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The Complete Short Novels (Everyman's Library) Hardcover – August 3, 2004

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Editorial Reviews


Praise for previous translations by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, winners of the PEN/Book-of-the-Month Club Prize:

The Brothers Karamazov

“One finally gets the musical whole of Dostoevsky’s original.” –New York Times Book Review

“It may well be that Dostoevsky’s [world], with all its resourceful energies of life and language, is only now–and through the medium of [this] new translation–beginning to come home to the English-speaking reader.” –New York Review of Books

Crime and Punishment

“The best [translation] currently available…An especially faithful re-creation…with a coiled-spring kinetic energy…Don’t miss it.” –Washington Post Book World

“This fresh, new translation…provides a more exact, idiomatic, and contemporary rendition of the novel that brings Fyodor Dostoevsky’s tale achingly alive…It succeeds beautifully.” –San Francisco Chronicle

“Reaches as close to Dostoevsky’s Russian as is possible in English…The original’s force and frightening immediacy is captured…The Pevear and Volokhonsky translation will become the standard version.” –Chicago Tribune


“The merit in this edition of Demons resides in the technical virtuosity of the translators…They capture the feverishly intense, personal explosions of activity and emotion that manifest themselves in Russian life.” –New York Times Book Review

“[Pevear and Volokhonsky] have managed to capture and differentiate the characters’ many voices…They come into their own when faced with Dostoevsky’s wonderfully quirky use of varied speech patterns…A capital job of restoration.” –Los Angeles Times

About the Author

Anton Chekhov was the author of hundreds of short stories and several plays and is regarded by many as both the greatest Russian storyteller and the father of modern drama.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 600 pages
  • Publisher: Everyman's Library (August 3, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400040493
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400040490
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1.4 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #688,257 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

44 of 48 people found the following review helpful By John Sollami on January 14, 2006
Format: Hardcover
There is nothing more aesthetically pleasing than to surrender to the artifice of a master. One is deeply comforted in reading this collection of well-translated works. Chekhov reproduces human perception and experience with brilliant precision and insight. His deeply felt compassion and empathy lead him to an art that captures the consciousness of the most refined and the most tortured of souls. In "The Steppe," for instance, he almost cinematically creates the image of the Russian plains as a living being that casts its life force on a humble wagon train and a young boy crossing its great distances. This truly brilliant artist also compellingly and dramatically describes a mighty thunderstorm in such powerful strokes that one is utterly spellbound and engrossed in its fearsome energy. In "The Story of an Unknown Man," a consumptive servant narrates the events of his weak nihilistic upper-class master who is incapable of love. His master willfully torments a beautiful young woman who has sacrificed her marriage to come live with him, but in doing so, has condemned herself to his cynical disrespect. Before the age of tape recorders, Chekhov has recorded dialog in this work that is thoroughly authentic and captures underlying psychological motives and unconscious forces that push these people to the breaking point. But the narrator too is an intimate character in this work and finds himself drawn into the life of his employer. This subtle change is handled with such skill that one is completely convinced of its reality. Here's where Chekhov's artifice produces magic. Its choice of detail, its dialog, its plot, its events all combine to sculpt a living experience, one that will never die. Chekhov's art is immortal. I invite every reader to partake of this satisfying feast that has been created for us.Read more ›
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40 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Hugh B. Cecil on August 13, 2006
Format: Paperback
I had hoped to find a single book to introduce me to one of the greatest short story writers in history. This book absolutely fills that bill.

The writing is captivating. The Steppe was actually my favorite. I understand how some might see it as slow or plodding; yet the visual and auditory descriptions were so complete and mesmerizing.

I will definitely be looking into more Chekhov.

I should note that I picked up this book specifically because the same translators (Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky) of these stories also translated the much lauded Anna Karenina recently popularized by Oprah Winfrey. They again do a wonderful job! I will look for other Russian translations from this duo in the future.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful By WAM on June 7, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This is not about the stories themselves, which are wonderful, or even the selection, which is fine, but about the translation. I find Pevear and Volokhonsky translations -not only here but elsewhere (Dead Souls)- ungainly and plodding. I realize that many think highly of their stuff, and I am sure they are very correct when it comes to each word, but they seem to have stone ears, missing the tone and natural flow of the lines. Choose Payne, Garnett or indeed anyone who can capture something of these qualities, especially tone, for if a translator misses these in Chekhov, she misses everything.
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47 of 57 people found the following review helpful By selffate on May 11, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This collection of short stories of Chekhov, is mighty fine for anyone wanting to brush up on some great stories, or complete their collection of Russian literature. And like every Everyman book, you got your nice binding and tassle, what more could be asked for???!

I figured I'd go through the stories one by one

THE STEEPE - Probably one of the most poetic and dreamy stories I have ever read. I really enjoyed the scenes and the way Chekhov describes the countryside as a young boy travels along a cart running into many characters. Pure poetry.

THE DUEL - One of the most popular duel stories and scenes (not counting Hero of Our Time, or The Idiot) in all of Russian literature. A great microcosom of 2 individuals who end up resorting to pistols.

THE STORY OF AN UNKNOWN MAN - It is mentioned in the introduction that this is one Chekhov's least known stories. And it's too bad cause this one was EASILY MY FAVORITE suprisingly. A spy infiltrates a house as a servant, and through the course of knowing the inhabitants and the people who frequent the home, he develops a different mindset to his original agenda.

THREE YEARS - I found this still entertaining but it was my least favorite of the 5.

MY LIFE - Is a great story of a man renounces wealth and social position for a life of manual labor, but it's the conflict he has with his father over it that creates some great writing that Chekhov handles masterfully.

I was very pleased with the content of this addition, and I massively enjoyed Chekhov as a writer. He has some great stuff, and this collection is just the perfect thing.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Michael Collier on February 4, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As you get older, Chekhov seems to get better and better.

I ordered this expecting a couple of great novellas and maybe a few makeweight bits of juvenilia or flawed experiments. I was delighted therefore to discover that all five tales are magnificent.

While they may not traditionally have been regarded as novels in their own right - particularly alongside some of the famously heavyweight classics of Russian literature - the relatively limited length of these stories (generally around 100 pages) actually makes them seem rather modern.

I won't bother with synopses, but will simply urge you to read them. The Steppe is an out-and-out classic by any standards, and to my surprise The Duel is perhaps my favourite, cleverly going against what you might expect from such a title so that it ends up as a sort of anti-Pushkinesque account of tremendous humanity and understanding of human weaknesses and foibles.

The Story of An Unknown Man is highly unusual and even puzzling - we are given a great set up with a nobleman slumming it as a servant apparently in search of some sort of revenge, then it wanders off in a completely different direction as if Chekhov had stuck two completely different novels together.

Three Years is perhaps the weakest of the five novellas, but the building atmosphere of frustration and claustrophobia will be of interest to anyone familiar with Chekhov's plays.

The final tale, My Life is wonderful. As the title suggests, it manages to boil down what would take a lesser writer 500 pages into 90 or so of intense, human emotion.

Oh, and if you can read The Duel without being overcome by a desire to go and make fish soup outside, you have a stronger will than I do.

Recommending Chekhov is pointless. If you at all aware of the fact you are a human being you cannot fail to love him and be in awe of his ability as a writer.
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