Anton Chekhov – A timeless observation of the human condition
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
08 The Helpmate
09 Ivan Matveyich
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.
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.
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.
Alan Moreton, UK