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Peasants and Other Stories (New York Review…

Peasants and Other Stories (New York Review Books Classics)

by Anton Chekhov

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Chekhov makes me wish I knew Russian, because I'd love to read him in his own language. I wonder if he's capable with prose of the same accomplishments he made with character and structure, of the very essential sense of story, that draws me to him. Still, every decent translation shares those qualities, so I can safely assume they're original to his work, and this is why I love Chekhov. Who else can get away with the kind of meandering organicism, the almost digressive sense of plot, that Chekhov uses? Who else can start a story in one perspective and shift seemingly at random, as though subconciously, to another perspective, even an entirely different narrative voice, and slip it past us so smoothly we barely notice and easily forgive it? Who else makes us eager for the shift? Who else can drop the end of the story--often no end at all--like a punch in the gut and makes us crave more of the same? Maybe Dan Chaon. Maybe Debra Monroe. Maybe. But no one can do it as beautifully--as spiritually--as Chekhov, and these stories are a delight, a kind of masters class in his range and his beauty. ( )
  Snoek-Brown | Feb 7, 2016 |
What's not to like about Chekhov? Nothing, at least as far as I'm concerned. What's not to like about this collection of Chekhov stories? A lot of irritating things, at least as far as I'm concerned, which I'll touch on later.

This, the first ever NYRB (and my edition is so early it even doesn't have their now-signature cover style!) was originally compiled by Edmund Wilson in 1956. In his introduction, he decries the fact that most collections of Chekhov mix up eras of his writing and so mix up different kinds of stories. He collects Chekhov's latest stories in this volume, noting that they were written when Chekhov was interested in exploring changes in Russian society. Each of these stories explores some aspect of society, whether it is a woman who has inherited a factory, or an aristocrat yearning to do manual labor, or the dregs of peasant society, or newly wealthy people interacting with peasants, or even the orthodox church. Of course, Chekhov bring his perceptiveness and compassion to the characters he creates.

But turning to the irritations. Nowhere is it listed who translated these stories, and maybe more than one translator did, for in several stories prices of things are given in shillings and pence (!!!), while in others they are given in rubles. And most of the stories cry out for notes identifying historical people or events -- but there are none. I guess, in 1999, NYRB hadn't gotten into its groove.
  rebeccanyc | Jan 25, 2016 |
Book Description: Franklin Center The Franklin Library 1977. F. ; Most books shipped within 24 hours. All edges gilt, raised bands on the spine, red silk moire endpapers in full black leather binding. ; The Collected Stories of the World's Greatest Writers; B&W Illustrations; 8vo.; 481 pages. Illustrated by Frederick Schneider. Limited Edition. Binding is Leather binding.
  Czrbr | Jun 7, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0940322145, Paperback)

The ever maturing art and ever more ambitious imaginative reach of Anton Chekhov, one of the world's greatest masters of the short story, led him in his last years to an increasingly profound exploration of the troubled depths of Russian society and life. This powerful and revealing selection from Chekhov's final works, made by the legendary American critic Edmund Wilson, offers stories of novelistic richness and complexity, published in the only formatp edition to present them in chronological order.

Table of Contents
A Woman's Kingdom
Three Years
The Murder
My Life
The New Villa
In the Ravine
The Bishop

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:33 -0400)

The contemporary short-story is unimaginable without Anton Chekhov. He stripped the story of many of the features that had seemed essential to nineteenth-century readers: plot, narrative tension, and denouement. Terms such as "slices of life" and "sketches" are used to highlight the fact that often very little happens in Chekhov's short stories. What is left unsaid reveals as much or more than what is said. The result is a sparse and atmospheric work that has less in common with that other major fictional form--the novel--than it does with the lyric poem. The creation of this new literary form enables Chekhov to express some of the most penetrating psychological insights in modern literature and to share with readers a gentle and compassionate view of humanity.… (more)

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