Chekhov and the 1892 Russian Cholera epidemic

Anton Chekhov studied medicine at the University of Moscow, graduating in 1884. He had already published a short story Dragonfly in 1880 whilst he was a medical student and in the year of his graduation published The Tales of Melponeme. He moved to Melikhovo, an estate 45 miles from Moscow in 1892. This was also…

Idu to Rigasa by train

Martin Esslin in The Theatre of the Absurd said of the absurd If a good play must have cleverly constructed story, these have no story or plot to speak of; if a good play is judged by subtlety of characterization and motivation, these are often without recognizable characters and present the audience with almost mechanical…

Darkness & Light in Jumoke Verissimo’s A Small Silence

Jumoke Verissimo’s new novel, A Small Silence, amongst other things is about darkness. The actual material darkness of not turning the lights on at night and of inhabiting a darkened room with the curtains drawn during the day. It is within this nightly space that Desire meets and converses with Prof.   The tradition of…

Turgenev’s ‘District Doctor’

It was not exactly the opening sentence in Turgenev’s ‘District Doctor’ but it was close:   Strange things happen on this earth: you can live a long while with someone and be on the friendliest terms, and yet you’ll never talk openly with him, from the depths of your soul; whilst with someone else you…

Karel Capek- apocryphal tales

I first read Karel Capek probably in 1974. I can recall meeting Odia Ofeimun, walking towards Trenchard Hall, just by the car park in front of the Theatre Arts department at Ibadan and I was walking in the opposite direction. We stopped briefly to talk. It is unlikely that he will recall this encounter. He…

Burmese Days

After the sun went down, the light became tranquil, somber, and some might even say sublime. The green field, the white of the cattle egrets, the brownish black colour of the water buffaloes, all became softer, less bleached and in the case of the buffaloes turned from an indiscriminate black to the hide brown, sable…

Chekhov: death and dying

There are quite a number of Chekhov’s short stories that deal in the business of dying and death:‘ The Bishop’, ‘Typhus’, and ‘A Tragic Actor’ are examples. However, my favourite is ‘A Dreary Story From the Notebook of an Old Man’. I suppose I am drawn to the story because our protagonist is an aging…