Mire (short story)
The plot concerns the visit of a lieutenant, Sokolsky, to the house of Susanna Rothstein, the Jewish owner of a vodka distillery, to collect a debt owed to Sokolsky's married cousin Kryukov, but in fact which Sokolsky hopes that Kryukov will lend on to himself so he can marry his fiancee. Susanna entices the lieutenant to supper, then relieves him of the IOUs, but after spending the night with Sokolsky sends him back empty handed. Furious Kryukov resolves to visit Susanna and recover the debt himself, but he likewise is seduced and returns unpaid. A week later Sokolsky departs to return to his fiancee, having borrowed money from his cousin for his own marriage. Left alone Kryukov waits for another week then cannot resist visiting Susanna again, only to find several men being entertained by her, including Sokolsky who has seemingly forgotten about his fiancée. Krykov cannot judge Sokolsky since he is no better.
It has been suggested that the portrayal of the Jewish temptress, Susanna Rothstein, may have been influenced by Chekhov's stormy relationship with his former fiancée Dunia Efros, herself Jewish, and who remained on good terms with Chekhov after marrying his friend the Jewish lawyer and publisher Efim Konovitser.
The picture of free-spirited and seductive distillery owner Susanna, and her power over men, was controversial both in Chekhov's time and since, producing varying responses in Chekhov's circle, among critics and also from translators.
- James N. Loehlin The Cambridge Introduction to Chekhov 2010-1139493523 Page 52 "An even more aggressively allegorical version of the tempter Eve is provided by Chekhov's story “Mire.” Its seductive Jewish protagonist, Susanna Rothstein, may have been influenced by Chekhov's sometime-fianceé Dunia Efros, with whom he seems to have had a stormy relationship"
- Michael C. Finke Metapoesis: The Russian Tradition from Pushkin to Chekhov 1995 -- Page 200 " Sometime during the year or two after writing "The Steppe," Chekhov actually began a dramatic work whose hero was Solomon (see editors' commentary in Soch. 17:438). The fragment left to us, a monologue by Solomon, is just the sort of... Chekhov's story "Slime" ("Tina") (1886) and his play Ivanov (1886) precede "The Steppe" in their treatment of Jewish themes (and according to Karlinsky are a working through of his anxieties regarding Efros ..."
- Anna Makolkin Semiotics of misogyny through the humor of Chekhov and Maugham 1992 "Chekhov was obviously very hurt by the reaction to his story which was waiting until critics had acquired courage to deal with the unpleasant matters of Slime. The analysis of the story cannot be complete without focussing upon its title. The Russian word tina (slime) is close to the English "mire," Koteliansky chooses this more precise version while Y. L. Smith prefers "slime." The latter is much more metaphorical and even bears the strong negative attitude to the central character which the critic happens to have. Her choice of the translation has its roots in the general dislike of Susanna whom she naively perceives as a merely "superior prostitute," failing to discover"
- Carolina De Maegd Soep Chekhov and Women: Women in the Life and Work of Chekhov 1987 "In her memoirs she also recalled her sister's opinion about Chekhov: "He is an amazingly talented man and has a subtle ... Thus, for instance, concentrating on the story Slime (1886) she raised the question of principles and morals in connection with the kind of literature which handles erotic themes. "