Category: Anton Chekhov

book review – The Steppe and Other Stories


Any collection of short stories should provide an insight into a writer’s mind. Unlike a single piece of work there is the chance not only to see how an author handles different subjects and emotions but often in a single volume how their style has matured over the years.

It is no different with Anton Chekhov’s collection of short stories, The Steppe and Other Stories. There are some here that are short in length but deep in meaning and then the final title story, which is long and can appear to be without much direction at times, that is designed to be a tribute to the Russian landscape as well as a tale of growing up.

What you start to learn by reading through this collection is that Chekhov was putting down on paper what it meant to not only be Russian but also to be poor, wealthy and love struck in a country that had a clearly defined hierarchy of social strata. When love should strike as with the accountant and the beautiful landowner’s daughter in Verotchka, social as much as emotional resistance comes into play. On other occasions those with money are robbed and cheated by the poor who somehow thing that God is on their side because they have been dealt a bad hand in life.

The writing is focused but now and again takes flight – particularly the storm scene in The Steppe – and when it does you can start to appreciate just how good Chekhov is at painting a picture that would make most travel writers envious. He is able to draw you in to a story that twists and turns and is a world that is complete. The Mire is one of those stories where the final full stop does not prevent you from thinking about what happens next.

There is also a theme of pride, with the Jewish inn proprietors brother expressing anger at his perceived position in life in The Steppe. It is also at the core of the tragic tale Volodya, who takes his own life after being spurned by one of his mother’s friends. Her laughter and ridicule is too much for the young man to bear.

Because this is a short story collection it is not daunting and by the time the longest story comes at the end you are bedded down in his style and quite happy to stick with it. The reasons why this deserves to be looked at is because it shows just how a writer approaches different emotional situations and manages to work through a tight story despite being hedged in by pagination restrictions.

The perfect book to have with you for those situations when reading can only be done in chunks. There is a real satisfaction here being able to finish up a story in a matter of minutes.

Version read – Everyman Library hardback

book review – The Steppe and Other Stories


Any collection of short stories should provide an insight into a writer’s mind. Unlike a single piece of work there is the chance not only to see how an author handles different subjects and emotions but often in a single volume how their style has matured over the years.

It is no different with Anton Chekhov’s collection of short stories, The Steppe and Other Stories. There are some here that are short in length but deep in meaning and then the final title story, which is long and can appear to be without much direction at times, that is designed to be a tribute to the Russian landscape as well as a tale of growing up.

What you start to learn by reading through this collection is that Chekhov was putting down on paper what it meant to not only be Russian but also to be poor, wealthy and love struck in a country that had a clearly defined hierarchy of social strata. When love should strike as with the accountant and the beautiful landowner’s daughter in Verotchka, social as much as emotional resistance comes into play. On other occasions those with money are robbed and cheated by the poor who somehow thing that God is on their side because they have been dealt a bad hand in life.

The writing is focused but now and again takes flight – particularly the storm scene in The Steppe – and when it does you can start to appreciate just how good Chekhov is at painting a picture that would make most travel writers envious. He is able to draw you in to a story that twists and turns and is a world that is complete. The Mire is one of those stories where the final full stop does not prevent you from thinking about what happens next.

There is also a theme of pride, with the Jewish inn proprietors brother expressing anger at his perceived position in life in The Steppe. It is also at the core of the tragic tale Volodya, who takes his own life after being spurned by one of his mother’s friends. Her laughter and ridicule is too much for the young man to bear.

Because this is a short story collection it is not daunting and by the time the longest story comes at the end you are bedded down in his style and quite happy to stick with it. The reasons why this deserves to be looked at is because it shows just how a writer approaches different emotional situations and manages to work through a tight story despite being hedged in by pagination restrictions.

The perfect book to have with you for those situations when reading can only be done in chunks. There is a real satisfaction here being able to finish up a story in a matter of minutes.

Version read – Everyman Library hardback

book review – The Steppe and Other Stories


Any collection of short stories should provide an insight into a writer’s mind. Unlike a single piece of work there is the chance not only to see how an author handles different subjects and emotions but often in a single volume how their style has matured over the years.

It is no different with Anton Chekhov’s collection of short stories, The Steppe and Other Stories. There are some here that are short in length but deep in meaning and then the final title story, which is long and can appear to be without much direction at times, that is designed to be a tribute to the Russian landscape as well as a tale of growing up.

What you start to learn by reading through this collection is that Chekhov was putting down on paper what it meant to not only be Russian but also to be poor, wealthy and love struck in a country that had a clearly defined hierarchy of social strata. When love should strike as with the accountant and the beautiful landowner’s daughter in Verotchka, social as much as emotional resistance comes into play. On other occasions those with money are robbed and cheated by the poor who somehow thing that God is on their side because they have been dealt a bad hand in life.

The writing is focused but now and again takes flight – particularly the storm scene in The Steppe – and when it does you can start to appreciate just how good Chekhov is at painting a picture that would make most travel writers envious. He is able to draw you in to a story that twists and turns and is a world that is complete. The Mire is one of those stories where the final full stop does not prevent you from thinking about what happens next.

There is also a theme of pride, with the Jewish inn proprietors brother expressing anger at his perceived position in life in The Steppe. It is also at the core of the tragic tale Volodya, who takes his own life after being spurned by one of his mother’s friends. Her laughter and ridicule is too much for the young man to bear.

Because this is a short story collection it is not daunting and by the time the longest story comes at the end you are bedded down in his style and quite happy to stick with it. The reasons why this deserves to be looked at is because it shows just how a writer approaches different emotional situations and manages to work through a tight story despite being hedged in by pagination restrictions.

The perfect book to have with you for those situations when reading can only be done in chunks. There is a real satisfaction here being able to finish up a story in a matter of minutes.

Version read – Everyman Library hardback

Lunchtime read: The Steppe and Other Stories

The story, and the collection of short stories, ends with the steppe again the main backdrop to a terrific storm that darkens the sky and turns the normal in a lightning illuminated horror show. Just like the storms that Joseph Conrad describes out at sea the sky turns black long before the rain comes. At the end of the storm Yegorushka has gone through some sort of illness but also changed in terms of becoming more grown up and is able to start his new life – he has no choice – far away from home.

Highlights from pages 115 – 148
Dymov apologies to Yegorushka and the travellers get ready to set off but the sky darkens and the experienced waggoners get ready for a storm. They pass Yegorushka a mat to keep the rain off but the young boy is terrified as the lightning illuminates strange outlines and those who were one minute before within earshot are now drowned out by the thunder and then the rain. By the time they reach the village where his Uncle and Father Christopher are waiting he is very ill. It is the priest rather than is uncle who looks after him and the next day he is well enough to be taken to his aunt’s house to be left to start his new life at school. The young boy chases after his uncle and the priest when they leave but they are gone and he is left alone to wonder what his new life will hold.

The steppe serves as the backdrop to Yegorushka growing up coming into contact with peasants, understanding that he is being separated from his mother and learning about the priorities that those with money have not just his uncle but also the rich merchants who operate in the area.

A review will follow shortly…

Lunchtime read: The Steppe and Other Stories

The story, and the collection of short stories, ends with the steppe again the main backdrop to a terrific storm that darkens the sky and turns the normal in a lightning illuminated horror show. Just like the storms that Joseph Conrad describes out at sea the sky turns black long before the rain comes. At the end of the storm Yegorushka has gone through some sort of illness but also changed in terms of becoming more grown up and is able to start his new life – he has no choice – far away from home.

Highlights from pages 115 – 148
Dymov apologies to Yegorushka and the travellers get ready to set off but the sky darkens and the experienced waggoners get ready for a storm. They pass Yegorushka a mat to keep the rain off but the young boy is terrified as the lightning illuminates strange outlines and those who were one minute before within earshot are now drowned out by the thunder and then the rain. By the time they reach the village where his Uncle and Father Christopher are waiting he is very ill. It is the priest rather than is uncle who looks after him and the next day he is well enough to be taken to his aunt’s house to be left to start his new life at school. The young boy chases after his uncle and the priest when they leave but they are gone and he is left alone to wonder what his new life will hold.

The steppe serves as the backdrop to Yegorushka growing up coming into contact with peasants, understanding that he is being separated from his mother and learning about the priorities that those with money have not just his uncle but also the rich merchants who operate in the area.

A review will follow shortly…

Lunchtime read: The Steppe and Other Stories

Yegorushka starts the process of growing up before he even gets to school as he is confronted by injustice, jealously and has to come to terms with the fact he is different from the others around him because he is a ‘gentleman’ and not one of the peasantry.

Highlights of The Steppe between pages 75 – 115

As the travellers head along the road they start to talk about the past and the old man, who has been reasonably kind to Yegorushka, reveals that his wife and children were burnt to death but despite that the wool traders loved to dwell in the better days of the past

“The Russian loves recalling life, but he does not love living.”

Yegorushka listens along with the others as the old man Panteley tells them about how he was accompanying merchants who were about to be killed when either the Lord or bystanders intervened to save them. Then a love struck man wanders across their camp and afterwards those who are depressed turn on each other and Yegorushka springs to the defence of those being attacked by Dymov, who seems intent on causing trouble to ease his own boredom and depression. As he loses his temper it becomes clear not only does the young man not know how to relate to Dymov but he is also pretty naive about the cruelty of life.

Last chunk tomorrow…

Lunchtime read: The Steppe and Other Stories

Yegorushka starts the process of growing up before he even gets to school as he is confronted by injustice, jealously and has to come to terms with the fact he is different from the others around him because he is a ‘gentleman’ and not one of the peasantry.

Highlights of The Steppe between pages 75 – 115

As the travellers head along the road they start to talk about the past and the old man, who has been reasonably kind to Yegorushka, reveals that his wife and children were burnt to death but despite that the wool traders loved to dwell in the better days of the past

“The Russian loves recalling life, but he does not love living.”

Yegorushka listens along with the others as the old man Panteley tells them about how he was accompanying merchants who were about to be killed when either the Lord or bystanders intervened to save them. Then a love struck man wanders across their camp and afterwards those who are depressed turn on each other and Yegorushka springs to the defence of those being attacked by Dymov, who seems intent on causing trouble to ease his own boredom and depression. As he loses his temper it becomes clear not only does the young man not know how to relate to Dymov but he is also pretty naive about the cruelty of life.

Last chunk tomorrow…