One day some people were visiting Chekhov and they wanted to talk about him, about his genius. The author was embarrassed. He asked them, "Do you like chocolates?" Although the visitors were reticent at first, Anton P. Chekhov encouraged them to speak. Soon everyone was talking about his or her preference in chocolates, relishing the fine points of "almonds and Brazil nuts" and "the flavor of shredded coconut." Later, in the coach on the way home, the people felt that their conversation with Chekhov was very successful. [30 lines]


On a first reading, this poem does not seem to have anything to do with the art of medicine or professionalism. But if you put Chekhov into the role of a doctor and turn his visitors into patients, the situation reframes itself. The patients want to get under their doctor's skin, to engage him in a discussion about his own capacities and interests.

The doctor redirects their curiosity. He encourages them to discuss their own interests, a conversation in which the doctor eagerly participates. In the end it appears that the conversation has made the patients feel better. Sure, it's a stretch of the imagination, but, after all, "Chocolates" is a poem.

Primary Source

Caviare at the Funeral


Franklin Watts

Place Published

New York