Nadya Shumin is engaged to be married to Andrey Andreitch, the son of a local priest. Nadya lives on her grandmother's estate with her mother, "a fair-haired woman tightly laced in, with a pince-nez, and diamonds on every finger." While Nadya is a woman with a great desire for education and independence, Andrey is a friendly but rather vacuous and totally unmotivated man.

Sasha, an ill and impoverished young man who is spending the summer on the estate has long been considered part of the family. Sasha implores Nadya to follow her heart--to go to Petersburg and attend the University. She resolves to do so and secretly accompanies Sasha when he returns to Moscow. She then goes on to begin her own life in Petersburg.

After the school term, Nadya returns for the summer, but she is aware that things will never be the same. The family receives word that Sasha has died of tuberculosis. At the end of the story, Nadya is packing to leave the estate "as she supposed forever."


This was Chekhov's last completed story, published in 1903. His heroine is a strong, motivated young woman who breaks away from the typical plight of Russian middle class women by avoiding a loveless marriage and asserting her independence. Sasha is a particularly interesting character. Like the story's author, Sasha is a severely disabled and dying man; in fact, he dies very shortly after taking a course of koumiss therapy (a fermented drink made from milk) at a tuberculosis sanitarium, just as Chekhov himself was to do in 1904.


Translated by Constance Garnett.

Primary Source

The Tales of Chekhov, Vol. 11: The Schoolmaster and Other Stories



Place Published

New York



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