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The Essential Tales of Chekhov Paperback – June 20, 2000

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Anton Chekhov is best known as a playwright, the author of such classics as Uncle Vanya, The Cherry Orchard, and Three Sisters, but he was also an accomplished short-story writer. The Essential Tales of Chekhov does not pretend to be a comprehensive collection of all his fiction, but it does lay claim to be the best. Reading these stories, one immediately notices how modern they feel. As Richard Ford writes in his introduction, "His meticulous anatomies of complicated human impulse and response, his view of what's funny and poignant, his clear-eyed observance of life as lived--all somehow matches our experience." Chekhov is a master of the telling detail, the acute psychological insight. In "After the Theatre" he captures perfectly the morbid, romantic imagination of a 16-year-old girl: "To be unloved and unhappy--how interesting that was." In "An Anonymous Story" he quickly limns the sum of one of his characters in a single image: "He was a man with the manners of a lizard. He did not walk, but, as it were, crept along with tiny steps, squirming and sniggering, and when he laughed he showed his teeth." We will see much more of this character, but we've already learned everything essential about him.

No two Chekhov stories are alike, but they do share some common traits: though often somber, they are seldom despairing and even his most serious work is leavened by his trademark wit. Only 20 of the more than 220 tales that he wrote are included in this collection, but they provide an excellent introduction to those who have not yet had the pleasure of reading him. And for those who know and love Chekhov, The Essential Tales of Chekhov is a loving reminder of why. --Alix Wilber --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Chekhov has influenced generations of fiction writers, including Ford, the editor of this splendid new collection. In his excellent introduction, Ford explores those aspects of Chekhov's writing that have contributed to the author's stature: his economic mastery in opening and closing stories, his ability to elevate everyday life through the perceptive beauty of his language, and his skillful portrayal of the moral dilemmas everyone must face. Chekhov wrote more than 200 stories; the 20 gathered here include some that have been routinely included in other anthologies, such as the melancholy tale of adultery "The Lady with the Dog," and lesser-known gems such as "The Blunder," a humorous account of overly eager parents who botch a scheme to ensnare their daughter's unsuspecting suitor. Ford's subjective criteria have resulted in a wide-ranging taste of Chekhov's genius. Highly recommended for both public and academic libraries.?Sister M. Anna Falbo, Villa Maria Coll. Lib., Buffalo, NY
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (June 20, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060956569
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060956561
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #363,200 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Susan E. Neill on July 25, 2002
Format: Paperback
with Chekhov. Whatever volume (happily, there are lots in print), whatever translation you start with, you'll want to keep reading and keep discovering. But, Chekhov may require some getting used to. His stories are melancholy, funny, laconic, ironic. Not many of his characters could be called heroic. His plots do not end neatly. He asks many questions but doesn't answer them. My personal favorites in this volume: An Anonymous Story, Ward 6, The Grasshopper, The Lady with the Dog.
For a great critical essay on Chekhov, read Nabakov's in his Lectures on Russian Literature.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jimena on May 22, 2001
Format: Paperback
I have just finished reading these stories and what I can say is that they are really exceptional. One fells in love with the characters, even with the most disgusting ones, since the author finds a light deep inside each human being he creates through the words, whether a miserable "mushik" or a refined "barin".
Feelings somewhat opossed like desperation, compassion, anguish and beatitude arise every now and then along the pages, leading the reader through a vast gallery of situations and characters.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Shalom Freedman HALL OF FAME on May 24, 2005
Format: Hardcover
A quibble with the title of the volume. Why ' the essential Chekhov'? as if the great bulk of the Chekhov stories not contained in this volume were somehow 'less essential?'
One cannot help but agreeing with the overwhelming majority of readers and reviewers of Chekhov who find him one of the great masters and delights of Literature. His stories are celebrations of insight into the human soul and character, in all its great quirkiness. Here stories too are guides to understanding life's ironies and disappointments. Chekhov's work is filled with dreamers, and filled with obsessed characters whose ideas take them on lonely paths of their own . What makes Chekhov so special in my mind aside from this constant play and contradiction between reality and dream, is the love which he seems to have for his characters. The soul of the human being Chekhov is felt in these stories, almost as if he were a caring country physician seeking to understand and find a remedy for the strange illnesses of his beloved patients.Chekhov knows what romantic love is and of course one of his signature stories ( included here) "The Lady and the Dog" gives us a truly moving instance of it. Life and the heart lead us to where we do not necessarily want to go. The aging lecher despite himself finds himselfr impossibly in love with the Bovary-like heroine and upon their reunion in impossible love and life the story ends.
In Chekhov stories too as in life things end in the middle without resolution and with only the promise of disappointment and heartbreak to come.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sargon on March 29, 2011
Format: Paperback
Reading Chekhov you learn what it is to be Russian. Like their samovars, and the muzhiks(Russian peasants). It's all very interesting. I never knew they were as devout in their Christian faith as they appear to be in his stories. Of course, it predates Communism which banned churches(Stalin almost had St. Basil's Cathedral leveled). Chekhov takes you back in time when horses, trains, and ships were the main mode of transportation. The Lady With The Dog was my favorite.
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