Can you identify this story?
November 3, 2010 2:33 PM   Subscribe

Help me to identify this story about a man who agrees to become a prisoner in exchange for money, but ends up growing as a result!

When I was a kid, I read this story about 2 men who made an agreement.

1. Man A agreed to give Man B a lot of money if Man B would agree to be imprisoned for a long time. (Can't remember exactly, but it's like being in house arrest in a small cottage or something.)

2. I think B is basically uneducated and made the bet/agreement just to get money, but while locked up, he asks for and reads tons of books.

3. As the end of the period of imprisonment approaches, A is no longer the very wealthy person he was and probably can't honor the agreement.

4. However, B, after having read so many books and spent so much time in contemplation, is not the same man either and doesn't want the money. He considers his personal growth the ultimate reward.

Do you know what book/story this is???
posted by apark to Writing & Language (8 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: The Bet, by Chekhov
posted by Maxwell_Smart at 2:40 PM on November 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Fantastic! I can't believe someone made a version of this book for children. I was nowhere near precocious enough to have been reading Chekhov when I was in elementary school! Thanks Maxwell!
posted by apark at 2:49 PM on November 3, 2010

Does A go broke financing B's contemplative leisure lifestyle? I think B knew all along that he was getting the better end of the bargain…
posted by Nomyte at 3:09 PM on November 3, 2010

There's also a Twilight Zone episode with a moderately similar premise.
posted by niles at 3:24 PM on November 3, 2010

There's also a Kurt Schwitters Merz Fairytale where a soldier is imprisoned and physically grows, until building the prison to hold him bankrupts the country.
posted by scruss at 6:33 PM on November 3, 2010

And the Count of Monte Cristo has some similar elements.
posted by CathyG at 6:40 PM on November 3, 2010

I saw a film version in High School. It stuck with me. As I recall it had a great Hero's Journey.
posted by trinity8-director at 10:02 PM on November 3, 2010

Quite a stretch, but elements of this remind me a bit of William Sleator's Singularity.
posted by wittgenstein at 10:39 AM on November 4, 2010

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