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“At that point the old man appropriately recalled that, in the preceding night, he had dreamed of ...
2022-01-25 09:00:00

Anton Chekhov, “The Dependents”
Illustrated Snippets

Anton Chekhov, “The Dependents”
Read in 1 minut

“Mihail Petrovich Zotov, a decrepit and solitary old man of seventy, belonging to the artisan class, was awakened by the cold and the aching in his old limbs. It was dark in his room, but the little lamp before the ikon was no longer burning. Zotov raised the curtain and looked out of the window. The clouds that shrouded the sky were beginning to show white here and there, and the air was becoming transparent, so it must have been nearly five, not more.

Zotov cleared his throat, coughed, and shrinking from the cold, got out of bed. In accordance with years of habit, he stood for a long time before the ikon, saying his prayers. He repeated ‘Our Father,’ ‘Hail Mary,’ the Creed, and mentioned a long string of names. To whom those names belonged he had forgotten years ago, and he only repeated them from habit. From habit, too, he swept his room and entry, and set his fat little four-legged copper samovar. If Zotov had not had these habits he would not have known how to occupy his old age.

The little samovar slowly began to get hot, and all at once, unexpectedly, broke into a tremulous bass hum.

‘Oh, you’ve started humming!’ grumbled Zotov. ‘Hum away then, and bad luck to you!’

At that point the old man appropriately recalled that, in the preceding night, he had dreamed of a stove, and to dream of a stove is a sign of sorrow.

Dreams and omens were the only things left that could rouse him to reflection; and on this occasion he plunged with a special zest into the considerations of the questions: What the samovar was humming for? and what sorrow was foretold by the stove? The dream seemed to come true from the first. Zotov rinsed out his teapot and was about to make his tea, when he found there was not one teaspoonful left in the box.

‘What an existence!’ he grumbled, rolling crumbs of black bread round in his mouth. ‘It’s a dog’s life. No tea! And it isn’t as though I were a simple peasant: I’m an artisan and a house-owner. The disgrace!’”

Illustration by Joanna Grochocka
Illustration by Joanna Grochocka

Anton Chekhov, “The Dependents”, [in:] The Cook's Wedding and Other Stories, Project Gutenberg, 2018 

Translated from the Russian by Constance Garnett

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Joanna Grochocka

Joanna Grochocka

Born and raised in Sopot, Joanna spent most of her childhood drawing and reading, which led her to the early conclusion that in the future she would make a living from writing and illustrating books. To some extent, she was right: she creates magazine and book illustrations, as well as posters, murals and art installations. She draws and paints, she takes photographs, she makes collages and collects pretty clippings. Joanna holds a degree in Philosophy from the University of Gdańsk. She also studied Graphics at the Academy of Fine Arts, but quickly decided not to suffer through a formal art education, and quit with no regrets after two years. She used to work within the Independent Media Workshop collective in the Artists’ Colony, located in Gdańsk Shipyard. There Joanna experienced one of the most inspiring and absurd periods of her life, learning how to climb shipyard cranes and create art that’s relevant only while it’s being created. She enjoys pretty little things, anecdotes from the lives of Dadaists, dialogues from Lewis Carroll’s books, life advice from Hakim Bey, glitter, Franciszka Themerson’s drawings, and Alejandro Jodorowsky’s teachings. Her Instagram account is @joanna.grochocka