"Ward No. 6 and Other Stories," by Anton Chekhov, is part of the "Barnes & Noble Classics"" "series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of "Barnes & Noble Classics": All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. "Barnes & Noble Classics "pulls together a constellation of influences--biographical, historical, and literary--to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works. Anton Chekhov invented the modern short story. With writing that is concise, realistic, and evocative, he became a sort of photographer in words, less interested in plot than in the subtleties of mood and atmosphere, and the telling detail. His characters, always vividly drawn, come from all walks of life and often seem to be caught up in a world they don't quite understand.
Early in his brief literary career, Chekhov outlined in a letter to his brother his idea of the ingredients of a good short story. Arguing against moral judgments and political, economic, or social commentary, he wrote, "To describe . . . you need . . . to free yourself from the personal expression. . . . Subjectivity is a terrible thing." Instead, he favored objectivity, truthfulness, originality, compassion, and brevity. Although his writing developed and matured, he remained largely faithful to these principles.
This new selection of twenty-three stories explores the entire range of Chekhov's short fiction, from early sketches, such as "The Cook's Wedding" (1885) and "On the Road" (1886) to late works, such as "In the Ravine" (1900) and "The Bishop" (1902). "Ward No. 6 and Other Stories" includes some of his most popular tales, such as the title story and "The Lady with the Dog" (1899), as well as several lesser-known works, no less masterful in their composition.
David Plante is a Professor of Writing at Columbia University. He is the author of many novels, including "The Ghost of Henry James, The Family" (nominated for the National Book Award), and "The Woods." He has been a contributor to "The New Yorker, Esquir"e, and "Vogue," and a reviewer and features writer for the "New York Times Book Review."