Virginia Llewellyn Smith

Virginia Llewellyn Smith is the author of Anton Chekhov and the Lady with the Dog.

The Glupovites

Virginia Llewellyn Smith, 4 September 1980

The French improved their lot at the end of the 18th century by chopping off their oppressors’ heads. Not long afterwards, the inhabitants of Glupov in Russia had a sadly different experience. They had enjoyed a period of unparalleled prosperity under a governor whose head was stuffed with truffles, when the marshal of the nobility, an irrepressible gourmand, brought back the bad time by literally swallowing the source of their contentment.

Olga Knipper

Virginia Llewellyn Smith, 7 February 1980

When Chekhov died in the German town of Badenweiler in 1904, at his bedside with his wife Olga Knipper and the doctor was a young Russian friend called Rabeneck. Thirty-three years later, Rabeneck sought out Olga Knipper, then on tour with the Moscow Art Theatre, in a Paris restaurant. Olga recognised but did not acknowledge him: on either side of her sat an ‘archangel’, a Soviet watchdog. Olga was to die in 1959, nearly a century after Chekhov’s birth. In his lifetime the Russian intelligentsia saw its heyday, and Olga lived on to see that world vanish for ever.

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