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Stories of Anton Chekhov Paperback – October 31, 2000

4.4 out of 5 stars 74 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“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

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Russian

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Modern Library; 10.1.2000 edition (October 31, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553381008
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553381009
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (74 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #14,821 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Matthew Cheney on December 14, 2000
Format: Paperback
Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky have established themselves as the preeminent living translators of Russian into English. Their translations of Dostoyevsky and Gogol are simply unparalleled, and now they have finally gotten around to Chekhov.
It's not so bad that they've taken their time with Chekhov, for he has had numerous distinguished translators. Indeed, Constance Garnett is much-maligned (perhaps unfairly) for her many translations at the beginning of the 20th century of Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky, but even her detractors tend to agree that she did good work with Chekhov. (Indeed, until now the best all-around collection of Chekhov stories was The Chekhov Omnibus, edited by Donald Rayfield, who used the Garnett translations, though he did revise them.)
But now we have the best. It's not perfect, but if you can have only one collection of Chekhov stories, this is the one to have. The selection covers Chekhov's entire career, and includes such masterpieces as "Ward No. 6", "The Lady with the Little Dog", "Gusev", "The House with the Mezzanine", "In the Ravine", and many others (30 stories total).
It is a delight to read Chekhov in these translations, because the translators have stuck close to many of the idiosyncracies of Chekhov's style which most other translators ignore or smooth over. Chekhov's world -- a land of moping aristocrats and disenchanted peasants, of former serfs seeking dignity and everyday workers searching for the meaning of life, of lovers and painters and doctors and thieves -- is unique and haunting, and all of its dry absurdities and bleak terrains are rendered here with care and skill and sensitivity.
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Format: Paperback
These thirty stories provide not only a superb sampling of Chekhov's talent, but also - I'm assured - the finest translations available. I'm no expert, but I found the proof was in the reading: though they contain many of the same stories, this collection is vastly more enjoyable than "The Essential Tales of Chekhov" (translated by Constance Garnett and edited by Richard Ford). The translations by Pevear and Volokhonsky are somehow much fresher, lighter, subtler, but without losing any of the dark reality they depict. I ploughed through Ford's collection with difficulty, but the Pevear/Volokhonsky edition was a delight. Helpfully supplemented by end notes, dates of composition and a learned introduction, this edition clearly tracks the development and deviations of Chekhov's talent: short, satirical character studies and tragi-comic romances sit comfortably alongside stories which more seriously and sympathetically explore the nineteenth-century Russian way of life. The longer stories such as 'Ward No.6' and 'A Boring Story' are particularly impressive but, for me, it's in the later stories such as 'The Lady With the Little Dog', 'A Medical Case' and 'The Fiancée' that Chekhov really hits the mark. Like most of the grim offerings of Russian literature, Chekhov's stories aren't for everyone. They render a sobering portrait of pre-Revolutionary Russia: a world of oppressive poverty, cruel winters, loveless marriages, and a remarkable number of consumptive relatives lying on stoves. And those looking for gripping plots or surprise endings should look elsewhere. But those who appreciate delicate observations, 'slice-of-life' narratives, and the occasional epiphany, will find plenty to enjoy here.
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Format: Paperback
A number of readers on Amazon have written that this is the finest of all Chekhov collections in English. Perhaps that is so, but my thought about the various Chekhov collections is that each one of them contains real treasures and each one gives a sense of the essence of Chekhov.

So what I will do here is simply write a few of my thoughts on my recent reading of Chekhov in the hope that they may be of interest to a reader or two.

The Chekhov stories are among the best I have ever read. One element in this is I sense a certain love and respect the author has for his characters even when he may be mocking them. Another element is Chekhov's ability to teach us how to see the character from inside. Chekhov writes with sympathy and insight of the inner lives of others. His work is filled with dreams and longings and disappointments and many great loves. He seems to delight in portraying idiosyncratic characters with great affection. His stories are famous for not ` telling stories' but that is not I think the case. Often his stories do contain within them the narrative of what the person has lived.

As I do not know Russian I cannot fully appreciate the stories, or appreciate his special idiom.But they have a feeling of Russian lavishness, drunkenness, of Russian generosity. They also present the Russian world and Russian nature and have a kind of wild poetry in them .Chekhov sees people and things from inside and sympathetically and he gives the reader a sense of his affection for them. With Chekhov there is a sense of the controlling voice of the writer behind the story as a good person.

Chekhov also is very strong on the theme of reality encountering dream, and knocking it on the head.
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