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Author: Chekhov Anton

Genre: Short Story

Year: 1899


This collection of thirty stories by the Russian dramatist and short story master is a fine career sample, beginning with early sketches and including major stories often anthologized such as “Ward No. 6” and “The Lady with the Little Dog.” His subjects are doctors, peasants, petty officials, ferrymen, monks, nannies, soldiers, patients, artists, society folks. His topics are as broad—fidelity, integrity, meaning, duty, survival, faith, class. There are stories about a medical student and an artist whose servant is almost beneath notice but is the story’s subject; an illiterate shopkeeper whose daughter is an actress but who some believe to be a harlot so he innocently asks that the harlot be remembered in the congregation’s prayers, a woman who marries a doctor but squanders her life searching for a celebrity among her artist friends who might be a hero, a coffin maker and musician who is a tragic bully but lives to bestow a gift on a victim of his bullying; and stories about a factory heir who is ill and might never survive to inherit her factory, an unhappy conformist who leverages local authority to enforce social norms that no one else believes in, a pair of lovers who court despite the displeasure of the woman’s older sibling. They are stories about complicated human beings in a range of circumstances that illuminate life’s dilemmas and humankind’s capacities and limitations. They are artful, disciplined stories with little that appears false or contrived. Reading this selection, it is easy to see why modern short story writers view him not just as an influence, but a continuing resource for pleasure, insight, and the study of the craft of storytelling

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