Monday, October 01, 2012

More Chekhov: great stories, the first novel, Sakhalin, rarities

In the spring I was bitten by a very big Anton Chekhov bug and felt an urgent need to read his great stories again. I'm still at it. Two of his greatest stories (Beauties and On a Business Trip) I have just read after getting home from the office. I visited the Antikvaarinen Kirjakauppa Kauppamakasiini at Vuorimiehenkatu and bought two volumes just because they had one or two stories not published elsewhere in Finnish. I don't regret it.

Anton Tshehov / Anton Chekhov: Turha voitto. Kertomus [A Useless Victory (A Tale)]. Helsinki: Ahjo, 1919. Finnish translation by Vilho Elomaa. - 42. Ненужная победа. (Рассказ), 1882. This story represents the Russian "rasskaz" format which is between the short story and the novel. In Finland A Useless Victory has been published as a single volume of 183 pages. It has been translated only once, but since the translation is quite inspired, it has also been reprinted recently. It has also been called Chekhov's first novel. Reportedly written on a bet, to parody Mor Jókai's bestselling novels. A fluent, romantic and tragic entertainment, it shows that Chekhov could have made a career as a bestselling writer of easy reading fiction, and it's no wonder that the story has been filmed twice. The whip and the locket are effective motifs. The auction scene is impressive. Chekhovian is the deeply felt sense of social downfall, being left to one's own devices in the woods, the resilience of the outcasts, the bitter sense of money soiling love, and the dual character of baron von Saynitz depending on whether he is drunk or sober. The disillusionment of the déclassé Saynitz is devastating in his grim monologue (on p. 78 in this volume).

Anton Tshehov / Anton Chekhov: Sahalin [Sakhalin Island]. Edited and translated by Valdemar Melanko. Helsinki / Porvoo: WSOY 1972.
Из Сибири [1890] / Siperiasta  [Across Siberia]
Остров Сахалин [1893] / Sahalin. [Sakhalin Island]
Sakhalin Island is a major piece in Anton Chekhov's oeuvre, and he dedicated years of his short life to it. It is his most important non-fiction work, a scientific study of the hard labour prison island; his counterpart to a dissertation, an unofficial Ph. D. thesis. Sakhalin Island belongs to the field of social studies. It is a sober and comprehensive account based on the census Chekhov conducted on the island single-handedly. The work covers the geography, the nature, the history and the present of the island. We visit all parts and settlements. Chekhov refers to Dostoyevsky's The House of the Dead, and in the context of Russian literature Sakhalin Island is its continuation piece; as Jukka Kemppinen has stated, Solzhenitsyn's The Gulag Archipelago is the final part of the trilogy. The sober approach makes the impact of the account even more devastating. The pervasive degradation, the moral squalor, torture, and executions are discussed. - The prologue in this edition is a collection of Chekhov's travel letters from Siberia. They are powerful and belong to the most memorable texts written by the author. - There was a sense of urgency for Chekhov to make this trip, to see the prison and torture system of the reactionary and stagnant society. The impact of these experiences was great on his fiction. The sunny and carefree smile of his early humoresques vanished.

Anton Tshehov / Anton Chekhov: Tarpeettomia ihmisiä. Novelleja. [Superfluous People. Short Stories]. Translated by Juhani Konkka. Foreword by Pekka Mattila. Helsinki: Kirjayhtymä, 1964. All these stories I had just read from other collections save one:
486. Недоброе дело, 1887 / Ilkityö [An Evil Deed]. It is a sketch of a night guard of a graveyard tricked by a member of a gang of thieves about to rob a church.

Anton Tshehov / Anton Chekhov: Kertomuksia [Tales]. (Повести и рассказы, 1949). Translated by V. Levänen, L. Helo. Foreword by V. Jermilov. Petroskoi: Karjalais-Suomalaisen SNT:n valtion kustannusliike, 1953. Published in Soviet Karelia in Finnish, there is a dreary dogmatic foreword in this Stalin era collection, yet even in it one can sense the Troyan horse of art doing its counter-intelligence work inside the citadel of oppression. The selection is of high quality, and there is powerful context of social concern in many but not in all the stories of the selection. I had recently read all the stories except two which belong to the best Chekhov ever wrote.
542. Красавицы, 1888 / Kaunottaria [Beauties]. Translated by V. Levänen. This memorable story belongs to the ones Chekhov wrote right after The Steppe, and the first part of the story describes a similar milieu, also from a child's viewpoint. A plotless story, this is an account of two encounters with female beauty, witnessed by the narrator first as a little boy and as a young travelling man, with a strictly Platonic but absolutely breathtaking impact.
598. По делам службы, 1899 / Virkamatkalla [On a Business Trip]. Translated by V. Levänen. One of Chekhov's late, profound masterpieces, an account of the dawn of social conscience, comparable to Tolstoy's contemporary works, but uniquely Chekhovian. A young prosecutor accompanies a doctor to a village to make a report of the suicide of an insurance agent, a young man of a formerly magnificent family. They spend the night at the manor of a wealthy landowner, but the prosecutor has a strange dream where the unlucky insurance agent keeps walking, walking, walking in the snow against the wind together with the old local salt-of-the-earth constable who is in reality keeping a watch on the corpse whose presence causes great unrest in the neighbourhood. Nobody can sleep well.

Aulis Alanen: The Chekhov Binder. 38 clippings of Chekhov's stories from Finnish newspapers and  periodicals from the 1940s till the 1960s. Many unique Finnish translations. Illustrators: Tapani Aartomaa, Erik Bruun, Olavi Hurmerinta, Aaro Loponen, Kari Suomalainen, Erkki Tanttu, and Roland Westrén-Doll. These are unique or rare in Finnish translation:
3. За двумя зайцами погонишься, ни одного не поймаешь (1880) / Ken kahta jänistä tavoittaa... / [Chase Two Rabbits, Catch None] / [If You Chase Two Rabbits, You Will Lose Them Both]. This was a favourite proverb for Chekhov who stated that as a doctor and a writer he tried to chase two rabbits. But he also said that it is possible to chase two rabbits if you have two hound dogs. One of Chekhov's very earliest stories, a cynical account of a man and a married couple.
65. Единственное средство. (A propos процесса Петерб. Общества взаимного кредита) (1883) / Ainoa keino / [The Only Means]. A satire on thieving cashiers.
70. Ушла (1883) / Hän lähti... / [She Left]. A young wife starts to realize that her husband is no better than the thieving crook they are discussing. She leaves... to the next room.
91. Дурак. (Рассказ холостяка) (1883) / Hölmö [A Fool]. A young man gets the support of his boss to marry a charming woman... but the boss wastes no time in marrying her himself.
95. Случай из судебной практики (1883) / Vaikuttava puolustusasianajaja [A Case from a Lawyer's Practice]. A defense attorney is so eloquent and emotional in his great speech that the accused loses his self-control and gives a full confession.
111. Кот (1883) / Yökonsertti / [The Tomcat]. A young couple cannot sleep at night because of moaning tomcats. But one of them belongs to a big boss.
149. Опекун (1883) / Holhooja / [The Guardian]. A young suitor wins the hand of the general's adoptive daughter by firmly refusing to expose his squandering of the daughter's entire heritage.
151. В почтовом отделении (1883) / Postitoimistossa / Ovela postimestari / [At the Post Office]. Two translations of a cynical story about an old post-master who reveals in his wife's burial that he had let everybody believe that she was the mistress of the police chief, thus scaring off potential lovers.
220. Брак по расчету. (Роман в 2-х частях) (1884) / Järkiavioliitto [A Marriage of Convenience]. At the wedding party a clumsy guest who tries to evade the issue of marrying for money sets off a chain reaction of debate which exposes that it is all about money and not at all about love.
244. Разговор человека с собакой /(1885) / Ihminen ja koira / [Speaking of Man and Dog]. A sketch about a drunken man who is taught a vicious lesson by a dog at night.
257. В номерах (1885) / Hotellissa / [At the Hotel]. There is bad company at the hotel, but the mother is even more worried that her three daughters might not find husbands.
271. Бумажник  (1885) / Lompakko / [The Wallet]. A macabre murder story of three travelling actors who find a wallet. Each wants to be its sole possessor.
346. Тапер, 1885 / Danspianisten [A Ballroom Pianist]. One of the best stories in the binder, the story of a wedding pianist who has been thrown out of the party because he has transgressed rank boundaries and conversed with a young noblewoman.
391. Шуточка (1886) / Mäenlasku [A Joke]. The playfully whispered words "I love you" during a toboggan ride reverberate through life.
395. В Париж! (1886) / Pariisiin / Pariisiin [To Paris!]. Two different translations. Bitten by dogs, three men decide to find a cure in Paris. They manage as far as Kursk.
414. На даче (1886) / Rakkauskirje / [At the Dacha]. A cynical story of a wife who fakes a love letter from another woman to her husband to get him out of the house during cleaning up.
485. Беззащитное существо (1887) / Turvaton olento [The Weaker Vessel]. An old woman whose husband has been treated terribly visits a bank office and refuses to believe although her complaints are valid that she has come to the wrong place.
495. Тайна (1887) / Salaisuus / [The Secret]. Recurrent mysterious signatures in guest books lead the counselor of state to indulge in spiritism.
506. Драма (1887) / Draama [A Drama]. A spectacularly talentless amateur writer drives the protagonist to a desperate deed when she insists in reading aloud her drama.
517. Из записок вспыльчивого человека (1887) / Kala verkossa [From the Notes of a Hot-Tempered Person]. A sketch of a young single man who is easy prey to the daughter and the mother.
518. Зиночка (1887) / Viha / [Zinotchka]. A sketch of a childhood memory of a witnessed encounter between the charming governess and the big brother.
Jälleennäkemisen ilo [Joy of Reunion] [missing from Chekhov's collected works]. Father Afanasi who had helped and actually saved his friend Layevski during student years now cannot even get an audience with him.

Tarpeettomia ihmisiä
Osterit | Ustritsy, 1884
Kirje isoisälle | Vanka, 1886
Nukuttaa | Spat hotšetsja, 1888
Suru | Toska, 1886
Piispa | Arhierei, 1902
Karviaismarjoja | Kryžovnik, 1898
Tarpeettomia ihmisiä | Lišnie ljudi, 1886
Paksukainen ja ohukainen | Tolstyi i tonki, 1883
Tyttöopistossa | V pansione, 1886
Albumi | Albom, 1884
Huutomerkki | Vosklitsatelnyi znak, 1885
Pahantekijä | Zloumyšlennik, 1885
Viisas talonmies | Umnyi dvornik, 1883
Puhuja | Orator, 1886
Hammassärky | Lošadinaja familija, 1885
Kauhea yö | Strašnaja notš, 1884
Ylitti määrän | Peresolil, 1885
Ilkityö | Nedobroe delo, 1887
Romaani bassoviulusta | Roman s kontrabasom, 1886
Paha poika | Zloi maltšik, 1883
Leikkiäkö vain? | Šutotška, 1886
Jonytš | Ionytš, 1898
Morsian | Nevesta, 1903

Lapsia | Detvora, 1886
Vanjka | Vanka, 1886
Aro | Step, 1888
Tuska | Toska, 1886
Aliupseeri Prishibejev | Uniter Prišibejev, 1885
Vihamiehiä | Vragi, 1887
Kaunottaria | Krasavitsy, 1888
Hepsakka | Poprygunja, 1892
Sisämaan kartano | Dom s mezoninom, 1896
Koteloihminen | Tšelovek v futljare, 1898
Jonytsh | Ionytš, 1898
Karviaismarjoja | Kryžovnik, 1898
Sydänkäpynen | Dušetška, 1899
Virkamatkalla | Po delam služby, 1899
Rotkossa | V ovrage, 1900
Morsian | Nevesta, 1903

Aulis Alanen: Tshehov-kansio
241. Живая хронология / Zhivaja hronologija (1885) / Elävä muistikirja / Seura 34/1947 / suom. nimeämätön / Tshehov-kansio 1.
[Alkuperäisnimi tuntematon: puuttuu Tshehovin 30-osaisista Kootuista teoksista] / Jälleennäkemisen ilo / Helsingin Sanomat 4.7.1964 / suom. G. Olkkonen / Tshehov-kansio 2.
244. Разговор человека с собакой / Razgovor tsheloveka s sobakoi (1885) / Ihminen ja koira / sanomalehtileike nimeämätön ja päiväämätön / suom. Juhani Konkka / kuva Olavi Hurmerinta / Tshehov-kansio 3.
151. В почтовом отделении / V potshtovom otdelenii (1883) / Postitoimistossa / sanomalehtileike nimeämätön ja päiväämätön / suom. Erkki Rutanen / Tshehov-kansio 4.
151. В почтовом отделении / V potshtovom otdelenii (1883) / Ovela postimestari / Suomen Invaliidi 10/1957 / suom. Juhani Konkka, kuva Tapani Aartomaa / Tshehov-kansio 23.
70. Ушла / Ushla (1883-1884, Kootut II) / Hän lähti... / Kuluttajain Lehti n:o 46 / 1953 / suom. Juhani Konkka, kuva V. S-nen / Tshehov-kansio 5.
91. Дурак. (Рассказ холостяка) / Durak (1883-1884, Kootut II) / Hölmö / leike nimeämätön ja päiväämätön / suom. nimeämätön / Tshehov-kansio 6.
95. Случай из судебной практики / Slutshai iz sudebnyi praktiki (1883-1884, Kootut II) / Vaikuttava puolustusasianajaja / OK:n Joulu 1953 / suom. Juhani Konkka / Tshehov-kansio 7.
65. Единственное средство. (A propos процесса Петерб. Общества взаимного кредита) / Jedinstvennoje sredstvo (1883-1884, Kootut II) / Ainoa keino / sanomalehtileike nimeämätön ja päiväämätön / suom. Juhani Konkka / Tshehov-kansio 8.
149. Опекун / Opekun (1883, Kootut II) / Holhooja / aikakauslehtileike nimeämätön ja päiväämätön / suom. A.R., kuva nimeämätön / Tshehov-kansio 9.
294. Нервы / Nervy (1885) / Hermot / Vapauden viikkoliite 10.2.1951 / [suom. Lauri Savolainen n.c., sama kuin kokoelmassa Ensirakastaja] / Tshehov-kansio 10.
271. Бумажник  / Bumazhnik (1885) / Lompakko / sanomalehtileike nimeämätön [Uusi Suomi: viikkoliite] ja päiväämätön, kuvittajan signeeraus leikkautunut pois, mutta kääntöpuolella toisessa saman taiteilijan kuvassa on nimimerkki O.H. = Olavi Hurmerinta, suom. Juhani Konkka) / Tshehov-kansio 11.
231. Страшная ночь / Strashnaja notsh (1884) / Kauhujen yö / lehtileike nimeämätön [VK] ja päiväämätön / suom. nimeämätön, eri suomennos kuin Juhani Konkan ja Reino Silvannon / Reino Silvalan, kuva Erik Bruun / Tshehov-kansio 12.
546. Пари / Pari (1889) / Vedonlyönti / lehtileike nimeämätön [VK] ja päiväämätön / suom. nimeämätön, eri suomennos kuin Juhani Konkan ja Reino Silvalan / Tshehov-kansio 13.
347. Писатель / Pisatel (1885) / Kirjailija / aikakauslehtileike nimeämätön ja päiväämätön / suom. Juhani Konkka, kuva nimeämätön / Tshehov-kansio 14.
414. На даче / Na datshe (1886) / Rakkauskirje / aikakauslehtileike nimeämätön [sama lehti kuin edellinen] ja päiväämätön / suom. Juhani Konkka / Tshehov-kansio 15.
417. Роман с контрабасом / Roman s kontrabasom (1886) / Bassoviulu / Seura 47/1948 / suom. nimeämätön, eri suomennos kuin Juhani Konkan ja Reino Silvalan, kuva Kari Suomalainen / Tshehov-kansio 16.
257. В номерах / V nomerah (1885) / Hotellissa / aikakauslehtileike nimeämätön ja päiväämätön / suom. Juhani Konkka / Tshehov-kansio 17.
189. Альбом / Albom (1884) / Albumi / sanomalehtileike nimeämätön ja päiväämätön / suom. V.A., kuva Pentti Lumikangas / Tshehov-kansio 18.
189. Альбом / Albom (1884) / Albumi / Vapauden viikkoliite 1950 / suom. [Lauri Savolainen n.c.], sama kuin kokoelmassa Ensirakastaja / Tshehov-kansio 31.
111. Кот / Kot (1883-1884, Kootut II) / Yökonsertti / Kuluttaja 47/1958 / suom. Juhani Konkka, kuva nimeämätön / Tshehov-kansio 19.
395. В Париж! / V Parizh! (1886) / Pariisiin / leike nimeämätön ja päiväämätön / suom. Juhani Konkka / Tshehov-kansio 20.
395. В Париж! / V Parizh! (1886) / Pariisiin / Sydän 1/1958 / suom. nimeämätön, eri kuin yllä, kuva: Ronald Westrén-Doll / Tshehov-kansio 24.
144. Толстый и тонкий / Tolstyi i tonki (1883) / Ohukainen ja paksukainen / Pokstaavi 2/1964 / suom. nimeämätön, eri suomennos kuin Juhani Konkan, Reino Silvannon, Emil Vainion ja varhaisten nimeämättömien / Tshehov-kansio 21.
3. За двумя зайцами погонишься, ни одного не поймаешь / Za dvumja zaitsami pogonishsja, ni odnogo ne poimajesh (1880) / Ken kahta jänistä tavoittaa... / Apu 21/1959 / suom. nimeämätön, kuva Lasse Hietala / Tshehov-kansio 22.
495. Тайна / Taina (1887) / Salaisuus / Kansan Kuvalehti 30-31/1948 / suom. nimeämätön, eri kuin Reino Silvannon, kuva Calonius / Tshehov-kansio 25.
438. В потемках / V potemkah (1886) / Pimeyden teitä / Uusi Suomi Viikkoliite 20.9.1957 / suom. nimeämätön, eri kuin Juhani Konkan ja Reino Silvannon, kuva Antero Aho / Tshehov-kansio 26.
438. В потемках / V potemkah (1886) / Pimeässä sattuu / Kuluttaja 1958 / suom. Juhani Konkka: sama kuin Valitut novellit 1959, kuva Olavi Hurmerinta / Tshehov-kansio 35.
478. Добрый немец / Dobryi nemets (1887) / Vieras mies / sanomalehtileike nimeämätön ja päiväämätön / suom. Juhani Konkka, eri kuin 1959, kuva [Helinä?] / Tshehov-kansio 27.
466. Произведение искусства / Proizvedenie iskusstva (1886) / Taiteen tuote / sanomalehtileike nimeämätön [Uusi Suomi: Viikkoliite, tbc] ja päiväämätön / suom. Juhani Konkka, eri kuin 1969, 1960, 1959, kuva Olavi Hurmerinta / Tshehov-kansio 28.
485. Беззащитное существо / Bezzashtshitnoe sushtshestvo (1887) / Turvaton olento / Uusi Suomi Viikkoliite 26.7.1957 / suom. Juhani Konkka, kuva Antero Aho / Tshehov-kansio 29.
506. Драма / Drama (1887) / Draama / Kuva 4/1949 / suom. nimeämätön, kuva Erkki Tanttu / Tshehov-kansio 30.
220. Брак по расчету. (Роман в 2-х частях) / Brak po rastshetu (1884) / Järkiavioliitto / Suomen Invaliidi 2/1959 / suom. Juhani Konkka, sama kuin 1964 paitsi tässä leskirouvan nimen translitterointina Mymrina, kuva nimeämätön / Tshehov-kansio 32.
517. Из записок вспыльчивого человека / Iz zapisok vspyltshivogo tsheloveka (1887) / Kala verkossa / sanomalehtileike nimeämätön ja päiväämätön / suom. nimeämätön, kuva Olavi Hurmerinta / Tshehov-kansio 33.
391. Шуточка/ Shutotshka (1886) / Mäenlasku / Vire 1/1958 / suom. nimeämätön, eri kuin Juhani Konkan, Matti Lehmosen tai Reino Silvalan, kuva Aaro Loponen / Tshehov-kansio 34.
518. Зиночка / Zinotshka (1887) / Viha / K.K. [Kodin Kuvalehti?] 8/1945, s. 234 / suom. nimeämätön, huom.: suomennoksessa nimihenkilön, Zinotshkan, nimi on muutettu Minkaksi, ja nimiotsikossa "Viha" on ilmeikäs grafiikka / Tshehov-kansio 36.
206. Хамелеон / Hameleon (1884) / Kameleontti / Uusi Suomi, viikkoliite 3.9.1967 / suom. Witaly Ketterer / Tshehov-kansio 37.
346. Тапер / Taper, 1885 / Danspianisten [A Ballroom Pianist]. Översättning: Asta Wickman. Illustration: Olle Snismarck. Aulis Alanen: Tshehov-kansio, 38.

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