Chekhov on Happiness


In Chekhov’s story “Happiness” (1887), two shepherds talk to an overseer about fabulous treasure buried somewhere in the vast Russian steppe. We recognize the men’s search for treasure as an allegory on the quest for true happiness. The old shepherd and the overseer exchange stories about people actually discovering a treasure but not realizing it because some magic makes it invisible. At the end, the younger man ponders on “the fantastic, fairy-tale character of human happiness.” We imagine we do not know how to achieve happiness, but we do not even know what it is, and probably never will. A thousand years would pass, the narrator muses, and “no soul would ever know…what secret of the steppes was hidden there.”

– from Chekhov’s Enlightenment


About Kestrel Slocombe

I like writing, meditation, art, reading, riding horses, playing guitar, watching trees in the wind, ferns, the smell of woodsmoke, Mozart and Bach, long walks in the wilderness, and the sound of the cello.
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One Response to Chekhov on Happiness

  1. monkey 010 says:

    I haven’t read that story yet, but will. It seems markedly at odds with the freedom to pursue happiness… Perhaps more accurate.


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