- Paperback: 496 pages
- Publisher: Modern Library; 10.1.2000 edition (October 31, 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780553381009
- ISBN-13: 978-0553381009
- ASIN: 0553381008
- Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1.1 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 81 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #51,096 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Stories of Anton Chekhov Paperback – October 31, 2000
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“Theirs is an adagio reading, distinctive and fresh, that returns to us a work we thought we knew, subtly altered and so made new again.”—The Washington Post Book World, on Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky’s translation of The Brothers Karamazov
Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Russian
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Selected Stories of Anton Chekhov translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky will keep readers on their toes, as some situations can be a bit odd. However, the concepts of lost love, jobs that are unsatisfying, and husbands who become strangers to their wives are issues that persist even today.
The stories themselves richly describe the lives of ordinary Russians in the late 1800’s. They are portraits and mini-plots plucked out of space and time that resonate with age-old human problems. They grip you with the narrative of real people as they experience life, often in the stream of consciousness style. He peers into the minds of people that lived 120 years ago. His characterization is so vital, one almost feels these personalities sitting alive in the room. It is these snapshots into the thought life, the manner of speaking of people long ago, that pulls you in. The translation is very good. I found the language simple, direct and engaging.
Be aware however that some of the tales initially come across as meaningless and pointless. They go nowhere, are instantly forgettable. I would say a full half of the stories are dull in this way: there is even one titled “A boring story”.
Chekhov’s writing often seems to be a long and constant wrestle with Christianity. Almost every story vibrates with religious echoes. His apparent questioning and criticism of the church is typical the late 19th century European literature. Stalin used to enjoy reading Chekhov, and his writings were used to help justify communism and the persecution of the church. One should be reminded that millions of Christians were dispossessed and killed under Communism as “undesirables”. Academics have argued however that it is unclear which side of the fence he was on. Certainly at times it is hard to pin down whether he is attacking orthodoxy or merely turning it over in his mind, but there are moments when the author subtly yet unmistakably upholds the authority of the bible as regards the nature of life and eternity.
For some reason, Amazon has misleadingly grouped a different digital edition of this text with the Modern Library (Pevear/Volokhonsky) edition. The Modern Library edition's front page has a Kindle link to an entirely different digital edition (the one costing $2.99), bearing no imprint or listed translators. If you want to buy the actual Modern Library text as an ebook, you have to click the link to view all formats and editions near the top, and then expand the Kindle listings to find the Modern Library ebook, with a price of $9.99.
I don't know whether the $2.99 edition is any good or not, but Pevear and Volokhonsky are reputed to be the standard-setters for all modern translations of Russian literature. Don't let the organization of the product page trick you into buying something inferior. Linking to this other obscure edition from the Modern Library edition's product page is dishonest and, especially with the much lower presented price, appears to be a trap for unwary or unsavvy customers.
Also worth a mention is that the translators for this book are superb. I believe they have captured Chekhov with uncanny accuracy.