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Publisher's Summary

From the celebrated, award-winning translators of Anna Karenina and War and Peace: a lavish, masterfully rendered volume of stories by one of the most influential short fiction writers of all time.

Chekhov's genius left an indelible impact on every literary form in which he wrote, but none more so than short fiction. Now, renowned translators and longtime house authors Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky give us their peerless renderings of 52 Chekhov stories - a full deck! These stories, which span the full 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 type of "Chekhov story". They are populated by a remarkable range of characters who come from all parts of Russia, all walks of life, and who, taken together, have democratized the short story. Included here are a number of never-before-translated stories, including "Reading" and "An Educated Blockhead". Here is a collection that promises profound delight.

©2020 Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky (P)2020 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

“A first-rate collection.... Pevear and Volokhonsky select stories - happily, one for each week of the year - that express that devotion to realism, even if sometimes broadly satirically.... Encounters between young and old, rich and poor, country and city people mark these stories.... It’s a marvel of imagination. A welcome gathering of work, some not often anthologized, by an unrivaled master of the short story form.” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review)

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Annoying narrator

The stories are so-so. I understand that a lot are meant to be satire or tongue-in-cheek. But ultimately the narration ruins the delivery.

He is so happy and excited to deliver every. single. sentence. Where's the tension? What is the mood? Why is every single character the same excited, nervous personality? One story is about a man at his wife's funeral and the narrator delivers the lines like he's about to burst out laughing. In one story a man talks to an old childhood friend excitedly, then upon finding out he's an important person of high rank... Is implied by the text that suddenly he changes his words and behavior, but the delivery is still excited and happy. There's no point to the story if we don't hear his change in tone. I am so disappointed.

10 people found this helpful

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Better alternatives for Chekhov

I’ve listened to several collections of Chekhov short stories on Audible. Anthony Heald and Richard Armitage have more sensitivity, subtlety, and feeling for Chekhov’s texts. This narrator has a powerful sonorous voice that booms constantly and he often sounds angry and aggressive and there’s little variation or subtlety. I grew weary listening to him and wondered if he had enjoyed recording these stories.

I did listen to the whole collection because I was interested in the new translations. I should have bought the book.

3 people found this helpful

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Lesser-known stories

Pevear and Volokhonsky have returned to Chekhov with this lovely anthology of less-commonly-anthologized stories. All of the usual Chekhov traits are in evidence: his plain style, his “ordinary” characters (imbued with extraordinary life), and his sometimes infuriating refusal to come to any narrative conclusion.

Jim Frangione does a capable job narrating the anthology. I've read some of the other reviews that didn't like his approach, and I have to say that I disagree. It's simply not true that everything is delivered at a high pitch of excitement, although his narration certainly has a heartier tone overall than many other narrators of Chekhov (Richard Armitage, for instance, in his recent selection).

The selection of stories is not a collection of Chekhov's Greatest Hits. You won't find here enduring classics like “The Black Monk,” “Ward #6,” “The Huntsman,” or “The Lady with the Little Dog.” In fact, Pevear and Volokhonsky published an earlier collection of 30 stories that does include some of these more famous ones. There is, surely by design, very little overlap between the two anthologies. Unfortunately the earlier one is not available in audio. If someone were enterprising enough to produce it (hey Audible: HINT), it would make a perfect companion piece to this new one.

3 people found this helpful