The Lady with the Dog and Other Stories
Anton Pavlovich Chekhov
There’s a lot of great literature on the public domain and I found this terrific collection of short stories by Anton Chekhov for free at the Kindle store.
Anton Chekhov (1860-1904) was a Russian playwright and writer of short fiction and is considered one of the all-time greatest masters of the short story. I loved this collection of nine stories, and, while I think I must have studied Chekhov in college, I don’t remember whether I read stories or plays, and so in reading this collection, I was starting from the beginning.
Each story is a little different, but they all paint a universal picture of the human condition in Russia during the second half of the 1800s. Some are about romantic relationships, others about being sick with disease and mental illness. In addition, he includes themes of marriage, class distinction, factory life, religion and nature, as his characters try to figure out their place in the world. Chekhov was a doctor as well as a writer, and he also suffered from tuberculosis, so much of his insight comes from first-hand experience. I read that Chekhov resisted committing to particular religious and political views, and he only touches on religion in “The Black Monk” and on politics in “Anonymous Story.”
A quick search confirms that these stories are well-known and character and theme analyses are a couple clicks away. I won’t do that here. I’ll just share my thoughts about a few.
“The Lady with the Dog” is one of the best in this collection, in which two married people meet and begin an affair. Chekhov’s characters here find love after they have already committed to others, and he shows how they manage their secret lives and whether they can find happiness.
“The Black Monk” is about an overworked university scholar who returns to the home where he was raised by his adoptive father. The father’s successful horticulture business weighs heavily on the old man’s mind, as his grown daughter, now an attractive young woman, thinks of her own future. Pressure to marry the daughter and take over the business leads to a progressive madness, all based on the scholar’s vision of a monk robed in black.
“An Anonymous Story” is one of the longest in the collection and is also one of my favorites. In this story, the narrator, with a mysterious political motive, assumes the position of footman for a wealthy Petersburg official. The official, a confirmed bachelor faces turmoil when the woman with whom he’s having an affair, leaves her husband and moves into their household.
I highly recommend this collection and will be looking at more of Chekhov’s stories and plays over time. Here’s a list of what’s else free on Amazon!
The Duel and Other Stories
The Schoolmistress and Other Stories
The Witch and Other Stories
The Chorus Girl and Other Stories
Plays by Anton Chekhov, Second Series
Letters of Anton Chekhov
The Cook’s Wedding and Other Stories
The Wife, and Other Stories
Note-Book of Anton Chekhov
What great reads have you found on the public domain?
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