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The Portable Chekhov (Portable Library) Paperback – August 25, 1977


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Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

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

  • Series: Portable Library
  • Paperback: 640 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (August 25, 1977)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140150358
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140150353
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1.4 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #680,221 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on March 19, 2000
Format: Paperback
Three stars for Anton Checkhov? What could I be thinking. First of all, having read my fair share of Russian literature in translation, I've discovered what a difference a good translator can make. The question of "true to the material" is one I can not answer since I do not speak Russian. However, as far as good writing in English goes... this I can judge. Exceptional stories like "Daydreams", "The Kiss", and "Gusev" stand out with stellar content: "Daydreams" finds a man whose hopes for the future are constantly bashed by the two police he is with. "The Kiss" deals with a soldier who creates an entire fantasy affair with a woman based on a single accidental kiss. And "Gusev" follows the title character's slow descent from sickness into death on board a battleship. "The Kiss", the finest of the bunch, was translated by Constance Garnett, while Yarmolinsky translated almost all the others. Stories like "The Peasants" are bogged down in Yarmolinsky's stilted style. It is difficult to follow or care about characters doing every day things when the reading of these things is so difficult.
This edition also has certain letters collected toward the end. Any relationship between the letters and the rest of the volume is lost to me. There is no mention of any stories we've just read, or any theme amongst the letters themselves. Perhaps more letters to a specific person, or revolving around the writing of a story would have been more appropriate. As is, the tiny letters section is very cutable, offering such a small glimpse as to prove useless. Granted, Yarmolinsky had an almost impossible task. There can be no "portable" Checkhov.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Shalom Freedman HALL OF FAME on May 21, 2005
Format: Paperback
The outstanding review of Fr.Kurt Messick on this site is a very good introduction to the life of Chekhov, and to this particular collection of his writings.

In this review I would like to think a bit about why Chekhov is as I believe a great writer , and just what makes his writing , for me especially in the stories, so powerful.

First, I believe he has a tremendous feeling for human character. Each of his characters is both described in physical and moral terms. But Chekhov in describing his characters gives us a strong sense that he is in touch with real life, with its difficulties, sufferings , complications and impossibilities. He also gives such a strong sense of the special quality of Russian life and society , of its values of its saints and its sinners.

Some of the stories in this selection are heartbreaking, arouse in us a sense of wonder and compassion . The story ' Heartbreak' the story of a poor coach driver who has lost his son and wants to tell the story of this to someone. And who in the course of his work meets only selfishness, cruelty, indifference. And in the end finally pours out this story to his horse, because the horse at least stands still long enough to as it were listen.

My cliche summary cannot do justice to the power of the story. In another of the stories a seemingly minor character begins to speak about the lunch the court officials he is working with might have. In the course of it he presents the whole world of Russian food , and does this with such humor and such colorfulness as to give a real feeling of joy to the reader.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By FrKurt Messick HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on July 19, 2004
Format: Paperback
Like so many Russian writers, Anton Chekov was very prolific, with a literary output seemingly designed to match the vastness of the country of his origin. Chekov was indeed born the son of a serf, whose grandfather managed to the redeem the family into freedom; Chekov himself was largely a self-made man, valuing education if not the particular educators he was exposed to a child, and learned the aspects of the different levels of Russian society, as well as a good deal about foreign societies, most particularly the Greeks. Chekov's family moved to Moscow (so his father could avoid debtor's prison in his hometown), where Chekov became a medical student; once, to buy food for the family, he wrote a small piece for a local weekly paper. The rest, as one might say, is history. He did in fact finish medical school, but his life was set on a different path.
Chekov is perhaps best known for his short stories and his plays. He wrote literally hundreds of short stories. He was admired in St. Petersburg, the intellectual centre of the country, and won critical prizes and made a nice living from his writing. Chekov spent time in various pursuits that might seem rather strange -- traveling to the Siberian plains and to Sakhalin, to see the prison conditions; he headed a hospital, but found this interfered with his writing. He revered Tolstoy, but could not become an ardent disciple. Always in ill health, he traveled abroad to France, returning to Russia to live in the south, near Yalta, which he always considered no better than a warm Siberia. In all, Chekov lived a varied life, and was convinced that, within a year or so of his death, no one would be reading him any more. He died in 1904, at the age of 44. His writing career spanned some twenty-five years.
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