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First Aid, by Chekhov

8 min
Translations  ✺  Innocent Speeches  ✺  Chekhov

The project announcement and a new Chekhov translation.

This story is a part of Chekhov's short story collection "Innocent Speeches". I'm translating the whole collection and this is the first story in it.

"First Aid" was first published on June 22, 1887, in the "Peterburgskaya Gazeta" (Petersburg Gazette), issue No. 168, on page 3, in the section titled "Flying Notes" under Chekhov's pseudonym, "A. Chekhonte." Later that same year, it was included in the "Innocent Speeches", published in Moscow by the magazine "Sverchok" (The Cricket). In this collection, the story appeared on pages 5-14. Subsequently, the story was featured in other Chekhov's collections.

It is a funny, satirical and a bit dark tale that showcases Chekhov's keen observational skill and his ability to masterfully portray people of different social classes.

I hope you enjoy it!

The original illustration for this story from the 'Innocent Speeches'

'Out of the way, lads, the starshina[1] and the clerk are coming!’

'Happy holiday, Gerasim Alpatych!' the crowd rumbles, greeting the starshina. 'Let it be, Gerasim Alpatych, not as we desire, but as God sees fit.'

The tipsy starshina wants to say something but cannot. He wiggles his fingers vaguely, bulges his eyes, and puffs out his red, swollen cheeks with such force, as if playing the highest note on a large trumpet. The clerk, a small, stubby man with a red nose and wearing a jockey's cap, puts on an energetic expression and enters the crowd.

‘Who’s drowned here?' he asks. 'Where's the drowned man?'

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