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Forty Stories (Vintage Classics) Paperback – March 6, 1991

4.7 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

I long to embrace, to include in my own short life, all that is accessible to man. I long to speak, to read, to wield a hammer in a great factory, to keep watch at sea, to plow. I want to be walking along the Nevsky Prospect, or in the open fields, or on the ocean -- wherever my imagination ranges."

-- Anton Chekhov

If any one writer can be said to have invented the modem short story, it is Anton Chekhov. It is not just that Chekhov democratized this art form; more than that, he changed the thrust of short fiction from relating to revealing.

And what marvelous and unbearable things are revealed in these Forty Stories. The abashed happiness of a woman in the presence of the husband who abandoned her years before. The obsequious terror of the official who accidentally sneezes on a general. The poignant astonishment of an aging Don Juan overtaken by love. Spanning the entirety of Chekhov's career and including such masterpieces as "Surgery," "The Huntsman," "Anyuta," "Sleepy-head," "The Lady With the Pet Dog," and "The Bishop," this collection manages to be amusing, dazzling, and supremely moving -- often within a single page.

Vintage Classic are-quality paperback editions of the world's greatest written works. They are durably bound and are printed exclusively on acid-free paper.

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Russian
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Product Details

  • Series: Vintage Classics
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (March 6, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679733752
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679733751
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #90,305 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I like Robert Payne's translations of Chekhov because he has a good ear for the flow of beautiful writing. He does not bog Chekhov's prose down with needless commas like Constance Garnett and others. Payne's Chekhov reads seamlessly. He understands that good storytelling is about how the words flow together as in speech. Beautiful translations. (By the way, they are perfect for teaching Chekhov to high school or college students.)
Rosa La Luna
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Format: Paperback
Anton Chekhov (1860-1904) has long been acknowledged as one of Russia's greatest playwrights and short story authors, a man whose expressiveness with the pen stemmed, in great part, from the hardship of his childhood experiences and, later in life, his vast globetrotting wanderings. Chekhov's family abandoned him at the age of sixteen to a fate somewhat close to wage-slavery; astonishingly, he later assumed complete responsibility for their indiscretions, and thereafter always faced financial difficulties. To help supplement his income, Chekhov began writing professionally for magazines, and over the course of his life came to scribe more than two hundred short stories. This collection, as suggested by the title, consists of forty pieces, of varying length and quality: the title is somewhat misleading, as several of these 'stories' are barely a page long and would be more aptly described as 'fragments', or, to take a cue from Turgenev, 'sketches' of Russian existence...although, in a sense, all of these stories could be described thus. With wit, compassion and keen insightfulness, the author paints a painfully accurate portrait of the Russian character: hardy, proud, generally inconsistent and very often drunken; and Russian environment, from the fertile luxury of the Crimea to the frozen wasteland exile of Siberia, from provincial predicaments to cityscape cluster-catastrophes. Like his contemporaries Gogol, Turgenev and Tolstoy, Chekhov wrote as he saw it, and his fiction now exists as literature - an invaluable testament of a bygone age.
*Forty Stories* covers Chekhov's artistic span from 1880-1903.
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If you are a Chekhov fan already, or, like I was, interested in getting acquainted with one of the best modern writers for the first time this is a good book for you. Does not suffer from the problems (poor translation, unreadably small type, etc.) some of the other collections of Chekhov's short stories do. Excellent value, good translation, nice formatting and wonderful stories.
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Format: Paperback
Forty Stories is a collection of short stories by Dr. Anton Chekhov (1860-1904). The book was first published in 1963 and is translated by Robert Payne. Payne has a good introduction to the life and career of one of Russia and the world's greatest playwrights and short story author. Each of the tales in this collection is good! Some of the stories achieve greatness. A sampling of the best stories includes:
The Huntsman-The story of a peasant who has abandoned his lover. The hunter is arrogant; his lover is a poor peasant girl besotted with the hunter. The two meet in the hunting fields on a fine Russian day. Short but powerful lyrical prose!

The Bishop-The last few days in the life of a famous Bishop of the Russian Orthoxox Church. As the old man goes through his routine duties he travels back in memory to his childhood home; hears the voices of the dead who moulded his character and prepares for the final journey to eternity. A hauntingly poignant story.

Anna Round the Neck-A beautiful girl is married to a stuffy governmental official. He craves acclaim and she seeks love. A story that observes with clarity the routines. boredom and yearning of human beings.

The Bride-A young idealistic girl rejects marriage to a landowner. She travels to Moscow and refuses to live in her childhood village. A celebration of freedom and the human spirit!

The Lady and the Lapdog-One of the author's greatest stories. The theme is adultery and how a secret love affair is conducted over the course of several years.

Superb stories by a great master of the short story! Enjoy these wonderful stories dealing with all human emotions from tragedy to boredom! Enjoy!
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I've seen Chekhov plays in London, but never read his short stories. I enjoyed them, although some of them appear to just end in the middle as if he'd gotten up for a cup of tea and started a new story when he sat back down. I still liked them.
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I've been meaning to get to Chekhov for a while. All my smart writer friends love his stories. I brought it on vacation and spent the afternoon yesterday reading and laughing my way through half the book. My favorite is Death of a Government Clerk, in which a clerk sneezes on the head of a superior bureaucrat and agonizes himself to death over the incident. The clerk's obsessive thinking on his transgression was embarrassingly true to what sometimes goes on inside my own silly head.
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