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Laurel
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CHEKHOV 5. Ward No. 6

Constance Garnett translation

 

This is a longer story with a really twisted ending. First, read the whole thing through and give us your first impressions.

"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it." ~~G.K. Chesterton
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rbehr
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Re: CHEKHOV 5. Ward No. 6

I liked the storyI like well written stories that take unpredicted twists and it definitely fulfills that criteria.

 

I just read the section on reading literature and stories in "How to Read a Book" by Moritmer Adler and Van Doren to see if they had any good hints and tips that would apply to Chekhov.  They said read stories quickly and with total immersion and get involved in the world the author createsGetting involved in the world created in Ward No. 6 was easy and entertaining and made me think about sanity.  


Laurel wrote:

Constance Garnett translation

 

This is a longer story with a really twisted ending. First, read the whole thing through and give us your first impressions.


 

 

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D.E._Multrachado
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Re: CHEKHOV 5. Ward No. 6

I really like the commentary about the treatment of mental patients in the time period and medicine as a whole.  In the beginning of the story he concentrates on the futility of doctors to help or diagnose psychiatric disorders.  Some of the people in the ward probably don't even belong there by today's standards (or by checkov's stadards).  Either way, once diagnosed, people were just being taken out of society and left to rot basically.  In the end, when Andrey Yefimitch starts to openly philosophise about the uses of medicine and his life as a whole, everyone diagnoses him as crazy, whether they're medically trained or not.

 

I like the shots that Checkov is taking at the treatment of patients along with using the medical field to tackle larger societal problems.   

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Laurel
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Re: CHEKHOV 5. Ward No. 6

He certainly got us involved right away with the second-person tour of the ward, didn't he? I could smell it!

 


rbehr wrote:

I liked the storyI like well written stories that take unpredicted twists and it definitely fulfills that criteria.

 

I just read the section on reading literature and stories in "How to Read a Book" by Moritmer Adler and Van Doren to see if they had any good hints and tips that would apply to Chekhov.  They said read stories quickly and with total immersion and get involved in the world the author createsGetting involved in the world created in Ward No. 6 was easy and entertaining and made me think about sanity.  


Laurel wrote:

Constance Garnett translation

 

This is a longer story with a really twisted ending. First, read the whole thing through and give us your first impressions.


 

 


 

 

"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it." ~~G.K. Chesterton
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Laurel
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Re: CHEKHOV 5. Ward No. 6

Welcome, D.E., and thanks for your comments. Makes us wonder who's crazy, doesn't it?

 

We see things from the doctor's perspective. The other characters have a very different perspective. I wonder who, if anyone, is right?

 


D.E._Multrachado wrote:

I really like the commentary about the treatment of mental patients in the time period and medicine as a whole.  In the beginning of the story he concentrates on the futility of doctors to help or diagnose psychiatric disorders.  Some of the people in the ward probably don't even belong there by today's standards (or by checkov's stadards).  Either way, once diagnosed, people were just being taken out of society and left to rot basically.  In the end, when Andrey Yefimitch starts to openly philosophise about the uses of medicine and his life as a whole, everyone diagnoses him as crazy, whether they're medically trained or not.

 

I like the shots that Checkov is taking at the treatment of patients along with using the medical field to tackle larger societal problems.   


 

 

"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it." ~~G.K. Chesterton
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x-tempo
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Re: CHEKHOV 5. Ward No. 6


Laurel wrote:

He certainly got us involved right away with the second-person tour of the ward, didn't he? I could smell it!

 


 
Yes, I noticed that beginning in the second paragraph, the narrator addresses the reader in the second-person voice:
 
"If you are not afraid of being stung by the nettles, come by the narrow fottpath that leads to the lodge, and let us see what is going on inside..."
 
I've just started it but it shouldn't take very long to read. 

 

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Re: CHEKHOV 5. Ward No. 6


D.E._Multrachado wrote:

I really like the commentary about the treatment of mental patients in the time period and medicine as a whole.  In the beginning of the story he concentrates on the futility of doctors to help or diagnose psychiatric disorders.  Some of the people in the ward probably don't even belong there by today's standards (or by checkov's stadards).  Either way, once diagnosed, people were just being taken out of society and left to rot basically.  In the end, when Andrey Yefimitch starts to openly philosophise about the uses of medicine and his life as a whole, everyone diagnoses him as crazy, whether they're medically trained or not.

 

I like the shots that Checkov is taking at the treatment of patients along with using the medical field to tackle larger societal problems.   


 
Yes, it's hard not to conclude that the fate of Andrey Yefinitch Ragin, the doctor who is ultimately incarcerted and dies in his own institution (as well as that of the patient Ivan Dmitritch Gromov, the intellectual whose persecution complex is somewhat justified by the fate of the doctor) contains a social commentary on a Russian justice system that would allow such a person to be imprisoned for no valid reason.   

 

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Re: CHEKHOV 5. Ward No. 6


Laurel wrote:

Constance Garnett translation

 

This is a longer story with a really twisted ending. First, read the whole thing through and give us your first impressions.


This is the length of a short story that I always have trouble reading.  If I can't get through a short story in a single sitting, I usually find it difficult to return to it.  Yet, one of this length may not engage me enough to stay with it to completion.

 

Any thoughts from short story readers?  I tend not to read them.

"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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Laurel
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Re: CHEKHOV 5. Ward No. 6

Start it again.

 


Peppermill wrote:



This is the length of a short story that I always have trouble reading.  If I can't get through a short story in a single sitting, I usually find it difficult to return to it.  Yet, one of this length may not engage me enough to stay with it to completion.

 

Any thoughts from short story readers?  I tend not to read them.


 

 

"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it." ~~G.K. Chesterton
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Peppermill
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Re: CHEKHOV 5. Ward No. 6

:smileyvery-happy:

 


Laurel wrote:

Start it again.


Peppermill wrote:
This is the length of a short story that I always have trouble reading.  If I can't get through a short story in a single sitting, I usually find it difficult to return to it.  Yet, one of this length may not engage me enough to stay with it to completion.

 

Any thoughts from short story readers?  I tend not to read them.



 

"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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Re: CHEKHOV 5. Ward No. 6

It really is a fascinating story, but you don't realize that until you get to the end. I'm still trying to figure out who's crazy.

 


Peppermill wrote:

:smileyvery-happy:

 


Laurel wrote:

Start it again.


Peppermill wrote:
This is the length of a short story that I always have trouble reading.  If I can't get through a short story in a single sitting, I usually find it difficult to return to it.  Yet, one of this length may not engage me enough to stay with it to completion.

 

Any thoughts from short story readers?  I tend not to read them.



 


 

 

"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it." ~~G.K. Chesterton
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Empathy

What role does empathy, or lack thereof, play in this story?
"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it." ~~G.K. Chesterton
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Re: Empathy


Laurel wrote: 
What role does empathy, or lack thereof, play in this story?
When the doctor arrives at the hospital he observes the unsanitary conditions, the brutal treatment of the patients by the guard, and other injustices. However, lacking the will to push for reform, he instead justifies his passivity through a philosophy of expediency which holds that the human intellect can find peace in any environment, no less so in a prison or a psychiatric ward than in a "warm, snug study" -- a philosophy his patient deems as "contempt for suffering." He lacks empathy until he experiences the injustice firsthand.
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Re: Empathy


x-tempo wrote:

Laurel wrote: 
What role does empathy, or lack thereof, play in this story?
When the doctor arrives at the hospital he observes the unsanitary conditions, the brutal treatment of the patients by the guard, and other injustices. However, lacking the will to push for reform, he instead justifies his passivity through a philosophy of expediency which holds that the human intellect can find peace in any environment, no less so in a prison or a psychiatric ward than in a "warm, snug study" -- a philosophy his patient deems as "contempt for suffering." He lacks empathy until he experiences the injustice firsthand.

Does the doctor really develop empathy even then?

"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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x-tempo
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Re: Empathy


Peppermill wrote:

x-tempo wrote:

Laurel wrote: 
What role does empathy, or lack thereof, play in this story?
When the doctor arrives at the hospital he observes the unsanitary conditions, the brutal treatment of the patients by the guard, and other injustices. However, lacking the will to push for reform, he instead justifies his passivity through a philosophy of expediency which holds that the human intellect can find peace in any environment, no less so in a prison or a psychiatric ward than in a "warm, snug study" -- a philosophy his patient deems as "contempt for suffering." He lacks empathy until he experiences the injustice firsthand.

Does the doctor really develop empathy even then?


Good point, Peppermill,
 
I think that for a moment he does, just after he's beaten by the porter Nikita. I found this paragraph:
 
Then all was still, the faint moonlight came through the grating, and a shadow like a net lay on the floor. It was terrible. Andrey Yefimitch lay and held his breath: he was expecting with horror to be struck again. He felt as though someone had taken a sickle, thrust it into him, and turned it round several times in his breast and bowels. He bit the pillow from pain and clenched his teeth, and all at once through the chaos in his brain there flashed the terrible unbearable thought that these people, who seemed now like black shadows in the moonlight, had to endure such pain day by day for years. How could it have happened that for more than twenty years he had not known it and had refused to know it? He knew nothing of pain, had no conception of it, so he was not to blame, but his conscience, as inexorable and as rough as Nikita, made him turn cold from the crown of his head to his heels. He leaped up, tried to cry out with all his might, and to run in haste to kill Nikita, and then Hobotov, the superintendent and the assistant, and then himself; but no sound came from his chest, and his legs would not obey him. Gasping for breath, he tore at the dressing-gown and the shirt on his breast, rent them, and fell senseless on the bed.
 
What do you think?

 

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Re: Empathy

That's the paragraph I was thinking of. We'll get more empathy in the next two stories.

 


x-tempo wrote:

Peppermill wrote:

x-tempo wrote:

Laurel wrote: 
What role does empathy, or lack thereof, play in this story?
When the doctor arrives at the hospital he observes the unsanitary conditions, the brutal treatment of the patients by the guard, and other injustices. However, lacking the will to push for reform, he instead justifies his passivity through a philosophy of expediency which holds that the human intellect can find peace in any environment, no less so in a prison or a psychiatric ward than in a "warm, snug study" -- a philosophy his patient deems as "contempt for suffering." He lacks empathy until he experiences the injustice firsthand.

Does the doctor really develop empathy even then?


Good point, Peppermill,
 
I think that for a moment he does, just after he's beaten by the porter Nikita. I found this paragraph:
 
Then all was still, the faint moonlight came through the grating, and a shadow like a net lay on the floor. It was terrible. Andrey Yefimitch lay and held his breath: he was expecting with horror to be struck again. He felt as though someone had taken a sickle, thrust it into him, and turned it round several times in his breast and bowels. He bit the pillow from pain and clenched his teeth, and all at once through the chaos in his brain there flashed the terrible unbearable thought that these people, who seemed now like black shadows in the moonlight, had to endure such pain day by day for years. How could it have happened that for more than twenty years he had not known it and had refused to know it? He knew nothing of pain, had no conception of it, so he was not to blame, but his conscience, as inexorable and as rough as Nikita, made him turn cold from the crown of his head to his heels. He leaped up, tried to cry out with all his might, and to run in haste to kill Nikita, and then Hobotov, the superintendent and the assistant, and then himself; but no sound came from his chest, and his legs would not obey him. Gasping for breath, he tore at the dressing-gown and the shirt on his breast, rent them, and fell senseless on the bed.
 
What do you think?

 


 

 

"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it." ~~G.K. Chesterton
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Re: Empathy

X-tempo -- I think I agree with you.  Thank you for calling that paragraph to our attention.

 

I guess  for empathy I wanted the doctor to recover at least partially and put in place some reforms.

 


x-tempo wrote:

Peppermill wrote:

x-tempo wrote:

Laurel wrote: 
What role does empathy, or lack thereof, play in this story?
When the doctor arrives at the hospital he observes the unsanitary conditions, the brutal treatment of the patients by the guard, and other injustices. However, lacking the will to push for reform, he instead justifies his passivity through a philosophy of expediency which holds that the human intellect can find peace in any environment, no less so in a prison or a psychiatric ward than in a "warm, snug study" -- a philosophy his patient deems as "contempt for suffering." He lacks empathy until he experiences the injustice firsthand.

Does the doctor really develop empathy even then?


Good point, Peppermill,
 I think that for a moment he does, just after he's beaten by the porter Nikita. I found this paragraph:
Then all was still, the faint moonlight came through the grating, and a shadow like a net lay on the floor. It was terrible. Andrey Yefimitch lay and held his breath: he was expecting with horror to be struck again. He felt as though someone had taken a sickle, thrust it into him, and turned it round several times in his breast and bowels. He bit the pillow from pain and clenched his teeth, and all at once through the chaos in his brain there flashed the terrible unbearable thought that these people, who seemed now like black shadows in the moonlight, had to endure such pain day by day for years. How could it have happened that for more than twenty years he had not known it and had refused to know it? He knew nothing of pain, had no conception of it, so he was not to blame, but his conscience, as inexorable and as rough as Nikita, made him turn cold from the crown of his head to his heels. He leaped up, tried to cry out with all his might, and to run in haste to kill Nikita, and then Hobotov, the superintendent and the assistant, and then himself; but no sound came from his chest, and his legs would not obey him. Gasping for breath, he tore at the dressing-gown and the shirt on his breast, rent them, and fell senseless on the bed.
What do you think?

"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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Laurel
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Re: Empathy

Perhaps Chekhov is leaving that up to the doctors who read the story.

 


Peppermill wrote:

 

I guess  for empathy I wanted the doctor to recover at least partially and put in place some reforms.

 


 

 

"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it." ~~G.K. Chesterton
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Re: Empathy

Exactly. 

 

Chekov illustrates that empathy after the doctor has the ability to change conditions is useless.  It doesn't help anyone in the future for the doctor to only learn through the same treatment he's been abiding for 20 years.  Chekov is making the point that doctors, and probably people in many professions need to more sympathetic towards other people, if not empathetic.

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Ward No. 6 The Ballet

If you're planning on being in Kiev early next week you could take in a ballet that is loosely based on this story. I think I'll miss that one.
"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it." ~~G.K. Chesterton