The Chekhov Short Story Challenge

Chekhov in Shorts

Welcome to the Chekhov Short’s site where two college buddies, Steve and Travis, try to read all of the English translated short stories of Anton Chekhov in a year. We’ll be starting with Eldritch Press’ 201 stories as translated by Constance Garnett.  http://eldritchpress.org/ac/jr/index.htm  After that we will try to find other works that have been translated and published. We plan to start the reviews on January 29, 2014, the date of Chekhov’s 154th birthday. (Yeah, 2010 or 2015 would have made a better number, but when inspiration strikes…) Both of us will write a review of the stories as we go through them chronologically. We hope to do five a week, one a day, with the weekends off.

Why Chekhov?

Travis: I first came across Chekhov one summer either between my high school and college or my freshman and sophomore year at the University of Oklahoma. I had checked out a speed reading book from the library because I wanted to read more books faster. There was a sample short story that I was supposed to read and time myself. It was Chekhov’s “The Bet.” I don’t think I finished reading the how-to book (and to this day I am not a fast reader), but the story blew me away. After that I started looking for Chekhov stories. Steve and I took a Modern European novel course together where we read some of short story master’s tales. (I know, short stories in a novel class, but the rest of the syllabus had epics.)

 It’s been years since I’ve read any of his works. I’ve found myself both reading and writing crime stories having been turned off by the drudgery of modern literature (e.g. The New Yorker). I wanted to go back and see what I think of Chekhov today, two decades later.

Steve: The first time I remember reading Chekhov was during a “World Cultures and Civilizations” class.  My first story was “Misery”…  I was instantly smitten.  I’d like to think the initial admiration of Chekhov was due to his ability to convey the human condition in a medium that didn’t require footnotes (in contrast to Proust or just about anything else I was supposed to read).  However, it is more likely I was drawn to the fact he was a physician writer and I knew I had aspirations to follow his lead.  Now two decades later I’m content to simply review his works from the perspective of a dad at 40.

What Makes Us Experts?

Nothing. We are two Letters majors who happen to share a love of literature. We are giving our opinions on the stories as we read them, probably slanted with 20th and 21st century points of view. We are bound to disagree with each other and probably with you too. Reading is subjective. No two interpretations are the same. We are using a 10 point scale with five being good and ten being one of the best short stories ever written. 

So please join us in reading these stories and let us know what you think.  And happy tales to you!  

UPDATE:

Here are the first 100+ stories we reviewed together. Links go to the reviews we’ve done. The average word count comes out to 2315 words. More to come later.

 

Story # Title link Travis Rating Steve Rating Ave Rating Word Count
#001 A Living Chattel http://www.chekhovshorts.com/01-human-chattel/ 8 7 7.5 14477
#002 Joy http://www.chekhovshorts.com/story-002-joy/ 5 4 4.5 697
#003 At The Barber’s http://www.chekhovshorts.com/003-at-the-barbers/ 5 5 5 1261
#004 An Enigmatic Nature http://www.chekhovshorts.com/004-an-enigmatic-nature/ 6 7 6.5 838
#005 A Classical Student http://www.chekhovshorts.com/005-a-classical-student/ 4 5 4.5 1081
#006 The Death of A Government Clerk http://www.chekhovshorts.com/006-the-death-of-a-government-clerk/ 5 4 4.5 1026
#007 The Trousseau http://www.chekhovshorts.com/007-the-trousseau/ 6 7 6.5 2056
#008 A Daughter of Albion http://www.chekhovshorts.com/008-a-daughter-of-albion/ 5 4 4.5 1600
#009 An Inquiry http://www.chekhovshorts.com/009-an-inquiry/ 5 6 5.5 886
#010 Fat And Thin http://www.chekhovshorts.com/010-fat-and-thin/ 6 6 6 798
#011 A Tragic Actor http://www.chekhovshorts.com/011-a-tragic-actor/ 4 4 4 1294
#012 The Bird Market http://www.chekhovshorts.com/012-the-bird-market/ 5 6 5.5 1562
#013 A Slander http://www.chekhovshorts.com/013-a-slander/ 6 7 6.5 1511
#014 The Swedish Match http://www.chekhovshorts.com/014-the-swedish-match/ 7 6 6.5 7481
#015 Choristers http://www.chekhovshorts.com/015-choristers/ 4 4 4 1802
#016 The Album http://www.chekhovshorts.com/016-the-album/ 7 6 6.5 763
#017 Minds In Ferment http://www.chekhovshorts.com/017-minds-in-ferment/ 6 7 6.5 1360
#018 A Chameleon http://www.chekhovshorts.com/018-a-chameleon/ 6 6 6 1390
#019 In The Graveyard http://www.chekhovshorts.com/019-in-the-graveyard/ 6 8 7 884
#020 Oysters http://www.chekhovshorts.com/020-oysters/ 9.5 9 9.25 1568
#021 The Marshal’s Widow http://www.chekhovshorts.com/21-the-marshals-widow/ 7 5 6 1510
#022 A Small Fry http://www.chekhovshorts.com/022-a-small-fry/ 5 5 5 1358
#023 In A Hotel http://www.chekhovshorts.com/023-in-a-hotel/ 6 5 5.5 1008
#024 Boots http://www.chekhovshorts.com/024-boots/ 6 7 6.5 1611
#025 Nerves http://www.chekhovshorts.com/025-nerves/ 6 4 5 1598
#026 A Country Cottage http://www.chekhovshorts.com/026-a-country-cottage/ 5 5 5 661
#027 Malingers http://www.chekhovshorts.com/027-malingerers/ 7 7 7 1379
#028 The Fish http://www.chekhovshorts.com/028-the-fish/ 6 5 5.5 2047
#029 Gone Astray http://www.chekhovshorts.com/029-gone-astray/ 5 4 4.5 1590
#030 The Huntsman http://www.chekhovshorts.com/030-the-huntsman/ 5 6 5.5 1854
#031 A Malefactor http://www.chekhovshorts.com/031-a-malefactor/ 6 6 6 1543
#032 Head Of The Family http://www.chekhovshorts.com/032-head-of-the-family/ 4 5 4.5 1500
#033 A Dead Body http://www.chekhovshorts.com/033-a-dead-body/ 6 8 7 1887
#034 The Cook’s Wedding http://www.chekhovshorts.com/034-the-cooks-wedding/ 5 4 4.5 1909
#035 In A Strange Land http://www.chekhovshorts.com/035-in-a-strange-land/ 7 7 7 1470
#036 Overdoing It http://www.chekhovshorts.com/036-overdoing-it/ 7 5 6 1633
#037 Old Age http://www.chekhovshorts.com/37-old-age/ 6 7 6.5 2200
#038 Sorrow http://www.chekhovshorts.com/38-sorrow/ 6 8 7 2370
#039 Oh! The Public! http://www.chekhovshorts.com/039-oh-the-public/ 5 6 5.5 1233
#040 Mari D’elle http://www.chekhovshorts.com/040-mari-delle/ 4 4 4 2015
#041 The Looking-Glass http://www.chekhovshorts.com/041-the-looking-glass/ 5 5 5 1524
#042 Art http://www.chekhovshorts.com/042-art/ 7 7 7 2286
#043 A Blunder http://www.chekhovshorts.com/043-a-blunder/ 5 6 5.5 645
#044 Children http://www.chekhovshorts.com/044-children/ 6 6 6 1926
#045 Misery http://www.chekhovshorts.com/045-misery/ 10 10 10 2293
#046 An Upheaval http://www.chekhovshorts.com/046-an-upheaval/ 6 6 6 2814
#047 An Actor’s End http://www.chekhovshorts.com/047-an-actors-end/ 5 4 4.5 2500
#048 The Requiem http://www.chekhovshorts.com/048-the-requiem/ 6 7 6.5 2059
#049 Anyuta http://www.chekhovshorts.com/049-anyuta/ 7 8 7.5 1531
#050 Ivan Matveyitch http://www.chekhovshorts.com/050-ivan-matveyitch/ 7 5 6 2236
#051 The Witch http://www.chekhovshorts.com/051-the-witch/ 5 6 5.5 4756
#052 A Story Without An End http://www.chekhovshorts.com/052-a-story-without-an-end/ 3 4 3.5 3373
#053 A Joke http://www.chekhovshorts.com/053-a-joke/ 7 7 7 1696
#054 Agafya http://www.chekhovshorts.com/054-agafya/ 7 7 7 4182
#055 A Nightmare http://www.chekhovshorts.com/055-a-nightmare/ 4 4 4 5553
#056 Grisha http://www.chekhovshorts.com/056-grisha/ 6 7 6.5 1200
#057 Love http://www.chekhovshorts.com/057-love/ 7 7 7 2522
#058 Easter Eve http://www.chekhovshorts.com/058-easter-eve/ 6 8 7 3452
#059 Ladies http://www.chekhovshorts.com/059-ladies/ 6 6 6 1349
#060 Strong Impressions http://www.chekhovshorts.com/060-strong-impressions/ 6 6 6 1995
#061 A Gentlemen Friend http://www.chekhovshorts.com/061-a-gentleman-friend/ 6 5 5.5 1314
#062 A Happy Man http://www.chekhovshorts.com/062-a-happy-man/ 7 7 7 1845
#063 A Privy Councillor http://www.chekhovshorts.com/063-a-privy-councillor/ 6 4 5 6975
#064 A Day In The Country http://www.chekhovshorts.com/064-a-day-in-the-country/ 6 7 6.5 2387
#065 At A Summer Villa http://www.chekhovshorts.com/065-at-a-summer-villa/ 5 8 6.5 1819
#066 Panic Fears http://www.chekhovshorts.com/066-panic-fears/ 5 4 4.5 2281
#067 The Chemist’s Wife http://www.chekhovshorts.com/067-the-chemist-wife/ 7 6 6.5 2050
#068 Not Wanted http://www.chekhovshorts.com/068-not-wanted/ 6 7 6.5 2319
#069 The Chorus Girl http://www.chekhovshorts.com/069-the-chorus-girl/ 6 6 6 2180
#070 The Schoolmaster http://www.chekhovshorts.com/70-the-schoolmaster/ 8 7 7.5 2800
#071 A Troublesome Visitor http://www.chekhovshorts.com/071-a-troublesome-visitor/ 7 6 6.5 2466
#072 The Husband http://www.chekhovshorts.com/72-the-husband/ 6 8 7 1876
#073 A Misfortune http://www.chekhovshorts.com/073-a-misfortune/ 7 6 6.5 4989
#074 Pink Stocking http://www.chekhovshorts.com/074-pink-stocking/ 5 5 5 1468
#075 Martyrs http://www.chekhovshorts.com/075-martyrs/ 5 5 5 2008
#076 The First-Class Passenger http://www.chekhovshorts.com/076-the-first-class-passenger/ 5 8 6.5 2868
#077 Talent http://www.chekhovshorts.com/077-talent/ 6 6 6 1692
#078 The Dependents http://www.chekhovshorts.com/078-the-dependents/ 8 8 8 2448
#079 The Jeune Premier http://www.chekhovshorts.com/079-the-jeune-premier/ 6 5 5.5 1760
#080 In The Dark http://www.chekhovshorts.com/080-in-the-dark/ 6 7 6.5 1755
#081 A Trivial Incident http://www.chekhovshorts.com/081-a-trivial-incident/ 4 4 4 4075
#082 A Tripping Tongue http://www.chekhovshorts.com/082-a-tripping-tongue/ 7 4 5.5 1262
#083 A Trifle from Life http://www.chekhovshorts.com/083-a-trifle-from-life/ 7 5 6 2003
#084 Difficult People http://www.chekhovshorts.com/084-difficult-people/ 6 6 6 3148
#085 In The Court http://www.chekhovshorts.com/085-in-the-court/ 5 6 5.5 2626
#086 A Peculiar Man http://www.chekhovshorts.com/086-a-peculiar-man/ 7 6 6.5 1607
#087 Mire http://www.chekhovshorts.com/087-mire-2/ 7 8 7.5 7198
#088 Dreams http://www.chekhovshorts.com/088-dreams/ 5 6 5.5 3430
#089 Hush! http://www.chekhovshorts.com/089-hush/ 7.5 7 7.25 1104
#090 Excellent People http://www.chekhovshorts.com/090-excellent-people/ 3 7 5 4049
#091 An Incident http://www.chekhovshorts.com/091-an-incident/ 6 7 6.5 1910
#092 The Orator http://www.chekhovshorts.com/092-the-orator/ 7 6 6.5 1269
#093 A Work of Art http://www.chekhovshorts.com/093-a-work-of-art/ 7 7 7 1585
#094 Who Was To Blame http://www.chekhovshorts.com/094-who-was-to-blame/ 6 7 6.5 1419
#095 Vanka http://www.chekhovshorts.com/095-vanka/ 6 7 6.5 1654
#096 On The Road http://www.chekhovshorts.com/ontheroad/ 7 5 6 6669
#097 Champagne (A Wayfarer’s Story) http://www.chekhovshorts.com/097-champagne-a-wayfarers-story/ 5 5 5 2263
#098 Frost http://www.chekhovshorts.com/098-frost/ 6 5 5.5 2557
#099 The Beggar http://www.chekhovshorts.com/099-the-beggar/ 7 8 7.5 2132
#100 Enemies http://www.chekhovshorts.com/100-enemies/ 8 7 7.5 5604
#101 Darkness http://www.chekhovshorts.com/101-darkness/ 4 4 4 1622
#102 Polinka http://www.chekhovshorts.com/102-polinka/ 5 4 4.5 1765
#103 Drunk http://www.chekhovshorts.com/103-drunk/ 7 5 6 2359
#104 An Inadvertence http://www.chekhovshorts.com/104-an-inadvertence/ 5 7 6 1563

 

10 Comments

  • Cynthia says:

    Interesting!! I hope you have fun and enjoy your journey. Perhaps I will read a few myself, but only if it gets a “10”:). Good Luck!

  • daniel pires says:

    i must say that i´ve read lot for more then thirty years, and i don´t recall reading nothing like chekhove short stories its simple the best i love it

  • Carl says:

    Really enjoying reading through the stories and the reviews are a great way to reflect on each one, I was just wondering why there are no reviews from Steve after story 104, the varying opinions was nice?

    • Travis Richardson says:

      Thank you Carl. So glad you are enjoying the posts. Steve took on a new job in late ’14 that has kept him busy. He plans to catch up soon.

  • Dianne Caskie says:

    Hi there, I’m an English teacher and with my class of DP1 students (the International Baccalaureate) we’re reading some of Chekhov’s short stories. We are in Baku at the International School of Azerbaijan. I hope to use your blog posts as inspiration for my students..if they get in touch to make comments about your reviews, perhaps you will respond? SO far, we’re read MISERY, GRIEF and THE BEAR ( the one-act play), as a means of introducing the writer and his style. I really enjoyed your appreciation of MISERY.

    • Travis Richardson says:

      Hello Dianne,

      Yes, please share this website with you students. They can make comments and I will try my best to respond. I love “Misery.” It is so heart-wrenching. So glad you are introducing students to the amazing world of Chekhov. “Grief” might be named “Sorrow” in this collection. http://www.chekhovshorts.com/38-sorrow/

      Take care,

      Travis

  • Carl says:

    Hiya,

    Have just finished the final story from the Eldritch Press collection and searched for 201 on here but couldn’t find it, just 200. Will that be coming soon?

    • Travis Richardson says:

      Hello Carl,

      Yes. I need to post that review. I read the story a few months back, but there was something about it being the last story out of the bunch that made me hesitate for an indefinite period. I’ll get on the review. Thank you for nudge!

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