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This eBook features the unabridged text of ‘The Complete Short Stories’ from the bestselling edition of ‘The Complete Works of Anton Chekhov’. Having established their name as the leading publisher of classic literature and art, Delphi Classics produce publications that are individually crafted with superior formatting, while introducing many rare texts for the first time This eBook features the unabridged text of ‘The Complete Short Stories’ from the bestselling edition of ‘The Complete Works of Anton Chekhov’. Having established their name as the leading publisher of classic literature and art, Delphi Classics produce publications that are individually crafted with superior formatting, while introducing many rare texts for the first time in digital print. The Delphi Classics edition of Chekhov includes original annotations and illustrations relating to the life and works of the author, as well as individual tables of contents, allowing you to navigate eBooks quickly and easily. eBook features: * The complete unabridged text of ‘The Complete Short Stories’ * Beautifully illustrated with images related to Chekhov’s works * Individual contents table, allowing easy navigation around the eBook * Excellent formatting of the text


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This eBook features the unabridged text of ‘The Complete Short Stories’ from the bestselling edition of ‘The Complete Works of Anton Chekhov’. Having established their name as the leading publisher of classic literature and art, Delphi Classics produce publications that are individually crafted with superior formatting, while introducing many rare texts for the first time This eBook features the unabridged text of ‘The Complete Short Stories’ from the bestselling edition of ‘The Complete Works of Anton Chekhov’. Having established their name as the leading publisher of classic literature and art, Delphi Classics produce publications that are individually crafted with superior formatting, while introducing many rare texts for the first time in digital print. The Delphi Classics edition of Chekhov includes original annotations and illustrations relating to the life and works of the author, as well as individual tables of contents, allowing you to navigate eBooks quickly and easily. eBook features: * The complete unabridged text of ‘The Complete Short Stories’ * Beautifully illustrated with images related to Chekhov’s works * Individual contents table, allowing easy navigation around the eBook * Excellent formatting of the text

30 review for The Complete Short Stories

  1. 5 out of 5

    J.G. Keely

    There is a vein of dull misery running through much of modern realism. It is not even tragedy, because tragedy requires that the person be suffering as a result of their actions, and that they be emotionally complex enough to understand what is happening to them, and to feel the whole of that pain. These stories of misery have none of that, they are tales of the ignorant, of the emotionally stunted, who bumble into one stupidity after another, never realizing why or what it means. Is there a There is a vein of dull misery running through much of modern realism. It is not even tragedy, because tragedy requires that the person be suffering as a result of their actions, and that they be emotionally complex enough to understand what is happening to them, and to feel the whole of that pain. These stories of misery have none of that, they are tales of the ignorant, of the emotionally stunted, who bumble into one stupidity after another, never realizing why or what it means. Is there a certain kind of realism in this? Sure--but fundamentally, it's only half the story. Sure, we all might feel that way sometimes, if we're depressed, and so we look at the world and say 'it sucks out there, and always will'--and part of it is that we want that to be true, too. We want it to suck, and for us to have predicted it, because that means that none of this is our fault. If things suck, it's because that's how they're meant to be, not because we happened to fuck up. But the world just isn't that bad. Life isn't that bad, even when we feel like wallowing in it, that's not reality, that's just our own baggage, our own coping. So, for an author to take that kind of nihilism and turn it into a book just ends up feeling silly. It's empty, it's self-centered, and it's not profound. We did Nihilism already, and found better things to supplant it. But that's what's amazing about Chekhov, because by all rights, that is what his stories should be: these little moments of sad life for these miserable little nobodies who don't know any better. And yet, they're not. They're somehow beautiful and delicate and profound. There's this undefinable Will to Joy in each one that makes it come off as sweet and sympathetic. And his people are so strange. Each one is a true character, because none of them are just 'types', place-fillers. That's the lesson Chekhov took from Gogol: that describing a man's head as looking like a dented pumpkin feels somehow more real than just saying it was big, and not entirely round, and somewhat over-fleshy. Making someone flat and grey doesn't make them seem miserable, because misery is vivid and colorful and overwhelming--that's what makes it such a damn bother. If it were colorless and bland, it could never roll over a human mind. Now, I'm just as willing to hate stupid people as anyone--and back in college, I was even more ready to disregard them. Yet Chekhov's stupid little people are impossible to hate, because they seem real. Like everyone, they try to put up a front, but you can see little bits, between the seams, that show you just how vulnerable and desperate they are for something, anything, which brings out that fundamental human thought: "Oh god. Me too." And yet, not everyone sees it. I know they don't, because one girl asked my professor "Why is Chekhov such a pessimist?" He was utterly confounded by the question, he couldn't understand where it came from, how anyone could come to that conclusion. I mean, here's an author showing you the beautiful soul of another human being, in the midst of whatever turmoil or failed search for meaning, and somehow doing it in the span of a few pages--and you call that pessimism? But then, Nietzsche was also misunderstood in that way, as was Machiavelli. These weren't men talking about the world as they thought it should be, but the world as they saw it, every day, all around them--and their reaction to that darkness was not to give in, or fold up, but to say 'we can fight our way through this'. Not out of it, perhaps, but definitely through it. But then, to a certain type of idealist, even admitting that things can be bad, or will be bad, is seen as pessimistic, defeatist. I don't buy that. If I'm fighting, I want to know what I'm up against. I want to know everything about them, because that's how I'm going to win. To me, optimism isn't self-delusion, it isn't being in good spirits when things are going fine--that's too easy, anyone can do that--it's pushing on even when time are hard, even knowing they will probably still be hard tomorrow. They will be hard tomorrow. But I'll still be here, and Chekhov will still be here, and if that's not enough for you, then you're only in it to get attention, anyways.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Praveen

    I just finished the final story of this collection! This guy is... Awesome, a master short story writer. I fell in love with his stories almost every time. His stories are so simple yet so powerful in the impact that I have decided to write a review for each of his stories separately! For now, three words for this collection... Captivating! Enthralling! Bewitching!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Vit Babenco

    There are thirty-four stories by the master in this volume and I might write about every single one in the book – they’re all like pearls: some just a little bit bigger and some just a little bit smaller… Vanka Zhukov, a nine-year-old boy, sent three months earlier to be apprenticed to the shoemaker Aliakhin, did not go to bed on Christmas eve. He waited till master and apprentices went to church, then took a bottle of ink and a pen with a rusty nib from the master’s cupboard, spread out a There are thirty-four stories by the master in this volume and I might write about every single one in the book – they’re all like pearls: some just a little bit bigger and some just a little bit smaller… Vanka Zhukov, a nine-year-old boy, sent three months earlier to be apprenticed to the shoemaker Aliakhin, did not go to bed on Christmas eve. He waited till master and apprentices went to church, then took a bottle of ink and a pen with a rusty nib from the master’s cupboard, spread out a rumpled sheet of paper in front of him, and began to write. Before tracing the first letter, he looked fearfully several times at the doors and windows, cast a sidelong glance at the dark icon, surrounded on both sides by long shelves of shoe lasts, and heaved a choking sigh. The paper lay on a bench, and he himself knelt down by the bench. “Dear grandpa, Konstantin Makarych!” he wrote. “So I’m writing you a letter. I wish you a Merry Christmas and all good things from the Lord God. I have no father or mother, you are the only one I have left.” The stories are sad and they are funny… They are full of laughter and they are full of tears… “And yesterday they gave me what-for. The master dragged me out to the yard by the hair and thrashed me with a belt, because I was rocking their baby in the cradle and accidentally fell asleep. And last week the mistress told me to clean a herring, and I started with the tail, so she took the herring and began shoving its head into my mug…” The tales are sweet and they are bitter. The tales are bittersweet. The compassion is blended with irony and misery is mixed with hilarity… In the evening, while we were having tea, the cook served a full plate of gooseberries. They weren’t bought, they were his own gooseberries, the first picked since the bushes were planted. Nikolai Ivanych laughed and gazed silently at the gooseberries for a moment with tears in his eyes – he couldn’t speak for excitement; then he put one berry in his mouth, glanced at me with the triumph of a child who has finally gotten his favorite toy… Humans are quite different – some wish for the stars in their pockets and for some a plateful of gooseberries is enough…

  4. 5 out of 5

    William2

    Reread some stories. Those touching on bipolar illness, “The Black Monk”—trained as a physician it seems Chekhov was familiar with the disorder—and the Russian Orthodox religion, “Panikhida” and “Easter Night.” A note from Richard Pevear’s introduction, “His familiarity with church life shows in many of his stories, and his knowledge of the services and prayers was probably more precise than that of any other Russian writer. His work is imbued with a Christian understanding of suffering. The Reread some stories. Those touching on bipolar illness, “The Black Monk”—trained as a physician it seems Chekhov was familiar with the disorder—and the Russian Orthodox religion, “Panikhida” and “Easter Night.” A note from Richard Pevear’s introduction, “His familiarity with church life shows in many of his stories, and his knowledge of the services and prayers was probably more precise than that of any other Russian writer. His work is imbued with a Christian understanding of suffering. The critic Leonid Grossman has described him as ‘a probing Darwinist with the love of St. Francis of Assisi for every living creature.’” (p. xv) “The Huntsman,” “Death of a Clerk,” “A Boring Story,” “The Malefactor.” I’ve read these stories in multiple iterations, including the thirteen-volume The Tales of Chekhov, translated by Constance Garnet, the first volume of which is The Darling and Other Stories. I don’t recall “A Boring Story” being so compelling in the Garnet translation. It’s a masterpiece of first-person narration. A distinguished professor of science, suffering from insomnia and other complaints, who believes himself to be dying yet who won’t see a doctor, grows estranged from his wife and adult children, falling into an ever-intensifying critique of his friends, colleagues, family, theater, bad Russian writers, good French ones, which angers him almost to fits of apoplexy (to use that appropriate period word). Dylan Thomas later wrote: “Do not go gentle into that good night, / Old age should burn and rave at close of day; / Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” The professor robustly agrees. The story grips and won’t let go; one feels wrung out by it.

  5. 5 out of 5

    La Petite Américaine

    I'm not a literary critic, obviously. My description of books as sucky/trite/trash, etc kind of make me wonder how I ever even majored in English Lit all those years ago. But let me see if I can describe Chekhov in the way I've come to understand him ... and his awesomeness. (heehee) Chekhov was a doctor before he was a writer, he knew how the human body worked, he knew the human mind, and he knew what external stimulus (the weather, the look in a person's eye, the placement of a strange object) I'm not a literary critic, obviously. My description of books as sucky/trite/trash, etc kind of make me wonder how I ever even majored in English Lit all those years ago. But let me see if I can describe Chekhov in the way I've come to understand him ... and his awesomeness. (heehee) Chekhov was a doctor before he was a writer, he knew how the human body worked, he knew the human mind, and he knew what external stimulus (the weather, the look in a person's eye, the placement of a strange object) could have on a person's physical being and their psyche. Combine this with this unmatched talent as a writer, and you've got the kind of writer that can touch your heart, wrangle your emotions, and fuck with your mind unlike any other. When I read The Lady With the Dog, I had to go sit under a tree and contemplate life for a while. When I read the desire in the dialogue in The Seagull, I had to call my boyfriend. I didn't know why these things would happen when I read Chekov. The words were simply there on the page, no? No force was making me melancholic, no one was telling me to get randy from The Seagull and call my boyfriend. No, Chekov is deeper than that. It's almost like hypnosis, the descriptions, the word combinations, etc. He writes one thing, but the way you will understand it and digest it mentally and physically is completely unexpected. I love this guy.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ted

    To give serious aid to forty outpatients between morning and dinnertime was physically impossible, which meant, willy-nilly, that it was all a deceit. During the fiscal year twelve thousand outpatients were received, which meant, simply speaking, that twelve thousand people were deceived. from Ward No. 6 The stories in this collection (translated by Pevear and Volokhonsky) were written in the period 1883 to 1903. They appear to be set in the "present" - that is, they are tales of Russia and her To give serious aid to forty outpatients between morning and dinnertime was physically impossible, which meant, willy-nilly, that it was all a deceit. During the fiscal year twelve thousand outpatients were received, which meant, simply speaking, that twelve thousand people were deceived. from Ward No. 6 The stories in this collection (translated by Pevear and Volokhonsky) were written in the period 1883 to 1903. They appear to be set in the "present" - that is, they are tales of Russia and her people as things were in the last few decades of the 1800s. Chekhov's overall view of life, as revealed in the stories, is that the lot of man and woman is an unhappy one. This is true whether one is a peasant or a well off doctor, bishop, aristocrat, land owner, student ... whatever. The circumstances differ, the goods and evils of life vary from case to case, the balance figures differently from one man or woman to the next, but ultimately if we ask of each life "was it worth living?", Chekhov seems to say "perhaps, very marginally ... but at any rate that's all we have, so we soldier on, taking the bitter with the sour, and accepting (when we analyze things properly), that whether we have tried to do good to our fellow men or the opposite, the effect is pretty much the same". Several stories from the last few years of the 19th century have very similar themes, contrasting the "happy, well-off" few to the miserable many. The way the stories play out, we are given pause to consider if the happy few perhaps in the end are the worst off, at least considered from the points of view that Chekhov develops. Such are, for example, the three stories written in 1898: "The Man In A Case", "Gooseberries" and "A Medical Case". In some stories (example, "The Fiancee") the protagonist appears to have averted disaster and to be headed for a fortunate future. But this has only been accomplished by, pretty much unwittingly, destroying the lives of others. Like any selection of short stories by a good author, they are "uneven", which really means little more than "some affected me more than others". One which was perhaps very skillfully written, even though I was ultimately bored by it, was a story called ... "A Boring Story"! At over 60 pages, it was just about the longest story in the book, and was ... boring - at least to me. I thought some of the best stories were "Sleepy", "Gusev", "Peasant Women", "Ward No. 6", "The Black Monk" and "At Christmastime". Of these, "Sleepy" struck me as one of the most horrifying stories I have ever read, all six pages of it. "Ward No. 6", a much longer story at over 50 pages, is a magnificent tale of the way in which two good men, through no fault of their own, can be dealt shockingly bad hands by life. "The Black Monk" is an astounding story that in my opinion fully deserves the description of magical realism. "At Christmastime" (another only six pages long) is wrenchingly sad, and the fact that it is an utterly common-place and completely believable story is what rescues it from being simply maudlin. Chekhov is certainly not the only author to write short stories which express a basically pessimistic attitude about the human condition, in fact I would say that most short stories by good authors are more down-beat than otherwise. But Chekhov is a master story teller, and even if his outlook is not uniquely his own, the craftsmanship of the stories is. Highly recommended to anyone who enjoys good short fiction. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Previous review: The Valley of Bones Next review: Blue at the Mizzen Older review: The Whistling Season Previous library review: The Hedgehog and the Fox Berlin Next library review: Complete Poems of Anna Akhmatova

  7. 4 out of 5

    Inderjit Sanghera

    Many writers pride themselves on the beauty of their prose style. Flaubert would spend days composing the perfect sentence for Madame Bovary. Nabokov wrote his prose ecstatically, his vocabulary was formidable and formed a core part of his aesthetic values. Proust’s composition was like a flower, the sentences formed a stem upon which the petals of his metaphors were able to grow and develop. Thomas Mann was concerned with weighty philosophical problems, Dostoevskii with psychological ones, Many writers pride themselves on the beauty of their prose style. Flaubert would spend days composing the perfect sentence for Madame Bovary. Nabokov wrote his prose ecstatically, his vocabulary was formidable and formed a core part of his aesthetic values. Proust’s composition was like a flower, the sentences formed a stem upon which the petals of his metaphors were able to grow and develop. Thomas Mann was concerned with weighty philosophical problems, Dostoevskii with psychological ones, Conrad with composing the perfect grammatical sentence and Joyce with redefining literature. Chekhov held aloof from all of this, his prose is simple, his vocabulary limited, his metaphors plain poppies compared to Proust’s redolent roses, he does not deal with great issues, has no axe to grind, nothing particular original to say, yet his stories are as psychologically insightful as anything by Dostoevsky, his prose as poetic as anything by Flaubert, his stories as beautiful as anything by Nabokov, as original as anything by Joyce. Why? Because Chekhov’s stories are alive. Chekhov was able to observe the beauty in the most quotidian things: the fold of a dress, the reflection of the moon on a river bank, the unfettered joy of a young peasant pining after his wife. Chekhov not only depicts the joys of life but it’s tribulations-the heartbreaking loss of a young baby, the boredom of a ride across the steppes or having to play the tedious role of the perfect hostess at your husband’s birthday party. Chekhov represents things as they are; sometimes good, sometimes bad, yet full of hope beyond all the setbacks and pitfalls which life has to throw at you. Indeed, Chekhov as a writer can teach us more about life than any philosopher because his stories are ostensibly about living, about love for people, Chekhov’s story radiate with a love for being alive , he treats people, however intolerable, cruel or kind they may be, as individuals rather than types, he never judges, merely describes, never moralises, merely sympathises and as Nabokov states, his stories which are so full of humour are infused with a imperceptible sadness: “Chekhov’s books are sad books for humorous people; that is, only a reader with a sense of humour can appreciate their sadness” (Nabokov, ‘Lectures on Russian Literature’) THE STEPPE The Steppe is the story of a young boy, Yegorushka’s first journey away from home, to a grammar school, where he is being taken by his uncle, Kuzmichovic, and a retired local clergyman, Father Khristofor. Chekhov had an eye for the pathetic, the unloved and the worthless elements of society; like an alchemist he was able to transform the banal into something beautiful. Not the way, for example, he describes the carriage which Yegorushka is travelling in, “It rattled and squeaked to the slightest jolt-to the mournful accompaniment of a pail tied to the backboard. From these sounds alone the pathetic leather strips dangling from its peeling chassis one could determine its great antiquity and fitness for the scrapheap”. Note how Chekhov is not afraid to depict the carriage as it is-dilapidated and barely usable, yet is able to imbue it with it’s own individual traits, such as the ‘pathetic leather strips’ and the ‘rattles and squeaks’ it admits. Chekhov is, however, able to build our sympathy for the carriage, it is old and pathetic but it carries on proudly nonetheless, Chekhov is a master of pathos and a person who didn’t feel empathy would never be able to appreciate Chekhov. Chekhov is a master of brevity. He is able to describe the psychological state of his characters via subtle notes on body language. Note, for example, how Father Khristofor is described as “gazing at God’s world in wonderment with his small moist eyes and with a smile so broad it seemed to take the brim off his hat” or of his uncle’s cold, business like demeanour. Chekhov’s characters in effect become the sum total of their physical characteristics, Father Khristofor is a kindly old man and Kuzmichovic is obsessed with money, but Chekhov paints them as individuals, not types, as humans not mannequins dressed up as ones, and more importantly, Chekhov is able to establish that there is a secret, inaccessible region of every personality which will always remain a mystery. One of the most beautiful moments in The Steppe is the linkage between the lone poplar tree in the steppes and the beautiful Countess Dranitsky. During Yegorushka’s journey across the steppe he notices a lone poplar, “And then a solitary poplar appears on the hill…it ward hard to take one’s eyes off the graceful trunk and green attire. Was that beautiful tree happy? Scorching heat in the summer, biting frosts and blizzards in the winter, terrifying nights in autumn when you see only pitch darkness and hear nothing but the wayward, angrily, howling wind. But worst of all, you are alone, alone all your life.” He then sees Countess Dranitsky “In the middle of the room there was a ladyship the form of a young, very beautiful buxom woman in a black dress and straw hat. Before Yegorushka could make out her features, for some reason he recalled the solitary, graceful poplar he had seen on the hill that day” Note how Chekhov is able to use his powers of intuition to show how this seemingly proud and beautiful young woman is lonely, that behind her beauty there lay a vulnerability which she hid from the world, but a kind of inner beauty and grace which few noticed behind the her proud outer appearance. It is this kind of description which best demonstrates Chekhov’s genius. Note his description of the pathetic Solomon, “Now by the light of the small lamp, one one could see every detail of his smile. It was extremely complex but expressed a wide variety of feelings-but predominant was one of blatant contempt”, and a few pages later “judging from his eyes and grin, he genuinely despised and hate people, but this was so at odds with his plucked head appearance that Yegorushka construed his defiant attitude and sarcastic, supercilious expression as deliberate clowning, calculated to amuse the honoured guests” Chekhov is able to take the seemingly benevolent Solomon and break him down as a rather pathetic figure, whose arrogance cannot be taken seriously because it is so at odd’s with his comical and pathetic appearance. Maybe Solomon is a truly arrogant person, maybe he is only pretending to be arrogant, maybe he merely lacking on confidence and try’s to put on an act? Chekhov does not provide no solid answers because there are none; the door to Solomon’s soul is forever locked away from us, but by carefully observing another person without prejudice, we can deduce much of what they choose to hide, consciously or not. Chekhov teaches us to take people as they come, not to pass judgement too soon and not to take seemingly negative characteristics at face value, there is usually an underlying reason behind them. The theme of complexity and deception does not solely apply to human nature, but also to nature itself. Note Yegorushka’s observations on nature during his journey along the steppe; “To the right were dark hills which seemed to be concealing something mysterious and terrifying…the far distance was as visible as by day, but now it’s soft lilac hue faded, veiled by a twilight gloom in which the whole steppe was hiding..” or his wonderful description of the windmill, “a windmill which from the distance resembled a tiny man waving his arms”, “and in the distance that windmill was waving its arms again, still resembling a tiny man swinging his arms. One grew weary of looking at it and it seemed to be running away from the carriage, never to be seen”, “the windmill still did not recede and kept up with them…what a sorcerer that windmill was”. Chekhov’s repetitious comparison of a windmill to a waving old man is able to both create a comic image of the windmill and implant an idea in our minds about what the windmill would have looked like, Chekhov’s description of a windmill is also unique and original and demonstrates his talents as an observer extended beyond human nature. Chekhov, however, does not choose to sentimentalise nature and depict it in a ‘beautiful’ way, nature is and could be violent, tempestuous and unforgiving as well as being a devilish trickster; for example, not the violent storm which Yegorushka is caught in during his trip with Panteley, or the pseudo storm which looks like it is developing but fails to materialise. Yet, beyond this, like the people who Chekhov depicts, nature has a quiet dignity, which means it is able to take all that life can throw at it and to defy it, not to conquer it, but merely to show it can exist; notice his masterful use of pathetic fallacy: “As he looked around, Yegorushka could not make out where the strange singing was coming from. But then, when he had grown used to it, he fancied the grass might be singing. Through its song, the half-dead, already doomed grass, plaintively and earnestly…was trying to convince someone that it was guilty of no crime, that the sun had scored it without reason. It insisted that it passionately wanted to live, and that it was still young and would have been beautiful but for the burning heat and drought.” or the wonderful description of the weak stream “Limped, gaily sparkling in the sunlight and softly murmuring, as if it had imagined itself a powerful raging torrent.” Indeed, nature’s many mysteries is a recurrent theme with The Steppe. Note, for example, the shy yet observant Vasya’s inspections of his surroundings; “Oh you darling, you beauty” said Vasya…only Vasya with his small, lacklustre grey eyes of his was able to see anything and he was in raptures…his sight was amazingly keen-so keen that the desolate brown steppe was always full of life and content for him…Thanks to his keen vision, for Vasya there was another world-his own special world that was inaccessible to everybody else and which was no doubt absolutely delightful…it was difficult not to envy him.” Vasya, who to many may seem a strange and ridiculous figure to be made fun of, with his bandaged head and absurd clockwork soldier walk, had his own unique world and a love and passion for nature , the steppes which many saw as being brown and lifeless were in fact teeming with life and whilst many regarded their journey along them with indifferent boredom, for Vasya it was a thing of delight; in fact, pathetic, little noticed Vasya resembles the steppes in that if you look hard enough you can see that what may seem barren and ugly is in fact full of beauty-but only if you have the patience to do so. We again come back to the people who populate Chekhov’s novels, the self-absorbed merchants, the kindly old men Khristofor and Panteley, the corpulent Jewess with her children hiding like jewels under her duvet, the beautiful countess, the bully Dymov all of them exist as unique parts of the tapestry which makes up Chekhov’s stories. They are never sentimentalised, but depicted as they are, and Chekhov is able to use his talent for observation and need for brevity to show how small changes in body language represent what the inner working of the characters soul. For example, his description of the shopkeeper, “His face was the picture of apathy, but every sigh seemed to be saying, “You wait! I’ll give you what for!” or of Yemelyan’s fear of water “with his bony shoulder-blades and and that swelling under his eye, stooping and clearly terrified of the water, he was a comical sight. His face was stern and solemn and he looked at the water angrily, as if about to curse it for having once given him a cold when bathing in the Donets and robbing him of his voice”. It is this synthesis of the pathetic and the comic which endows Chekhov’s stories with the power of pathos; his characters are never sentimentalized but one cannot help feeling sentimental about them, from the most pathetic bumpkin to the bellicose coach-driver, all of his characters are individuals and have a certain quiet dignity about them. Chekhov is not beyond self-parody. Consider, for example, the discussion between Kuzmichovic and Father Khristofor when they discuss the merits of education. Kuzmichovic considers education as something superfluous which you forget anyway, Father Khristofor states that education is important but soon admits that he forgot everything he ever learnt because he never needed to use it. Or consider the passage when Panteley tells some absurd and repetitious fireside stories about murderous inn-keepers or villagers, the narrator wonders why Panteley who has been through so much in life, has travelled around in Russia and met so many people, should turn to fanciful murder stories instead of describing his past and the people he has met; for Chekhov literature should be naturalistic and should describe people as accurately as possible, artists are merely people who are able to articulate emotions which everybody experience but lack the power to articulate. Yet, the case can also be made for the power of the imagination, the surreal image of the sorceress windmill or the thunder and lightning speaking to each other, the story is told, after all, from the point of view of a child and Chekhov is able to give free reign to the vibrant and often irrational imagination of a child. The novel, like life, ends ambiguously. For Chekhov, there was no beginning, middle or end, his stories merely acted as snapshots in a certain period of a persons life. Yegorushka eventually arrives at the village where he will be attending grammar school, but his unable to locate the residence of the lady who Yegorushka is supposed to stay with. In classic Chekhov fashion he does not miss anything out, from the bemusement of the villagers when questioned about where Natasya Petrovna lives, the the tenor like bark of the ginger dog to the to the blushing Katka who meets Yegorushka. For Chekhov, life’s beauty lies in the quotidian, every day moments which nobody notices. When Yegorushka says goodbye to Father Khristofor he bursts into tears: “Yegorushka kissed his hand and burst into tears. Something deep down whispered that he would never see that old man again.” Yegorushka realises that he will never again see the kindly Father Khristofor, that all that would remain of him would be memories, which Chekhov is able to immortalise via his fiction. Yet, only a few moments later, he realises that life is for living, that it is beautiful beyond words, beautiful beyond description and mysterious beyond human comprehension: “He sank exhausted onto the bench, shedding bitter tears as he greeted that new, unknown life that was just beginning for him. What would life be like?”

  8. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    You know, man, it doesn't matter who translates you. You always sound just like yourself. A casual observer. And yet the casualness reveals so much about us. I picked up one of your books yesterday, having a hard time concentrating on anything else. The want to read was there, but nothing sounded good. And then I thought, Chekhov! We haven't read Chekhov in a bit. Two sentences into a randomly picked story I knew it was you, and I knew I would not put down the book until it was finished. And as You know, man, it doesn't matter who translates you. You always sound just like yourself. A casual observer. And yet the casualness reveals so much about us. I picked up one of your books yesterday, having a hard time concentrating on anything else. The want to read was there, but nothing sounded good. And then I thought, Chekhov! We haven't read Chekhov in a bit. Two sentences into a randomly picked story I knew it was you, and I knew I would not put down the book until it was finished. And as expected, that little tingle in the middle of the chest, it was there. You always bring the good stuff. Whether it's a chance (or was it?) meeting on an overcast day, or a story with a slow build, your characters always reveal themselves, their hopes and dreams, and I sit and wait to see what will happen. Usually, it's nothing big. Sometimes as simple as confirming something you already thought. But the simple way you reveal these things, and make it seem so effortless. What were you thinking about when you wrote Gusev? Just to watch you work, gah, that would have been awesome. Did you draft and redraft, or did the scenes come spilling out of you? From the moment I received this on Christmas morning, nearly a decade ago, I knew we were gonna get on. The Death of a Government Clerk. I bet Kafka read that and said, eureeka!, don't you? And he was good. But what you could do the two and a half pages. It boggles me every time. But The Huntsman. I will be eternally grateful to you for it, especially. Just, damn. Anyway, I just wanted to tell you that. You rock, man. In that casual, we're-just-talking way you had, you rock. Oh. And thanks

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ritwik

    I want to write a review and I don't know where to start.This is what Chekhov does to me. Anton Chekhov leaves me stupefied with his brilliance with words and descriptions. He can paint a landscape of an entire Russian circumstance along with their characters with their emotions written bare on their faces concisely and to-the-point like a surgeon. The first few stories in this book (added date-wise) seemed incomprehensible and frivolous but as I went on the stories seemed to grow on me and the I want to write a review and I don't know where to start.This is what Chekhov does to me. Anton Chekhov leaves me stupefied with his brilliance with words and descriptions. He can paint a landscape of an entire Russian circumstance along with their characters with their emotions written bare on their faces concisely and to-the-point like a surgeon. The first few stories in this book (added date-wise) seemed incomprehensible and frivolous but as I went on the stories seemed to grow on me and the maturity of the content and the story development can be seen clearly. Although written a century ago the observations and his thoughts transcends time and resonates with mine. I came to an understanding that I should expect less of the plot and more of the observations made and it all boils down to the fact that life may sum up to be a tragic experience and it may seem that you have barely scratched the surface of life but we must go on. His writings, his opinions expressed through his characters bring out your own thoughts you must have never concretely cogitated on and expresses it amidst the situation in his stories with an opulent prose. He is not giving you anything new and yet he is effective and I don't know how many authors can pull this thing off with such consummate grace. His thoughts on modern literature (From 'A Boring Story')- All modern literature seems to me not literature but some sort of handicraft, which exists only as to be encouraged, though one is reluctant to use its products. Even the best products of handicraft cannot be remarkable and cannot be praised without a "but." On the importance of reasoning (Ward no. 6)- Everything in this world is insignificant and uninteresting except the higher spiritual manifestations of human reason. Reason draws a sharp distinction between animal and man, hints at the divinity of the latter, and for him, to a certain degree, even takes the place of immortality, which does not exist. Hence reason is the only possible source of pleasure.We, however, neither see or hear any reason around us -which means we are deprived of pleasure. True, we have books, but that is not all the same as live conversation and intercourse. If you will permit me a not entirely successful comparison, books are the scores, while conversation is the singing. Ironically, I liked his longer stories more than the shorter ones and wished he wrote full-fledged novels. My favourites- A Boring Story Ward No.6 The Black Monk The House With The Mezzanine The Lady With The Little Dog The Fiancée The Bishop And a job well done by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Ken

    Oh, I've read lots of Chekhov in my day but usually a story here or there as opposed to coast-to-coast in a collection like this. Pevear and Volokhonsky arrange these chronologically and choose their faves, omitting the long "novella-like" stories. Hey, Mikey. I liked it! The only story I did not much enjoy was "The Ravine," third from last. The trouble with a collection of stories, then, is that you often look back over the titles and flat-out forget what they were about (unless you were taking Oh, I've read lots of Chekhov in my day but usually a story here or there as opposed to coast-to-coast in a collection like this. Pevear and Volokhonsky arrange these chronologically and choose their faves, omitting the long "novella-like" stories. Hey, Mikey. I liked it! The only story I did not much enjoy was "The Ravine," third from last. The trouble with a collection of stories, then, is that you often look back over the titles and flat-out forget what they were about (unless you were taking notes). If you DO remember, that has to be good. So let's look at titles that still have a hold on me: "Gusev," which is about Russian soldiers a long way from home on a ship in the hot Pacific Ocean climes, each dying one by one. One man insists he will live to see Russia again. The other keeps fantasizing about snow, leading us to a wonderful snow sleigh scene where the sleigh topples and the villagers shout and laugh as our poor protagonist, in his day dream, lifts himself from the snow among barking dogs. It also includes a spookily wonderful finish about a dead body being sewn up and dropped into the deep sea. You, gentle reader, go down with the body. "A Boring Story" is anything but. It's longish, but reminiscent of Tolstoy's "Death of Ivan Ilych" as the dying protagonist dies a thousand deaths by just thinking about it. On and on. Excruciatingly. It's called philosophy, friends, and it's no coincidence that this man is a professor. I was all in. "Ward No 6," where the crazies go, defines that thin line between captors and captured. The good doctor is bored silly by his inmate slash patients, but then one of the patients, a man with a keen eye and a good education, so intrigues the good doctor that he purposely visits said patient for regular talks. Guess who the rest of the staff begins to wonder about? Slippery, meet slope. That's what happens when crazy people make more sense than the powers-that-be. 'The Student," ridiculously short, but supposedly Chekhov's personal favorite, spins around a retelling of the Biblical story of Peter, who three times denies Christ before the cock crows. The student connects Biblical times to the present and is left with wonder. "The Darling" is the ultimate tale of a lady who lives vicariously only, a lady happy only with paired with people she can be happy for. How rare is that in this day and age? "The Lady with the Little Dog" (Usually translated as "Lap Dog"). This familiar tale seemed more confidently told as the story of an affair between unhappy married man and unhappy married woman. If there is one thing Chekhov trades in, it's unhappy people. "The Bishop." Short story writer Peter Orner considers this Chekhov's best, because it examines a man in a respected position who, like many Chekhovian heroes, wonders what life's all about and what is it for? In Chekhov's world, no one escapes, not even the good bishop who still hasn't found what he is looking for (this is pre-U2 and Bono, of course). "The Fiancée" is straightforward. Young girl gets happily engaged. Young girl gets cold feet. Young girl backs out with the encouragement of the one black sheep in the family, which helps her to survive all the social tumult she causes. She sees the future and envisions despair. Check! -ov! Ironically, though Chekhov seems a bummer, there's no end to sudden paragraphs depicting the beauty of nature, the beauty of a time of day, the beauty of LIFE itself. The moment. Being here and now. Who would ever trade this heaven-on-earth away for a second? And for every dead end a desperate character reaches, there's the possibilities in new beginnings. Yes. Even if that new beginning is death. Nice translation. Nice read. Nice return to the Russkies. And if you pan for gold in the mud, you will see that Chekhov hides a happy gift for you in most every outing. Some nuggets are larger than others, but they are there. Oh, they are there. Note: For an extended quote from the story "The Bishop" plus some additional thoughts on how Chekhov riffs on Henry David Thoreau in a certain way, you can jump to my webpage where I link the Russian and the American (oh, with an Irishman thrown in for good measure).

  11. 5 out of 5

    Steven Godin

    I doubt there are many better short-story collections out there. They say he was the best. This book confirms it.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Madeline

    Yes, I mostly read this book because Francine Prose told me to in Reading Like a Writer; but also because I had heard from multiple people that Chekhov is the shit and needs to be read by everyone. Having finished this collection of stories, I can wholeheartedly concur. There's nothing especially earth-shattering or revelatory about these stories - for the most part, each one is about ordinary people living ordinary lives and having ordinary experiences. There's nothing very special going on Yes, I mostly read this book because Francine Prose told me to in Reading Like a Writer; but also because I had heard from multiple people that Chekhov is the shit and needs to be read by everyone. Having finished this collection of stories, I can wholeheartedly concur. There's nothing especially earth-shattering or revelatory about these stories - for the most part, each one is about ordinary people living ordinary lives and having ordinary experiences. There's nothing very special going on with any of them, but Chekhov writes about them in a way that's brilliantly done and quietly wonderful. My favorite stories of the bunch were "The Death of a Clerk", "A Boring Story", "Ward No. 6", "The Lady With the Little Dog", and "In the Ravine."

  13. 5 out of 5

    Elie F

    Chekhov wrote in a period of rapid social change and turmoil: from the serf emancipation of 1860s to the revolution of 1905. Nonetheless, his short stories are tranquil, peaceful, and nuanced. In the dullness of a gentry's countryside estate or a rural factory, life's misery evolve, and unhappy people bear their burden silently: drunkenness, idleness, jealousy, peasants' poverty, gentry's nostalgia and indifference. But still, an ephemeral revelation of life's meaning and eternal salvation might Chekhov wrote in a period of rapid social change and turmoil: from the serf emancipation of 1860s to the revolution of 1905. Nonetheless, his short stories are tranquil, peaceful, and nuanced. In the dullness of a gentry's countryside estate or a rural factory, life's misery evolve, and unhappy people bear their burden silently: drunkenness, idleness, jealousy, peasants' poverty, gentry's nostalgia and indifference. But still, an ephemeral revelation of life's meaning and eternal salvation might strike, like a flickering light shining solitarily in the darkness, and life is, all of a sudden, happy and beautiful.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Joe

    Irony befuddles me. I've looked up the definition, puzzled over it and read differing opinions over whether Alanis Morissette's 'Ironic' contains examples of irony, but I still feel in the dark. Maybe that's the real irony. But that's a whole other essay. I bring this up because I recently dove into the short stories of Anton Chekhov and find myself similarly befuddled by Chekhov's Gun, a literary idea regarding how to set up a story and pay off what you set up. Chekhov mentioned the concept Irony befuddles me. I've looked up the definition, puzzled over it and read differing opinions over whether Alanis Morissette's 'Ironic' contains examples of irony, but I still feel in the dark. Maybe that's the real irony. But that's a whole other essay. I bring this up because I recently dove into the short stories of Anton Chekhov and find myself similarly befuddled by Chekhov's Gun, a literary idea regarding how to set up a story and pay off what you set up. Chekhov mentioned the concept multiple times in letters, with one example as follows; "Remove everything that has no relevance to the story. If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it's not going to be fired, it shouldn't be hanging there." But before we dive into interpretation, the first mystery regards this legendary rifle's fame. Apart from a few witty quotes, 'Chekhov's Gun' was the only thing I knew about him before starting on his work. By contrast, none of Chekhov's plays or short-stories is widely read even though he's regarded as a master of both formats. He has no Hamlet, Frankenstein or The Gift of the Magi; names known to the masses even if they haven't read the source. But people know Chekhov's Gun. The second element of the mystery is that, if taken literally, Chekhov's Gun is preposterous. There are many reasons, dramatic or otherwise, a storyteller might present a rifle without promising or necessitating a gunshot. Maybe the rifle gets stolen. Maybe the owner goes for the gun too late to stop an assailant. Maybe he grabs the gun and tries to fire it but the gun misfires, foreshadowed by the layer of dust covering the weapon when it was revealed. Or more simply, including a rifle in the description of a home can tell us a lot about the homeowners; how they display it can indicate what they value and what they fear. Scholarly interpretations of Chekhov's Gun focus more on 'Remove everything that has no relevance to the story' than the example firearm. They take it as advice about elegance more than foreshadowing; on broad concepts about how every piece of a story should fit together to form the whole; about removing anything extraneous that may distract from theme or message. And that is a reasonable way to look at it, but I don't think many would remember Chekhov's Gun without the gun. Chekhov himself was quite attached to his chosen example, elucidating the need for firearms to fire on at least three occasions (per Wikipedia.) And the modern way of thinking of the concept focuses on visuals. When I google 'examples of Chekhov's Gun' I mostly find discussions of movies and TV shows, with a focus on objects the camera lingers on to set up their eventual importance; think unlikely murder weapons. But I found no iconic literary example of Chekhov's Gun in action, which supports the notion that it's a more nebulous mandate regarding efficient storytelling. Even as I read Chekhov's collection with an eye out for promises made and kept, I only found one clear, object-based example: Gooseberries tells the story of a man who dreamed of joining the landed nobility with 'a country house, a river and garden, a mill and a mill pond' and 'for some reason gooseberries.' He achieves this dream through single-mindedness and frugality, and in the story's climax invites his brother to dinner where they partake of the title meal. I'll leave you with how Ivan Ivanych (the landowner's brother and the story's narrator) describes the anticipated dessert, the closest I've read to Chekhov's Gun going off; “They were tough and sour, but as Pushkin said, 'Dearer to us than a host of truths is an exalting illusion.' I saw a happy man, whose cherished dream had so obviously come true, who had attained his goal in life, had gotten what he wanted, who was content with his fate and with himself. For some reason there had always been something sad mixed with my thoughts about human happiness, but now, at the sight of a happy man, I was overcome by an oppressive feeling close to despair.” Edited 4/21/2019

  15. 4 out of 5

    Rick

    This collection of thirty stories by the Russian dramatist and short story master is a fine career sample, beginning with early sketches and including major stories often anthologized such as “Ward No. 6” and “The Lady with the Little Dog.” His subjects are doctors, peasants, petty officials, ferrymen, monks, nannies, soldiers, patients, artists, society folks. His topics are as broad—fidelity, integrity, meaning, duty, survival, faith, class. There are stories about a medical student and an This collection of thirty stories by the Russian dramatist and short story master is a fine career sample, beginning with early sketches and including major stories often anthologized such as “Ward No. 6” and “The Lady with the Little Dog.” His subjects are doctors, peasants, petty officials, ferrymen, monks, nannies, soldiers, patients, artists, society folks. His topics are as broad—fidelity, integrity, meaning, duty, survival, faith, class. There are stories about a medical student and an artist whose servant is almost beneath notice but is the story’s subject; an illiterate shopkeeper whose daughter is an actress but who some believe to be a harlot so he innocently asks that the harlot be remembered in the congregation’s prayers, a woman who marries a doctor but squanders her life searching for a celebrity among her artist friends who might be a hero, a coffin maker and musician who is a tragic bully but lives to bestow a gift on a victim of his bullying; and stories about a factory heir who is ill and might never survive to inherit her factory, an unhappy conformist who leverages local authority to enforce social norms that no one else believes in, a pair of lovers who court despite the displeasure of the woman’s older sibling. They are stories about complicated human beings in a range of circumstances that illuminate life’s dilemmas and humankind’s capacities and limitations. They are artful, disciplined stories with little that appears false or contrived. Reading this selection, it is easy to see why modern short story writers view him not just as an influence, but a continuing resource for pleasure, insight, and the study of the craft of storytelling.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Darkhan

    "At the door of every contented, happy man somebody should stand with a little hammer, constantly tapping, to remind him that unhappy people exist, that however happy he may be, sooner or later life will show him its claws, some calamity will befall him - illness, poverty, loss - and nobody will hear or see, just as he doesn't hear or see others now. But there is nobody with a little hammer, the happy man lives on, and the petty cares of life stir him only slightly, as wind stirs an aspen - and "At the door of every contented, happy man somebody should stand with a little hammer, constantly tapping, to remind him that unhappy people exist, that however happy he may be, sooner or later life will show him its claws, some calamity will befall him - illness, poverty, loss - and nobody will hear or see, just as he doesn't hear or see others now. But there is nobody with a little hammer, the happy man lives on, and the petty cares of life stir him only slightly, as wind stirs an aspen - and everything is fine."

  17. 4 out of 5

    Leo Robertson

    WOW. These are total stories. Chekhov truly is a courageous champion of the unsaid, the stories of the untold lives of ordinary folk, of social justice. Who knew that grey language could evoke so many emotions, transcend so many genres, and bite and rage and ironically smirk after so many years?? From horror stories like Sleepy and Ward No. 6 to the terror, humour and tedium of A Boring Story, the apparent celebration of madness in The Black Monk, the revelation of the sea, nay, the universe’s(!) WOW. These are total stories. Chekhov truly is a courageous champion of the unsaid, the stories of the untold lives of ordinary folk, of social justice. Who knew that grey language could evoke so many emotions, transcend so many genres, and bite and rage and ironically smirk after so many years?? From horror stories like Sleepy and Ward No. 6 to the terror, humour and tedium of A Boring Story, the apparent celebration of madness in The Black Monk, the revelation of the sea, nay, the universe’s(!) brutality in Gusev, the density of a living, breathing village of In The Ravine, the delicateness and pathos of The Lady with the Little Dog. When I first started reading these stories, I wasn’t so sure what Chekhov meant by “cutting off the beginning and ending of his stories”, but it becomes clearer with each story. We often join families in the midst of their misery and leave them not shortly after, see a bride after her wedding or leave just before what would appear to be the true story begins. The effect of this is brilliant: with no complete beginning or ending, we’re not completely sure how everyone wound up where they are, or the total effect of the stories’ happenings. As a result, you really can’t read Chekhov passively. He draws no forced conclusions, he paints no virtuous nor evil picture of any of his characters: everything is masterfully complex and unclear, and each story leaves you with more questions than answers. I started to think ‘Well, this character says this, but I don’t see the total impact of this on what happens. I can’t refute what he says, but does Chekhov agree with it? What is he trying to tell me? Would what happened have been any different if he hadn’t done that? Was it that bad anyway, or was it just the consequence that was bad? Did he deserve that or not?’ but there is no didacticism here, no message, only a call to understanding, to challenging your opinions. You will find yourself reading many of these stories at least twice. I’ll be reading more Alice Munro soon! You can find 201 of Chekhov’s wonderful stories here: http://www.eldritchpress.org/ac/jr/ And here’s the list of the ones I read (from The Selected Stories) bold ones are my favourites. The Death of a Clerk Small Fry The Huntsman The Malefactor Panikhida Anyuta Easter Night (The Night Before Easter) Vanka Sleepy A Boring Story Gusev Peasant Women The Fidget (The Grasshopper) In Exile Ward No. 6 The Black Monk Rothschild’s Fiddle The Student Anna on the Neck The House with the Mezzanine (An Artist’s Story) The Man in a Case Gooseberries About Love (and what we talk about when we talk about it, maybe?) A Medical Case The Darling On Official Business The Lady with the Little Dog At Christmastime In the Ravine The Bishop The Fiancée

  18. 5 out of 5

    Markus

    Selected Stories by Anton Chekov (1860-1904) These short stories seem to me like a summary of the Russian nineteenth-century literature. In the most extreme climate of snow and ice, torrential rain and flooding, knee-deep mud and dirt on every road, Russia was not a country for an easy living. In his concentrated way, using a minimum of words, Chekov expresses all essential characteristics of country life. Across all these short novels, we will meet, the wealthy and fat landowners and their Selected Stories by Anton Chekov (1860-1904) These short stories seem to me like a summary of the Russian nineteenth-century literature. In the most extreme climate of snow and ice, torrential rain and flooding, knee-deep mud and dirt on every road, Russia was not a country for an easy living. In his concentrated way, using a minimum of words, Chekov expresses all essential characteristics of country life. Across all these short novels, we will meet, the wealthy and fat landowners and their descendants on top of the social ladder. Their indolent life, spending time with hunting or dressing in long white dresses, silky ribbons in their hair, reading French novels, playing the piano, dancing, and singing and intriguing, hoping to get married to another rich landowners son. We come across corrupted officials, stupid clerks, ruthless magistrates, and fanatic priests, monks, and bishops. Religion, next to the Emperor, is the dominating power at every level of Society. Further down the ladder, we will see grumbling farmworkers, kept under control with brutality and half buckets of vodka. On the last level, we will see the women, peasant woman, as day workers and their countless children. These are the poorest, starving creatures, with nothing to say, trembling in fear of every man who would raise his voice to them, and bow to him and silently give whatever he wants. Old women are like black shadows in the corners of dark and smoked out kitchens, just like mice, hardly existing. Like a thread throughout the book, between the lines, appears the author’s conviction that this society as it was in his lifetime in Russia, must and will change. Though he does not know how this will come about, he hopes for a miraculous, spiritual evolution. What a great book, full of the most beautiful and sad stories. I am not able to choose or to like one story more than the others, but several are dramatic to the extreme, and one or two are already haunting me. I am sorry to have come to the last page and put it down.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Roy Lotz

    It is a difficult prospect to review a collection of short stories. There isn’t an overarching plot to grab hold of, nor, perhaps, even a consistent theme-group. One is reduced to arranging scatterd bits and pieces of reflections and reactions, which—if all goes well—will add up to some sort of general impression. My general impression of Chekhov is that he is a great artist; he is a master in every sense of the word. Writing a good short story is a delicate art. Unlike the writer of a novel, the It is a difficult prospect to review a collection of short stories. There isn’t an overarching plot to grab hold of, nor, perhaps, even a consistent theme-group. One is reduced to arranging scatterd bits and pieces of reflections and reactions, which—if all goes well—will add up to some sort of general impression. My general impression of Chekhov is that he is a great artist; he is a master in every sense of the word. Writing a good short story is a delicate art. Unlike the writer of a novel, the short story writer has little leeway to relax, to include details that would fill out a scene, to build complex character traits, to construct an intricate plot. The brevity calls for economy. Descriptions must be short and to the point; characters must be both interesting and quickly graspable. And the plot must somehow manage to be both unpredictable and engaging, without relying on a rich background of character or scene. I am reminded of those artists who work on the street making sketches of pedestrians. The artist must hone in on the most distinctive features of brow, countenance, and demeanor, while using only the most hastily executed lines to hint at the full picture. One would never guess the immense difficulties of the task from reading Chekhov. He possesses that first and most diagnostic trait of a master: he makes it look effortless. The reader is immediately pulled into the story—which normally consist of little more than snatches from daily life—by some intriguing detail of personality, some slightly unexpected snippet of dialogue—hints and vibrations of what lay under the surface. Chekhov begins the scene with a casual description of an everyday event, and then sews in little threads of discolor into the narrative—just enough to keep the reader engaged and guessing. And when the denouement comes—which normally consists of a similarly common occurrence—the dramatic effect is unmatchable. Chekhov is distinct from other writers for his acutely sympathetic mind. He can write convincingly about men or women, the rich or the poor, the haughty or the timid, the bold or the meek, the sane or the insane, the old or the young, the erudite or the ignorant. Indeed, it is one of the keys of his art, that tragedy, comedy, heroism, and tyranny exist as much in the mind as in the world; a slight word of reproach from a loved one can be just as crushing as the worst defeat. When we see through Chekhov’s eyes, we see the world as a battlefield of tiny struggles—so subtle and so constant as to be normally invisible, but all the more tragic because of their invisibility. I have not a word of reproach for his art; I have not even a caveat to my praise. If you want to see art at its finest—so subtle it hardly even comes across as art—then look no further, my friends, than Chekhov.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Usman Hickmath

    If a writer who told the stories of ordinary people like you and me, using only few pages, in the 1800s can make us read him in this day and age, he is a true master. Whenever you feel like you are stuck in the world of fantasies, super natural stories and average romance novels, go to Chekhov. He will bring you back to reality.

  21. 4 out of 5

    S Prakash

    “Remove everything that has no relevance to the story. If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it's not going to be fired, it shouldn't be hanging there.” This famous principle of Chekov on writing and which he had followed in earnest has produced some of the finest, crisp short stories. His stories are a reflection on the Russian society in the late nineteenth century; moral conflicts of individuals; “Remove everything that has no relevance to the story. If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it's not going to be fired, it shouldn't be hanging there.” This famous principle of Chekov on writing and which he had followed in earnest has produced some of the finest, crisp short stories. His stories are a reflection on the Russian society in the late nineteenth century; moral conflicts of individuals; soul searching; philosophical enquiries. They are not just confined to few genres and are quite wide in encompassing a wide range of subjects and emotions. Though most of them are tragic, laced with melancholy, yet in few of the stories he had splashed a dash of comedy and satire. Some of them might appear to be dated but one would surely enjoy the luxury of reading good short stories; right from couple of them on a given day to just one good one before hitting the bed.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jade

    (Wordsworth Classics, 1995) I thought I would enjoy this book more than I actually did. A good amount of these stories left me cold, baffled, or just not very satisfied. There were a few I liked, especially "The Night Before Easter." Novel or not, there's a lot to be learned from Chekhov's simple presentation of complex characters and his descriptive scenes. And some parts were very funny, even if the whole wasn't amazing.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Gautam

    Simply amazing !!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Eadweard

    It's Chekhov, 'nuff said.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    Biting, funny and entertaining stories about ordinary people.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    I'm generally good about not being too starstruck by literary reputation, and I feel pretty confident that I can bravely approach the big guns and judge them based on my personal view of their merits. But with Chekhov, for some reason, I find myself cowed. Like, I'm just not really sure what I think of him and I kind of have this stupid feeling like I want someone to tell me. You know, it's CHEKHOV, right? I should have some big RESPONSE. I should love him! Or loathe him! I need to think I'm generally good about not being too starstruck by literary reputation, and I feel pretty confident that I can bravely approach the big guns and judge them based on my personal view of their merits. But with Chekhov, for some reason, I find myself cowed. Like, I'm just not really sure what I think of him and I kind of have this stupid feeling like I want someone to tell me. You know, it's CHEKHOV, right? I should have some big RESPONSE. I should love him! Or loathe him! I need to think something BIG. It's CHEKHOV! I gotta come up with a passionate opinion about him! I gotta have some glittering insight into why he's so big and important, or else a rabid conviction that he's totally overrated and bad. I really don't have any ideas like that though. "A Doctor's Visit" was so insanely awesome it made my brain melt a little and leak out my ears, but aside from that, I didn't have a strong opinion one way or another about the stories that I read ("The Chorus Girl," "Dreams," "In Exile," "The Teacher of Literature," "Anna on the Neck," "The Darling," "The Lady with a Dog," "The Bishop"). I mean, they were fine. There was stuff I liked. There was stuff to which I was fairly indifferent. I mean, I dunno, it was fine.... but this is CHEKHOV! I'm supposed to think something a lot stronger than "I dunno, it was fine." But I didn't. Oh well! At least I've finally read Chekhov, even if I still don't have much to say about him one way or another.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Alok Mishra

    Shall I call it merely amazing? Shall I call it only wonderful? Not at all! The collection is more than words can say and an intellectual can review! I am sure anyone who loves reading shorter format of fiction will admire Chekhov's style of writing and telling the tales!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Dimitris

    I had never read anything by Chekhov before. He's most famous for his plays and I never read those either - I believe plays must be experienced in the theatre and not read at home (I don't like the theatre at all). This is an old volume of some of his shorter works, translated into Greek in the late 60s. OK, what can I write here? The man was a genius and it's a real literary disaster we lost him so young - he died of TB aged 44. I particularly loved the one novel in this collection, Ένα παιδάκι I had never read anything by Chekhov before. He's most famous for his plays and I never read those either - I believe plays must be experienced in the theatre and not read at home (I don't like the theatre at all). This is an old volume of some of his shorter works, translated into Greek in the late 60s. OK, what can I write here? The man was a genius and it's a real literary disaster we lost him so young - he died of TB aged 44. I particularly loved the one novel in this collection, Ένα παιδάκι στην απέραντη Στέπα [“Степь„ ~ The Steppe] (1888), the longest piece in this book (100 pages), but I also adored some of the very short stories like Νύχτα στο νεκροταφείο [“На кладбище„ ~ In the Graveyard] (1884), Βολόντια [“Володя„ ~ Volodya] (1887) and Ο Γιούσεβ [“Гусев„ ~ Goussiev] (1890). Very difficult to create full, three-dimentional characters and to make the reader care about them within 4 pages, Chekhov is a Master at this. The one thing I must say made an impression is how traditional these stories felt. They make old rural Russia of the last decades of the nineteenth century come alive in a loving way and are filled with extremely religious language and attitude (I absolutely loved that!). This volume started with a long literary critique of Chekhov by the Chairman of the Soviet Authors' Committee, written in Stalinist USSR in the early 50s. This author went on and on about how Chekhov was all about Socialism and hate for the Czarist Russian Empire he lived in and all its old customs and beliefs and how it was so sad that he died before witnesing the Revolution a decade later and how contemporary Soviet citizens can appreciate his very insightful writings that foreshadow the new Soviet Motherland... I got nothing of all of that reading these stories! They felt almost moralistic studies of manner! All the characters had God in their mouths at least every second paragraph of every single story. Anything that happened was only because God allowed it and we should all bow to His will. (Russia is so close to Greece!) If there is a willful irony in these portrayals, if he supposedly showed that the Russian people's great Orthodox faith was in reality superficial and fake or that they were not 'woke', I didn't get that at all. I didn't want to either. But it's so interesting that literature can be interpreted in so many different ways.

  29. 5 out of 5

    David Fleming

    The Short Stories of Anton Chekhov Of course, any fan/writer/enthusiast of the short story should read this book! I would recommend reading this in conjunction with either Stephen King's Graveyard Shift or Edgar Allan Poe's collected works. That probably sounds like a strange recommendation but Anton Chekhov was a very caring writer that, as a medical doctor, obviously had access to both the upper and lower rungs of society. His emphasis is more on the broad sweep of society and on emotion. Both The Short Stories of Anton Chekhov Of course, any fan/writer/enthusiast of the short story should read this book! I would recommend reading this in conjunction with either Stephen King's Graveyard Shift or Edgar Allan Poe's collected works. That probably sounds like a strange recommendation but Anton Chekhov was a very caring writer that, as a medical doctor, obviously had access to both the upper and lower rungs of society. His emphasis is more on the broad sweep of society and on emotion. Both King and Poe have a very strong inclination toward the lower depths of mankind and, unlike Chekhov, their stories show a very strong inclination toward structure, particularly toward plot and definite endings. So, by reading a couple collections, someone new to short stories could get a decent feel for the spectrum of possibilities. Of course, there are many other collections to choose from such as "You've Got to Read This" and "Fifty Great American Short Stories." I really can't say enough about this collection. It's to be admired and not imitated. Chekhov's style is one of an infinite number of possibilities. But academic teachers of the short story seem to have been treating it for the past ten years or so as if it were the end-all-be-all. Teaching Chekhov to eager college freshman and first year MFA students who long to pen the next great novel is about the dumbest thing a teacher could do. The reason for this is that Chekhov has no style. So trying to teach a Chekhovian style is obviously a fool's errand. His genius is an outgrowth of both his physician-like caring for all of his countrymen and his encyclopedic knowledge of the places and times in which he lived. 'About Love' may very well be my favorite all-time story and 'Gooseberries' is definitely in my top-five.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Cátia Vieira

    My first Chekhov ever. I really liked this short story collection! I have a thicker book at home but my brother gifted me this shorter edition a while back so I decided to try this one first! I am obsessed with Russian literature so I am rarely disappointed by a Russian author (*thinking about Gogol*). These short stories have themes in common such as sickness and despair. All of his characters are real, fascinating and universal. And, then, there’s the writing style that is formidable and super My first Chekhov ever. I really liked this short story collection! I have a thicker book at home but my brother gifted me this shorter edition a while back so I decided to try this one first! I am obsessed with Russian literature so I am rarely disappointed by a Russian author (*thinking about Gogol*). These short stories have themes in common such as sickness and despair. All of his characters are real, fascinating and universal. And, then, there’s the writing style that is formidable and super literary yet highly readable. For more reviews, follow me on IG: @booksturnyouon

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