Monday, July 21, 2008

Stories by Anton Chekhov

I loved reading Chekhov's stories. I read a volume of them, translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, as well as "The Kiss," which was recommended and unfortunately wasn't included in the volume translated by Pevear and Volokhonsky.

My favorite stories tended to be the shorter ones that focused on one character or one couple. They each had a sad, poignant ending, and yet I loved the beauty in them. Chekhov didn't try to say too much in each story, and I finished each one with a sigh, wanting to let my emotions simmer before I went on to the next story. Many of them reminded me that life is challenging and full of depressing things, and yet we all still go on day by day. Explaining Chekhov in those words makes his stories sound depressing, and they were in a sense, but overall, they were beautiful at the same time.

My favorites were these:

  • "The Student." I discussed in my last post how and why the student's transformation from sadness to joy touched me.

  • "The Kiss." A shy and unpopular army officer receives an unexpected kiss from an unknown woman; his life is transformed by the experience in two ways.

  • "Peasant Women." The story of a peasant woman inspires other peasant women who feel trapped in their lives.

  • "The Fidget." A flighty woman marries a renowned doctor and realizes too late that her lifestyle is unfulfilling: her husband's love could have brought her true happiness.

  • "Anna on the Neck." When her impoverished father marries Anna to a rich man, her family believes their financial trials are over; Anna finds her place in her new life.

  • "The Lady with the Little Dog." While on holiday, a man instigates an affair; at the end of the holiday, he and she agree to return to their spouses without further contact, but neither can forget the other.
What grabs your attention in Chekhov? Do you have a favorite story I may have missed?

Originally published in slightly different form on Rebecca Reads.

1 comment:

Bobbi said...

Nice review! I have never read anything by Anton Chekhov - I'll have to check him out. I ususally keep short story books in my car for times I have to wait on my daughter, so this might be a good one. Thanks!