The Essential Tales of Chekhov

The Essential Tales of Chekhov

by Anton Chekhov

Paperback(Reprint)

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Overview

Of the two hundred stories that Anton Chekhov wrote, the twenty stories that appear in this extraordinary collection were personally chosen by Richard Ford—an accomplished storyteller in his own right. Included are the familiar masterpieces—"The Kiss," "The Darling," and "The Lady with the Dog"—as well as several brilliant lesser-known tales such as "A Blunder," "Hush!," and "Champagne." These stories, ordered from 1886 to 1899, are drawn from Chekhov's most fruitful years as a short-story writer. A truly balanced selection, they exhibit the qualities that make Chekhov one of the greatest fiction writers of all time: his gift for detail, dialogue, and humor; his emotional perception and compassion; and his understanding that life's most important moments are often the most overlooked.

"The reason we like Chekhov so much, now at our century's end," writes Ford in his perceptive introduction, "is because his stories from the last century's end feel so modern to us, are so much of our own time and mind." Exquisitely translated by the renowned Constance Garnett, these stories present a wonderful opportunity to introduce yourself—or become reaquainted with—an artist whose genius and influence only increase with every passing generation.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060956561
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 06/20/2000
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 368
Product dimensions: 6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x 0.92(d)

About the Author

Anton Chekhov was born in Taganrog, in southern Russia, and in his youth paid for his own education and supported his entire family by writing short, satirical sketches of Russian life. Though he eventually became a physician and once considered medicine his principal career, he continued to gain popularity and praise as a writer for various Russian newspapers, eventually authoring more literary work and ultimately his most well-known plays, including Ivanov, The Seagull, and Uncle Vanya. He died of tuberculosis in 1904, and is regarded as one of the best short story writers in history, influencing such authors as Ernest Hemingway, Vladimir Nabokov, and Raymond Carver.

Read an Excerpt

The Essential Tales of Chekhov


By Anton Pavlovich Chekhov

Ecco

Copyright © 1998 Anton Pavlovich Chekhov
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0880016078

A Blunder

Ilya Sergeitch Peplov and his wife Kleopatra Petrovna were standing at the door, listening greedily. On the other side in the little drawing-room a love scene was apparently taking place between two persons: their daughter Natashenka and a teacher of the district school, called Shchupkin.

"He's rising!" whispered Peplov, quivering with impatience and rubbing his hands. "Now, Kleopatra, mind; as soon as they begin talking of their feelings, take down the ikon from the wall and we'll go in and bless them .... We'll catch him.... A blessing with an ikon is sacred and binding .... He couldn't get out of it, if he brought it into court."

On the other side of the door this was the conversation:

"Don't go on like that!" said Shchupkin, striking a match against his checked trousers. "I never wrote you any letters!"

"I like that! As though I didn't know your writing!" giggled the girl with an affected shriek, continually peeping at herself in the glass. "I knew it at once! And what a queer man you are! You are a writing master, and you write like a spider! How can you teach writing if you write so badly yourself?"

"H'm! ... That means nothing. The great thing in writing lessons is not the hand one writes, but keeping the boys in order. You hit one on the head with a ruler, make another kneel down.... Besides, there's nothing in handwriting! Nekrassov was an author, but his handwriting's a disgrace, there's a specimen of it in his collected works."

"You are not Nekrassov..." (A sigh). "I should love to marry an author. He'd always be writing poems to me."

"I can write you a poem, too, if you like."

"What can you write about?"

"Love -- passion -- your eyes. You'll be crazy when you read it. It would draw a tear from a stone! And if I write you a real poem, will you let me kiss your hand?"

"That's nothing much! You can kiss it now if you like."

Shchupkin jumped up, and making sheepish eyes, bent over the fat little hand that smelt of egg soap.

"Take down the ikon," Peplov whispered in a fluster, pale with excitement, and buttoning his coat as he prodded his wife with his elbow. "Come along, now!"

And without a second's delay Peplov flung open the door.

"Children," he muttered, lifting up his arms and blinking tearfully, "the Lord bless you, my children. May you live -- be fruitful -- and multiply."

"And -- and I bless you, too," the mamma brought out, crying with happiness. "May you be happy, my dear ones! Oh, you are taking from me my only treasure!" she said to Shchupkin. "Love my girl, be good to her ..."

Shchupkin's mouth fell open with amazement and alarm. The parents' attack was so bold and unexpected that he could not utter a single word.

"I'm in for it! I'm spliced!" he thought, going limp with horror. "It's all over with you now, my boy! There's no escape!"

And he bowed his head submissively, as though to say, "Take me, I'm vanquished."

"Ble -- blessings on you," the papa went on, and he, too, shed tears. "Natashenka, my daughter, stand by his side. Kleopatra, give me the ikon."

But at this point the father suddenly left off weeping, and his face was contorted with anger.

"You ninny!" he said angrily to his wife. "You are an idiot! is that the ikon? "

"Ach, saints alive!"

What had happened? The writing master raised himself and saw that he was saved; in her flutter the mamma had snatched from the wall the portrait of Lazhetchnikov, the author, in mistake for the ikon. Old Peplov and his wife stood disconcerted in the middle of the room, holding the portrait aloft, not knowing what to do or what to say. The writing master took advantage of the general confusion and slipped away.
1886

Continues...


Excerpted from The Essential Tales of Chekhov by Anton Pavlovich Chekhov Copyright © 1998 by Anton Pavlovich Chekhov. Excerpted by permission.
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