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The thing I like about Chekhov is the fact his writing is so accessible That is, the language, the words, the sentences do not read as if they were written over 100 years ago Reading his work isn t laborious, it s as engaging and seamless as any contemporary work of fiction And his interpretations of human nature and behavior are just as relevant today as they were back then.I don t know how much of Chekhov s accessibility in this case is due to Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky s translation of his work, but if you re looking for a good place to start with Chekhov, I think this is it. THE HOUSE WITH THE MEZZANINEThe House With The Mezzanine is the story of a somewhat diffident young man, a painter, and his somewhat tenuous romance with two sisters during a vacation the story is laden with the impressionistic images conjured up by its narrator and is one of Chekhov s finest short stories.The narrator, feeling bored during his holidays, decides to go for a walk and during his walk he comes across the grounds of an unfamiliar manor house The sun was already thinking and the evening shadows lay across the flower rye Two rows of closely planted, towering fir trees, stood like solid, unbroken walls, forming a handsome, sombre avenue It was quiet and dark, only high up in the trees a vivid golden light quivered here and there and transformed spiders webs into shimmering rainbows Chekhov brilliantly renders the picture from the perspective of a talented impressionist, the narrators keen eye picking out the oscillations of the spiders web via the sinking son, a sombre atmosphere pervades the scene, a kind of ethereal beauty lingers as the ephemeral beauty of the sun lingers in the avenue I went past a white house with a terrace and a kind of mezzanine and suddenly a vista opened a courtyard, a large pond with a bathing place, a clump of green willows and a village on the far bank, with a slender tall tower whose cross glittered in the setting sun You feel as if you are drifting from one painting to another, the narrator comes across two young women, One of them the elder, who was slim, pale and very pretty with a mass of auburn hair and a stubborn mouth wore a stern expression and hardly looked at me But the other girl still very young, nothan seventeen or eighteen similarly slim and pale, with a large mouth and big eyes, looked at me in astonishment as I walked past Note the contrast between his description of the two women, he obviously finds the older attractive and is slightly piqued by her perceived indifferent of him, whereas the description of the younger is less sensuous Notice also, the description of her stubborn mouth and the girls astonished gaze at the narrator, who is obviously somewhat unreliable as he is using his later relationship with them to colour his first meeting with them Not long after this, the older sister, whose name is Lida, pays a visit to the narrator s friend s house, where he is staying and, after giving a speech on various social projects she is leading and needs help with, invites him to visit as she and her mother are admirers of his work Was she therefore really as indifferent as the narrator makes her out to be when he first sees her The narrator is again piqued by her behaviour towards him when they visit she feels he is misusing his talents by not representing the hardships of the poor and he feels her constant interference in their lives leads toharm than good His is treatedfavourably, however, by her young sister, Zhenya, he describes her underdeveloped breasts and her child like habit of touching him with her shoulder, he finds her charming and inoffensive, somewhat indolent like him, irrepressibly childish, whereas Lida, whose views he claims he deplores he finds fascinating, She was a vivacious, sincere young girl, with strong views And it was fascinating listening to her, although she said a lot and in a loud voice He becomes a regular visitor to the house and his thoughts invariably turn to Lida, whose mouth now becomes finely modelled , he watches her distribute aid the poor, yet the two get along no better than before and he feels she holds him in contempt for his supposed indifference to the plight of the poor The two indeed, stand in stark contrast to one another, her social causes cause him to become subconsciously aware of his own diffidence and lack of purpose, whereas his arguments maker her aware of the hypocrisy of her own attitude after all by raising the peasants aspirations is she not setting them up to fail in a society in which they cannot progress and it is easy enough to play the good Samaritan when one had five thousand acres of one s own Lida, who has established an autocratic power over family and friends, is not having her ideas questioned and responds badly to the narrator s caustic criticisms, yet the two are irretrievably drawn to one another On a conscious level at least, the narrator isdrawn to Missy, who obviously admires him as a person and an artist, no doubt stroking his bruised ego, though there is an obvious romantic element to this When I came she would bush slightly on seeing me, put down her book, look into my face with her big eyes and tell me enthusiastically what had been happening The narrator is aware of this but gently encourages it, they go for walks, go boating and pick cherries, but it is important to note that he does not reciprocate the feelings only able to observe Missy through the lenses of adolescence, he sees her as a kindred spirit of sort and if he does encourage her affections it is merely to fan the flames of jealousy that Lida feels when she sees them two going for walks Lida had just returned from somewhere and she stood by the front porch, crop in hand, looking graceful and beautiful in the sunlight she was giving orders to one of the workmen Talking very loudly, she hurriedly spoke to one or two of the patients, and then, with a preoccupied and busy look, marched through the rooms, opened one cupboard after another, after which she went to the attic storey The narrator s revels in the reverence in which Missy and her mother hold him, he notes, with some trepidation, that they regard Lida as an enigma, a general of sorts, yet perhaps he is mixing his own feelings in with theirs His friendship with the family makes him want to paint again, but also makes him question his lack of direction in life, despite the fact that it is this very idleness that attracts him Missy and her mother and divides him from Lida He muses to his friend, Lida could only fall in love with a council worker who is as devoted as she is to hospitals and schools Oh, for a girl like her one would not only do welfare work but wear a pair of iron boots, like the girls in the fairy tale And there s Missy Isn t she charming, this Missy The narrator is extolling the charms of Missy, in a language redolent with indifference, yet is perhaps perturbed that Lida would only fall for a council worker and not, perhaps, a landscape painter.At their next meeting the two again begin a juvenile argument about politics the narrator is obviously watching her closely as she enters the room as he mentions her removing her gloves details he rarely gives Missy, who he finds so charming , the narrator argues that her changes to living standards of the poor are shallow and egocentric, she retorts that is better to do something than nothing at all and the most pathetic hospital is worththan any landscape painting The narrator leaves for home after the argument and meets Missy at the gates It was a sad August night sad because there was already a breath of autumn of the air The narrator is obviously aware that the summer of his holiday and acquaintance with the Volchaninovs will soon be coming to an end The moon was rising, veiled by a crimson cloud and casting a dim light on the road and the dark fields of winter corn along its sides There were many shooting stars Zhenya walked along the road at my side, trying not to see the shooting stars, which frightened her for some reason The narrator realizes that he is in love with Missy he loves because her because she admires him as an artist and reveres him as a person, he is astonished by the depth of her mind and somewhat fatuously suspects she is very intelligent , her beauty moves him, to what I am not too sure, except for an eloquent soliloquy about her appreciation of his art, one suspects why, after spending so much time with Missy he is still unsure about her intelligence, his declaration of love for her is somewhat vague and empty and completely egocentric, his still thinks bitterly about her pretty sister who has no appreciation of his artistic talents, despite the fact that Lida stated she admired his work, and criticised it for its lack of purpose He kisses her and she, flushed with excitement, departs for home, where he follows her and watches the house I walked past the terrace and sat down on a bench on the darkness under the old elm by the tennis court In the window of the attic storey where she slept, a bright light suddenly shone, turning soft green when the lamp was covered with a shade I was full of tenderness, calm and contentment because I had let myself get carried away and fallen in love And at the same time I was troubled by the thought that a few steps away, Lida lived in one of the rooms of that house, Lida who disliked and possibly hated me Given that Lida retires to the attic after seeing the narrator and Missy returning from a walk and that he hears voices in the attic, Lida probably sleeps there with Missy, again although the narrator states he is in love with Missy, his thoughts stray back to and are dominated by Lida and her apparent dislike to him he feels the attic window where she sleeps staring at him with comprehending eyes, unlike the sad, gentle looks which Missy gives him.The narrator returns the next day, to be confronted by Lida, who tells her Missy and her mother left that morning, Later he is handed a letter from Missy, telling him that Lida disapproves of their relationship and so has sent her away The narrator is despondent, on his way back home he notes Then came the dark fir avenue, the broken down fence The story has come full circles as the narrator departs the estate via the route he first entered, On that same field where I first saw the flowering rye and hear the quails calling, cows and hobbled horses were grazing Here and there on the hills were the bright green patches of winter corn A sombre, humdrum mood came over me and I felt ashamed of all I had said at the Volchaninovs Perhaps he is ashamed of leading Missy on or being so acerbic and rude to Lida He soon leaves for home and never sees them again, though he does learn that Lida has strengthened her political grip on the area, though he had no news on Missy, he sometimes harks back to the time and remembers the green lamp in the attic or his footstep as he walked home The narrator is still, however, consumed by loneliness and diffidence The House With the Mezzanine is amongst Chekhov s most beautiful short stories it conjures up and idyllic picture of the youth of the narrator and of his falling in love that he attributes this love to the wrong person is a symbol of not only by his naivet but his egocentricity, although he is critical of Lida for the egocentric element of her charity he fails to recognise this element of his own personality and how it blinds him to his true emotions Perhaps Lida and the narrator aresimilar than they care to imagine both are driven by immense passion, for entirely different causes, both are stubborn, arrogant and intelligent, both are attracted to each other but fail to acknowledge this attraction and the innocent, na ve Missy is dragged in between Both are wrong in their assertions firstly the narrator is his somewhat portentous political statements, after all, as Lida state, in nobody acts to redress the inequalities of society then there will never be any progress As for Lida s myopic statement that art has no aesthetic value and that it must have a social element, there is no greater irony that this being said in a work of Chekhov, whose work is art for arts sake and yet didto increase awareness of the plight of the poor than any social works and immortalized the lives of the Russian of the timethan any history book After all, the emotional underplay of the novel and the beautiful descriptions of the environment are eternal, as is all great art, and so will resonate so long as humans feel love and appreciate beauty, whereas art concerned with political is ephemeral by its very nature. #Download Epub ⚫ The Complete Short Novels õ Anton Chekhov, Widely Hailed As The Supreme Master Of The Short Story, Also Wrote Five Works Long Enough To Be Called Short Novels Here, Brought Together In One Volume For The First Time, In A Masterly New Translation By The Award Winning Translators Richard Pevear And Larissa Volokhonsky The Steppe The Most Lyrical Of The Five Is An Account Of A Nine Year Old Boy S Frightening Journey By Wagon Train Across The Steppe Of Southern Russia The Duel Sets Two Decadent Figures A Fanatical Rationalist And A Man Of Literary Sensibility On A Collision Course That Ends In A Series Of Surprising Reversals In The Story Of An Unknown Man, A Political Radical Spying On An Important Official By Serving As Valet To His Son Gradually Discovers That His Own Terminal Illness Has Changed His Long Held Priorities In Startling Ways Three Years Recounts A Complex Series Of Ironies In The Personal Life Of A Rich But Passive Moscow Merchant In My Life, A Man Renounces Wealth And Social Position For A Life Of Manual LaborThe Resulting Conflict Between The Moral Simplicity Of His Ideals And The Complex Realities Of Human Nature Culminates In A Brief Apocalyptic Vision That Is Unique In Chekhov S Work Book Jacket Status Jacketed From The Hardcover Edition I was surprised that David Gilmour chose to talk about Chekhov s personality, a matter so subjective and where did he find the sources anyway , when there are so manyjuicy, fact backed tidbits to talk about 1 If we are talking about his virtues, isn t it likely that he contracted that tuberculosis because he was running left and right healing the peasants on his estate 2 How about the fact that he was not much of a romantic, and preferred professional touch That he got married reluctantly and never really lived together with this wife One would think Gilmour would be all over that, considering And I take offense at Gilmour s comment about Chekhov looking older than his years It s only the beard FLAG AWAY NOTE Out of the novellas in this collection, I ve only read The DuelistI m taking a class where we read both the Pevear Volokhonsky translation this edition and the translation by Constance Garnett Everyone in the class preferred the Garnett translation She does a better job capturing the poetry and the humor of the original PV s translation may stick closer to the literal Russian, but 9 times out of 10 when Garnett renders a phraseloosely it readsnaturally in English while conveying the same meaning and staying loyal to the spirit of the original E.g., PV have Samoilenko refer to his friend Laevsky as dear heart while Garnett has him say my dear boy No doubt dear heart is exactly what it says in Russian, but it sticks out like a broken thumb No one would say that in English, and my dear boy gets the point across just fine Garnett was a late Victorian Englishwoman, but on the whole her translation isn t hard to read or distractingly antiquated and if there s sometimes a phrase that sounds a bit turn of the 20th century, maybe that s OK given that Chekhov wrote the original around the turn of the 20th century And, if you need further convincing, the Garnett translation of The Duel and Other Stories is in the public domain and available free from project Gutenberg.CONCLUSION I would not recommend buying this edition when you can find a copy of the superior Garnett translation for free. This one took me a little longer than expected because I preferred to invest my time in most of unproductive activities during this period One of the best books I read so far.Some stories particularly had a profound impact on me, I would like to mention some of which I loved the most the Duel , the joke , .6 ward no.6 , the darling.Some of the ideas which particularly I found interesting 1 Marcus Aurelius said If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it and this you have the power to revoke at any moment The wise, or simply, the thinker hates pain, he is always happy and is not surprised by anything2 How do you know that genius people never saw ghost They say nowadays that genius is akin to insanity My friend, healthy and normal are only ordinary, common people 3 The higher the person is from a mental and moral development, the freer he is, theenjoyable life is to him.4 I was out of my mind, I had the superiority complex, but I was cheerful, often interesting and original Now I have becomethoughtful and have become like everyone else, I am bored to live I had hallucinations, but who was hurt by that 5 She concluded every discussion to a dispute, she had this desire to always catch someone s mistake, always to be there to correct someone s sayings You start talking to her about something, but she already starts to look into your face and waits a good moment to interrupt you 6 We were silent and in front of strangers she had this irritation against my nature It did not matter what I was talking about, she would not agree with me, and if I argued than she always took my opponents side.Wonderfully written stories, some of the masterpieces, brought to usthan 100 years ago I liked the fact that he touched a lot the love theme and the existence understanding of the human bodies and nature I can say this is a book I would definitely recommend for reading. I thoroughly enjoyed these five short novels and highly recommend them for anyone interested in Russian literature from the late 1800 s The new translation by Pevear and Volokhonsky is masterful With the exception of The Steppe which is a lovely story of a young boy who accompanies his uncle on a thousand mile journey across the steppe, all the other novels involve the exploration of love, relationships and the complexity of navigating through the changes that were taking place in pre revolutionary Russia The novels reveal surprisingly modern behavior and give a very interesting insight into how the wealthy and educated were starting to come to terms with the issues that would eventually spark the revolution itself These novels are immensely readable as well as entertaining and historically fascinating. It is really great to read an absolute master like Chekov I used to like his short stories when I was a teenager, but it has been a while since I last had something by him in my hands After reading an old book by Edmund Wilson where he tells about a trip to the Soviet Union and digresses a bit about Russian literature, I decided to try Chekhov again And I loved it Every story is populated with amazing characters, carefully developed, humanistic and tender The building forces of Russian society in the 19th century are all there church, proletariat, aristocracy articulating themselves around mundane and at the same time complex situations on an individual level The translation is careful and delicate, showing a deep respect for the original, without losing sight of the pleasure of the reader Highly recommended. A slice of Russian provincial life from the late 19th century, told in five tales.In this book Chekhov provides us with a glimpse into family life love, loss, betrayal, infidelity together with drunkeness, spite, theft and fury In some ways these themes make for a modern read, and indeed some of the plots could be TV soaps with just a few modernising tweaks However other aspects are alien there is lots written about servants and horses, and we see the thrill of the newfangled railways as they start to carpet the country In particular the episode in the first story The Steppe where a seven year old boy goes skinny dipping with adults he has only just met and is then rubbed down with oil by a priest innocence that jars in thesejaded and cynical times.My own favourite story was the Duel, where a philanderer and wastrel is brought to his senses in the face of death, rediscovers love and one assumes lives happy ever after. I was sort of upset when I came upon the last page, and had to finish this book this is the kind of book that could go on, and on, and on, and you wouldn t get bored This book is life, the fate of so many seemingly real people, and the perfect escape from your own subsistence.Some quotes of my preference very random The Russian man likes to remember, but does not like to live To constantly go into raptures over nature is to show the paucity of your imagination All these brooks and cliffs are nothing but trash compared to what my imagination can give me I m sorry the man is not in military service He d make an excellent, brilliant general He d know how to drown his cavalry in the river and make bridges from the corpses, and such boldness isnecessary in war than any fortifications or tactics Prejudice and hatefulness When soldiers see a girl of light behavior, they guffaw and whistle, but ask them what they are themselves It takes all kinds to make a world Det finns f lk till allt When he lapsed into thought over supper, rolling little balls of bread and drinking a good deal of red wine, then, strangely enough, I was almost certain that there was something sitting in him which he probably sensed vaguely himself, but which, because of bustle and banalities, he never managed to understand and appreciate I look at love first of all as a need of my organism, low and hostile to my spirit it should be satisfied reasonably or renounced entirely, otherwise it will introduce elements as impure as itself into your life The meaning of life is only in one thing in struggle To plant your heel on the vile serpent s head so that it goes crack The meaning is in that In that alone, or else there s no meaning at all they found the gray Moscow weather most pleasant and healthy Days when cold rain raps at the windows, and dusk falls early, and the walls of houses and churches take on a brown, mournful color, and you do not know what to put on when you go outside such days pleasantly excited them I m quite unable to adjust to life, to master it Another man talks stupidly, or cheats, and does it so cheerfully, while it happens that I do good consciously and feel nothing but anxiety or total indifference Progress lies in works of love, in the fulfillment of the moral law If you don t enslave anyone, are not a burden to anyone, whatprogress do you want If you don t make your neighbors feed you, clothe you, drive you around, protect you from enemies, then isn t that progress in a life that s all built on slavery In my opinion, that is the most genuine progress, and perhaps the only kind possible and necessary for man.