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January Books 10) The Undiscovered Chekhov

This is a collection of 50 short stories by Anton Chekhov, dating from the 1881-1886 period before he hit the big time, none of them apparently published in English before 1999. I have not read any Chekhov (I tried one of the plays as a teenager, but bounced off the dramatis personæ) so this was fairly new territory. The stories are all very short - the total length of the book is only 234 pages; even so they are interesting enough, reflecting contemporary Russian urban lifestyles, especially if you happen to be a young doctor. A number of them take interesting narrative forms - telegrams, diary entries, dreams. Most of them are meant to be funny, but some of the humour has definitely faded over the centuries. An introduction to a Great Writer previously unknown to me, which has done me no harm at all.

None of the stories passes the Bechdel test; I think I spotted two occasions where a female character addressed a group of people including another female character, but in both cases talking about a man.

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