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In The Husband, a newly famous stage actress laments her now dependent husband's whines and demands. In Oh, the Public, Chekov depicts a running battle between a conscientious train conductor and an obstreperous passenger. The unhappy results when a doting father invites the members of a theatre cast to his home for dinner are related in A Tragic Actor. These stories are small masterpieces. The scene is set quickly and within a few sentences the story line is underway. But all seem to contain an element of the unexpected.
The selection of stories in this book represents Chekhov's early work which perhaps is not as well known as some of his plays. The stories nevertheless possess unique potency and relevance to our modern lives just as they did back in 19th century Russia when they first appeared in various Russian publications.
Chekhov himself described his work as comic satire: "All I wanted was to say honestly to people: 'Have a look at yourselves and see how bad and dreary your lives are!' The important thing is that people should realize that, for when they do, they will most certainly create another and better life for themselves. I will not live to see it, but I know that it will be quite different, quite unlike our present life."
Chekhov was often criticized by prominent literary reviewers of the time for not providing readers with an answer or ideas how these "dreary lives" can be improved. Of course Chekhov is not giving a direct instruction or providing readers with a manual on how to live a life, but it is possible to find solutions in his stories ? they appear between the lines for each reader. Resolutions are different for each person and only each individual soul can find the right and most appropriate way in their life. Chekhov's own response to this is well documented. He often insisted that the job of an artist was not to answer questions, it was to ask them.
01 A Tragic Actor
02 In A Strange Land
03 Oh! The Public
04 The Looking Glass
05 Her Husband
06 Overdoing it