Short Stories by Anton Chekhov: About Truth, Freedom, Happiness, and Love
A timeless observation of the human condition from one of the best story writers in the history of world literature. Chekhov’s characteristic mix of humour and poignancy united by the themes of truth, freedom, happiness and love in the 14 story collection presented in this book.
Chekhov himself described his work as comic satire: “All I wanted was to say honestly to people: ‘Have a look at yourselves and see how bad and dreary your lives are!’ The important thing is that people should realize that, for when they do, they will most certainly create another and better life for themselves. I will not live to see it, but I know that it will be quite different, quite unlike our present life.”
“Happiness does not exist and should not exist. And if there is purpose in life, this purpose should not be our personal happiness, it should be about something more intelligent, something more divine”, commented Leo Tolstoy after reading Chekhov’s trilogy included in this book.
Where does love come from? How far questions of personal happiness are of consequence in love?
Each story in this collection brings us close Chekhov’s vision and understanding of complex human relationships. Chekhov’s own relationship with Miss Avilova formed the basis for his story About Love. Miss Avilova compared Chekhov with ‘busy bee who flies about and is happy to collect honey from just about anything on its way’ upon publication of this story and Chekhov quickly responded to Miss Avilova, ‘You are being unkind towards your busy bee. The bee first sees bright beautiful flowers and only then collects honey from them’.
01 A Tragic Actor; 02 In A Strange Land; 03 Oh! The Public; 04 The Looking Glass; 05 Her Husband; 06 Talent; 07 Anyuta; 08 The Helpmate; 09 Ivan Matveyich; 10 Polinka; 11 Overdoing It; 12 About Truth; 13 About Freedom; 14 About Love;
From Anton Chekhov’s Stories in this collection:
“Suggestion plays a great part in love affairs, and still more in getting married”
“You endure insult and humiliation, and dare not openly say that you are on the side of the honest and the free, and you lie and smile yourself; and all that for the sake of a crust of bread, for the sake of a warm corner, for the sake of a wretched little worthless rank in the service. No, one can’t go on living like this.”
“A man does not need six feet of earth or a farm, but the whole globe, all nature, where he can have room to display all the qualities and peculiarities of his free spirit”
“Money, like vodka, makes a man queer.”
“Don’t be calm and contented, don’t let yourself be put to sleep! While you are young, strong, confident, be not weary in well-doing! There is no happiness, and there ought not to be; but if there is a meaning and an object in life, that meaning and object is not our happiness, it is something greater and more divine. Do good!”
“We ought, as the doctors say, to individualize each case.”
“When you love you must either, in your reasonings about that love, start from what is highest, from what is more important than happiness or unhappiness, sin or virtue in their accepted meaning, or you must not reason at all. ”
About The Author
Anton Chekhov 1860 – 1904, a Russian short story writer, playwright and physician, considered to be one of the greatest short story writers in the history of world literature. His career as a dramatist produced all-time classics The Seagull, Uncle Vanya, Three Sisters and Cherry Orchard. His short stories are held in high esteem by writers, critics and audiences of all generations. Chekhov practised as a doctor throughout most of his literary career: “Medicine is my lawful wife,” he once said, “and literature is my mistress.”
I can’t help but feel, Max Bollinger has picked these stories direct from his soul. His introduction to this book uncovers the essence of how important Chekhov has been to him since a young lad growing up in Russia. Garnett’s translation, I think also, adds to the period authenticity of Chekhov’s work and may be as close in meaning to stories as we will ever get to in English. With Bollinger’s expertise in both his own mother language of Russian and it’s cousin Ukrainian, we can be assured that Chekhov’s subtle character building nuances, invoking both languages, has been taken care of. Bollinger, Chekhov and Garnett: A powerful combination!
Stephen Dunne, Australia
The early stories of Anton Chekhov in this volume are obvious early works done by a master storyteller. They are sometimes simple sketches of characters which in a few pages illustrates their humanity, their strengths and weaknesses. All of the stories have been available in audiobook format, but for me reading them for myself is very gratifying. Chekhov has a grasp on the human condition and in the last three stories of the book he shows the promise that would be fulfilled with his famous stories, plays and novels. About Truth, About Freedom and About Love form a short trilogy of stories that have 2 or three people telling stories of events in their lives. These stories resonate with the Arabian Nights stories in that a story ends with the storytellers going to sleep and tell another story the next day.
As Max Bollinger states in the introduction, the stories point out problems in the lives of the characters, but don’t offer solutions. What they offer is characters with problems that we can identify with, that are echoed in our lives and the lives of our friends and loved ones. This alone makes them worth searching out and reading.
Joseph Belliveau, Canada
Short Stories by Anton Chekhov as translated by Constance Garnett and edited by Max Bollinger provides the text to the fourteen stories on the Audio CD’s 1 to 3 of Chekhov’s Short Stories as very ably narrated by Max Bollinger.
My favourite stories in this collection are The Helpmate and About Truth both of which are very witty.
The other stories are typically Chekhovian in that they tend to start in the middle and have inconclusive endings. For this reason I find them dissatisfying and unmemorable, in the main, although they are wonderfully well-written and cleverly observed slices of life.
This is yet another labour of love by Max Bollinger in bringing out this collection to supplement his growing library of Chekhov and Turgenev material.
Alan Moreton, UK
Much of the grace and beauty of Chekhov’s writing is best known through his plays that still are on stages almost every day of the year, somewhere in this country. He was a master at creating characters, telling stories with the most minimal of incidents magnified by pictorial dialogue that come close to making a stage set unnecessary. Although many appreciate the fact that he also was one of the finest short story writers in history, there will most assuredly be an increase in his popularity in this region once the audience has the opportunity to read what had been two superb audio CDs produced and read by Max Bollinger, a very sensitive British actor of Russian descent. In this book are many of Chekhov’s short stories, A TRAGIC ACTOR, IN A STRANGE LAND, OH! THE PUBLIC, THE LOOKING GLASS, HER HUSBAND, TALENT, ANYUTA, THE HELPMATE, IVAN MATVEYICH, POLINKA, OVERDOING IT, ABOUT TRUTH, ABOUT FREEDOM, and ABOUT LOVE.
Not only is the collection well translated by Bollinger with reference to the translations by Constance Garret, but it also adds ‘Notes’ at the end of each story , explaining certain words and names and phrases – information that greatly enhances the enjoyment of this fine collection. This is a superb addition to the library – but NOT a replacement for Bollinger’s inimitable audio CDs of his readings! Enjoy them both!
Grady Harp, USA
Where to Order
| Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.com | Alibris | Waterstone’s | Foyles | Barnes & Noble | Powells | Books A Milion | Books Inc | Chapters Indigo | The Book Depository | Better World | Buch24 | Lesen.de |Lehmanns | Buecher.de | JPC | Buch.ch | Indie Bound | Blackwell’s | WHSmith | SiS Bok | Akademisk Kvarter | Abbeys | Booktopia | Angus & Robertson | Borders Australia | Bokus |