‘‘The Lady with the Pet Dog’’ was published in 1899, during Chekhov's two-year stay at the seaside health resort at Yalta, where he had been sent because of his tuberculosis. Though he found Yalta painfully boring, he produced many of his finest stories during that time, including "Gooseberries,’’ ‘‘The Darling," "On Official Business,’’ and ‘‘The Lady with the Pet Dog,’’ his most famous story. Well received by audiences when it was published, the reputation of this tale of adultery and discovery of true love has only grown over time. Many critics believe that Chekhov drew upon Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina, an epic novel with an adulterous heroine, by painting a similarly complex moral and emotional portrait in only a few pages. Chekhov was able to speak volumes in a few words by his selection of gestures or details. Unlike Chekhov's contemporaries—most notably Tolstoy and Dostoevsky—who were preoccupied with sweeping historical, philosophical, and religious themes, Chekhov was interested in the smallest moments of human interest. While Tolstoy and Dostoevsky were driven by profound moral convictions, Chekhov was noted for his cool objectivity. He was reluctant to moralize, adhering to his own conviction that it is less important to moralize over a horse thief or an adulterer than it is to understand them. In ‘‘The Lady with the Pet Dog,’’ Chekhov neither romanticizes nor condemns the illicit love affair between Gurov and Anna. He simply presents it, but with such clarity and perception that the reader recognizes the profundity of what the characters experience and is entirely persuaded by their reality.
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