Book Review: Best Short Stories of Anton Chekov

The Book ‘Best Short Stories of Anton Chekov’ is a compilation of short stories by the Russian author and playright Anton Chekov (1860-1904)

Chekov was one of the earliest writers of short stories and is considered widely to be a master of the genre.

His stories are based in Russia and are more than 100 years old…not really for everyone.

The Book has around 23 short stories…covering a wide range of situations and events.What Chekov does best is bring out the humanity of the characters…times change, geographies change, technologies change but human behaviour is the same…as we can see from the markets !

My favourite story is also one of Chekov’s most famous-‘The Bet’ (written in 1889) wherein a young man and a rich man have a bet. The young man agrees to forego his freedom and be imprisoned by the rich man for 15 years in return for money…a sum of 2 Million roubles.

The following paragraph in the story had me marvelling at the timelessness of human behaviour:

“Fifteen years before, his millions had been beyond his reckoning;now he was afraid to ask himself which were greater, his debts or his assets. Desperate gambling on the Stock Exchange,wild speculation and the excitability which he could not get over even in advancing years, had by degrees led to the decline of his fortune and the proud, fearless, self-confident millionaire had become a banker of middling rank, trembling at every rise and fall in his investments.” 

Some other great stories are ‘A Work of Art’ and ‘A Joke’

Most of the stories are melancholic and fairly depressing…Russians seem to have a knack for such morose tales !

Do buy this book only if you are a reading buff.

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