"The Darling" is a short story by Anton Chekhov, written in December 1898. First published in The Family magazine, it was ultimately included in the nine volume of Chekhov's work, released by book publisher Adolph Marx. The story draws from Chekhov's experiences living in Taganrog, Moscow, and Yalta. The play's protagonist aroused mixed reactions from Chekhov's contemporaries, though in general "The Darling" was warmly received by the literary community of Russia of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
"The Darling" bears some key hallmarks of Chekhov's works. For one, it is a short, humorous story. Chekhov made his early career writing satirical short stories, and the tendency to approach fiction this way would never quite leave him. It also concerns the lives of Russian peasants, a subject to which Chekhov dedicated much of his literary efforts. Importantly, Chekhov had a conflicted view of the peasant class, often finding their behavior and lifestyles abhorrent, but finding humanity and pathos in them nonetheless. This tension is central to "The Darling," with its sympathetic portrayal of a series of largely unlikable characters.