come back and he retorts that he only married her when drunk. At the end he gives her a rouble.

Style Tip:
A dash is a stronger separation than a comma, less formal than a colon, and more relaxed than parentheses. Can be used to set off an abrupt break and to announce a long appositive or summary.

e.g. Chekhov seems to not follow any obvious point of view - other than that of perhaps omniscient narrator - and I suspect that consideration of such things was unimportant to him.

Use a dash only when other more common marks of punctuation seem inadequate. This is something I need to pay attention to - I tend to use the dash much too readily. Heh.

New Word:
bridled = bring something under control or showing resentment or anger especially by throwing up the head or drawing in the chin (from action of horse's head when bridled in).


Blogger Douglas said...

I don't know where I read it, but the dash seems to be more modern, compared to the semicolon.

Tue Feb 12, 05:46:00 am  
Blogger chiefbiscuit said...

I use the dash a lot - must dash! And the exclamation point ... etc.
Love the Chekov synopsis's (?) And the Strunk & White tips. :)

Tue Feb 12, 04:04:00 pm  
Anonymous Clare. said...

Yes, I think that too, Douglas.
Heh, very good, CB!

Tue Feb 12, 07:05:00 pm  
Blogger Terry Finley said...

I enjoy reading good short stories; they give me inspiration.

Wed Feb 13, 02:30:00 am  
Anonymous Clare said...

I would love to see your site, Terry Finley, but it wouldn't open for me this morning.

Wed Feb 13, 06:51:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's working just fine for me.

Terry Finley

Wed Feb 13, 01:07:00 pm  
Anonymous Clare. said...

Took a long time to load up this morning for some reason - got on there fine now, thanks, Terry.

Wed Feb 13, 04:42:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm glad it worked.
Thanks for visiting.


Thu Feb 14, 05:47:00 am  

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