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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; New Ed edition (30 May 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140447865
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140447866
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 2.3 x 20 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 352,527 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Anton Pavlovich Chekhov was born in 1860 in Taganrog, a
port in southern Russia. His father was a former serf. In 1879, after
receiving a classical education at the Taganrog Gymnasium, he
moved to Moscow to study medicine. During his university years he
helped support his family by writing stories and sketches for
humorous magazines. By 1888 he was contributing to Russia's most
prestigious literary journals and regarded as a major writer. He also
started writing plays: his first full-length play, Ivanov, was produced
in 1887. After undertaking a journey to visit the penal colony on the
Siberian island of Sakhalin in 1890, he settled on a country estate
outside Moscow, where he continued to write and practise medicine.
His failing health forced him to move to Yalta in 1898, where he
wrote his most famous short story, 'The Lady with the Little Dog'
(1899), and two of his best-known plays: Three Sisters (1901) and
The Cherry Orchard (1904), written with Stanislavsky's Moscow Art
Theatre in mind. In 1901 he married the company's leading actress,
Olga Knipper. He died from tuberculosis in Badenweiler, Germany,
in July 1904 at the age of 44.

Product Description

About the Author

Anton Chekhov (1860-1904) was a Russian physician and writer of short stories and plays, including the masterpieces: 'Uncle Vanya', 'The Seagull', and 'The Cherry Orchard'.

Ronald Wilks has translated many Russian works including, for Penguin, those of Gorky, Sologub, Tolstoy, Pushkin, and Chekhov. J. Douglas Clayton is Professor of Russian at the University of Ottawa. He is the author of 'Pierrot in Petrograd' about the Commedia dell'arte and the Russian tradition.


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By John T C on 14 Jan. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
This is one of the most enjoyable books I ever read. The odd characters made it all the more funny. Being a recent peruser of Russian books and having developed an interest in them, I am up and ready for more Russian stories. The stories are deep, witty and humorous in a classic way. It comes after The Usurper and Other Stories as my second collection read this year. The stories are fine and hilarious and Chekhov's books to good to read.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 8 reviews
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Excellent 29 Sept. 2008
By Cosmoetica - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I'd long heard that Russian writer Anton Chekhov had written short stories, but like most people it was on the strength of his plays, those intense little mood pieces, that I knew him best. Granted, I thought the plays uniformly strong, and considered him of a stature near that of a Tennessee Williams or George Bernard Shaw. So revered for decades, was Chekhov, for his dramatic works, that he even had an apothegm called Chekhov's Gun named after him. It stated that if in the First Act that there is a gun presented, by Third Act it must be shot, lest its import as symbolism, and effect as a dramatic tool be nil and unjustifiable. Yet, as I've gotten more into reading short stories I discovered that far more people admired his short stories than his plays, or, at least, to a greater degree. Having now read a full collection of twenty-three of his tales, in a Barnes & Noble Classics Edition titled Ward No. 6 And Other Stories, translated by Constance Garnett, I have to say I'm inclined to agree with those who declaim him a superior short fictionist to dramatist. What I do not agree with, though, are those critics who would place him in a direct line from the French Guy de Maupassant, and a confrere of the American O. Henry. The reason is that even in the earliest tales- and they span a range from 1885's The Cook's Wedding to 1902's The Bishop- Chekhov's tales are imbued with an intellectual probing wholly absent from Maupassant or O. Henry. He goes off into soliloquies, rivaling and surpassing the best of Shakespeare, that are far deeper than anything the plot-driven Frenchman or American achieved. Whereas their tales are one dimensional and dependent upon twists at the end, Chekhov's tales are almost devoid of `boom' endings. They just sort of go on in the mind, dependent upon mood and the situations described. The characters' outer actions are almost always mirrors of their inner states of being. That this was achieved in the mid-1880s is truly an accomplishment of great note, for he was, to beg the cliché, truly far ahead of his time.

Yet, he is not a sullen realist. Some critics have disparaged his bleak view of life, but this is not so. Yes, Russian 19th century peasantry was hard, but such is only the milieu in which the tales play out. Many tales are small triumphs of the volitional spirit against the larger burdens of life. And, as the tales in the collection progressed mathematically their psychological complexity seemed to increase geometrically. Having recently read collections of short fiction by modern American writers like TC Boyle, David Foster Wallace, and Rick Moody, I can say unequivocally that Chekhov is not only much better a writer- to the point that I would argue he is practicing a wholly different art form from these poseurs, but his art is far more modern and gripping, as well as, at times, far more funny. Compared to a TC Boyle, Chekhov's humor flows naturally out of the tales and the reader laughs along with the experience, however humiliated the character feels. In a tale by a `humorist' like Boyle a character is set up for ridicule by being shown as a fool with no redeeming qualities, yet it never verges into pure satire for Boyle has never learned that satire and parody work best once you've created a full-bodied character. Then, the humor resonates within and without. Chekhov's characters cause gutbusters that rumble the diaphragm. Boyle's characters result in an, `Oh, wait, he was trying to be comic here. Oh, yeah....I get it. Really, I do.' Boyle and his ilk self-consciously preen their supposed superiority above characters they largely revile, while Chekhov puts a reader `in the moment' with someone they have come to either care or be intrigued with. The best example is probably the uproarious tale The Dependents, in which a sad and sadistic old man basically disowns his dog and horse. He sells both off to be slaughtered after they refuse to leave him after banishment. After their deaths, the old man, either in stupor or grief, offers himself up for slaughter, too. The end image after it's plain he was not slaughtered, is poignant, yet also humorous. TC Boyle, in a dozen lifetimes, could never write a tale like this. The difference in quality and personal maturity is very telling....He is still vibrant and relevant. By contrast, I recently read a David Foster Wallace book of short stories that, a mere decade and a half after their appearance, are as dated as a John Dryden courtly poem. This is because Chekhov possesses an immediacy in his description that rips a reader back into his world, and lets you not focus away to bring in many assumptions or presumptions of the world outside the story, nor what comes after it, in the narrative line, nor the real world. The Russian Masters- Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Turgenev- are often criticized, rightly, for their lack of subtlety, and hammering home points too often, too long, and too stridently. In a sense their art is akin to the Big Box retail stores of today: Wal-Mart, Home Depot, K-Mart. If so, then Chekhov is a fleet newcomer- someone with innovations the others lack, while having all their introspection, yet none of their literary bloat. He is concise, with no pointless nor wasteful digressions. And this is what makes him- even just taking his prose fiction alone- the greatest of the 19th Century Russian Literary Masters. The essential dilemma he presents is a cosmos of its own demarcation, seemingly banal, but highly intimate, for Chekhov rarely imposes more than the basics, and allows imbuement to flower again and again in the minds of every individual reader. This philosophy is best summed up in a quote that reflects Chekhov's approach to art, life, and meaning: `Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.' In such moonshine are masterworks reflected.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Beautifully crafted 8 Mar. 2004
By Eric Reynolds - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
With great skill Chekhov describes grotesque and pathetic characters, and uses them to formulate subtle yet powerful satires of the less noble aspects of human nature such as egocentrism and sophistry. Good translation with a decent (but short and therefore superficial) introduction.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
The Beginning of Chekhov, Not the End 14 April 2010
By James C. Lindsay - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The real challenge with any anthology of Anton Chekhov's short stories is, what do you leave out? Chekhov lived only 44 years yet his literary output was extraordinary. This volume includes many of Chekhov's great stories including "The Student", the fabulous "Black Monk" and the probing title piece "Ward No. 6" where his own medical expertise is brought to bear on the story. It is a great introduction to the work of Chekhov and is certainly a beginning, not an end. Hopefully, it will inspire the reader to read more and get the full value of this vital artist.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Addictive 26 Mar. 2011
By Sargon - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
What criteria is there for five stars? Is it writing that holds you captive after only a few paragraphs? A few sentences? Is it wanting to know who is this writer? How can he write so wonderfully? These short stories are a time machine to a by-gone, horse-drawn era when riding on a train was a big deal. People moved slower but were no less thoughtful.

Ward 6, a story about a hospital and its patients--think One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest--it's a tragic tale that might have been more fact than fiction.

Gooseberries--a man whose eccentric dream was a homestead with gooseberries in the garden.

The Kiss--a soldier is haunted by a woman's anonymous kiss. He wants to find her so badly. This story really grabbed me because it's a metaphor for all our lost loves that we wish we had a second chance at. That's my take on it.

The Lady With The Dog--a romantic tale with lots of passion. This one will get your heart beating.

Whatever story you read you should find the writing exceptional. The detail, the mood, the scene. It raises the bar, without intending to, for what great writing should be.
One of the greatest of all storytellers 31 Oct. 2005
By Shalom Freedman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Chekhov is one of the greatest of all storytellers. His love of his characters and his love of life pervade his writing. In two of the stories here a major theme is illness. This is a subject Chekhov not only as a physician but as someone long ill with tuberculosis understood extremely well.

In the title story of the collection, one of the main characters Gromov has a persecution mania and is incarcerated in a horrific asylum, where Doctor Ragin becomes interested in his case." Their relationship attracts attention and the doctor is tricked into becoming a patient in his own ward. He dies after being beaten by a charge hand."(Spark Notes)

Human devastation and disaster, unremitting tragedy is a strong part of Chekhov's universe also.

In his writing he presents an immense variety of character and situation, and a primarily sympathetic approach to most people. And this when there are strong elements of cruelty in the stories.

For the reader the Chekhov story as I understand it has a kind of magical strength. It gives a sense of being firmly rooted in Reality while that Reality itself can often have the most surprising and lyrical nature.
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