The Lady with the Dog

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The Lady with the Dog
TheLadywiththeDog.jpeg
Author Anton Chekhov
Original title Дама с собачкой
Country Russia
Language Russian
Genre Short story, Drama
Publication date
1899
Pages 34 pp
ISBN ISBN 0-393-09002-7

"The Lady with the Dog" (Russian: Дама с собачкой, Dama s sobachkoy)[1] is a short story by Anton Chekhov first published in 1899. It tells the story of an adulterous affair between a Russian banker and a young lady he meets while vacationing in Yalta. The story comprises four parts: part I describes the initial meeting in Yalta, part II the consummation of the affair and the remaining time in Yalta, part III Gurov's return to Moscow and his visit to Anna's town, and part IV Anna's visits to Moscow. Vladimir Nabokov declared that it was one of the greatest short stories ever written.[2]

Plot[edit]

Dmitri Gurov is a Moscow bank worker, married with a daughter and two sons. Unhappy in his marriage, he is frequently unfaithful and considers women to be of “a lower race”. While vacationing in Yalta, he sees a young lady walking along the seafront with her small dog, and endeavors to make her acquaintance. The lady, Anna Sergeyevna, is also vacationing, while her husband remains at home in an unnamed provincial town. They are soon engaged in an affair, and spend most of their time together walking and taking drives to nearby Oreanda. Though she is expecting her husband to come to Yalta, he eventually sends for her to come home, saying that something is wrong with his eyes. Gurov sees her off at the station.

Returning to Moscow and his daily routine, working by day and clubbing by night, Gurov expects to soon forget young Anna but finds he is haunted by her memory. On the ruse of going to St. Petersburg to take care of some business, he sets off to her town to find her. Learning the location of the family’s residence from a hotel porter, he finds the house, only to realize that it would be futile to intrude. In despair, he reasons that Anna has probably forgotten him and found someone else, and heads back to his hotel for a long nap.

In the evening, he remembers having seen a sign earlier promoting a performance of The Geisha. Reasoning that Anna and her husband may attend the first performance, he goes to the theater. The couple enters and he watches intently. When the husband goes out for a smoke during the first interval, Gurov greets Anna, who is bewildered and runs from him. After following her through the theater, he confronts her and she confides that she has been thinking of him constantly. Frightened, she begs him to leave and promises to come to see him in Moscow.

She makes excuses to come to Moscow, telling her husband that she is going there to see a doctor, which he "believes and does not believe". Gurov realizes that for the first time in his life he has actually fallen in love, and wonders how they can continue. While they talk of finding a plan, the story ends without a resolution.

Publication history[edit]

The story was written in Yalta, where Chekhov had moved on his doctor's advice to take advantage of the warmer climate owing to his advancing tuberculosis. It was first published in the December 1899 issue of the magazine Russkaya Mysl (Russian Thought) with the subtitle "A Story" ("Rasskaz").[3][4] Since then it has been published in numerous collections, and is considered one of Chekhov's best-known stories.[5] The first English translation appeared in 1903.[6]

Adaptations[edit]

A 1960 film version was produced by Josef Heifitz and starred Alexei Batalov and Iya Savvina. It won a Special Prize for "lofty humanism and artistic excellence" at the 1960 Cannes Film Festival.[7]

An adaptation of The Lady with the Dog, Dark Eyes (Italian: Oci ciornie; Russian: Очи чёрные; French: Les Yeux noirs) is a 1987 Italian and Russian language film which tells the story of a 19th-century married Italian who falls in love with a married Russian woman. It stars Marcello Mastroianni, Silvana Mangano, Oleg Tabakov, Yelena Safonova, Pina Cei and Vsevolod Larionov. The film was adapted by Aleksandr Adabashyan, Suso Cecchi d'Amico and Nikita Mikhalkov, "inspired by" stories by Anton Chekhov. It was directed by Mikhalkov. Mastroianni received Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival[8] and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor.[9]

The story has also been adapted for stage; for example, an adaptation by Peter Campbell was featured at the 2002 Chekhov Now Festival in New York.[10] A play titled Sunstroke, directed by Oleg Mirochnikov, combines The Lady with the Dog with Ivan Bunin's Sunstroke. The play was performed in 2013 at the Platform Theatre in London.[11] An opera version was recently[12] written and premiered at Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa.

Joyce Carol Oates wrote a short story adaptation of the story also entitled "The Lady with the Pet Dog" published in 1972. Oates' story is told from Anna's point of view and is set in New York and Nantucket.

Brian Friel's play The Yalta Game (2001) is loosely based on this short story by Chekhov.

Cultural references[edit]

In the 2008 film The Reader, the illiterate Hanna (Kate Winslet) first learns to read by listening to an audio recording of the book, which is referred to by her in the movie as The Lady with the Little Dog, read by her former lover Michael (Ralph Fiennes).

Notes/References[edit]

  1. ^ As there are no articles in Russian the literal translation is "Lady with Dog (diminutive)", leading to numerous versions of the title in English, such as "The Lady with a Dog", "The Lady with the Little Dog", "The Lady with the Pet Dog", etc.
  2. ^ From Vladimir Nabokov's Lectures on Russian Literature, quoted by Francine Prose in Learning from Chekhov, 231.
  3. ^ Surprised by love: Chekhov and "The Lady with the Dog".(Critical Essay)
  4. ^ Дама с собачкой (Russian)
  5. ^ For example, CHEKHOV, Anton The lady with the dog and other stories. at the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America, where the story is described as one of Chekhov's "best-known and best-loved works."
  6. ^ Chekhov Stories: Key Facts at sparknotes.com
  7. ^ The Lady with the Dog Film Information at Variety
  8. ^ Awards 1987 at Festival de Cannes site
  9. ^ 1987 Academy Awards Winners and History at AMC filmsite
  10. ^ "The Lady with the Dog" and "Rothschild's Fiddle" (A CurtainUp Review)
  11. ^ http://playstosee.com/page.php?sad=play&id=1427
  12. ^ Lyric Theatre premieres "Lady with the Pet Dog" January 13, 2010.[1]

External links[edit]