This book includes 28 short stories and 10 vignettes written during the period 1881 through 1887 and published in popular Moscow and St. Petersburg magazines. None were included in the Collected Works published during Chekhov's lifetime, nor in the multiple volume Tales of Chekhov translated into English by Constance Garnett early in the 20th century. Nine of these stories appeared as a set called Intrigues: Nine Stories by Anton Chekhov in The Atlantic Monthly in 1998 (see annotation in this database).

A number of these stories involve medical or health related situations. "Village Doctors" (1882) is a comic tale of two physician's assistants blundering their way through a morning clinic, while the doctor is out hunting with the district police officer. "A Hypnotic Séance" (1883) reveals a hypnotist who, in desperation, pays his subject to simulate a trance and save the show. "At the Pharmacy" (1885) sketches a scene that many readers will recognize, a rigid and unfeeling health care provider (in this case a pharmacist) and a desperate patient. "Intrigues" (1887) presents a puffed-up and paranoid physician who is about to attend an inquiry regarding a medical mistake that he has made.


The traditional view is that Chekhov's very early stories and sketches were hackwork that the young man dashed off to support himself and his family, while he attended medical school. Chekhov's youthful output was prodigious. By the end of 1886, at the age of 26, he had already published over 400 pieces. After 1887 the mature Chekhov emerged and wrote radically fewer stories, a large percentage of them masterpieces.

Now that we have more access to Chekhov's very early writing, it is clear that the seeds of his genius were evident from the first. It is difficult for us to imagine how refreshingly different these stories must have appeared to their readers, accustomed to the wordiness and the weighty moral tone of Russian writing. These tales share two features that were to become models for the 20th century short story: simplicity and clarity of style, and the story that "just happens," without an obvious beginning, middle, and ending.


Seven Stories Press

Place Published

New York




Peter Constantine

Page Count