My paper on Anton Chekhov's "On Official Business"

During the last semester of my master’s program, I was crunching the numbers on my survey and writing my thesis. Since I had to be on campus anyway, I wanted to take a fun, just-for-me course.

I found it in the Slavic Languages and Literatures Department: a course on Anton Chekhov, one of my favorite writers. The course surveyed his short stories, some of the longer works, and of course his plays.

After a particularly hellish year, this class was a tall, cool drink of chocolate milk. I loved the readings, the discussions and insights of my teacher, Dr. Radislav Lapushin, and simply the opportunity and luxury of spending time savoring and thinking about Chekhov’s remarkable, subtle, devastating writing.

For the final project, Dr. Lapushin suggested I take a story I’d not read before and really dig deep into it. I chose a late story, “On Official Business.” It’s one of Chekhov’s last stories and, typical of that period, nothing seems to happen yet everything changes.

I’ve scanned in the paper with my teacher’s handwritten notes and comments ON ACCOUNTA I’M PROUDA WHAT I DID. Reading it over, I’d certainly tighten it up, take some things out, emphasize other things. Do I repeat myself? Probably. But it turned out really well and was the best thing I wrote my entire time in grad school. It also confirmed for me that, if I get another degree, it will be an MFA in Creative Writing. Or at least lots and lots of literature classes.

My paper: Dreams and Reality in Chekhov’s “On Official Business”