Books by Anton Chekhov

Released: Aug. 14, 2008

"A splendidly lightweight collection whose satiric touch is so deft that it seems to be sending up a genre yet unborn."
Forty-two stories, many new to English-language readers, that reveal not only the range of the Russian master (1860-1904) but what crime stories were like before they became their own genre. Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 16, 2004

"A heartening confirmation of the matchless skill and humanity of one of the true masters."
A welcome gathering of the great storywriter's atypical longer works, newly translated by the industrious pair who have previously offered fresh versions of Tolstoy, Gogol, and Dostoevsky. Read full book review >
THE STORY OF A NOBODY by Anton Chekhov
Released: Feb. 15, 2003

In this affecting (1892-93) novella, which shares many of the structural and tonal qualities of its author's later plays, an aging and ailing terrorist (the story's narrator) finds employment as a servant in a household promising access to the enemy he plans to assassinate: the "famous statesman" who is his employer Orlov's elderly father. The narrator's plot never comes to fruition. Instead, his idealism is gradually eroded by his involvement with the egoistic Orlov, the latter's sycophantic and foolish friends, and particularly the weak Zinaida Fyodorovna, who leaves her husband, only to be betrayed and abandoned by her lover. A compact symphony of frustrated emotions, incompatibility and estrangement, destroyed dreams and bitter compromises: the very essence of Chekhov. Read full book review >
STORIES by Anton Chekhov
Released: Nov. 7, 2000

The acclaimed translating team who've provided lively new English versions of Dostoevsky's and Gogol's masterpieces now turn their attention to the best of all possible short-story writers. Pevear's characteristically incisive introduction emphasizes Chekhov's mastery of impressionism and realism (developed from his expressed commitment to "objectivity. . . truthful descriptions . . . [and] compassion"), en route to lucid, plainspoken translations of consensus masterpieces ("Vanka," "The Darling," "The Lady with the Little Dog") and such lesser-known gems like "The Fidget," "The Student," and—one of its author's most concentrated and limpid depictions of opposed "worlds" colliding—the marvelous "On Official Business." Probably the best one-volume Chekhov currently in print, and indispensable. Read full book review >
Released: Jan. 1, 2000

Vol. II: "On the Sea" and Other Stories, 1883—84 $23.95, 300 pp. ISBN: 1-894485-02-5 Jan. 2000 The first two volumes of an ambitious gathering (and new translation) of all the Russian master's early fiction—much of which appears here for the first time in English, having been deemed unworthy of preservation by Chekhov's previous translators. Editor Sirin's introduction pleads the case for resurrecting what are in many cases wan 'sketches" written for popular humor magazines, in the years when Chekhov (1860—1904) was starting his medical practice and assuming the burden of supporting his demanding family. Semifictional, possibly autobiographical vignettes ("Wedding American Style," "My Anniversary") and broad farces ("An Unhappy Visit") dominate the first volume's 32 inclusions. Nevertheless, several stand out: "He and She" skillfully lays bare the carefully managed hostility that binds a vain "European diva" to her smug husband; "For the Apples" offers an incisive satiric portrait of a malicious landowner, and "Two Scandals" efficiently delineates the vacillating relations of an inept soprano and the orchestra conductor who can neither tolerate nor forget her. Even the least substantial "stories" here uniformly display Chekhov's matchless gift for swiftly establishing setting, character, and often even conflict and theme in a few brief sentences. But this mastery is more muted in the second volume's 81 tales, many merely labored expansions of simple comic ideas gleaned, one infers, from both his professional and personal experiences and contemporary newspaper stories. Notable exceptions: "A Woman Without Prejudice," who charms and surprises the lover bearing a "terrible secret"; "The Swedish Match," a full-fledged detective story, and one of Chekhov's most unusual works; "A Mysterious Woman,— which partially anticipates the justly famous "The Lady with the Dog"; and the radiantly absurd and moving "Death of a Civil Servant"—the first of Chekhov's indisputable masterpieces. Sirin's third volume, promised for late 2000, will contain more of the better-known and more fully developed stories of Chekhov's tragically brief maturity. Still, even the juvenilia and ephemera of this writer constitute uniquely rewarding reading. Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 15, 1998

Early tales rescued from the periodicals where they appeared in the 1880s, when the pseudonymous "Antosha Chekhonte" became the sole support of his indigent family. Several are skimpy comic vignettes (e.g., "A Glossary of Terms for Young Ladies"). The better humorous tales ("On the Train," "At the Pharmacy," etc.) often closely resemble Chekhov's exuberant one-act plays, while such character-driven stories as "Intrigues" and "In Autumn" effectively adumbrate his later, greater studies of destroyed idealism and resignation. Translator Constantine's fine Introduction makes the best possible case for accepting even what are, at their weakest, mere ephemera into the glorious Chekhov canon. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 30, 1997

A moving and intimate epistolary record of the complex relationship between the great Russian playwright and the actress who eventually became his wife. Chekhov (18601904) already had an advanced case of tuberculosis when he met Knipper (18681959) in the fall of 1898. She was rehearsing the role of Arkadina in his revised version of The Seagull for the newly formed Moscow Art Theatre; the production's success—and her personal triumph in it—meant that she spent the theater season in Moscow while he, under doctor's orders, spent the long Russian winter in the warmer climate of Yalta. These separations, which continued after their marriage in 1901, made letters their primary form of communication for months at a time. The couple's very different personalities stand in sharp relief: Knipper's lively epistles, which feature evocative descriptions of the Russian landscape and some astute analysis of her lover's personality, reveal an affectionate, frank, impulsive woman who wrote what she thought and frequently expressed frustration with Chekhov's elusiveness. The playwright's missives are witty, charming, and infuriatingly oblique about his feelings, although his post-wedding correspondence is noticeably warmer. Benedetti (Stanislavski, 1988) has edited the letters to focus on the pair's personal relationship; frequent ellipses suggest that a good deal of information about Moscow Art Theatre rehearsals and internal politics has been omitted, possibly to avoid overlap with The Moscow Art Theatre Letters, which he also edited. Interesting though the couple's emotional ups and downs are, more material on their shared professional life—he wrote Masha in Three Sisters and Ranevskaya in The Cherry Orchard for her—would have made this even better. Nonetheless, this correspondence gives us wonderfully vivid self-portraits of two important Russian artists and a poignant chronicle of love struggling against the handicap of distance and the ravages of terminal illness. Read full book review >
KASHTANKA by Anton Chekhov
by Anton Chekhov, translated by Ronald Meyer, illustrated by Gennady Spirin
Released: Sept. 1, 1995

The heroine of Chekhov's short story is a dog who gets lost and is adopted by a clown. The clown gives her a new name and trains her, but during her first circus performance, Kashtanka hears her old name called, sees her former owner in the balcony, and runs back to her old life. Spirin (Snow White & Rose Red, 1992) exquisitely illustrates these scenes, and readers will easily spend as much time on the pictures as on the words. Highly imaginative compositions are vividly detailed down to the last wood shaving of a cabinetmaker's shop, and exhibit a kind of stylized realism. The position of every object and every posture matters, yet the illustrations are showy not at the expense of the story, but by echoing the text in all respects. They amplify and enlarge the tale: It's not a book, it's a performance. (Picture book. 8+) Read full book review >
KASHTANKA by Anton Chekhov
Released: Nov. 7, 1991

After the little dog Kashtanka is separated from her master, who spends the day wandering from customer to tavern to relative, she is taken in by a man who feeds her better than her master ever did and begins to train her: he's a clown whose act already includes a boar, a cat, and a goose. When the goose suddenly dies, Kashtanka is pressed into service—and is recognized and reclaimed by her original master and his son, who happen to be in the audience. The rather long, quiet story has been ``translated for young readers'' (does this mean adapted? We couldn't find the original, but the style seems less rich and colorful than in Chekhov's other stories); it is illustrated with Moser's usual gallery of skillfully wrought paintings, including several incisive portraits (the half-madeup clown could be Olivier), appealing glimpses of the dog, and some memorable compositions. Not essential, but good bookmaking. (Fiction/Picture book. 6-10) Read full book review >