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Five Great Short Stories (Dover Thrift Editions) (1990)

de Anton Chekhov

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389750,102 (3.45)2
Incisive, masterfully written tales -- set in Tsarist Russian milieux -- reveal noted author's skills in character, nuance, and setting development. Includes "The Black Monk" (1894), "The House with the Mezzanine" (1896), "The Peasants" (1897), "Gooseberries" (1898), and "The Lady with the Toy Dog" (1899).… (més)
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I have not read Chekhov's full stories before, for all that is name is often referenced in literature. His work is highly readable, his characters realistic. Really, he writes psychological examinations of people's lives--but that said, his subject matters are not my sort of thing. These are incredibly miserable people whose lives we see in detail. ( )
  ladycato | Mar 13, 2021 |
I registered a book at!
  slojudy | Sep 8, 2020 |
The Black Monk: In this novelette Chekhov explores that thin line between genius and insanity. The main charactor is an intellegent young man who is happiest when studying, reading, and writing, but who has, as most young geniuses do, his eccentricities... for example, he sees visions of a monk dressed in black with whom he holds long philosophical discussions. He falls in love with a girl who has never seen this side of him, and they are quickly married. One night when the girl wakes up and witnesses one of his one-sided discussions, she starts to worry and thinks he is crazy, and sends him to the doctors to be 'cured'. He is finally 'cured' by the doctors, but he is completely changed from the man he used to be, and she realized too late that it was his intelligence and non-conformity that made her love him, but now those things were gone.
The House with the Mezzanine: This is a beautiful story of a budding romance between Mr. N., a landscape painter, and Genya, a frail girl of 17 or 18 who lives in a large house with her mother and her stern older sister. Mr. N. and Genya love each other, but it seems that every time he is around her sister Lyda there is conflict. Lyda detests landscape painters; they don't paint the suffering of the masses. He detests school teachers, as she was; they only taught the illiterate to read road signs and gave them pamphlets they did not understand, but did not teach them the things they needed to know most. Genya loves him, but she loves her sister too, and when Lyda asks for her sister to choose, who will mean the most to her?
The Peasants: This is an interesting and descriptive story about a mid-income family going through hard times. The father, Nikolai, a waiter at a Moscow hotel, became very ill. All of the money they had went into treatments that did not work, and soon all the money was gone and he was no better off than before. Moscow was too expensive for them, and they were forced to leave. With nowhere else to go, they moved in with Nikolai's family, who were poor. So Nikolai, his wife Olga, and their young daughter Sasha, become peasants. This revealing little tale shows the reader what the hard life of a peasant during the late 1800's in Russia was like, and the drastic tolls from that kind of life.
Gooseberries: Nicholai Ivanich is a man with a dream, and he is willing to do anything in his power to make that dream come true. The details of his dream may vary at times, according to whim, but four things stay consistant: 1. a farmhouse, 2. a cottage, 3. a vegetable garden, and 4. a gooseberry patch. These things he considered essential. He kept himself half-starved, wore rags, never went on vacation or spent money on anything he did not deem absolutely vital, saved ever bit of money he got, and even married a rich elderly widow and waited for her to die, in order to some day buy himself a farm with gooseberries. His brother, Ivan Ivanich, is the narrator of this tale, and he reveals to what lengths a man will go once he gets an idea in his head.
The Lady with the Toy Dog: I usually really like Chekhov's stories, but this one is perhaps the only one of his stories I've read that left a bad taste in my mouth. It was well-written, don't get me wrong, but the content and quality was lacking, and whereas most of his works have philosophical food for thought sprinkled librally throughout, this story has remarkably little of that. The thin plot centers around a man, named Dimitri, who finds himself detesting his wife (who he never loved) and starts having affairs with other women. One day he meets a lovely stranger (young enough to be his daughter) while she was out walking her small dog (hense the title). He is mysteriously drawn to her and is attracted to the idea of a moment's-notice affair with a strange woman, and he makes her aquaintance and soon learns that she is married to a husband, who isn't present, that SHE has never loved. Dimitri and Anna (her name) fall in love and hold clandestine rendezvous. The whole story is about what I just summed up in four sentences. The ending is inconclusive, and doesn't tell you anything about what happens later on to the characters.
I gave the book four stars, one for each of the truly good stories within it. If not for The Lady with the Toy Dog, it would be five stars. ( )
  SDaisy | Sep 22, 2016 |
I had read a couple of Chekhov's plays and couldn't see what all the fuss was about, but decided to give this volume of short stories a try. I was quite impressed by The Peasants, a well-observed tale about family relationships which made me want to learn more about the emancipation of the serfs in Tsarist Russia. The other four stories, alas, were long on philosophy and navel-gazing and short on plot and character study; even the much-lauded Lady With the Dog left me unmoved and The Black Monk seemed just plain silly. Still can't see what all the fuss is about. ( )
  cappybear | Jun 29, 2014 |
I have heard for years that Chekhov is one of the great short story writers, and yet I hadn't read any of his work. I picked up this slender volume for a mere 25-cents at a book sale. It includes "The Black Monk," "The House with the Mezzanine," "The Peasants," "Gooseberries," and "The Lady with the Toy Dog."

The thing that struck me the right away is how the pace of short stories has changed dramatically in the past century. Chekhov's pace is slow and steady, building his characters through deliberate action and philosophical conversation. However, this pace does bring in a different sort of psychological introspection than modern day stories, and the themes still ring true today. We may not have the peasants of late 19th century Russia, but we still have a lower class trenched in alcohol and abuse that struggles to move upward in society. Several works, such as "The House with the Mezzanine," touched on the social constraints of society how easily love is lost.

These short stories were not my usual reading material, but I have a feeling that Chekhov's slow pace will cause them to linger and develop in my mind for some time. ( )
2 vota ladycato | Jul 2, 2011 |
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Incisive, masterfully written tales -- set in Tsarist Russian milieux -- reveal noted author's skills in character, nuance, and setting development. Includes "The Black Monk" (1894), "The House with the Mezzanine" (1896), "The Peasants" (1897), "Gooseberries" (1898), and "The Lady with the Toy Dog" (1899).

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