My Life: The Story of a Provincial
By: Anton Chekhov (1860-1904)
A provincial youth of wealth and noble status refuses to employ himself in the typical occupations of the higher classes, thus acquiring a reputation as a lazy good-for-nothing. In reality, he is intensely sensitive to the injustices perpetrated by his social class upon the working classes of town and country, and resolves to become a common laborer, taking employment as a house painter and ikon gilder. All classes of society around him respond to this revolutionary action with bewilderment and ridicule, even the lowest workmen feeling threatened by this insolent shaking of the cosmic structure. Possibly Chekhov's most passionate outcry against the corruption and hypocrisy of every class of conventional society, "My Life" resonates with an Ibsenesque outrage and frustration of powerful relevance to twenty-first century life.