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The Party by Anton Chekhov



"I am not dead . . ." thought Olga Mihalovna when she began to understand her surroundings again, and when the pain was over.

A bright summer day looked in at the widely open windows; in the garden below the windows, the sparrows and the magpies never ceased chattering for one instant.

The drawers were shut now, her husband's bed had been made. There was no sign of the midwife or of the maid, or of Varvara in the room, only Pyotr Dmitritch was standing, as before, motionless by the window looking into the garden. There was no sound of a child's crying, no one was congratulating her or rejoicing, it was evident that the little creature had not been born alive.


Olga Mihalovna called to her husband.

Pyotr Dmitritch looked round. It seemed as though a long time must have passed since the last guest had departed and Olga Mihalovna had insulted her husband, for Pyotr Dmitritch was perceptibly thinner and hollow-eyed.

"What is it?" he asked, coming up to the bed.

He looked away, moved his lips and smiled with childlike helplessness.

"Is it all over?" asked Olga Mihalovna.

Pyotr Dmitritch tried to make some answer, but his lips quivered and his mouth worked like a toothless old man's, like Uncle Nikolay Nikolaitch's.

"Olya," he said, wringing his hands; big tears suddenly dropping from his eyes. "Olya, I don't care about your property qualification, nor the Circuit Courts . . ." (he gave a sob) "nor particular views, nor those visitors, nor your fortune. . . . I don't care about anything! Why didn't we take care of our child? Oh, it's no good talking!"

With a despairing gesture he went out of the bedroom.

But nothing mattered to Olga Mihalovna now, there was a mistiness in her brain from the chloroform, an emptiness in her soul. . . . The dull indifference to life which had overcome her when the two doctors were performing the operation still had possession of her.


title: a literal translation is "The Name-Day Party"

higher education of women: after 1881 the government curtailed the availability of higher education fro women

Gladstone: William Gladstone (1809-1898), British Prime Minister and leader of the Liberal Party

Little Russia: the Ukraine

heavenly manna: the food with which the Israelites were nourished during their wanderings (Exodus 16:14-15)

blagueur: humbug

vint: a bridge-like card game

Bonaparte: Napoleon (1769-1821)

titular: titular councilor, a low grade in the civil service, with a low salary

junker: young nobleman; squire

Shtchedrin: Shchedrin, pen name of Michael Y. Saltykov (1826-1889), author of the satirical novel The Golovlyov Family

mow: among the ideas of the novelist Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910) was that one should grow and harvest one's own food

Proudhon: Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (1809-1865) was a French social theorist

Buckle: Henry Thomas Buckle (1821-1862) was an English historian

Schopenhauer: German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1869)

Elijah's Day: July 20 (Julian Calendar)

Penderaklia: possibly from the Greek for "Five Hercules" (meant ironically)

Zemstvo: a district council with locally elected members

Butler's hives: A. M. Butlerov (1828-1886) was a chemistry professor who was also interested in improving bee-keeping

Mille compliments: a thousand compliments

property qualifications: certain rights and privileges were granted to property owners

holy gates: Russian peasants believed that the soul of a newborn baby could go through the door in front of the iconostasis in church directly to heaven

The best stories:
The Cherry Orchard
Lady with Lapdog
Uncle Vanya
Ward Six
Death of a Government Clerk
The Steppe




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