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Soundbook: The Bet by Anton Checkov

You can download a pdf of the short story here:

The bet by Chekhov
Download PDF • 297KB


A B2 level worksheet is available to be used alongside this short story. Find it here or click on the button above.

The original cover artwork for this production, Your immortal geniuses will burn is available to download here.

A short story by Anton Chekov published in 1889. After providing a story called "The Cobbler and the Devil" to the editor of the Peterburgskaya Gazeta to be published on Christmas Day 1888, Chekov promised to provide something similar to the Novoye Vremya's editor before New Year's Eve. The timeline gives us an insight into how prolific Chekov as. He was asked to provide the first tale on 17th December 1888 and began writing The Bet on December 22nd before posting it on December 30th.

The story was originally divided into three parts but the last was removed after Chekov reconsidered the piece and felt it was "too cold and cruel".

The tale sees a banker recalling a dinner party some 15 years previous in which he entered into an extraordinary bet with a young lawyer. After a passionate conversation on capital punishment the lawyer concludes he would prefer life imprisonment to death. The banker offered him 2 million Roubles if he could withstand 15 years of such isolation.

As the night of the conclusion of the bet draws ever closer, the banker begins to consider murdering the lawyer rather than going bankrupt, but what he will discover on a rainy night in the isolated cell is more disturbing than his murderous intent.


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