on 23 October 2003
These are really timeless short stories, by a master of the genre. If you like Chekhov, then there are plenty of things here to interest you. If you only know the plays then all I can say is that this collection of stories is even better. The book has "The Kiss," "The Bishop," "Peasants," the trilogy "Man In A Case," "Gooseberries" and "Concerning Love," and also includes "A Case History," "The Russian Master," "In The Gully" and "Anna Round The Neck." My favorite has to be "The Bishop," which fully displays Chekhov's powers of description and his real insight into the way human beings really feel. Other stories look at the conditions in Russian society for the serfs and "The Russian Master" is a typical Chekhov story of love's shortcomings.
There's something about this book that has a fascinating character to it. Right from the cover, to the variety of stories, (even the font itself!?!) transports me to Russia whenever I open it up. I recommend this book, even if you own some of the stories already because it's just still good value. If you don't know Chekhov's stories, I'm sure will like them by reading this collection.
on 29 April 2006
This collection was written late in Chekhov's life, and include works that helped to cement his reputation of Russia's greatest naturalist storywriter. He already had a reputation as something of a renegade, falling foul of the censors with his less than positive portrayal of Russian people. The stories in this book exemplify his attitude towards Russia and its people, adopting a position of paternal disappointment with his fellow countrymen.
The ten stories are all fairly short, and are largely lacking in plot. They are psychological snapshots of the main characters, portraits of Russian stereotypes much in the tradition of Nineteenth Century Russian literature. The reading isn't always easy. Chekhov's views of peasants as drunks and criminals, or the trivial obsessions of the middle classes, are almost wholly negative, and the characters in his stories are often lost in their own pettiness. However, the portraits are so well observed, so believable, that the stories are compulsive reading. Chekhov has a fantastic eye for detail when it comes to human behaviour, and this collection is full of fascinating, detailed observations. 'The Kiss' is perhaps not for everyone, but it is an excellent collection of short stories nonetheless.