ISBN 10: 0062393863 / ISBN 13: 9780062393869
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From one of Russia’s greatest writers, Anton Chekhov, an indispensable collection of stories, full of humor, truth, and vast insight, selected and introduced by modern American virtuoso Richard Ford, available in a deluxe paperback edition—part of the Ecco Art of the Story series.

One of the most beloved Russian writers, Anton Chekov had an indelible influence on many revered modern writers, including Richard Ford, Raymond Carver, Robert Stone, Nadine Gordimer, William Maxwell, and Ernest Hemingway. In this superb anthology, Ford, a master of short fiction in his own right, has chosen twenty of his personal favorites from among more than two hundred of Chekhov’s tales and short novels.

Though they were composed more than a century ago, Chekhov’s stories hold timeless lessons and insights invaluable in our own age. The Essential Tales of Chekhov Deluxe Edition includes familiar masterpieces “The Kiss,” “The Darling,” and “The Lady with the Dog,” as well as several brilliant lesser-known tales—“A Blunder,” “Hush!,” and “Champagne.” These stories, ordered chronologically from 1886 to 1899, are drawn from Chekhov’s most fruitful years as a short story writer. The translation is done by the renowned Constance Garnett, who also brought Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, and Turgenev to the English-speaking world.

Review: Anton Chekhov is best known as a playwright, the author of such classics as Uncle Vanya, The Cherry Orchard, and Three Sisters, but he was also an accomplished short-story writer. The Essential Tales of Chekhov does not pretend to be a comprehensive collection of all his fiction, but it does lay claim to be the best. Reading these stories, one immediately notices how modern they feel. As Richard Ford writes in his introduction, "His meticulous anatomies of complicated human impulse and response, his view of what's funny and poignant, his clear-eyed observance of life as lived--all somehow matches our experience." Chekhov is a master of the telling detail, the acute psychological insight. In "After the Theatre" he captures perfectly the morbid, romantic imagination of a 16-year-old girl: "To be unloved and unhappy--how interesting that was." In "An Anonymous Story" he quickly limns the sum of one of his characters in a single image: "He was a man with the manners of a lizard. He did not walk, but, as it were, crept along with tiny steps, squirming and sniggering, and when he laughed he showed his teeth." We will see much more of this character, but we've already learned everything essential about him.

No two Chekhov stories are alike, but they do share some common traits: though often somber, they are seldom despairing and even his most serious work is leavened by his trademark wit. Only 20 of the more than 220 tales that he wrote are included in this collection, but they provide an excellent introduction to those who have not yet had the pleasure of reading him. And for those who know and love Chekhov, The Essential Tales of Chekhov is a loving reminder of why. --Alix Wilber

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