The thirty-four stories in this volume span Chekhov’s creative career.
They present a wide spectrum of comic and serious themes and a variety of techniques. (His short novels, available in another Norton volume, Seven Short Novels by Chekhov, have been omitted.) Two of the stories have been translated for this edition by Professor Matlaw; the other translations, by Constance Garnett, Ivy Litvinov, and Marian Fell, have been revised in accordance with contemporary usage. Footnotes have been supplied wherever necessary to explain peculiarities of Russian life and the historical era in which Chekhov lived and wrote. "Backgrounds" includes a rich selection of Chekhov’s letters, in new translations by Professor Matlaw, and Gorky’s celebrated essay on Chekhov, translated by Ivy Litvinov. The critical essays offer general views of Chekhov’s art and achievement and detailed analyses of particular stories. The critics are D. S. Mirsky, A. B. Derman (whose essay has been translated from the Russian especially for this edition), Renato Poggioli, Gleb Struve, Donald Rayfield, Karl Kramer, Virginia Llewellyn Smith, and Nils Ake Nilsson. A Selected Bibliography directs readers to resources for further study.