Selected Stories by Anton Chekhov

anton chekhovAnton Chekhov was a Russian born in the Year 1860 in Tanganrog, Russia, and died in the year 1904, in Badenweiler, Germany. Throughout his life, he was famous for his dramas and short stories. He was the founder of two rural schools in his early career. Near the end of his life, he married an actress, Olga Knipper. He died because of a disease called tuberculosis when he was 44. He published a huge amount of plays in the year 1897 and has a huge collection of short stories. Anton Chekhov had a huge influence on the modern short story and the modern drama. In Russia, when he lived, Anton Chekhov was a legend.

Most of his stories in Selected Stories have certain motifs, like death and disease. His characters would often meet an untimely death. A reason for that was because Anton Chekhov was plagued by his tuberculosis disease in most of his adult life, which came and went, leaving head aching results. There are some also related about failed ideas, and many kinds of disappointments. Most of the time,  his main character in the stories are disappointed by events that force them to rethink their personal knowledge of the world, and this disappointment usually occurs toward the end of stories. Sometimes, the main characters are crushed with their failure, or hope for a better future.

In some stories, the main focus is on the scenery, like the Russian countryside with the story describing the beautiful sight, and what an eyeful it is! Sometime, the rich characters in his stories are often shocked by the beauty of the natural world. For example, in the stories The Ravine and The Night Before Easter the characters looked up at the night sky, and admired it: The black sky, dotted with silver stars, so far away from earth, and the single big blob of the moon.

There were also lots of misunderstanding and failure to understand someone else’s perspective, which can cause the conflict and the trouble. An example of the story with misunderstanding is the story Overseasoned, which I will talk about later. Communication is really important. At school, communication is part of your exam, and you can get graded on how good/bad your communication is. Misunderstand someone can lead to more misunderstanding, especially to a person who easily jump into conclusions, so it is best to communicate with people clearly.

Food and drinks are symbolized as the wealth and the status in Chekhov’s stories. If the characters have expensive kind of food, like lobster and wine, of course, the character shows its high status. For example: the Tsybukin family in from the story In the Raving glue themselves on homemade jam and feast on four meals a day while peasants starve.

One of my favorite stories was the story: Overseasoned that of course, includes misunderstanding in it. I’d say this is the best story of the whole book. Gleb Stirnov arrived in a station and had to go somewhere. He was advised by someone from the train to ask the peasants to bring him to his destination, as cabs and taxis were really rare. Gleb was lucky enough to get a ride from a peasent named Klim, who brought him to the woods with his old pony. Gleb was scared and suspicious of Klim, worried that Klim would bring him into the middle of the woods and murder him there. So he started making sentences, that he could kill robbers, murderers, and he had a revolver stored neatly in his pocket.

The more they entered the forest, the more it scared Gleb. Actually he had no revolver at all. So he pretended to take out his revolver which freaked Klim out and made him ran to the forest, leaving him alone. It’s even worse. Gleb realized that he had to trust Klim if he wanted to get out from the forest alive. Finally he found Klim, who thought that Gleb was the robber. Gleb apologized to Klim, and the two continued their journey. To Gleb, the road did not feel scary anymore. The misunderstand made the story hilarious and urged the reader to continue reading.

There are at least more then 40 stories in this book, each one with different plots, but few themes which are ‘more or less’ the same. They would entertain you greatly, and would give the readers a taste of Russian politics at around Anton Chekhov’s time.

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