Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Back to the Classics...

"It's really a very ordinary story, containing many longueurs and in places the style is very uneven. The author has a weakness for striking effects and resounding phrases. ... For all that, his story makes for easy reading. There's a plot, it makes sense and --most important of all-- it's original. ... And it does have some literary merit."

The Shooting Party by Anton Chekhov takes place over the course of a summer in and around the sleepy town of Tenevo, Russia. The main narrator, Sergey Petrovich Zinovyev, is an investigating magistrate. He's young and handsome, but he's also dismissive, careless, disdainful, and often cruel to his supposed friends. The dissolute, weak-minded and often drunk Count Karneyev is one of those friends, as is Urbenin, the Count's older, stolid estate manager. Not much happens besides some drunken revelry until the three men meet Olenka, the pretty forester's daughter, walking in the woods one day.
"...a girl of about nineteen, with beautiful fair hair, kind blue eyes and long curls. ... Poor little fair-haired girl! Did I imagine for one moment on that serenest of May nights, that she would later become the heroine of my troubled novel?"
That's when things change, with a sudden marriage, an adulterous affair (or two), and murder. There's even a plot twist at the end. Disenchantment, with life, with love, and even with one's self, seems to be the main theme of this novel. Chekhov writes well, but overall, this is a pretty depressing story. And none of the characters are very likable. Needless to say, this one won't make my favorite reads of 2019 list. But it does count as my Classic in Translation for Karen's Back to the Classics Challenge which makes me happy.

Happy Reading!

32 comments:

  1. I'm glad you enjoyed this one. I don't read a lot of classics at all.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I used to read a lot of classics, but I've read most of the ones I want to read, you know? The others I don't really care much about.

      Delete
  2. Ahhh, don't need a depressing story right now, but certainly a genuine literary classic!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, this one wasn't a happy book by any means.

      Delete
  3. I have read one or two of Chekhov's short stories, but have never thought about reading this book. It sounds interesting but I have to be in the right mood for depressing books.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I totally understand. I can read just about anything IF I'm in the right mood for it. :)

      Delete
  4. I have a shelf full of classic novels and essays but I keep ignoring them. And they are getting tired of it. One of my favorite American classics (a classic to me, anyway) is Theodore Drieser's "An American Tragedy." It is a brutal murder tale and I'm surprised it was written so long ago when publishing standards were so different from today.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love An American Tragedy! (Even though the story itself is sad.) I actually like most of Dreiser's novels. I find him a very readable author. :)

      Delete
  5. I don't read a lot of classic but this sounds interesting. I'll keep this book in mind should the mood strikes considering the story is depressing. ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's not very long, so it reads pretty fast. And it's not a bad story. Just not a very happy one.

      Delete
  6. Sudden marriage, adulterous affairs and murder? Sign me up! I normally don't mind characters who are unpleasant and depressing stories if they are at least interesting. I'm going to add this to my TBR! :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Can't wait to hear what you think of it! :D

      Delete
  7. I haven't read this one, but yes, Chekhov can be dark! I saw one of his plays (Uncle Vanya) on stage once and suddenly Chekhov made sense to me. Before that I didn't get it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Stories always seem better to me when I can see them performed on stage.

      Delete
  8. Oh my, dark indeed. I don't think this will make it to my TBR either.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Congratulations Lark on fulfilling the classics in translation category. The Shooting Party does sound a bit depressing. I did read a Chekhov short story or two and have always meant to go back to him. Maybe one of his plays.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wouldn't mind seeing one of his plays sometime.

      Delete
  10. This one does sound depressing. I haven't read as many classics as I probably should. I'll have to remedy that one of these days.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There are lots of good ones to choose from. :)

      Delete
  11. A lot of the classics seem like depressing reads, and filled with unlikable characters. I don't like most of them and I have to scratch my head at why on earth they're considered a "classic". Who decides such things? I vote no! Lol. Sorry to hear this wasn't a hit.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. :D Some classics do not deserve the name, that's for sure.

      Delete
  12. Depressing sounds about right for this story. Not sure I'll read it anytime soon, but I have been wanting to dip back into the classics and this post has sparked my interest again. I'm thinking of re-reading Little women again - especially as they have new covers coming out for some of the classics and the Little Women one looks amazing :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Little Women has some great moments in it. Did you ever read any of Alcott's other books?

      Delete
  13. I’m having a hard time these days with reading anything depressing. I think I’m sensitized by all the depressing things going on in the world on a daily basis. I’m not trying to be an ostrich, but I look for uplifting and inspiring more often now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The world is pretty depressing these days; I can see why you'd look for something more optimistic and uplifting in your reading! :)

      Delete
  14. I would love to read something by Chekov and I think I even have one of his books on my shelf but just haven't gotten around to it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is the first work by him that I've ever read. I'd like to try some of his short stories. Or maybe even one of his plays.

      Delete
  15. Yes, it does sound depressing. I’m not a big fan of Russian lit—I clearly do not have a Russian soul :)

    Now you can check this one off the list!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I must not have a Russian soul either; I've never even wanted to try the more famous Russian classics...mostly because they're so darn long!

      Delete
  16. It's been ages since I last picked up a classic. I need to go through mine and pick one up to read.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I used to read more classics, too, but I don't as much any more. That's why I occasionally do this particular reading challenge. It makes me read them again.

      Delete