The Russians have always been a somewhat sober-sided people, albeit there is much color and life in their art and pageantry. No doubt under Communist rule they have less cause than ever to be lighthearted. Perhaps it is only that Zoshchenko's humor loses something in translation, but his scenes have an austere quality that even the tales from the European Jewish ghettos failed to match. Sidney Monas' introduction presumes that uninitiated American audiences will somehow be able to identify with Zoshchenko's characters, and find them amusing. All in all this is rather difficult, since sympathy and pity are the primary emotions he evokes. Zoshchenko is a studied and sensitive writer, and Americans may certainly get an idea of how well off we are by comparison to his subjects, but beyond that, all to be said is, ""thank goodness his themes are not universal"". The stories have been selected by Mare Slouim.