Anton Chekov on the realtionship between children and (domestic) animals

The remarkable relationships – affinities and otherwise – between children and animals have been discussed in numerous settings, not least children’s geography. I just came across this extract in an Anton Chekov short story “An Incident” (on finding the household cat has had kittens).

“…The most genuine delight shines in the eyes of both.

Domestic animals play a scarcely noticed but undoubtedly beneficial part in the education and life of children. Which of us does not remember powerful but magnanimous dogs, lazy lapdogs, birds dying in captivity, dull-witted but haughty turkeys, mild old tabby cats, who forgave us when we trod on their tails for fun and caused them agonising pain? I even fancy, sometimes, that the patience, the fidelity, the readiness to forgive, and the sincerity which are characteristic of our domestic animals have a far stronger and more definite effect on the mind of a child than the long exhortations of some dry, pale Karl Karlovitch, or the misty expositions of a governess, trying to prove to children that water is made up of hydrogen and oxygen.”

Full story here

(Warning –  it does not end well (for the kittens) – but a very interesting account of  children-adult-animal domestic geography for all that.)

 

 

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About Owain Jones

I work at Bath Spa University as a Professor of Environmental Humanities. I also write songs and help stage a range of live music with others. I am Chair and Programmer for Priston Festival.
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