Chekhov’s Short Stories


In this course we will read and analyze some of the most acclaimed short stories by Anton Pavlovich Chekhov (1860-1904), one of the greatest short-story writers and literary innovators in the history of world literature. As we discuss Chekhov’s short fiction and ponder the fundamental questions of human existence that this author raises in his works, we will venture to grasp reasons for his perennial appeal to many audiences. Special attention will be given to Chekhov’s style with its celebrated economy, subtlety, and the impressionistic use of detail. For the reading assignments and discussion questions see this course’s web page found on (follow the COURSES link).


Below you will find a rather ambitious reading list, yet I intend to explore with you if not all of these short stories, then the majority of them. We will read most of the stories in chronological order. Some of them will be discussed in depth, while others will be addressed in the course of the lectures. The first two classes will cover Chekhov’s early short stories as well as several stories written after 1886, the year of the new beginning in Chekhov’s life and art. In the 3rd class we will discuss in depth A Boring Story, which opens the succession of Chekhov’s mature masterpieces. The last two classes will be devoted to Chekhov’s latest and best known short stories. Discussion questions to select short stories will be posted on this site a few days before each class.


Selected Short Stories of Anton Chekhov, trans. Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky

And a collection of Chekhov’s short stories found on a web site 201 Stories by Anton Chekhov.

 Discussion Questions

Select Bibliography:

Jackson, Robert Luis (ed.) Chekhov: A Collection of Critical Essays. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc, 1967.

Bloom, Harold (ed., introd.). Bloom’s Modern Critical Views: Anton Chekhov. New York: Infobase Publishing, 2009.

Clyman, Toby. A Chekhov Companion. London: Greenwood Press, 1985.

Heim, Michael Henry (transl.) and Simon Karlinsky. Anton Chekhov's Life and Thought: Selected Letters and Commentary. Berkeley: University of California Press. 1975.

Melchinger, Siegfried. Anton Chekhov. New York: Frederick Ungar Publishing Co, 1972.

Mirsky, D. S. A History of Russian Literature. Northwestern University Press, 1958. (368-383)

Shestov, Lev. Creation from the Void.


Class 1, October 21

Early short stories

Death of a Clerk (1883)

Fat and Thin (1883)

Small Fry (1885)

Chameleon (1884)

The Malefactor (1885)

The Marshal’s Widow (1885)

Vanka (1886)

Sleepy (1888)

Grisha (1886)

Kashtanka (1887)

Easter Night (1886)


Class 2, October 28

Stories of Women and their Men

The Cook’s Wedding (1885)

The Huntsman (1885)

Agafya (1886)

Anyuta (1886)

A Chorus Girl (1884)

Sorrow (1886)

Misery (1886)

The Witch (1886)

Mire (1886)

Peasant Women (1891)


Class 3, November 4

Mature Chekhov

A Boring Story (1889)

Gusev (1890)

The Black Monk (1894)

Anna on the Neck (1895)

Rothschild’s Fiddle (1894)

Additional: The Bet (1889)


Class 4, November 11

Chekhov's Later Masterpieces

Ward #6 (1892)

In Exile (1892)

The Student (1894)

The House with the Mezzanine (1896)

The Man in a Case (1898)

Additional: Fidget (1892)

Three Years (1895)

A Medical Case (1898) 

My Life (1896)

Class 5, November 18

Chekhov's Later Masterpieces

The Lady with the Little Dog (1899)

Gooseberries (1898)

About Love (1898)

The Fiancee (1903)

Additional: In the Ravine (1900)

The Bishop (1902)

The Darling (1899)


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