The Crooked Mirror and Other Stories (1883-1890) by Anton Chekhov
The first English translation of many of the lost early stories by the world-renowned author of The Cherry Orchard and Uncle Vanya. Each story in this fine collection is a fresh reminder that this prodigious dramatist and storyteller charted unexplored depths of the human heart.
Was it what I expected?
I wasn’t sure what to expect, really. I knew Chekhov was associated with a lighter vein of Russian literature, but still realistic. It is lighter, but it’s not comedic. I’m also not familiar with his plays (yet), so I don’t really have a point of comparison there.
Did I like it?
I read about half the stories, and made sure to read those that the introduction pointed out as the best. I liked them okay, but didn’t love them, because the stories are quite good, but they’re not great. Most of them aren’t very memorable. As early work they’re remarkable, the skill is absolutely there, but no individual story knocked me senseless with imagery or language or twist, and they started to blend together after a while (which is why I didn’t take the time to read them all). They’re good enough for me to want to read his plays though, because technically they are very good indeed. (Some of the issue may also be in translation and lack of context, because on several occasions I felt like I just didn’t get some signification that was meant to be there behind the narrative).
Is it worth reading?
If you like Chekhov, sure. For itself, meh. I’ve had Classics Club reads I loved and a few I started and didn’t like (and thus didn’t finish or review), so I guess it’s time I hit something middle-of-the-road.