Yalta, Ukraine, in Anton Chekhov’s “The Lady with the Dog”

PHOTO CREDIT: DDima. Public domain.

“In the evening when the wind had dropped a little, they went out on the groyne https://www.acheterviagrafr24.com/prix-du-viagra-en-pharmacie/ to see the steamer come in. There were a great many people walking about the harbour; they had

gathered to welcome some one, bringing bouquets. And two peculiarities of a well-dressed Yalta crowd were

very conspicuous: the elderly ladies were dressed like young ones, and there were great numbers of generals.”1

One of Anton Chekhov’s most famous short stories, “The Lady with the Dog” (1899) follows a married male character (Dmitri Gurov) vacationing in Yalta and pursuing adulterous affairs. Before Dmitri returns to his home city, Moscow, he meets a woman (Anna Sergeyevna) in the same situation—vacationing, unhappily married—in whom he finds something more than comfort from marital dissatisfaction.

Chekhov paints the leisure environment of Yalta as charming but simple—the kind of retreat travelers might visit to laze and accomplish little of significance. Behind this slow-paced world follows a sensation of heavy romance. Yalta becomes a one-time haven, an emotional resort for both of their unfulfilled needs. At the end of the second section, each character returns to his or her city: Dmitri to Moscow with his children, Anna back to her husband in St. Petersburg. Dmitri and Anna float between those three primary cities to continue their affair and discover their love for each other. Considering their arbitrary meeting in Yalta, a nine-hour train right from Moscow to Saint Petersburg paints their interaction as more than just physical.

Yalta_Moscow_StRussian train routes circa 1857. Photo credit: Risks and Rewards. Public domain.

“Medicine is my lawful wife, and literature is my mistress.”2

A practicing physician, playwright, novelist, and an author of numerous noted short stories, Chekhov drew characters and locations from his travels throughout Russia. This story takes place in Russia’s western portion, near Moscow, Yalta, and St. Petersburg. During his earlier years, Chekhov had frequented and lived in each of these cities. Near the start of his writing career one of the most popular papers in St. Petersburg, Novoye Vremya (New Times) invited him to come onboard as a writer, and later he owned a house forty miles south of Moscow, the city in which he would later be buried. Being one of Chekhov’s last stories written before his death, the story itself ends without resolution as the characters discuss a plan.

A particularly interesting note: Chekhov wrote “The Lady with the Dog” after moving from his home in Melikhovo (forty miles south of Moscow) to Yalta. His doctor advised the move to a warmer climate fearing Chekhov’s advancing tuberculosis might end the acclaimed writer’s life, but the disease claimed him soon after moving.

Find Anton Chekhov’s plays, short stories, and novels at a local library or on Amazon.

1Chekov, Anton. “The Lady with the Pet Dog.” Trans. Avrahm Yarmolinsky. The Bedford Introduction to Literature: Reading, Thinking, Writing. Ed. Michael Meyer. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2002. 187-197

2Chekhov, Anton. Letter to To A.S. Suvorin. 11 Sept. 1888. MS. Russia, Moscow.

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