lady with lapdog – beret vs toque

rereading lady with lapdog again (in translation) i was struck by the brilliant omniscience of chekhov’s narrative, and then enraged by the inconsistency in the translations of the lady’s hatgear.

in constance garnett’s translation it is a béret, in david magarshack’s penguin translation it is a toque.

berets are fairly ordinary working class items; toques are much more glam – napoleon replaced crowns on family crests with a nicely codified system of toques:

a Napoleonic Duke used a toque with 7 ostrich feathers and 3 lambrequins, a Count a toque with five feathers and two lambrequins, a Baron three feathers and one lambrequin, a Knight only one ostrich feather. (wikipedia)

i wonder what made constance prefer the beret over the toque?

About freddie


  1. Her feather looks more pheasant than ostrich… though a very nice hat, for sure.

  2. They don’t make hats like that anymore, regardless.

  3. Doubtless made by the finger of destiny… now long gorn. Alas.

  4. o i forgot to caption that pic – it should read “the langtry toque” because the lady is lily langtry, who shared a royal bed and seems to have been delightful fun all round!

  5. Lily! Delightful indeed… and certainly put together in finer fashion than that Chekhov piece. Wherein is the “brilliant omniscient narrative” to which you refer??

  6. you disapprove of the tale?

    i liked it a lot, me!

    doesn’t it satisfy your stringent standards?

  7. No, I’m afraid not. The central concept is fine and dandy but I think other writers have handled it better.

    Cannot understand whether Chekhov was intentionally creating extremely obnoxious main character (and, if so, why do I then care whether he gets the gal??) or whether the characterisation itself was flawed in forcing too unsubtle a contrast between man-who’s-never-loved and then subsequent falling into such, that the character merely came out as horrible man instead of sort one could sympathise with.

    And the Anna character, whilst supposedly vague and thus symbolic just seemed one-dimensional.

    And the ending… grief. Like something out of Woman’s Own mag!!

  8. Of course… translation may be to blame.

Speak Your Mind