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Among the stories is one of Chekhov's classics, "The Bet," in which a greedy banker makes an ill-considered bet regarding capital punishment with a young and impressionable guest. Fifteen years later -- the surprise ending provides one of Chekhov's most thought-provoking tales. The title story is a careful reminder of the soul-deadening life of a teacher in the Russian countryside -- for in Russia of Chekhov's day, education was less-valued than it is today, and teachers greatly underpaid and undervalued. Chekhov was of a different social background than more aristocratic Russian authors such as Tolstoy, Dostoevsky and Turgenev -- this offered him an insight into character that differed from theirs. A physician as well, Chekhov's observational skills are clear in this, as with all of his collections of short fiction. These stories will remind the reader of other 19th Century masters of short fiction, such as Maupassant. But their nature, and poetic irony, is exclusively that of Anton Chekhov.
Included in this volume are "Enemies," "The Schoolmaster," "The Examining Magistrate," "Betrothed," "From the Diary of a Violent-Tempered Man," "In the Dark," "A Play," "A Mystery," "Strong Impressions," "Drunk," "The Marshal's Widow," "A Bad Business," "In the Court," "Boots," "Joy," "Ladies," "A Peculiar Man," "At the Barber's," "An Inadvertence," "The Album," "Oh! the Public," "A Tripping Tongue," "Overdoing It," "The Orator," "Malingerers," "In the Graveyard," "Hush!," "In an Hotel," and "In a Strange Land."
Anton Pavlovich Chekhov (1860 - 1904) was a Russian playwright and short story writer, who is considered to be among the greatest writers of short fiction in history. His career as a playwright produced four classics and his best short stories are held in high esteem by writers and critics. Along with Henrik Ibsen and August Strindberg, Chekhov is often referred to as one of the three seminal figures in the birth of early modernism in the theater. Chekhov practiced as a medical doctor throughout most of his literary career: "Medicine is my lawful wife," he once said, "and literature is my mistress." Constance Clara Garnett (1861 - 1946) was an English translator of nineteenth-century Russian literature. Garnett was one of the first English translators of Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Anton Chekhov and introduced them on a wide basis to the English-speaking public.