It consists of "travel notes" written after Chekhov's trip to the island of Sakhalin in summer and autumn of The book is based on the writer's personal travel experience, as well as on extensive statistical data collected by him. In the opinion of some researchers, the genre of this book was influenced by The House of the Dead by Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Siberia and Katorga by Sergey Maksimov who is repeatedly mentioned in the text. Anton Chekhov returned from Sakhalin to Moscow on December 8, , and at the beginning of began working on his book. He initially intended to print the entire book and refused to publish separate parts in literary journals, but in he agreed to publish Chapter XXII "Fugitives on Sakhalin" in the digest Helping the Hungry.

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In , he published the book Sakhalin Island , which The New Yorker recently named the best work of journalism written in the nineteenth century. One could say the Amur flows into the Pacific Ocean here, if Sakhalin Island did not bar its passage. Such weather causes oppressive thoughts and drunkenness due to despondency. I was in the mine. They led me through dark, damp corridors and courteously informed me about methods of production [ There are no delays connected with this.

If the new settler has money and administrative patronage, he remains in Alexandrovsk or settles in the settlement that is most desirable to him, and he either buys or builds a house unless he acquired one while in penal servitude. Until late at night soldiers, settlers, and prisoners milled around in throngs along the streets lit with lamps and Bengal lights.

The prison was open. The ear soon becomes accustomed to the measured clang of chains, the roar of the surf, and the hum of the telegraph wires, and because of these sounds the impression of dead silence becomes even stronger. You will find some teenagers, two or three cradles in the corners, chickens, and a dog. On the street near the hut there are piles of garbage and puddles from slops. There is nothing to do, they have nothing, they are tired of talking and arguing; it is boring to go out on the street because everything is equally cheerless and dirty.

A cohabitant regards a prostitute who earns a piece of bread as a beneficial domestic animal and respects her; that is, he himself prepares the samovar and is silent when she argues with him. She changes cohabitants frequently, selecting the one who is richer, or has vodka, or she changes them out of sheer boredom, for the sake of variety.

They bring an element of tenderness, cleanliness, gentleness, and joy into the most calloused, morally depraved Sakhalin family. The story is told that when he was in Singapore en route to Sakhalin he wanted to buy his wife a silk shawl. He was told to exchange his Russian money for dollars, and became grossly insulted. Some or perhaps all of the fry carried by the rivers into the ocean return annually to the mainland as migratory fish.

In conjunction with this, much still remains to be done, and we are confronted with an endless road leading to their welfare. In comparison with what had transpired five years ago, the present situation was almost the beginning of a golden age.

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Sakhalin Island

Anton Chekhov's Sakhalin Island provides a vivid account of the Tsarist colonies that inspired the Gulag. In , doctor and writer Anton Chekhov baffled acquaintances by announcing he was going to travel across the Russian Empire to visit a forlorn settlement on the fringes of civilisation. It was a place infamous for its isolation, poverty and backwardness. At this time, the Russian government was shoring up its claim to Pacific territories by actively engaging in the process of colonisation. The idea was to convert exiles, prisoners and ex-prisoners into a stable Russian population, resident in a region that had formerly been inhabited only by nomadic indigenous tribes Ainu, Orok, Gilyak and Nivkh , who had little comprehension of the distant St Petersburg monarchy.


Chekhov in the penal colony

Account Options Sign in. My library Help Advanced Book Search. View eBook. Sakhalin Island. Anton Pavlovich Chekhov. Oneworld Classics , - Fiction - pages.


Sakhalin Island

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