A quick review of ‘Anton Chekhov’s Short Stories’ (Norton Critical Editions) for Goodreads

August 8, 2013

Anton Chekhov's Short StoriesAnton Chekhov’s Short Stories by Anton Chekhov
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this book.

Chekhov compassionately renders prostitutes, impoverished peasants, and overworked youngsters. As he advised in one of his letters (available in this edition), he strives for an objective presentation of characters and their situations. But his intentions cannot be dodged: he wants you to have compassion on his characters. After any sensitive reading, the reader will have compassion.

His shortest stories offer a stern retort to those who would malign today’s “flash fiction.” The earliest story here is also one of the shortest: “The Chameleon,” which provides a sort of slapstick by way of dialogue. It’s only an early work by someone who would become a great artist — slapstick probably isn’t considered the goal of capital-a Art. Yet the story’s structure and quick, effective characterization show Chekhov knew the craft well enough to take it somewhere interesting, as he did.

The letters and the critical articles in the back are not oriented toward the usual lit-crit of Norton Critical Editions. Rather, they seem almost exclusively focused on the craft of writing. At least that’s how I took them.

I wish I could read Chekhov in Russian!

View all my reviews


2 Responses to “A quick review of ‘Anton Chekhov’s Short Stories’ (Norton Critical Editions) for Goodreads”

  1. bryanajoy Says:

    You really cut to the soul of Chekhov’s writing with this little review. Compassion is at the heart of his writing, isn’t it? A sort of grim, materialistic, almost horrible compassion, since it encompasses no concept of a fix or a healing.

    I wrote a piece on Chekhov and his compassionate rendering of humanity in June, which was Freshly Pressed by the wordpress editors. You might find it interesting: http://bryanajohnson.com/2013/06/30/imagination-as-love/

Leave a Reply (comments must be approved by the administrator before publication)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: