Saturday, September 20, 2014

059. A Nincompoop. Anton Chekhov Story. Reintroduced By P S Remesh Chandran

059.
 

A Nincompoop. Anton Chekhov Story. Reintroduced By P S Remesh Chandran
   
Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum


By PSRemeshChandra, 14th Sep 2014. Short URL http://nut.bz/3hzh29vq/ Posted in Wikinut Writing Essays

 

Anton Chekhov was a Russian short story writer whose stories became famous for their surprise endings, just like Oscar Wilde’s, Maupassant’s and O.Henry’s. He found his characters from among the middle class and poor people of Russia. In his story The Nincompoop, he explains how the weak people in this world are crushed easily by the cunning rich. 

Had there been no writers in Russia such as Tolstoy, Maxim Gorky, Alexander Pushkin, Mayakovski, Chekhov and Solzhenitsyn, there would have been no revolution, whether there had been a Lenin or not.




From history we know about the abject poverty of the peasants and workers in Russia and how they were helpless to utter a word against the thorough exploitation by the rich and powerful in the time of the Czars. It was stories like this which prepared people for the coming peasants’ and workers’ revolutions against the ruling aristocrats in that vast sub continent of Russia. It is true, the writers of Russia soon became tired of the political killings following the revolution and writers like Alexander Solzhenitsyn later condemned the suppression of people by communist party monarchs, but it was indeed the writers of Russia who tilled the ground for sowing the seeds of revolution. Had there been no writers in Russia such as Tolstoy, Maxim Gorky, Alexander Pushkin, Mayakovski, Chekhov and Solzhenitsyn, there would have been no revolution there, bloody or not, whether there had been a Vladimir Illyich Ullianov Lenin or not. 

Without ‘Mother’ no revolution would have been possible and without sparks of revolution leaping out here and there no ‘Mother’ would have been thought about.



That the writers and the revolutionaries in Russia shared a mutually respective relationship is undisputed which is a solace and encouragement to historians and students of literature. By reason of his extremely volatile ideas, though was considered as a nuisance by party ranks, Mayakovski made many unforgettable poems about the life in rural Russia. It is remarkable to note Lenin’s comment on Mayakovski which he made in a crowded party committee. “I never like this fellow Mayakovski for his unruly behaviour and indiscipline, which a party cadre like me can never tolerate. But we should all read his that particular poem titled ‘Those Who Hold Committees Everyday’ the hint in which is there is committee everyday, everyday and everyday and nothing is happening any day, any day, any day. That is a poem which opens our eyes to what people think about us so-called communists.” It is interesting to also note that one of the loftiest and lengthy poems about the life of Lenin came from Mayakovski. His poem ‘Let Rail Workers Awaken’ is also equally famous. When we scan the literary and revolutionary fields of Russia, we can see that they magnificently supplemented and supplied each other. Without ‘Mother’ no revolution would have been possible and without sparks of revolution leaping out here and there, no ‘Mother’ would have ever been thought about. 

A Nincompoop is a person who suffers everything without a word of protest, a common figure and national trait in many countries.


A Nincompoop is a person who suffers everything without a word of protest, a national trait in China and Russia which made communist monarchs easily subject their people to persecution and totalitarian tyranny. Such people are there in every community, society, country, age. The rich and the powerful make use of their services and exploit them successfully for long years. There will not be enough genes of rebellion in their blood to revolt. Powerful and crafty writers teach even such inert people to react, protest, unite and cause changes. Like almost all other Russian writers, Anton Chekhov indeed was against such submission and surrender. We know, Anton Chekhov’s stories have a surprising twist towards the end and we shall see what it would be in this story. 

Four days one child was sick and three days the teacher had toothache. Seven rubles gone from salary!


The Master of the House and the Governess of His Children, Julia, are the only characters in the story. One day the Master called Julia to settle their accounts till then. He will not part with a single Ruble unnecessarily. And she had no protest. They had agreed on a salary of forty rubles a month but he was now willing to pay her only thirty rubles. It is OK for her. She had worked for two months and five das but he would count only two months. Thus an amount of sixty rubles only was due to her. Again OK. Nine Sundays and three holidays were taken away and twelve rubles also were taken away. Four days one child was sick and three days the teacher had toothache. Seven rubles gone! Julia broke a cup and saucer and it was only right to deduct two rubles. One child climbed a tree and tore his jacket. The other child’s shoes were stolen by servants in the house. Fifteen rubles less. An advance of three rubles had been paid but then Julia objected. She had been paid no advance but a gift of three rubles by the wife. He won’t listen to objections. He deducted ten plus three equals thirteen rubles anyway. So, she is to be paid eleven rubles, not eighty. He readily gave eleven rubles in cash. No objections. She even said Merci, in thanks. It was then that the Master of the House exploded: Why didn’t you ever protest in spite all this cunningness and stubbornness on my part in cheating you? ‘In other houses everything was taken away through clever calculation, here I got at least eleven rubles’- was her reply. This slavish subjectivity was characteristic of all Russian women. The Master was only testing the Governess of his children and gave Julia the full eighty rubles in cash, and he scolded her for behaving like a Nincompoop. She ought to have protested in those other houses. It is very easy for the weak in this world to be crushed by the cunning, and protestation is the only way out. Julia learned her lesson anyway. Now we know how writers in Russia prepared their people for protestation, change and revolutions.


(Prepared in 1991 as a lecture to literature students)


Dear Reader,
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Meet the author

PSRemeshChandra



Editor of Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum. Author of several books in English and in Malayalam. And also author of 'Swan, The Intelligent Picture Book'. Unmarried and single. Born and brought up in Nanniyode, a little village in the Sahya Mountain Valley in Trivandrum, Kerala. Mother University educated and father British Council-trained Teacher. Matriculation with Distinction and Pre Degree Studies with National Merit Scholarship. Discontinued Diploma Studies in Electronics and entered Politics. 

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