The Bet
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The Bet

4.06 of 5 stars 4.06  ·  rating details  ·  592 ratings  ·  55 reviews
The Bet is an 1889 short story by Anton Chekhov about a banker and a young lawyer who make a bet with each other about whether the death penalty is better or worse than life in prison.
Paperback, 64 pages
Published August 2nd 1995 by HarperCollins Canada / Childrens (first published 1889)
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Remember that really trippy Twilight Zone episode...

No...not that one...although that one was completely awesome. I’m talking about the episode that takes place in that stuffy mens club where rich, condescending and obnoxious older guy bets poor, talkative and obnoxious younger guy $500K that junior can’t stay completely silent for an entire year.
And remember the scrumptiously out-boffing-standing ending (as only the Zone could do) when Mr. loquacious wins the bet from Colonel shitsack and we...more
I'm supposed to be reading The Bet next month for my English class, but I decided to read it now since it's a very short story, though mostly because I just love Chekhov. The story revolves around a bet that has one of its parties, a young lawyer, voluntarily sent into a 15-year solitary confinement in an attempt to prove that imprisonment is a better choice than death penalty, with 2 million rubels to await for him if he succeeds. The years of his imprisonment bring many changes into the lawyer...more
Karla (Mossy Love Grotto)
A quick and fine story about the effect of 15 years of solitary confinement on a young man. There's no black and white answer, with the man finding it unnecessary to interact with the world because the entire universe is contained in books. And yet he finds all the prattle and "knowledge" in books so much BS in the grand scheme of things. Maybe it's a commentary on entertainment & perceived knowledge vs. true meaning and the unknowable? I was never a big critical thinker in English in school...more
قصة رائعة فعلاً بفكرتها وأحداثها ورسالتها

تقول القصة

في إحدى الأمسيات دار نقاش بين مصرفي ثري وبعض الأصدقاء حول موضوع غريب...أيهما أصعب عقوبة الإعدام أم السجن المؤبد؟
المصرفي يرى أن عقوبة الإعدام أكثر أخلاقية وإنسانية فهي تقتل المرء دفعة واحدة بينما السجن مدى الحياة هو عبارة عن موت بطيء يسلب الحياة خلال سنوات طويلة
أما أحد الأصدقاء -وقد كان محامي - كان يرى أن السجن المؤبد أفضل، فأن تعيش بأية حال أفضل من أن تفارق الحياة
تمسك كل منهما برأيه .. إلى أن انتهى النقاش برهان بينهما... يقتضي الرهان أن يمضي الم...more
In a few pages this book made me think more about life than most 400 page books!
‘The Bet’ is a short story by Anton Chekhov. A wealthy banker and young aspiring lawyer had an argument between them, whether the death penalty is better or worse than life in prison. To prove their point, they played the bet. Two million rubles and the lawyer cast himself into isolation for fifteen years. The story evolved around the lawyer and his life in exile. During his fifteen years of isolation the lawyer picked up the habit of reading and it changed his view of life completely. Each time...more
The Silence Episode of the Twilight Zone, must have been based on this. Ironically I watched it last week. The difference is that in the story, he willingly forgoes his reward because he is no longer part of the material world. There was another Twilight Episode where robbers put themselves into a coma for 100 years so that they can then use their gold. Of course when they wake up gold is no longer valuable. I thought this story most demonstrates how what is important to individuals and societie...more
"To-morrow at twelve o'clock I regain my freedom and the right to associate with other men, but before I leave this room and see the sunshine, I think it necessary to say a few words to you. With a clear conscience I tell you, as before God, who beholds me, that I despise freedom and life and health, and all that in your books is called the good things of the world.

"For fifteen years I have been intently studying earthly life. It is true I have not seen the earth nor men, but in your books I ha...more
Doaa Alkhateeb
"For fifteen years I have been intently studying earthly life. It is true I have not seen the earth nor men, but in your books I have drunk fragrant wine, I have sung songs, I have hunted stags and wild boars in the forests, have loved women ... Beauties as ethereal as clouds, created by the magic of your poets and geniuses, have visited me at night, and have whispered in my ears wonderful tales that have set my brain in a whirl. In your books I have climbed to the peaks of Elburz and Mont Blanc...more
Viji Sarath(Bookish endeavors)
Out of words..!! I read this story first time during my schooldays. I remember reading this and failing to make head and tail out of the end. My mind and views were so narrow at that time,just stepping into the world of books. I saw this story mentioned somewhere on Facebook and decided to read it once more.
I do not know if I would have agreed with the end,that I will end up despising books. The part of it where the young man gets to make choice of all the books in the world seemed the most attr...more
Sylvia McIvers
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
للحرية معاني كثيرة....احدهما كان سجين ولكنه حر...والاخر كان حرا ولكنه سجين...فليهنأ كل منهما بما كسب....اسطورة
A short story that is easy to read and gives the reader much to ponder.
Yazan Azzam
Tawjehi Days!! :P :P
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This book is a very quick read. It centers around a bet as to whether capital punishment or life-imprisonment is more harsh. A guy volunteers to solitary confinement for 15 years. I was "assigned" to read this book by an Uncle who is an English teacher. He has his students read this story and then think of 10 books (trilogies are allowed as long as you can prove that they can be sold BOUND that way. As in hardcover sets, not ebook packages) they would take with them (as the only books they could...more
Maria Isabel
Read this for my 3rd year high school english class. The story is basically about these two characters the banker and the young lawyer who make a bet with each other about whether the death penalty is better or worse than life in prison.

What I loved about the bet is that the occupation of the two characters are very ironic because we have this banker who is suppose to be smart and conscious about money but in the story he would give away a big amount of money for a bet. And we also have this law...more
He is a master story teller who knows how to pack a punch. May it be the hapless cabbie or the quarrelling couple...his characters manage to stay with us long after their fictional world fades awaya. The Bet ranks among his best work.
Justin Bernal
The Bet is a short story about when a man thinks life imprisonment is the better choice to capital punishment, values that in the beginning living is better than not living at all. He tests this out, being pressured by a wealthy banker's bet for two millions. It begins with the young man valuing a life worth living than no life at all, and thus concludes with the man believing that life's values are despicable, believing that man takes hideousness for beauty, and refusing the blessings the world...more
Satyabrat Mishra
More than the story, more than the characters, more than the twist... the letter inside the story; a slap on human society as we know. Not since 1984 has something inside something moved me so much.
I know this sounds cheesy, but trust me when I say that this short story changed my entire perspective on life. I recommend this short story to anyone and everyone.
Moving story of finding satisfaction and happiness without the acquisitive desire of wealth and fame. Especially in our purely capitalistic world today, Chekhov reminds us that serenity stems from within and not from worldly gains. Classic Chekhov.
Short but great
Sep 01, 2013 Jason added it
Perhaps one the rare few that I've taken the liberty of reading multiple times, I find a new lesson or interpretation with each reading. Taking a mere 10 to 15 minutes to read, try it before bedtime and become as neurotic as Woody Allen today.

It is also possible to stream or download the audiobook freely at
Abdulrahman Issa
I've read the story in my schol English Book ,, It's A really good short story ,, with A good lesson
Ash Vandelay
Probably my favorite short story. It contrasts the fruits of an intellectual life to those of one lived in the flesh. Clearly, total immersion in one or the other is not desirable and there must be some balance. But either way the world is a lurid place and so are either desirable at all?

Good book that explores the above (I think.)
another interesting story from mother russia, it centers around a couple guys who bet that they can't sit in solitary confinement for 15 years. the stake is 2 million dollars (or rubles based on what version you have) i read it for my english class and this is one of the rare occasions that I'm interested in what the teacher gives us
Two men debating the morality of the death penalty make a bet - complete 15 years in solitary confinement and win $2 million. Interesting until the ending, when all the dramatic tension is just sucked away, leaving nothing of note.
Read this in high school and I can't help thinking that I would be able to last those years in a room by myself... >.> I wouldn't mind just having all the time in the world to just read. I might miss the internet though...
I am not sure I completely understood the message in this story. But it was a nice read.
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Anton Pavlovich Chekhov (Russian: Антон Павлович Чехов) was born in the small seaport of Taganrog, southern Russia, the son of a grocer. Chekhov's grandfather was a serf, who had bought his own freedom and that of his three sons in 1841. He also taught himself to read and write. Yevgenia Morozova, Chekhov's mother, was the daughter of a cloth merchant.

"When I think back on my childhood," Chekhov r...more
More about Anton Chekhov...
Selected Stories The Cherry Orchard The Seagull The Complete Short Novels Uncle Vanya

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“Which executioner is the more humane, he who kills you in a few minutes or he who drags the life out of you in the course of many years” 2 likes
“In your books I have flung myself into the bottomless pit, performed miracles, slain, burned towns, preached new religions, conquered whole kingdoms” 1 likes
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