I long to embrace, to include in my own short life, all that is accessible to man. I long to speak, to read, to wield a hammer in a great factory, to keep watch at sea, to plow. I want to be walking along the Nevsky Prospect, or in the open fields, or on the ocean — wherever my imagination ranges."
– Anton Chekhov
If any one writer can be said to have invented the modem short story, it is Anton Chekhov. It is not just that Chekhov democratized this art form; more than that, he changed the thrust of short fiction from relating to revealing.
And what marvelous and unbearable things are revealed in these Forty Stories. The abashed happiness of a woman in the presence of the husband who abandoned her years before. The obsequious terror of the official who accidentally sneezes on a general. The poignant astonishment of an aging Don Juan overtaken by love. Spanning the entirety of Chekhov’s career and including such masterpieces as "Surgery," "The Huntsman," "Anyuta," "Sleepy-head," "The Lady With the Pet Dog," and "The Bishop," this collection manages to be amusing, dazzling, and supremely moving — often within a single page.
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