Read Selected Stories by Anton Chekhov Richard Pevear Larissa Volokhonsky Online


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 greatRichard 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....

Title : Selected Stories
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ISBN : 9780553381009
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 454 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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Selected Stories Reviews

  • J.G. Keely
    2019-01-28 12:12

    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.

  • Praveen
    2019-02-11 12:15

    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 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 !

  • La Petite Américaine
    2019-02-20 12:08

    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.

  • Ted
    2019-01-31 14:09

    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 wonderfully written short fiction.

  • Inderjit Sanghera
    2019-02-01 11:05

    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 STEPPEThe 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?”

  • Mark
    2019-02-14 15:58

    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

  • Ritwik
    2019-02-01 11:54

    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 StoryWard No.6The Black MonkThe House With The MezzanineThe Lady With The Little DogThe FiancéeThe BishopAnd a job well done by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky.

  • Madeline
    2019-02-15 13:13

    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."

  • Elie Feng
    2019-02-10 11:06

    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.

  • Rick
    2019-02-03 17:15

    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.

  • Darkhan
    2019-01-24 16:05

    "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."

  • Manab
    2019-01-25 16:49

    ৫৩ সালের গা-ঝকঝকে কপি, বিশ টাকা দিয়ে কিনছি সেদিন :Dচেখফকে রীতিমত ডাকসাইটে মনে হচ্ছে। কয়েকটা গল্প মনে হয় আবার পড়া লাগবে। এইটা মনে হওয়ার কারণ, ওলেঙ্কার গল্পটা আগে একবার পড়ছিলাম, বাংলায়, মুজতবা আলীর একটা বইয়ে। বলেই ফেলি, তখন একেবারেই ভালো লাগে নাই। আজকে পড়তে গিয়ে দেখি ভালো লাগা ত ভালো লাগা, ঐ জিনিস মোটামুটি জেঁকে বসে ছিলো মাথায় গোটা বছর জুড়ে। যেইখানেই কলমের আঁচড়, সেইখানেই ওলেঙ্কা।প্রথম পড়াতেই বিশপ, ইয়োনিচ, নামভাঙা গল্প, একটি ঘটনামাত্র, কুকুরসমেত নারী, ডাকিনী, এইগুলি অসাধারণ লাগছে। আচ্ছা, একটু গোপন করা হয়ে যায়। কুকুরসমেত নারী প্রথম দফায় ধরে নাই, বই শেষ করে আবার পড়ে দেখি, বাহ্‌, বেশ ত! অনেকের নাকী এই অনুবাদ ভালো মনে হয় নাই, যেহেতু রাশান পড়তে পারবো এমন ভবিষ্যৎ দেখি না সামনে, তাই এই প্রসঙ্গে কিছু বলতে পারতেছি না। খুবই ঊনবিংশ শতাব্দীর ইংরেজি। অবশ্য চেখফও ত বোধহয় তখনকারই।কী আছে চেখফে? তেমন কোনো উপমা চোখে পড়লো না, গত একশ বছরে আধুনিক কবিতা আর এতদ্দেশীয় ভাজাপোড়ারে যেভাবে গিলে খাচ্ছে গল্প, সেইসব কিছু নাই, স্রেফ গল্প বলে গেছেন চেখফ। সেই গল্পে বেশ কিছু ঘটনা ঘটে, এইটুকই, কোনো মানসিক অন্তর্দ্বন্দে ডুব দেয়াদেয়ি নাই, কোনো মানবিক অবসাদ নাই। শ্লেষ আছে বিস্তর। কিছু চরিত্র আছে, যারা বেশ রক্তমাংশের, লেখার ভঙ্গি, অনুবাদ মেনে নিলে, বেশ সরল, কোনো জ্ঞান দেয়াদেয়ি নাই। হয়ত ভালো লাগার কারণও নাই খুব বেশি। আমার ভালো লাগছে। গল্পগুলি গল্পই থাকে না হয়, এর বেশি কিছুতে গিয়ে ঠেকে না, কিন্তু হ্যাঁ, পড়ার ফাঁকে গল্প হয়ে ওঠার চেয়ে বড় দর্শনধারী দিব্যি তারে কে দিয়েছে। আগে কেনো পড়ি নাই!

  • S Prakash
    2019-02-21 11:16

    “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.

  • Hugo Emanuel
    2019-01-23 15:01

    Esta foi a primeira colecção de histórias que li de Chekhov (ou Tchekhov, se preferirem a tradução dada ao nome do autor em português. Usarei nesta “review” a tradução utilizada pela editora que publicou a edição que li). Já tinha lido em algumas antologias que coleccionavam contos de vários autores umas duas ou três das suas histórias, as quais deixaram uma impressão extremamente favorável do autor. Tinha prometido a mim próprio na altura vir a ler muito mais da obra de Chekhov num futuro próximo mas, como decerto compreenderão a maioria dos leitores compulsivos, o universo literário está de tal modo populado de um sem numero de autores e obras aliciantes que cumprir uma promessa dessa natureza nem sempre é exequível. Assim Chekhov foi sendo relegado para o fundo da minha lista de autores por ler em favor de outros. Agora que de facto li uma colecção de contos inteiramente dedicada a Chekhov não me arrependo minimamente de ter adiado a leitura de mais trabalhos deste autor. Isto porque pois a resposta emocional que tive a estes foi de tal modo intensa que não posso deixar de regozijar-me com o facto de ter ainda uma considerável quantidade de trabalhos do autor ainda por ler e, consequentemente, horas de imenso prazer.Os contos desta colecção compreendem um considerável período da vida do autor, pois inclui alguns dos seus primeiros contos – os quais são na sua maioria bastante curtos – assim como trabalhos mais tardios. A selecção de histórias escritos em períodos distintos da vida de Chekhov e a sua distribuição por ordem mais ou menos cronológica permite ao leitor acompanhar a evolução do autor – a transição de contos curtos e maioritariamente satíricos para histórias mais compridas e com um humanismo amplificado. E apesar de tal distribuição garantir uma considerável variedade de temas e abordagens a estes a colecção é consistentemente excelente. Tal consistência deve-se certamente á genialidade do autor. Chekhov é igualmente brilhante a escrever um curto e anedótico “sketch” cómico e satírico como a explorar as dificuldades e preocupações que infernizam a existência das diversas classes da população russa da época e fá-lo com recurso a uma linguagem directa, pouco floreada, despretensiosa e breve mas que apesar disso, é bela, incisiva, hilariante, triste e profundamente emotiva – por vezes simultaneamente. Chekhov, ao contrário dos seus precursores e compatriotas Dostoievski e Tolstoi, não pretendia com a sua ficção fazer qualquer tipo de exposição moral, politica ou religiosa – o seu objectivo era somente capturar momentos da existência humana tal como estes se apresentam, com uma objectividade desprovida de considerações ou juízos morais. Caberá ao leitor colorir com a sua própria percepção e valores os episódios da vida russa que lhes são relatados. No entanto não os quero induzir a pensar que a escrita de Chekhov é de alguma forma seca e desapaixonada; muito pelo contrário – das linhas escritas pelo autor transpira um humanismo e realismo tão forte que é impossível não sermos de algum modo movidos por estas – pelo menos para mim foi. Seria preciso que um leitor estivesse equipado de um coração de pedra para não se deixar mover pelo conto “Little Jack” que se debruça sobre um rapazinho órfã aprendiz de sapateiro que é maltratado e mal alimentado pelo seu patrão e que escreve ao seu avô na vã esperança de que este o salve da deplorável situação em que se encontra; ou por “A Night Before Easter”, em que um monge de baixa condição confessa a tristeza e saudade que lhe causa a recentíssima morte de um outro monge da mesma condição que lhe era muito próximo a um passageiro do barco de passagem que ficou incumbido de conduzir pelos seus superiores não obstante a dor e sofrimento de que sabem ele padecer; e ainda por “The Trosseau”, em que uma mãe esperançosa costura incessantemente um enxoval de casamento para uma filha que já faleceu há muito. Mas nem tudo é triste e sombrio no universo literário de Chekhov – muitos dos contos são sketches cómicos ilusoriamente simples e com características algo “Gogolianas” como por exemplo “Lean And Fat” em que a felicidade e informalidade com que se tratam dois amigos de infância que não se encontravam há muito altera-se subitamente quando um destes revela ter um posto mais elevado que o outro; “The Decoration” no qual um professor leva emprestada uma medalha de um amigo condecorado para “ornamentar” a sua presença num jantar para o qual foi convidado que lhe pode acabar por prejudicar mais do que favorecer; “Murder Will Out!” durante o qual um inspector do governo que crê viajar incógnito com o intuito de surpreender indivíduos a cometer irregularidades descobre correrem rumores e factos sobre a sua pessoa muito pouco lisonjeadores ou “The Man In A Case” no qual um homem excessivamente preocupado em projectar uma imagem virtuosa e séria da sua pessoa acaba por cair constantemente no ridículo e no desagrado da população geral. Não sei se esta edição será ou não a melhor colecção de contos de Chekhov por aí disponível mas satisfez-me completamente e está disponível por um preço muito simpático. Estou no entanto certo de que a leitura dos outros trabalhos do autor serão igualmente prazenteiros e que independentemente da edição que adquirirem será certamente do agrado da maior parte dos leitores.

  • Lisa
    2019-02-16 14:54

    Biting, funny and entertaining stories about ordinary people.

  • Leo Robertson
    2019-01-25 16:51

    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: here’s the list of the ones I read (from The Selected Stories) bold ones are my favourites.The Death of a ClerkSmall FryThe HuntsmanThe MalefactorPanikhidaAnyutaEaster Night (The Night Before Easter)VankaSleepyA Boring StoryGusevPeasant WomenThe Fidget (The Grasshopper)In ExileWard No. 6The Black MonkRothschild’s FiddleThe StudentAnna on the NeckThe House with the Mezzanine (An Artist’s Story)The Man in a CaseGooseberriesAbout Love (and what we talk about when we talk about it, maybe?)A Medical Case The DarlingOn Official BusinessThe Lady with the Little DogAt ChristmastimeIn the RavineThe BishopThe Fiancée

  • Jessica
    2019-02-01 17:06

    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.

  • Roy Lotz
    2019-02-18 19:05

    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.

  • Markus
    2019-02-21 17:18

    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 ofSociety.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.

  • Jade
    2019-02-17 17:16

    (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.

  • Hadrian
    2019-01-21 11:15

    Astonishing. Chekhov clearly understands how people work, and how to express it. I need to sit and think a while to process this further.

  • Eadweard
    2019-01-28 17:56

    It's Chekhov, 'nuff said.

  • Harsha Varma
    2019-01-30 16:54

    Chekhov's style is really unique. The stories are natural, most don't have a formal plot, there are no teachings or morals to be drawn. Beginnings and endings are often irrelevant. Most of the stories don't end, just like real life. What strikes you is the incredible brevity with which he strikes, every detail is vital to the story. Consider, At Christmas time. It's probably 5 pages long. It's about an old couple in a village, who haven't talked to their daughter since she moved to the city after her marriage two years ago. They hire someone to write her a letter, as they're illiterate. Yet, they don't know where to start, whether they should bring up their financial difficulties, how the old man was sick most of the time, ask about any grandchildren.. It's incredibly powerful and moving, probably because I could picture thousands of families in India undergoing the same plight. The story then shows us how ecstatic the daughter is on receiving the letter. Turns out, her husband never posted any of the letters she's written. And the story ends with a glimpse of the luxurious life of the general for whom the husband works. If you're looking for happy endings, Chekhov isn't for you. But each story will leave you with a surreal glow in awe of his genius. He was the David to Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky's Goliaths!

  • Mary
    2019-01-28 11:00

    So much to learn from the creator, literally, of the modern short story--and its arc. And so worth it writers and readers to remember this: “‘Who will read me, who will care?’ It does not help the work to be done, that work already completed is surrounded by silence and indifference—if it is published at all. Few books ever have the attention of a review—good or bad. Fewer stay longer than a few weeks on bookstore shelves, if they get there at all. … ‘Works of art’ (or at least books, stories, poems, meriting life) ‘disappear before our very eyes because of the absence of responsible attention,’ Chekhov wrote nearly ninety years ago." Tillie Olsen in her book _Silences_ wrote this in 1965.

  • Mark Crouch
    2019-01-23 18:58

    A+! 5 stars! Truly phenomenal stuff here. One can almost be perturbed reading this fantastic collection of Chekhov stories at how easily he's able to capture human nature and the human condition with such minimalistic beauty.

  • Mina Ajjam
    2019-02-13 18:51

    What a collection of mesmerising short stories!! The thing that I adore about short stories is telling you lessons , brings you wisdom behind few not boring lines , and Anton Chekhov did that brilliantly .

  • Thekelburrows
    2019-01-28 14:51

    So this Russian peasant walks into a bar...

  • Ridhika Khanna
    2019-02-07 13:03

    This collection of stories is a rare gem where almost all stories leave you thinking about life, humanity and beyond. There is nothing extra ordinary in these stories with respect to content but the way these stories have been delivered is exemplary. Chekhov is a master story teller. Each and every story will leave you unsettled and spellbound for some time. Chekhov has unearthed emotions and has given voice to even the minutest of feelings in his characters. He is one of a kind and it seems that nobody has understood life better than him. Its like he has extracted the core of life and served it on a platter to you.All the stories are mind blowing but the ones which have left a deep impression on me are the following (not in the order):A boring story/ A dreary storyWard No. 6The Black MonkRothschild's FiddleThe BishopThe Fiancee/ The BetrothedA man in a caseA malefactorIn the RavineGooseberriesThe HuntsmanThis review would be incomplete if I don't mention that Anton Chekhov is the writer who got me into reading. The short story called "The Bet" has a huge impact on me and has nudged me into reading.Highly recommended to all... :)

  • Doaa Mohamed
    2019-01-23 12:55

    أنهيت الأعمال القصصية للطبيب الإنسان للفيلسوف العبقري رائد القصة القصيرة :))كانت رحلة ممتعة حقا مع مجموعة القصص هذه غالبا متين الحبكة وبعضها أحسست أنه منقوص لكن الحالة العامة للمجموعة تستدعي أن أغض الطرف عن البسيط منها أنطون تشيخوف جراح نفس ماهر وأديب حاذق شجعتني هذه المجموعة على قراءة باقي الأعمال التى كتبها هذا الأديب ..............تمت

  • Charlotte J.
    2019-01-29 16:57

    At times very funny. At times heartbreaking. At times simply bewildering. At all times, very Russian.