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Anton Chekhov: Selected Stories

From: B&N.com

I’ve been following my nose with the Russians and decided to try Anton Chekhov’s short stories. I am using a Modern Library edition with translators Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky (whom translated the edition of Anna Karenina I read as well).

When I first started reading the stories contained within this edition, I thought, “Why have I never heard much about Chekhov before?” Seriously, why isn’t he talked about all that much? Personally, I like him. A lot. I’ve been devouring the stories in this book, so much so that I’ve often forgotten to ear-mark the pages that I found post-worthy. I did ear-mark stories which I liked the most, however.

“Small Fry” is good and I particularly like the end. I wanted to share a passage from the end, but I don’t want to spoil the story for anyone who decides to check it out. It’s a very short story about a clerk, but again, I don’t want to give anything away. Read it.

“The Huntsman” is another good story. I liked it because, contained within the five pages it spans is a story which goes beyond the pages. Chekhov has the ability to allude to events which happened outside the story without actually spelling them out, which allows the story to be much larger than the five pages it sits at.

“Easter Night” follows “The Huntsman” in that it alludes to events outside the story which makes it a much larger story. Outside of this, “Easter Night” is a good story in it’s own right.

“Sleepy” is a haunting story. I liked it, probably because I am an insomniac and relate well with the sleepy.

“A Boring Story” is longer than most of the stories I’ve read thus far in the book and it is by no means boring at all. The man in the story is an insomniac (so, again, I related well to him). One passage reads:

Two doors away my daughter Liza says something rapidly in her sleep, or my wife crosses the living room with a candle and unfailingly drops the box of matches, or a cupboard creaks from dryness, or the lamp flame suddenly starts to hum–and for some reason all these sounds trouble me.

Not to sleep during the night means to be aware of every moment of your abnormality, and therefore I wait impatiently for morning and daylight, when I have the right not to sleep. A long, wearisome time goes by before the cock crows in the yard. He is my first bearer of good tidings. Once he crows, I know that in an hour the hall porter will wake up  below and, coughing gruffly, come upstairs for something. And then little by little the air outside the windows will turn pale, voices will be heard in the street…

I marked many passages in “A Boring Story,” so I may devote a single post to the story itself. It may be one of my favorites thus far as well. The end of the story is interesting and I pondered it for a good hour after I finished reading.

“The Fidget” was interesting because it showed how well a story can be put together with an unlikable main character (something I am very much interested in and have tried to do in two different short stories). Chekhov does not fail at making a good story with an unlikable character (although, I do fail).

“Ward No. 6” is much longer than most of the stories in the edition, but it is good. It has a couple of longer passages I will have to share in the separate post I will devote to it and “A Boring Story.”

I still have eleven stories to read in the book and I am looking forward to it. Chekhov has been a pleasure to read thus far and reading these stories are making me consider ordering his short novels collection as well.

Oh, the Russians. Where should I look to next? I’m considering Crime and Punishment since I ordered it along with Chekhov. Ideas?

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