xv) Memory played an important part in Chekhov's stories, as well as in the writing of them. Once, when he was traveling in Europe, he was asked to write an international story set in the region. According to Foote, Chekhov replied that" he couldn't do it until he got back home. 'I can write only from memory' he explained."(Foote xv) "He seemed always to have to ponder things, turning them over and over in his mind, as if in search not of an answer but of a new phrasing of the question."(Foote xv) Written during the end of Chekhov's career, when he was seriously ill with tuberculosis, the two stories, "The Bishop" and "The Bride" both deal with loss. While "The Bishop" portrays the loss of simple joys of life, and of human intimacy, "The Bride" depicts the loss of convictions. In "The Bishop", the loss is made more poignant with memory, while, in "The Bride", the loss of Nadya's convictions lead her to take a bold decision which in turn, ensures her emancipation
"The Bishop" is a story written during the time when Chekhov was very sick with tuberculosis. Portraying, as it does, the memories of the sick bishop, "The Bishop" is considered to be one of Chekhov's masterpieces. . According to V.S. Pritchett in "Chekhov, A Spirit Set Free", "'The Bishop' is one of his finest works and reads like a sustained anthem to his own death".(Pritchett).Set in a small town in Russia, in the nineteenth century, "The Bishop" is a story full of reminiscences of the central character, Pyotr, the Bishop of the monastery. The story opens with the vespers being sung at the convent on the eve of Palm Sunday. The Bishop who has been sick for three days, is distributing palm leaves to the congregation, and sees an old woman who resembles his mother take a palm leaf from him. He finds out later that it was indeed his own mother who had come to see him , after nine years He remembers his childhood in the village. And the next day he dines with his mother and his hyperactive niece. Although his sickness increases, he has no respite from his duties. He remembers the events and questions of his whole life, and on Easter, he dies.
In "The Bishop" the author has depicted the relationship between loss and memory poignantly. When Pyotr first sees his mother in the convent, he remembers his family and his childhood in the village. ." His Reverence remembered her from the days of his earliest childhood, and, ah, how he had loved her! Oh, that dear, precious, unforgettable childhood of his!" !."(Chekhov ) He feels a great sense of loss that those years had vanished forever. "Why did those years that had vanished forever seem so much brighter and richer and gayer than they really had been" (Chekhov) He remembers how tender and loving his mother had been , and how she cared for him when he was sick. As he prayed, "His prayers mingled with the memories that burned ever brighter and brighter in his heart like a flame". (Chekhov)
The Bishop is nostalgic about his life in his village. He remembers the procession of the icon he followed as a young