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The Stories of Anton Chekhov by Anton…

The Stories of Anton Chekhov

by Anton Chekhov

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Short Stories by Anton Chekhov 1. Yes, a book on CD but it's Chekov! hence you know the stories recorded for this project will be good or interesting at least - (he is a master after all). And don't worry: it sounds like Tchekov. The translation by Constance Garnett seems adequate - the style is the Russian's: deceptively simple, sometimes simply terse, always descriptively sparse. The six stories in this volume range from excellent to passable; some display Checkoff's ironic humor, others his critique of class, but all are sociologically probing and psychologically complex. Though these works might be deemed "lesser-known" - (you won't hear The Lady with the Dog, or Gooseberries, for example) - each seems chosen because it lends itself to imagery through sound rather than idea through word play.
They are read by Max Bollinger, a Russian-born English actor whose voice is clear, whose pronunciation is precise. (There are occasional sound effects which neither add nor detract. It is Anton after all, and Anton holds your attention without need of pyrotechnics) It is Bollinger, however, who colors the images. And herein lies the wrong-way-rub (a problem whenever literature is transmuted into another format): if you have read any of these stories, the voice you hear will not be the voice you heard - the tones will be altered, especially where dialogue is concerned - and said voice often seems somehow inaccurate: not a tune played off-key, but one with an abnormal instrumentation. This is probably due in part to a need for vocal clarity, but sometimes it feels like a misreading, because yours is the only precise rendering. What was a shriek in your mind's ear has become a whimper. Lines full of pathos are delivered without affect. (And Bollinger often seems to trip over punctuation, or decides to pause where no such slowdown appears in the original text - you can almost see the commas and semi-colons floating before your eyes.)
If you are not familiar with these stories, there is the potential for a superimposition of Bollinger's voice upon your own if you subsequently choose to take the leap and read them for yourself. His tincture could stain your images; his dialogue could jump from the mouths of your imagined actors. And your images, your voice, your ideas are essential. For Chekov does not supply easy answers, his ambivalence allows the reader to dig in, to think about what is being proposed; yet one does not necessarily draw a definitive conclusion. (Like, I said - a master.)
Literature is a collaboration between reader and writer. What we get with a story being read to us is an interpretation, and here, an interpretation of a translation, which is itself an interpretation. We are, therefore, thrice removed from the original and I can see Plato smiling and nodding. Bollinger emphasizes words you would not, shades characters as you would not. It’s as if there is an interloper in the mix - you’ve bought a used paperback with the wrong passages underlined.
This is not to say there is anything absolutely immoral with a book on CD. It's fine as long as you accept the aforementioned before hitting the remote, and acquiesce to a lesser experience than you would have had if you'd got together with Anton and read the damn stories as intended. ( )
  exnihilo35 | Mar 30, 2010 |
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Anton Chekhovprimary authorall editionscalculated
Fell, MarianTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Garnett, ConstanceTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Linscott, Robert NewtonEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Linscott, Robert NewtonIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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