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The Darling and other stories [Tales of Tchehov vol. I]

av Anton Chekhov

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Olenka, the daughter of the retired collegiate assessor, Plemyanniakov, was sitting in her back porch, lost in thought. It was hot, the flies were persistent and teasing, and it was pleasant to reflect that it would soon be evening. Dark rainclouds were gathering from the east, and bringing from time to time a breath of moisture in the air. Kukin, who was the manager of an open-air theatre called the Tivoli, and who lived in the lodge, was standing in the middle of the garden looking at the sky.… (mer)

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This was the first of a series of 13 volumes of Chekhov's tales. Many of them seemed to address the rise of woman during that time and the difficulty men still had in his interactions with them but Chekhov also addresses frivolous men who spend every last rouble and of men who philander and leave their dying wives to suffer alone. His sense of characters range from the redeemable to the nearly absurd. There is the painter who only paints landscapes and thinks we should all should merely work a couple of hours a day and the woman who marries a much older man for his money and spends the next ten years miserable. There is the story which the novel starts out with, The Darling (followed by a criticism of this story by Tolstoy) in which a woman takes on the distinct passions of every man she marries as vehemently as if they were always her own and seeming to possess truly none of her own. Chekhov seems to hypothesizing about women and the future in a few of these and, though there is sometimes a sense of ridicule, one also gets the impression that he sees the value in women too.

In any case, the definitive delivery of these stories is a sense of the people living in Russia in the late 1800s and we see all walks of life from the successful business man's son to the artist. Most of the people are living above the poverty line but the backgrounds are still quite diverse to be interesting.

Those expecting stories reminiscent of a dark and dreary Dostoevsky will be surprised. Chekhov's tales vary from the slice of life variety to the profound but they often have a sense of wit and intellectual mirth that makes them brighter stories. One can imagine Chekhov smiling in real life whereas one can only picture Dostoevsky gnashing his teeth. The stories are also very easy to read and understand, with the only major difficulty still being so many similar names and very different sounding nicknames attached to full formal names which make it slightly more challenging at times to follow the characters.


It's difficult to top the introduction from Richard Ford and how he explains Chekhov's writing. Here's a couple of quotes I liked from that:

"Indeed, one regularly finds humor in Chekhov, often in surprising though never really mistakable moments. As in Shakespeare as in Falkner as in Flannery O'Connor, the comic turn not only counterweighs and intensifies a serious story's gravity, it also humanizes our own fated intimacy with what's grave by permitting life's fullest, most actual context to be brought into view, even as it points us toward an approved method of acceptance: laughter."

"The entirety of Chekhov's stories, in fact, often seem-but for their formal, sturdy existence in language-not even artful (although that would be wrong) but rather to be assiduous in mapping out degree by precious degree an accurate ground level constellation of ordinary existence-each story representing a subtly distinguished movement in a single sustained gesture of life confirmed."

"With Chekhov, we share the frankness of life's inalienable thereness; we share the conviction of how much we would profit if more of human sensation cold be elevated into clear, expressive language; we share a view that life (particularly life with others) is a surface beneath which we must strive to construct a convincing subtext in order that more can be clung to less desperately..."


( )
  kirstiecat | Mar 31, 2013 |
To these wonderful stories I come back again and again. (IV-11) ( )
  MeisterPfriem | May 30, 2011 |
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Anton Chekhovprimär författarealla utgåvorberäknat
Garnett, ConstanceÖversättaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat

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Olenka, the daughter of the retired collegiate assessor, Plemyanniakov, was sitting in her back porch, lost in thought. It was hot, the flies were persistent and teasing, and it was pleasant to reflect that it would soon be evening. Dark rainclouds were gathering from the east, and bringing from time to time a breath of moisture in the air. Kukin, who was the manager of an open-air theatre called the Tivoli, and who lived in the lodge, was standing in the middle of the garden looking at the sky.

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