The Duel (Chekhov story)

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"The Duel" (Russian: Дуэль, translit. Duél) is a novella by Anton Chekhov first published in 1891. It was adapted for the screen by Iosif Kheifits in 1973 (as The Bad Good Man, starring Vladimir Vysotsky) and by Dover Kosashvili in 2010 (as The Duel).


"The Duel" was first serialized in Aleksey Suvorin's newspaper Novoye Vremya in October–November, 1891. Edited and divided into chapters, the novella came out as a separate edition in December, 1891; published by Suvorin, the book enjoyed nine re-issues during the 1890s. Chekhov included "The Duel" into Volume 6 of his Collected Works, published by Adolf Marks in 1899-1901.[1][2]


Chekhov started writing the novella in January 1891.[1] According to Mikhail Chekhov, while working upon it, Chekhov regularly met the zoologist and writer Vladimir Wagner. The two had lengthy discussions, one of the items being the then popular concept of "the right of the strong one," which formed the basis of Von Koren's philosophy, for whom Wagner apparently served as a prototype.[3]


The story primarily focuses on Ivan Andreich Laevsky and Nadyezhda Fyodorovna, lovers who have moved to the Caucasus. Nadezhda is married to another man and some townspeople disapprove of the couple living together. Laevsky confides in his friend Samoilenko that he no longer loves Nadyezhda. Laevsky drinks, gambles, and lacks direction.

The scientist Von Koren feels that Laevsky's slovenly lifestyle is worthless. In fact, Von Koren feels killing Laevsky would be beneficial to society, an act of natural selection. Von Koren's dislike builds until he formally challenges Laevsky to a pistol duel.

The tension at the duel steadily increases. None of the men in attendance, with the possible exception of Von Koren, want to see the challenge completed. Fortunately for Laevsky, a deacon stops the duel before either man is slain. Laevsky's near-death experience leads him back to Nadyezhda, and motivates him to turn his life around.


  1. ^ a b Muratova, K. D. Commentaries to Дуэль. The Works by A.P. Chekhov in 12 volumes. Khudozhestvennaya Literature. Moscow, 1960. Vol. 6, pp. 524-525
  2. ^ Makanowitzky, Barbara. Anton Chekhov: Seven Short Novels; Introduction. W. W. Norton & Company. pp. 10–11. ISBN 0393005526. Retrieved June 24, 2012. 
  3. ^ Mikhail Chekhov. About Chekhov. Moscow, 1933, p. 209

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