The Black Monk
16 Installments—Entirely free
In this short story by Anton Chekhov, a young academic’s encounter with a ghostly figure both animates and destroys his life. Andrei Kovrin has taken a leave of absence from academia due to his nerves, and he recuperates at the house of his former guardian Pesotsky. He grows close to Pesotsky’s daughter Tania as they tend the orchard together. Kovrin enjoys taking long walks in the garden, and one night he sees a dark, spectral figure and realizes that it is the black monk, whose legend he had just told Tania about. Upon seeing the monk, Kovrin feels radiant and inspired, and asks for Tania’s hand in marriage. As his romance progresses, Kovrin continues to meet and talk with the monk in the garden. The monk tells him that he is one of God’s chosen ones and that such loftiness comes with a price. Convinced of his own genius, Kovrin begins to act erratically, and Tania and his friends think he is going insane. Kovrin is convinced that his madness is in fact divine inspiration, and believes firmly that the black monk is not an illusion, but reality. As Kovrin grows ill, his mental derangement is manifested in physical symptoms—but all along, Kovrin maintains that his madness validates his own genius. A psychologically thrilling tale, The Black Monk delves into the murky region between fantasy and reality and asks what separates self-confidence from self-delusion.
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Opening Lines (Experimental)
IANDREY VASSILITCH KOVRIN, who held a master's degree at the University, had exhausted himself, and had upset his nerves. He did not send for a doctor, but casually, over a bottle of wine, he spoke to a friend who was a doctor, and the latter advised him to spend the spring and summer in the ...Back to top
Reviewed by helenlovesbooks on Mar 6, 2010
The difference between genius and madness
Where do we draw the line between genius and madness? This is the subject of Anton Chekhov's The Black Monk - the story of a young man called Andrei Kovrin who suffers from an undisclosed mental illness which causes him to believe he is being visited by a monk dressed in black.
This is a fascinating, unusual story which I found easy to read but difficult to fully understand. Chekhov's poetic writing creates an eerie, disturbing atmosphere appropriate to Kovrin's descent into mental illness.
Reviewed by Hankuh on Jul 31, 2009
Must be something lost in translation.
This is one of those stories that appeals to some meaning, but I guess I haven't a clue because I lack the intellectual tools. On a positive, the story was easy to read, and it kept my attention. As to what was actually transpiring, it was hard to say or write in a review.
Reviewed by psycheinaboat on Jun 9, 2009
We claim to celebrate those who are gifted, but what happens when brilliance surpasses the norm and becomes “weird”? Chekhov explores this question in The Black Monk.
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Ratings for 'The Black Monk' by Chekhov, Anton