Many learned articles have been written about Chekhov, but I don't remember any that pointed out the startling ubiquity of the galosh in his fiction. Before drawing up a detailed theory on the matter, I need to consult this well-informed community on whether the goloshes of nineteenth century Russia - not that any of you, except possibly Skitt, have first-hand knowledge of that milieu - are the same sort of thing my Uncle George used to wear in the sixties, or something quite different - a form of spat, for example - for which the word "galosh" might be a compromise translation.

Re-reading Chekhov over Christmas, I noticed that he can hardly write a page without mentioning goloshes. Some of the incidences are run-of-the-mill enough; for example:
Kukushkin went away at last, and as I listened to the shuffle of his leather goloshes, I felt greatly tempted to fling after him, as a parting shot, some coarse word of abuse, but I restrained myself.
or
She sits down on the floor, cleans the goloshes, and thinks how nice it would be to put her head into a big deep golosh and have a little nap in it.
And haven't we all? But Chekhov also intrudes the golosh - compulsively, I feel - into moments of high drama:
She went in to him without ringing, and as she was taking off her goloshes in the entry she heard a sound as of something running softly in the studio, with a feminine rustle of skirts.
or
Kovalenko seized him from behind by the collar and gave him a push, and Byelikov rolled downstairs, thudding with his goloshes.

or
In the dim light of the lamp they could clearly see, besides the white covering, new rubber goloshes, and everything about it was uncanny and sinister: the dark walls, and the silence, and the goloshes, and the stillness of the dead body.
I can't think of another writer who refers to goloshes at such moments.

Goloshes seem to carry a romantic significance too:
To stand watching her as she drank her coffee in the morning or ate her lunch, to hold her fur coat for her in the hall, and to put the goloshes on her little feet while she rested her hand on my shoulder; then to wait till the hall porter rang up for me, to meet her at the door, cold, and rosy, powdered with the snow, to listen to her brief exclamations about the frost or the cabman if only you knew how much all that meant to me!
and
Anisim arrived three days before the wedding, rigged out in new clothes from top to toe. He had dazzling india-rubber goloshes, and instead of a cravat wore a red cord with little balls on it.
I can't imagine a present-day bride being impressed by goloshes, however dazzling. The goloshes my uncle wore - never dazzling, I admit - earned him no more prestige in our family than the wellingtons he wore to his allotment. But for Chekhov, goloshes are markers of prosperity:
When her mother died, her father, Pyotr Leontyitch, a teacher of drawing and writing in the high school, had taken to drink, impoverishment had followed, and the boys had not had boots or goloshes . . .
or
Afraid, vain man, that people would see that his feet were bare under his goloshes, he had drawn the tops of some old boots up round the calves of his legs.
or
Now isn't it revolting? Isn't it disgusting? ... I have no goloshes.
I can't think imagine anyone British voicing such a sentiment, even in the nineteenth century. In fact, I'm starting to wonder whether this is all a code. Could there be a bestseller in it, in the manner of Dan Brown? Do goloshes have a mystical significance that escapes the casual reader?
And all at once the golosh grows, swells, fills up the whole room . . . .

or
And, as though in his honour, it was dull, rainy weather on the day of his funeral, and we all wore goloshes.
or
Possibly because I had run out into the street without my cap and goloshes I was in a high fever.
Has anyone else noticed this idiosyncrasy, or is it just me?

Peasemarch.
1 2 3 4 5
Many learned articles have been written about Chekhov, but I don't remember any that pointed out the startling ubiquity of ... noticed that he can hardly write a page without mentioning goloshes. Some of the incidences are run-of-the-mill enough; for example:

I just checked with my Russian daughter-in-law. Galoshes are rubber boots (but may have been leather in earlier days) for winter wear that fit over valenkis. Valenkis are felt boots that come up to the knee. Valenkis are, in effect, stiff socks made of felt. The D-I-L is in her 20s, so things worn in the 60s may have been different.

American galoshes - the kind I wore as a kid - had a flare in the front that was fastened with buckles. Russian galoshes are like boots since they don't have fasteners.
No American kid ever buckled his buckles unless the mother was there to insist on it. Consequently, the buckle on one foot would catch on the buckle of another foot and trip the wearer. This is as things are supposed to be.
I assume no responsibility for spelling anything above.


Many learned articles have been written about Chekhov, but I ... goloshes. Some of the incidences are run-of-the-mill enough; for example:

I just checked with my Russian daughter-in-law. Galoshes are rubber boots (but may have been leather in earlier days) for ... a flare in the front that was fastened with buckles. Russian galoshes are like boots since they don't have fasteners.

Latvian galoshes were mostly of the low-cut kind and they were worn over regular shoes. I don't know about the Russian galoshes.

Apparently, the Finns have the Latvian kind of galoshes also: For women, there were also galoshes that were higher, and they were designed to fit over high-heeled shoes.

Skitt (in Hayward, California)
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Many learned articles have been written about Chekhov, but I don'tremember any that pointed out the startling ubiquity of the ... quite different - a form of spat, for example - for which the word "galosh" might be a compromise translation.[/nq]Russian galoshes were not spats. Your uncle would have no trouble immediately identifying the galoshes in Chekhov's stories, although they were made not only of rubber but also of leather in those days in Russia, to protect a person's shoes or boots. They were a regular, everyday item in a country known for its harsh winters and often muddy streets and roads. There was something so mundane about them that they were always good for a joke and a laugh.

Chekhov wrote about one of his characters that he dreamed of changing the world when he couldn't even find his own galoshes. That was sure to provoke a grin from a Russian audience. There are many expressions in Russian using the word galoshes. A critic of Chekhov's once wrote that Chekhov wasn't even worthy of handing a certain literary figure his galoshes.There's also a well-known story about a trip by Chekhov to Sakhalin and Siberia around 1890. He made a stop in Tomsk in West Siberia, about which he made several widely reported disparaging remarks. People in Tomsk still remember the story about how Chekhov tried to take a walk from his hotel and his galoshes got stuck in the deep mud on a nearby street. That prompted a Tomsk sculptor not so long ago to do a figure of Chekhov that was put up on a river embankment.

The figure was barefoot. But afterwards the sculptor said he was plagued by nightmares in which Chekhov reproached him for making such a ridiculous sculpture of him. The sculptor then asked a local factory to make big, oversized rubber galoshes for Chekhov and he put them on the small figure, whose most prominent feature is now those enormous rubber galoshes.
Regards, WB.


I just checked with my Russian daughter-in-law. Galoshes are rubber ... Russian galoshes are like boots since they don't have fasteners.

Latvian galoshes were mostly of the low-cut kind and they were worn over regular shoes. I don't know about the Russian galoshes. Apparently, the Finns have the Latvian kind of galoshes also:

I think we'd call those "rubber overshoes."
For women, there were also galoshes that were higher, and they were designed to fit over high-heeled shoes.

This is as close as I could come to the kind of (rubber) galoshes my husband used to wear (and still has, should the need arise to use them):

We (Brian and I) both tend to think of galoshes as covering the ankle and at least part of the calf, and overshoes as low-cut, but covering most of the shoe.
Maria Conlon


Latvian galoshes were mostly of the low-cut kind and they ... the Finns have the Latvian kind of galoshes also:

I think we'd call those "rubber overshoes."

Yeah, I saw that when Googling.
For women, there were also galoshes that were higher, and they were designed to fit over high-heeled shoes.

This is as close as I could come to the kind of (rubber) galoshes my husband used to wear (and ... covering the ankle and at least part of the calf, and overshoes as low-cut, but covering most of the shoe.

Maybe I should have mentioned that I lived in the city (Riga), and there was no need for anything other than the low-cut type of overshoes, so I didn't know what the country folk wore and what they called them.

My Greenland stint involved wearing white felt boots in very cold weather and black rubber boots (Mickey Mouse boots) when things got wet and slushy. For a few months in summer, we could wear our regular leather boots.
Skitt (in Hayward, California)

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I just checked with my Russian daughter-in-law. Galoshes are rubber ... Russian galoshes are like boots since they don't have fasteners.

Latvian galoshes were mostly of the low-cut kind and they were worn over regular shoes. I don't know about the Russian galoshes.

Evidently, my spelling was correct. See:
http://hunt.digt.ru/catal3.shtml#Fur-lined for illustrations of valenkis.
Also, a quote from Bulgakov's "The Heart of a Dog" that mentions the felt boots:
" Galoshes - hell. Who cares about galoshes, thought the dog, but he's a great fellow all the same. 'Yes, a rack for galoshes. I have been living in this house since 1903. And from then until March 1917 there was not one case - let me underline in red pencil not one case - of a single pair of galoshes disappearing from that rack even when the front door was open. There are, kindly note, twelve flats in this house and a constant stream of people coming to my consulting-rooms. One fine day in March 1917 all the galoshes disappeared, including two pairsof mine, three walking sticks, an overcoat and the porter's samovar. And since then the rack has ceased to exist. And I won't mention the boiler. The rule apparently is - once a social revolution takes place there's no need to stoke the boiler. But I ask you: why, when this whole business started, should everybody suddenly start clumping up and down the marble staircase in dirty galoshes and felt boots? Why must we now keep our galoshes under lock and key? And put a soldier on guard over them to prevent them from being stolen? Why has the carpet been removed from the front staircase? Did Marx forbid people to keep their staircases carpeted? Did Karl Marx say anywhere that the front door of No.

2 Kalabukhov House in Prechistenka Street must be boarded up so that people have to go round and come in by the back door? WTiat good does it do anybody? Why can't the proletarians leave their galoshes downstairs instead of dirtying the staircase?'
Many learned articles have been written about Chekhov, but I don'tremember any that pointed out the startling ubiquity of the ... might be a compromise translation. Re-reading Chekhov over Christmas, I noticed that he can hardly write apage without mentioning goloshes.

My grandmama made a delicious beef golosh.
I'm so Hungary I could eat a pair of goulashes, right now!

Roland Hutchinson              Will play viola da gamba for food.

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