©2008 SamFry Limited (P)2008 HarperCollins Publishers
Anton Chekhov's short stories are more numerous than his plays but harder to appreciate: as plays they are economical with means - no fireworks of plot here - but the absence of actors means there is little emotion to balance the close minute observations of the world. Here, Stephen Fry offers magnificient show, that almost elevates the stories to the emotional level of playacting on stage, though he seems never to go over the top; it is a cearfully studied and controlled performance with a feel of great spontanity at the same time.
"'He's a Russian Bear - give him some Chekhov...'"
Chekhov is said to be one of the World's most admired playwrights/authors among thespians. Part of the reason for this is that few have read him & he sounds bewilderingly hard to get into (similar to the reputation of James Joyce or Dostoyevsky).
The fact is that he isn't really that daunting and his short stories are accessible & often fun. Couple this with having the Master of Eloquent Simplification reading it (and a good translater in Constance Garnet) and you will find that this download makes an excellent introduction to Chekhov.
In all there are 7 stories of about 5-15 minutes each (Story 5, though, is 40 minutes):
1. An Avenger
2. A Blunder
4. The Huntsman
5. The Lady and the Dog
One thing I would say is that it did take me two full listens to really get into the stories, so this is not for those who want easy, light reading.
However, when compared to Dickens, it is light as a Fairy Cake.
Overall this download is a rewarding experience. I would say though that 7 stories (& 80 minutes of material) is a bit mean on the part of the publishers. There is also the fact that Stephen Fry has recorded better audio downloads (e.g. ? Stephen Fry Presents a Selection of Oscar Wilde's Short Stories ? & ?Fry and Laurie Read Daudet and Jerome?), which are worth trying before this as they are simpler & more complete.
Still, if you want to gain a foothold in the World of Chekhov, then there are few better places to start than this book. Unless, of course, you happen to be a Russian Bear...
"Entertaining and well-read"
The stories are entertaining. Stephen brings the characters and the circustances of the stories alive with his rich range of expression.
This is the first time I've read (or listened to) Anton Chekhov, and some interesting plots and scenes are described that will probably make me look through his work for something more substantial.
The book is expertly read by Stephen Fry. I'm a big fan of his narrative style and so that was always going to be a plus point for me.
I really like this short story series, as it gives you an insight into the styles of these authors.
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