Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction and Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel and post Colonial Asian Fiction are some of my Literary Interests





Friday, April 6, 2012

"The Bishop" by Anton Chekhov The Most Irish of Chekhov's Stories

"The Bishop" by Anton Chekhov (1902, 16 pages)


March 11 to July 1
Stories about Priests
April 1 to April 6








Please consider joining us for this event.

"The Bishop" is a final affirmation of Chekhov's faith in life-lonely and sad, immeasurably sad, but beautiful beyond the power of the greatest artist to tell.  Frank O'Connor
Anton Chekhov-1860 to 1904

From now until the end finally comes for Irish Short Story Week Year Two on July 1 (no more extensions) we will be having as our guests some of the greatest of the world's  short stories authors.  In order to be invited you do have to have an "Irish Connection" of some kind.   Guests will stay on until the final event virtual party on July 2 at Dunsanny Castle.  Thanks to the power of magic realism they will arrive in Dublin by the modes of transportation in their times and all those who need them will be provided translators and each guest will have a generous per expense account.   

There are only really three claims for best of in the literary world that are undisputed.   Shakespeare is the best playwright, War and Peace is the best novel and Anton Chekhov (1860 to 1904-Russia) is the greatest short story writer who ever lived.  Frank O'Connor's took as his masters in the short story Chekhov and another Russian, Ivan Turgenev (we are working on getting him and Gustav Flaubert to come together).  He taught a generation of Irish Short Story Writers to love Chekhov.  James Joyce famously said O'Connor was doing for Ireland what Chekhov did for Russia.

Chekhov will arrive in London via Steamship from St Petersburg.  He will spend a few days in London then proceed also by steamship to Dublin where he will be met at the docks by George Moore and William Carelton.   The first order of business is a stop for some Jameson.  

In The Best of Frank O'Connor edited and with commentary by Julius Barnes we are told that O'Connor said that "The Bishop", one of Chekhov's last stories, is virtually indistinguishable from an Irish short story.  
The bishop in the story is of course Russian Orthodox.   

"The Bishop" in the story is very sick.   He is used to being called "Your Grace" and his manner really does not admit of exceptions to this.   One of the themes of Chekhov is thk breaking down of false personalities through trauma.   People become what they are.   The bishops elderly mother comes to see him as her little boy under the skin of the bishop.  It is somehow crushing to see the mother call her dying son "Your Eminence".  As they both come to a realization as to what will soon happen the mother begins to call him by the words of childhood endearment that he longs to hear but cannot even admit this need to himself.  


You can  read "The Bishop"-translated by Costance Garnett-here

Here in the Philippines we believe that Manny Pacquiano is pound for pound the world's great greatest boxer ever.   I often think that word for word, Anton Chekhov is the world's greatest writer.  

I am pretty sure Ivan Turgenev will arrive in a day or so and will share with us his wonderful work "Father Alexyei's Story.   Frank O'Connor in The Lonely Voice said two of Turgenev's short stories were the best of all time.   Ford Madox Ford said his short fiction were among the greatest of all cultural treasures.  Gustav Flaubert and Guy de Maupassant are hopefully coming with them, with Turgenev, of course, paying the costs of the trip.    Flaubert wrote some wonderful short stories but not enough to be an active participant in our event.   He will be here for the party on July 2.

Who would you like to see be invited as a guest for Irish Short Story Week?

The next mini-event will be four days of "Nobel Prize Winners Only Please", with George Bernard Shaw, William Butler Yeats, Samuel Beckett and a guest from India, Rabindranth Tagore with a very strong connection to Irish Literary Culture.  

Mel u





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