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Fifty-Two Stories
Cover of Fifty-Two Stories
Fifty-Two Stories
1883-1898
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From the celebrated, award-winning translators of Anna Karenina and The Brothers Karamazov: a lavish volume of stories by one of the most influential short fiction writers of all time
 
Anton Chekhov left an indelible impact on every literary form in which he wrote, but none more so than short fiction. Now, renowned translators Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky give us their renderings of fifty-two Chekhov stories. These stories, which span the complete arc of his career, reveal the extraordinary variety and unexpectedness of his work, from the farcically comic to the darkly complex, showing that there is no one single type of “Chekhov story.” They are populated by a remarkable range of characters who come from all parts of Russia and all walks of life, including landowners, peasants, soldiers, farmers, teachers, students, hunters, shepherds, mistresses, wives, and children. Taken together, they demonstrate how Chekhov democratized the form.
 
Included in this volume are tales translated into English for the first time, including “Reading” and “An Educated Blockhead.” Early stories such as “Joy,” “Anguish,” and “A Little Joke” sit alongside such later works as “The Siren,” “Big Volodya and Little Volodya,” “In the Cart,” and “About Love.” In its range, in its narrative artistry, and in its perceptive probing of the human condition, this collection promises profound delight.
From the celebrated, award-winning translators of Anna Karenina and The Brothers Karamazov: a lavish volume of stories by one of the most influential short fiction writers of all time
 
Anton Chekhov left an indelible impact on every literary form in which he wrote, but none more so than short fiction. Now, renowned translators Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky give us their renderings of fifty-two Chekhov stories. These stories, which span the complete arc of his career, reveal the extraordinary variety and unexpectedness of his work, from the farcically comic to the darkly complex, showing that there is no one single type of “Chekhov story.” They are populated by a remarkable range of characters who come from all parts of Russia and all walks of life, including landowners, peasants, soldiers, farmers, teachers, students, hunters, shepherds, mistresses, wives, and children. Taken together, they demonstrate how Chekhov democratized the form.
 
Included in this volume are tales translated into English for the first time, including “Reading” and “An Educated Blockhead.” Early stories such as “Joy,” “Anguish,” and “A Little Joke” sit alongside such later works as “The Siren,” “Big Volodya and Little Volodya,” “In the Cart,” and “About Love.” In its range, in its narrative artistry, and in its perceptive probing of the human condition, this collection promises profound delight.
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  • From the cover Romance with a Double Bass


    The musician bowsky was walking from town to the dacha of Prince Bibulov, where on the occasion of a wedding engagement an evening of music and dance was “to be held.” On his back rested an enormous double bass in a leather case. Bowsky walked beside the river, which rolled its cool waters along, if not majestically, at least quite poetically.

    “Why not go for a swim?” he thought.

    Without further thinking, he undressed and immersed his body in the cool stream. The evening was magnificent. Bowsky’s poetic soul began to tune in with the harmony of his surroundings. But what a sweet feeling came over his soul when, having swum some hundred yards, he saw a beautiful girl sitting on the steep bank and fishing. He held his breath and stopped under an influx of heterogeneous feelings: memories of childhood, pining for the past, awakened love . . . God, and here he thought he was no longer capable of love! After losing faith in humankind (his ardently loved wife had run off with his friend, the bassoon Muttkin), his breast had been filled with a sense of emptiness, and he had turned into a misanthrope.

    “What is life?” he had asked himself more than once. “What do we live for? Life is a myth, a dream . . . ventriloquism . . .”

    But, standing before this sleeping beauty (it was not hard to notice she was asleep), suddenly, against his will, he felt in his breast something resembling love. He stood before her for a long time, devouring her with his eyes . . .

    “But enough . . . ,” he thought, letting out a deep sigh. “Farewell, wondrous vision! It’s time I went to His Excellency’s ball . . .”

    And glancing once more at the beauty, he was just about to swim back when an idea flashed in his mind.

    “I must leave her something to remember me by!” he thought. “I’ll attach something to her line. It will be a surprise from ‘the unknown one.’ ”

    Bowsky quietly swam to the bank, picked a big bouquet of field and water flowers, and, binding it with a stalk of goosefoot, attached it to the line.

    The bouquet sank to the bottom and dragged the pretty float down with it.

    Discretion, the laws of nature, and our hero’s social situation demand that the romance should end at this point, but—alas!—the author’s fate is implacable: owing to circumstances beyond his control, the romance did not end with the bouquet. Counter to common sense and the nature of things, the poor and unaristocratic double bassist was to play an important role in the life of an aristocratic and rich beauty.

    Swimming to the bank, Bowsky was astounded: he did not see his clothes. They had been stolen . . . While he was admiring the beauty, unknown villains had stolen everything except the double bass and top hat.

    “Damnation!” exclaimed Bowsky. “Oh, people, you brood of vipers! I am not so much indignant at the loss of the clothes (for clothes are perishable) as at the thought that I shall have to go naked, thereby trespassing against public morality.”

    He sat down on the case of his double bass and started thinking about how to get out of his terrible situation.

    “I can’t very well go naked to Prince Bibulov’s!” he thought. “There’ll be ladies there! And besides, along with my trousers, the thieves stole the rosin in my pocket!”

    He thought for a long time, tormentingly, until his temples hurt.

    “Hah!” he remembered at last. “In the bushes near the bank...
Reviews-
  • AudioFile Magazine Jim Frangione splendidly narrates this "full deck" of stories, which Chekhov wrote from 1883 to 1898. Frangione's mastery of Russian names and nomenclature infuses this wide-ranging collection with the world of the late nineteenth century. He paces his narration to the stories' style and gives the carefully delineated characters subtle differences in their manners of speech. His deliberate and nuanced performance places us in the milieu of czarist Russia, where people ride in troikas and live in dachas, and social status always matters. When he narrates the dramatic monologues, he plays out the interior lives of princesses, doctors, and functionaries, and even makes the sound of a dog's "grrr . . . nya-nya-nya-nya"--the listener is transported. The fine translations from Pevear and Volokhonsky serve the grand master of the short story and the listener well. A.D.M. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award � AudioFile 2020, Portland, Maine
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    All copies of this title, including those transferred to portable devices and other media, must be deleted/destroyed at the end of the lending period.

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Fifty-Two Stories
Fifty-Two Stories
1883-1898
Anton Chekhov
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