Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

The Beggar

Rate this book
Classic Short Story: ‘The Beggar’ by Anton Chekhov

4 pages, ebook

First published January 1, 1887

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Anton Chekhov

4,405 books8,260 followers
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 recalled, "it all seems quite gloomy to me." His early years were shadowed by his father's tyranny, religious fanaticism, and long nights in the store, which was open from five in the morning till midnight. He attended a school for Greek boys in Taganrog (1867-68) and Taganrog grammar school (1868-79). The family was forced to move to Moscow following his father's bankruptcy. At the age of 16, Chekhov became independent and remained for some time alone in his native town, supporting himself through private tutoring.

In 1879 Chekhov entered the Moscow University Medical School. While in the school, he began to publish hundreds of comic short stories to support himself and his mother, sisters and brothers. His publisher at this period was Nicholas Leikin, owner of the St. Petersburg journal Oskolki (splinters). His subjects were silly social situations, marital problems, farcical encounters between husbands, wives, mistresses, and lovers, whims of young women, of whom Chekhov had not much knowledge – the author was shy with women even after his marriage. His works appeared in St. Petersburg daily papers, Peterburskaia gazeta from 1885, and Novoe vremia from 1886.

Chekhov's first novel, Nenunzhaya pobeda (1882), set in Hungary, parodied the novels of the popular Hungarian writer Mór Jókai. As a politician Jókai was also mocked for his ideological optimism. By 1886 Chekhov had gained a wide fame as a writer. His second full-length novel, The Shooting Party, was translated into English in 1926. Agatha Christie used its characters and atmosphere in her mystery novel The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (1926).

Chekhov graduated in 1884, and practiced medicine until 1892. In 1886 Chekhov met H.S. Suvorin, who invited him to become a regular contributor for the St. Petersburg daily Novoe vremya. His friendship with Suvorin ended in 1898 because of his objections to the anti-Dreyfus campaign conducted by paper. But during these years Chechov developed his concept of the dispassionate, non-judgmental author. He outlined his program in a letter to his brother Aleksandr: "1. Absence of lengthy verbiage of political-social-economic nature; 2. total objectivity; 3. truthful descriptions of persons and objects; 4. extreme brevity; 5. audacity and originality; flee the stereotype; 6. compassion."

Chekhov's first book of stories (1886) was a success, and gradually he became a full-time writer. The author's refusal to join the ranks of social critics arose the wrath of liberal and radical intelligentsia and he was criticized for dealing with serious social and moral questions, but avoiding giving answers. However, he was defended by such leading writers as Leo Tolstoy and Nikolai Leskov. "I'm not a liberal, or a conservative, or a gradualist, or a monk, or an indifferentist. I should like to be a free artist and that's all..." Chekhov said in 1888.

The failure of his play The Wood Demon (1889) and problems with his novel made Chekhov to withdraw from literature for a period. In 1890 he travelled across Siberia to remote prison island, Sakhalin. There he conducted a detailed census of some 10,000 convicts and settlers condemned to live their lives on that harsh island. Chekhov hoped to use the results of his research for his doctoral dissertation. It is probable that hard conditions on the island also weakened his own physical condition. From this journey was born his famous travel book T

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
96 (19%)
4 stars
178 (36%)
3 stars
166 (33%)
2 stars
43 (8%)
1 star
10 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 65 reviews
Profile Image for Dannii Elle.
2,034 reviews1,423 followers
June 19, 2021
When a beggar approached a man and spins a tale of the previous life he has lived, and the grace he has fallen from, he is recognised as the fraud he is. The beggar reveals his true self and is taken into temporary employment, working on and receiving a regular, small salary on the first day of every month.

This was a brief yet enjoyable listen with a concluding twist that imbued all the former events with moral significance. It took me only fifteen minutes to listen to, but there is a message delivered that I will take along with me for a lifetime.
Profile Image for Ian D.
519 reviews57 followers
August 21, 2020
I sometimes wonder if Russian authors of Chekhov's calibre were physically capable of writing anything even remotely mediocre...
Profile Image for Fatima Hayee.
16 reviews5 followers
January 5, 2022
Two life changing lessons from this short story.

1. We normally condemn the beggars for not working.But we never have this second thought of giving them work to earn money.

2.Helping others in their work can be life changing for them.
Profile Image for Phoenix2.
804 reviews98 followers
June 12, 2020
I must confess that I haven't picked up anything by Chekhov yet, so this is my first time with the author of the classics. And true to his name, the short story about a beggar and his benevolent was a strong punch. Regardless of its short length, the story was pretty unpredictable and it managed to capture a few aspects of human nature that are the same (unfortunately for some) however the years may pass. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Mike Narvaez.
132 reviews22 followers
October 24, 2018
This is such an amazing short story that I read it twice in a row. It says so much in so few pages. There is the main character, through which we see character-arc. There is also the antagonist of the story and the main hero of the story, who is somehow hidden in plain sight. This is such an enjoyable short story that I wished I had discovered it before.
Profile Image for Lorraine.
1,224 reviews19 followers
July 11, 2020
Anton Chekhov is incredible! Chekhov is a new author for me and quite frankly, I read this short story by chance. Awesome! I also read up on Chekhov’s life history, so interesting.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Stars
Profile Image for Omnia.
236 reviews20 followers
February 7, 2022
احب الاستماع الى قصص ما قبل النوم . غالبا ما ينتهي في المطاف عند تشيخوف ، اذ انه ملك القصه القصيرة الروسية بلا منازع .
Profile Image for Cleo.
105 reviews4 followers
May 25, 2022
My first Chekhov! A nice moral tale -- this is a painfully Online comparison to make, but it reads like those self aggrandising LinkedIn posts where people (in this case, a pompous lawyer) save a child from drowning by telling them to diversify their investment portfolio. Though I do wish those posts had a twist as smirk-inducing as this story does.
Profile Image for Overlady.
506 reviews7 followers
March 21, 2019
An alright short story about a beggar, with a nice twist at the end.
It's about a beggar who managed to get up on his feet after an encounter with several people.
It shows all the misconception, judgements and mistreatment of beggars.
A lot of people seem to think that getting a job is always easy for everyone.
There are a lot of factors that might stand in one's way. Lack of experience,
support, knowledge, connections, skills and so on.
All the circumstances for this state are different. Not all of them are tear jerking, some are shameful.
This book also shows the importance of kindness and compassion towards another human being.
Profile Image for breeanne.
64 reviews2 followers
July 22, 2021
not sure if Chekhov was attempting some moral message with this because it just came off as 'lying is okay if it gets you more money'.
nevertheless the writing was good - might read more of his stuff.
Profile Image for Gogularaajan Rajendran.
5 reviews2 followers
August 9, 2021
It is so engaging from start to end. I didn't know the background and politics of this story at first, but I was so attracted simply by the dynamic conversation of the lawyer confronting the cheating beggar. There's always an interest to know the next. I love how precise chekhov is, and through very limited words, he make me to imagine so much that is not told. All the situations, characters, story felt real and solid. And all this happens so smoothly, so easily. Like he does not demand my effort to indulge. Reading this was entertaining and effortless.

First of all, this story is so so relatable to me. I have encountered a similar beggar like this, but I didn't go to the extend of advicing her. I just gave her the look like I have already donated you 2 hours ago for different reason. And I could feel the shame she felt, she ran away once she realised. I didn't feel bad at that time. But when I was reading this, I felt bad. So naturally I could completely relate to both the characters. I love how rounded they are. chekhov is so direct, but still could achieve this.

I also love the humor haha, when the lawyer stalks his cook and the beggar from inside the house through the window, and he judge the cook, "she is a cross creature." he feels bad for forcing the poor pampered beggar to do hard works, but then he leaves haha.

That is really amazing. I love these little humor.

After hearing to the analysis, the story certainly gives different shades, it becomes more important with the politics in play. I never read about Russian history other than Stalin's tyranny and his communist corruption/wonders. This story is about reform, and within that he plays so delicately with careful representation. But I feel chekhov didn't take any side. I think every side in this story has a role to play. I never felt the lawyer as the villain or dark character. I felt he is a proud man, little too narcissistic especially when he claim for the beggar's reform. But still I can empathise with him. He was like an old dad. You can forgive him for his narcissism, he still have a kind heart beyond his ignorance.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Michael.
724 reviews
October 9, 2019
A well written short story, with a lot of depth for such a short story and a well written ending which has a nice twist.
11 reviews
February 17, 2021
I did not expect that ending albeit was very brief but still it was a good ending none the less.
Profile Image for Dan.
334 reviews
December 15, 2022
Quite the surprise tale of imputed righteousness and grace on the helpless.
19 reviews1 follower
August 24, 2021
The difference between teaching by showing the ropes, and teaching by telling/advising/merely preaching by words.

Alludes the necessity of governmental assistance (socialist ideology) in order to produce a better working class, rather than a capitalist system where the worker’s provisions and privileges are determined by the outcome of their work.

I like how Chekhov's stories look like one thing when you experience it simply from a plot sense, and then when you read it from a political sense, it's always something else. And everything is political, you simply cannot ignore it - and Chekhov's stories embody this fact without fail. Akin to what Plato said: "If you ignore politics, politics will ignore you."
May 28, 2020
The Beggar is an example of irony in literature but I don't think anyone of the character was an antagonist or protagonist. Somehow each of the three main characters have there strength and stupidity.

While I don't think the beggar should have been ungrateful towards the lawyer at the end as without his aid, wage and recommendation he could have died on those barren street. But it was humane of him to understand and show gratitude towards the selfless act of the maid. Now the lawyer did a good a deed by aiding the beggar but the elitist thinking behind make the whole thing so superficial. Atlast the maid was a good woman whose selfless act saved and rejuvenated the beggar's life. But that was not her intention. She may be doing the same act as her employer but as a male author didn't bother to show us her character arc.
Profile Image for Alaa Jeebeh.
4 reviews7 followers
September 27, 2020
In my opinion, it was a great story with greater meaning. It shows how small words and behaves can change someone's life. On the other hand, despite that Skvortsov was not the person who changed Lushkov's life, but he opened the way for him, so sometimes even if we didn't see the results of our good behaves to others we should be sure that our small behaves make difference.
Despite it is a short story but it holds great meaning.
Profile Image for Vicky.
109 reviews14 followers
October 18, 2018
A splendid little gem with a familiar twist at the end!
September 29, 2020
"The first time I read like this story I adore and I surprised at the end ... Olga cooker is a good person, skvortsov is a kind and gentleman. I feel happy for luskov ... I give it 5 stars "
19 reviews14 followers
April 27, 2022
Enjoyable little story about what can be considered helpful to those in need. Interesting way of looking at it for the time period.
Profile Image for Neel Preet.
Author 3 books50 followers
January 21, 2023
"The Beggar" by Anton Chekhov is a short story that explores the themes of poverty, empathy, and human connection. The story is set in late 19th century Russia and it follows the life of a beggar named Ivan Petrovich, who is known to the locals as "the beggar".

The story is told through the eyes of an unnamed narrator, who encounters Ivan Petrovich in the town square. The narrator is initially repulsed by the beggar's appearance and his smell, but as the story progresses, he begins to see Ivan Petrovich as a complex and fully-formed human being. The narrator starts to realize that Ivan Petrovich is not just a beggar, but a person with his own hopes, dreams, and struggles!

As the story unfolds, the narrator learns more about Ivan Petrovich's life and his experiences. He discovers that Ivan Petrovich was once a successful businessman, but he lost everything due to a series of misfortunes. He also learns that Ivan Petrovich is not just a beggar, but also a man of great wisdom, who has a deep understanding of human nature.

Chekhov's writing is masterful, and he uses simple and direct language to convey the powerful emotions and themes of the story. The Beggar is a story that will stay with the reader long after it is over. It is a reminder of the fragility of human life and the importance of empathy and compassion towards our fellow human beings.

One of the most striking aspect of the story is the change of perspective of the narrator, who initially sees Ivan Petrovich as a repulsive beggar, but gradually starts to see him as a human being with a rich inner life. This change of perspective is mirrored in the reader, who also starts to see Ivan Petrovich in a different light.

Overall, "The Beggar" is a powerful and moving story, and a testament to Anton Chekhov's skill as a writer. It is a must-read for anyone interested in the literature of poverty, as well as anyone looking for an exploration of the human condition. The story not only evokes empathy towards the beggar but also makes the reader reflect on their own prejudices and biases!
Profile Image for Debbie Sue.
75 reviews13 followers
April 15, 2021
This is my first Anton Chekhov book and it was a bit wild getting into the mind of Checkov. Generally, his short stories are on the shortcomings of humanity - which was a not quite what I was in the mood for. But I did enjoy reading out for something new and a stretch in a very different direction and some of the classic lines that ring true in ways that are almost a look into the future as well as the past. "why, indeed do people prevent one another living in peace? All these are losses!"

This edition is copyright 1946 with interesting artwork, beautifully bound with fascinating biographies of both the author and the artist in the back- worth picking up if you are into physically beautiful books and would like an entre into Russian literature.
Profile Image for Anatoly.
265 reviews3 followers
March 23, 2021
The story "The Beggar" by Anton Chekhov is a short and very deductive work with an unexpected ending.

The writer presents two main characters: drunkard and beggar Lushkov and Petersburg's lawyer Skvortsov, who has intentions to help a degraded person to come back to normal life.
It seems before the final part of the story that there are only two characters there. It appears in the end, there are three main characters in this very clever, great story.

Here is the link to the text:
Profile Image for Vladimir V..
49 reviews3 followers
January 5, 2018
Первая мысль - проблема "липовых попрошаек" была актуальна и 150 назад. Говорят, сейчас их "контролирует мафия", но книжный нищий, судя по всему, действовал в одиночку ;) Порадовал Лушков ;) "Я, Лушков, могу теперь предложить вам другую работу, почище". Созвучно с фамилией сами знаете кого. А конец рассказа вообще какой-то непонятный. Чего это Ольга решила дрова колоть? И почему это так подействовало на Лушкова? Странно всё это.
Profile Image for Shweta Kesari.
Author 6 books19 followers
August 15, 2020
I often wonder if I would ever be able to write such stories. God bless me if I could think of any such plot let alone write it. I spent a good amount of time pondering over such stories and concluded that such stories are nothing but mere slices of each of our lives. What makes the difference is observation, which our author Anton Chekhov was very good at. Pick the worth and portray it with the best of efforts!
Displaying 1 - 30 of 65 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.