The Lady with the Dog

Chekhov, Anton

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack
  • Date of entry: May-27-2003


Dmitri Dmitrich Gurov is lolling around on the beach at Yalta when he spies a lovely young woman with a Pomeranian dog. Gurov is a family man, nearly 40 years old, but his wife and children are home in Moscow, and he regularly dabbles in extramarital affairs. Thus, he sets out to make a conquest of Anna Sergeyevna, whose husband, it turns out, is a "good, honest man, " but a "flunkey" in the provincial town where they live.

They succumb to their passion and become lovers, but after a few weeks, Anna is called home, and Dmitri also returns home. Surprisingly, he cannot forget her. He is tortured by a desire to see her again, eventually arranging a trip to her hometown, where he encounters his lover at the opera. They fall into one another's arms again.

Anna Sergeyevna then begins to visit Moscow every few months so they can spend a few hours in a hotel room together. Their love has grown into tenderness: "They forgave each other for what they were ashamed of in the past, they forgave everything in the present . . . " In the end they decide to make a plan to remain together, realizing that "the most complicated and difficult" part of their road is just beginning.


This late story is one of Chekhov's finest and most characteristic, demonstrating sensitivity to the subtleties of human relationships and deep respect for his characters. Just as Gurov and Anna forgive each other, Chekhov also forgives. Neither does he romanticize them, or provide an easy solution to their plight. Pain and suffering clearly lie ahead. It is quite possible that their lives will be destroyed by their illicit love.

When Chekhov wrote this story in 1899, he had become a respiratory invalid as a result of far advanced tuberculosis. At his doctor's orders, he had spent the winter of 1898-99 in the mild climate of Yalta and was about to move there permanently. Chekhov had also fallen in love with Olga Knipper, the actress whom he would marry in 1901. It is tempting to view the tender relationship of Gurov and Anna in the light of Chekhov's own newfound love.


Translated by Constance Garnett. First published: 1899

Primary Source

Later Short Stories, 1888-1903


The Modern Library

Place Published

New York




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