Short Fiction

The Lady with the Pet Dog

Translated by Constance Garnett

Chekhov’s “The Lady with the Pet Dog” offers a snapshot of life without the bias of a moral or narrative. Gurov, a forty-year-old married man who lives in Moscow, meets Anna, a married woman from a town near St. Petersburg, while on vacation in Yalta. The two quickly become friends and then lovers. While Anna is new to affairs and feels like a fallen woman, Gurov has had many affairs and dismisses her fears. It is not until she has returned home and he has resumed his life in Moscow that Gurov realizes how much Anna means to him. He seeks her out in her home and begs her to visit him in Moscow, realizing that she is the first woman that he has ever loved. Anna and Gurov begin meeting regularly at a hotel in Moscow, their private, treasured affair so different from their worthless public lives. Yet in the end, Chekov leaves the audience with no conclusion: the lovers have no solution to their problems and nothing but a long road in front of them. He defies the 19th-century tradition to conclude a story with a moral point and instead allows the audience to create their own ending. His purpose was to offer a slice of life, a view into the intimate and beautiful love between Anna and Gurov, and real life needs no moral conclusion.

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