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The Portable Chekhov


“Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”

This is exactly what Anton Pavlovich Chekhov did to his stories. He didn’t believe in shining of the moon; he, instead, tried to search its effect on his characters. I was totally unaware of this talent although I had heard of him so much. Recently I just happened to read his short story collection. I was lucky enough to be gifted by someone the book otherwise I would never have laid my hands on such a masterpiece. But I m glad I did or I would have missed such a wonderful piece of literature.

Anton was a writer who as per his contemporaries was assumed to be forgotten after a few decades of his death. But exactly opposite of it happened. His literature kept him alive and he is read till date by students of literature or those who believe in producing class literature. His short stories with modernist outlook are far above excellence. This particular book The Portable Chekhov is a compilation of two plays one major and the other minor and 28 stories along with some of his letters. His stories cover major areas of life and are realistic at the core.

Anton still continues to remain to be one of the best story writers of Russia and also the world. The quotes from his writings are famous and are still in use by modern literary genius. Some of my favourite quotes are:

“Any idiot can face a crisis – it’s day to day living that wears you out.”

“If you are afraid of loneliness, don’t marry.”

“Idea for a short story. The shore of a lake, a young girl who’s spent her whole life beside it, a girl like you. She loves the lake the way a seagull does, and she’s happy and free as a seagull. Then a man comes along, sees her and ruins her life because he had nothing better to do. Destroys her like this seagull here.”

Wonderful !!! How well he sums up the reality of life in a light way. Moreover, the way Anton Chekhov describes the things, even the sordid details go on to become happy-handy and going…

His stories are captivating and arresting. His literary stature has made him the greatest influence on modern short story writing. His writings gave voice to the oppressed peasants and their conflict that existed with the landed gentry. Some of his stories like “The Kiss”, “The Darling”, and “In the Ravine” represent his portrayal of the human comedy. The letters convey his aspirations and convictions of life and art. His plays “The Boor” which is his earlier dramatic work and “The Cherry Orchard” which is his last and finest play is also included in this THE PORTABLE LIBRARY.

Yes, I would like to term it as a library for it has all the variety to make it one. Anton Chekhov is alive through his genius still igniting the literary fire in young aspirers. His each and every story is far above in the levels of excellence if even the complete novels of the present day are put up in front. And a work of brilliance needs no ratings or stars so I will just like to stop with a quote on life by the man himself full of hope and positivity.

“Let us learn to appreciate there will be times when the trees will be bare and look forward to the time when we may pick the fruit.”

by – Nidhi Sharma

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