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Short Stories by Anton Chekhov: Bk. 1: A Tragic Actor and Other Stories Audio CD – Audiobook, 30 Nov 2009


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Review

These six unabridged stories in the faithful Constance Garnett translation are presented with fine flourish by the Russian-born narrator. The poignant, everyday dramas of Imperial Russia are here, from jolting carriages across boundless taiga, to a tragic actor and a French tutor insulted by his boastful employer.

Rachel Redford, The Observer (UK)

Listening to Chekhov short stories told in a Russian accented voice. What a pleasant way to spend an hour. Anton Chekhov does so well at condensing time and space into just a few words. Most writers of his time, and of today, would need a novel to tell what he can put into not very many pages. I'm not usually an audio book user, but did enjoy this one. The subtle sound effects and the Russian-sounding narrator added to the listening.

Michael Schwager (Southern Idaho, USA)

I really do enjoy Chekhov, and it was very pleasant to walk to and from work listening to these stories. I thought the narrator did a decent job turning the prose into something enjoyable to the ear, and Chekhov, as always, writes great stuff.

Jennie Blake --Michael Schwager (Southern Idaho, USA) anton-chekhov.com

I really do enjoy Chekhov, and it was very pleasant to walk to and from work listening to these stories. I thought the narrator did a decent job turning the prose into something enjoyable to the ear, and Chekhov, as always, writes great stuff. --Jennie Blake (Manchester, UK) anton-chekhov.com

Listening to Chekhov short stories told in a Russian accented voice. What a pleasant way to spend an hour. Anton Chekhov does so well at condensing time and space into just a few words. Most writers of his time, and of today, would need a novel to tell what he can put into not very many pages. I'm not usually an audio book user, but did enjoy this one. The subtle sound effects and the Russian-sounding narrator added to the listening. --Michael Schwager (Southern Idaho, USA) anton-chekhov.com

About the Author


About The Author

Anton Pavlovich Chekhov 1860 1904 was a Russian short story writer, playwright and physician, considered to be one of the greatest short story writers in the history of world literature. His career as a dramatist produced all-time classics The Seagull, Uncle Vanya, Three Sisters and Cherry Orchard. His short stories are held in high esteem by writers, critics and audiences of all generations. Chekhov practised as a doctor throughout most of his literary career: "Medicine is my lawful wife," he once said, "and literature is my mistress."

Chekhov had at first written stories only for the money, but as his artistic ambition grew, he made formal innovations which have influenced the evolution of the modern short story. His originality consists in an early use of the stream of consciousness technique, later adopted by other modernists, combined with a disavowal of the moral finality of traditional story structure.

What the Critics Say About Anton Chekhov

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. Richard Ford

Anton Chekhov's late stories mark a pivotal moment in European fiction the point where nineteenth-century realist conventions of the short story begin their transformation into the modern form. His psychological insight was profound and dynamic. Joyce may have more exactly captured the texture of human consciousness, but no short story writer has better expressed its often invisible complexities. Dana Gioia

Chekhov raised the portrayal of banality to the level of world literature. He developed the short story as a form of literary art to one of its highest peaks, and the translation of his stories into English has constituted one of the greatest single literary influences at work in the short story of America, England, and Ireland. This influence has been one of the factors encouraging the short-story writers of these nations to revolt against the conventional plot story and seek in simple and realistic terms to make of the story a form that more seriously reflects life. James T Farrell

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Amazon.com: 3 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Short Stories from Chekhov 3 Feb 2010
By Kathy W - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
64 minutes of translated short stories of Russian writer, playwrite, and physician Anton Chekhov. Living from 1860 - 1904, Chekhov was considered one of the greatest short story writers in the history of world literature. Russian-born, British actor, writer, and producer, Max Bollinger, narrates these stories for you in his 2009 release. I am pleased to report that there is no bad language, excessive violence or explicit sexual material. The 6 stories are:

1. A Tragic Actor - Marsha, daughter of a police captain, thoroughly enjoyed the company of actors and begs her father to invite them to dinner. Marsha becomes mesmerized with the actors, especially one of them. (9:27)

2. In a Strange Land - A French tutor has an indefinite job with a Russian. The Russian is insulting to the Frenchman, who is quick to point out the shortcomings of the French, to the point where the Frenchman becomes insulted and prepares to leave. (10:20)

3. Oh! The Public - An invalid passenger on a train is unwilling to produce his ticket. (9:05)

4. The Looking Glass - Nellie, daughter of a landowner, sits looking in the mirror and dreaming of being married when she meets the object of her dreams. When her husband becomes ill, she demands the local doctor drop everything and come right away. (10:44)

5. Her Husband - Natalia, an opera singer, lies in bed thinking of her little girl, when her husband comes in and disrupts her peace. (14:11)

6. Overdoing It - A land surveyor is looking for transportation to travel to an estate that he is to survey. (10:40)

Max Bollinger, affluent in both Russian and English, does an excellent job in his narration of these wonderfully quaint stories, changing voices to display the multi-levels of characterization with much emotion. Narrated stories are especially enjoyable to listen to when driving in the car. I am looking forward to Volume II.

An added feature, the inside cover of the CD case (left side) features a print of part of Chekhov's hand written essay "Kyrgizi" from school in Taganrog in 1876. The right side of the inside case, is writing from one of Chekhov's notebooks from his play "Cherry Orchard".
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Anton Chekhov Short Stories Revitalized! 12 Dec 2009
By Grady Harp - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Much of the grace and beauty of Chekhov's writing is best known through his plays that still are on stages almost every day of the year, somewhere in this country. He was a master at creating characters, telling stories with the most minimal of incidents magnified by pictorial dialogue that come close to making a stage set unnecessary. Although many appreciate the fact that he also was one of the finest short story writers in history, there will most assuredly be an increase in his popularity in this region once the audience has the opportunity to listen to this superb audio CD produced and read by Max Bollinger, a very sensitive British actor of Russian descent. In this first installment of what hopefully will continue to traverse all of Chekhov's short stories, Bollinger reads six brief, highly entertaining and exciting tales: A TRAGIC ACTOR, IN A STRANGE LAND, OH! THE PUBLIC, THE LOOKING GLASS, HER HUSBAND, and OVERDOING IT.

Not only is Bollinger's able to take on the moods of the various characters in these stories with subtle nuances of vocal inflection, but he also has the ability to radiate the poetry of the descriptive narrative with a voice that is at once British in eloquence of delivery and at the same time flavored with his native Russian tongue that adds immeasurably to the credibility of Chekhov's technique of writing. Bollinger adds atmospheric sounds - trains moving, nature sounds, etc - in just the right amount to enhance his reading without making the stories sound like old radio shows!

For those who already love Chekhov's stories, this CD will delight and demand repeated hearings. And for those unfamiliar with the genius of Anton Chekhov in short story form, welcome to a new world that is close to addictive. Excellent addition to the library and as gifts to friends in love with literature. Grady Harp, December 09
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Chekhov Audiobook Marred by Translation, Production and Reading 7 April 2010
By Christopher Walborn - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Anton Chekhov was a master of the short story. However, he gets poor treatment by the Interwar Period translations of Constance Garnett. I first came to dislike Garnett's Russian translations while discovering the writings of Fyodor Dostoevsky. The great Russian writers all have very distinctive writing styles and Constance Garnett succeeded in making them sound like Victorian era British novelists. She is known for her very fast, "smoothed over" style of translation in which difficulties in the original are simply dropped from the work. This is simply not the way to get the flavor of the great Russian writers. I can only surmise that the decision to go with the Garnett translation of these stories rested upon the economics of public domain versus newer, licensed translations.

My preference would be for one of the modern translations, and in particular the Pevear/Volokhonsky translations are wonderful. They are quite literal and maintain a strong sense of the "Russianness" of the works. They don't Westernize, they don't turn Russians into Latins, they don't turn a perhaps unfamiliar "liturgy" into a familiar "mass". Instead, they provide ample endnotes to ellucidate the aspects of Russian culture and history which are likely to be opaque to the Western reader.

With a poor translation as the foundation for this audio book, I still held out hope for a powerful reading. Unfortunately, the problems were only compounded by poor production choices made by reader/producer Max Bollinger.

As others have noted, the sound effects are disruptive and unnecessary. They fail to add ambience or a sense of place--in the first track applause continues so long as to become a sort of static or perhaps the sound of waves breaking constantly against some monotonous shoreline. This disruptive aesthetic continues throughout the disc. The reading, itself, also fails to achieve its potential, feeling uninspired and flat--or in the case of the voiced characters, comical and irritating. Given the mediocre reading, the last hope is for a voice that is at least not objectionable, but here again, Bollinger's English-Russian accent is somewhat peculiar and at times is simply difficult to comprehend. None of this makes for a pleasant, let alone meaningful reading of the book.

Anton Chekhov deserves reading. He deserves listening, too, but not by means of this disc.

[Originally written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.]
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