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Stories by Anton Chekhov
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Stories (1889)

by Anton Chekhov

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Of course, I've read stories by Chekhov over the years, but this was the first time I set out to read a collection of his stories, although this and other collections have sat on my shelves for a long time. As I read them, over the course of several weeks, I grew more and more impressed with Chekhov's ability not only to provide deep insight into the characters of a huge variety of people and not only to convey a vivid sense of the natural world of Russia, but also to present to the reader just enough to capture the essence of the people and the places, almost impressionistically, and to do so with such great variety as well. Many of the characters he created in these stories will stay with me for a long time.

This collection, selected and translated by the team of Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, is organized in chronological order, with Chekhov's earlier, more sketchy stories first, and the later more complex and darker ones towards the end. There are too many wonderful stories for me to list them all, but some of my favorites are "The Huntsman," the very creepy "Sleepy," "A Boring Story," "Gusev," "Ward No. 6," "The Black Monk," "The House with the Mezzanine," and "In the Ravine." Chekhov explores how people really treat each other, most often not as nicely as we would like to think, what they think about, and the individuality of each character. I am looking forward to reading more of his work.
1 vote rebeccanyc | Aug 3, 2014 |
Astonishing. Chekhov clearly understands how people work, and how to express it. I need to sit and think a while to process this further. ( )
  HadriantheBlind | Mar 30, 2013 |
I read this book in Latvian; it seems there must be a little different selection of stories in the English version. My book had 15 short stories. Here are my favorite ones:

“A Boring story”
A story of a dying professor’s self analysis. Chekhov doesn’t waist words in any of his stories, but still the characters in this book are so vivid and realistic. In this story the professor spends his days thinking about his famous name, which doesn’t help him any more now that he is slowly dying. The author shows the relationship between the professor, his family and his step-daughter Katia. The people who used to be his closest are now changed. He didn’t even notice when it happened, it’s like living with strangers. He shares a house with them, but is still lonely. A sad, but beautiful story.

“The Man in a Case”
Belikov is a teacher of Greek. He is hiding himself in heavy, thick clothes and wearing rubber galoshes even on the hottest days of summer. Everyone in the school, including his colleges, is afraid of him. He strictly follows all of the rules and in his opinion – what’s not allowed is strictly prohibited. He is hiding his thoughts behind a wall of never ending rules. He is like a shadow that everyone tries to avoid. The day of his funeral is considered a good day for all of his coworkers and students. They all feel relieved that no one is watching them anymore.

“The Lady with the little dog”
Gurov is a married man who loves to spend his time with other women. As fast as he gets excited and passionate about every new encounter he gets bored just as fast. He has never been in love. Then he meets Ann, the lady with the little dog. The story between them begins as usual for him and looks like it will end like that as well. Ann is also married, but she is shy and an old-fashion woman. She falls in love with Gurov, and so does he, though he doesn’t realize it at the time.
This is the most famous story of Anton Chekhov. A heartbreaking story about impossible love.

I enjoyed the book from the very first pages till the end. The author paints a perfect picture of 19th century Russia. Chekhov is one of my new favorite authors now and I will look forward to read more of his stories and plays. I can recommend this author to all those who enjoyed works of Dostoyevsky or Bulgakov. ( )
  liibooks | Aug 26, 2010 |
A collection of unassuming masterpieces. Chekhov's stories are subtle, precise, versatile, and compassionate. Just beautiful. ( )
  jorgearanda | Jul 21, 2010 |
It is often the case that a seminal work which inspires a movement will actually not be classifiable under the genre it has created. Chekhov is another such innovator, whose followers, like Tolkien's or Petrarch's, are not fit to be placed in the same category as their inspiration.

To digress for a moment, this relates to a philosophical theory on the nature of inspiration which I developed while viewing how my own works often differed from the originals which inspired them. For example, Led Zeppelin inspired scores and scores of imitators who all grew to sound very similar to one another, but by and large, not that similar to Led Zeppelin. Zeppelin was inspired by American bluesmen, jazz, funk, classical compositions, and traditional English music.

They distilled what appealed to them, westernizing and popularizing it. Likewise, Their imitators simplified Zeppelin's music, which is why they all began to sound like one another, but not like Zeppelin. To sound like Zeppelin, you'd have to go back to their sources.

Tolkien's followers fall into the same boat. None of them, at least that I am aware, are philologists able to speak numerous languages and translate myths from their original tongues. Hence, those followers sound like a more accessible Tolkien, while he is a more accessible version of the Eddas.

Chekhov was the innovator of post-modern realism, dealing with small people and their little problems. He came from the Russian dramatist school, and was inspired by absurdist authors like Gogol. His characters tend to bear that oddness which comes off as more realistic than a character who is played completely straight. Real people are weirdos.

Unfortunately, most modern authors, though inspired by his humorous, surprising, heart-wrenching, and often petty stories, have turned them so mundane that truth grows stranger than fiction and fiction grows into an exercise as pointless as any dadaist deconstruction.

Chekhov is simply the best and most believable realist author, and instead of feeding on pain like gourmand Hemmingway, uses it as a sparing, bittersweet spice. ( )
1 vote Terpsichoreus | Jun 9, 2009 |
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» Add other authors (13 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Anton Chekhovprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Pevear, RichardIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pevear, RichardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Volokhonsky, LarissaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Please NOTE: There are many editions of Chekhov's stories in many languages, all containing different combinations of stories. THIS work is the 2000 edtion selected and translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky and published by Bantam. Please DO NOT combine other editions with this one. Thank you.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0553381008, Paperback)

Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, the highly acclaimed translators of War and Peace, Doctor Zhivago, and Anna Karenina, which was an Oprah Book Club pick and million-copy bestseller, bring their unmatched talents to The Selected Stories of Anton Chekhov, a collection of thirty of Chekhov’s best tales from the major periods of his creative life.
 
Considered the greatest short story writer, Anton Chekhov changed the genre itself with his spare, impressionistic depictions of Russian life and the human condition. From characteristically brief, evocative early pieces such as “The Huntsman” and the tour de force “A Boring Story,” to his best-known stories such as “The Lady with the Little Dog” and his own personal favorite, “The Student,” Chekhov’s short fiction possesses the transcendent power of art to awe and change the reader. This monumental edition, expertly translated, is especially faithful to the meaning of Chekhov’s prose and the unique rhythms of his writing, giving readers an authentic sense of his style and a true understanding of his greatness.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:43:53 -0400)

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