is a collection of literary gems by some of the most renowned Russian writers, compiled and edited by Thomas Seltzer. The book contains a wide variety of stories, ranging from tales of love and tragedy to those of satire and humor, all of which provide a fascinating glimpse into Russian culture and society.
In the introduction to the book, Seltzer provides some historical context for the stories that follow. He notes that Russia has a long and rich tradition of storytelling, and that the country’s harsh climate and geography have shaped the Russian character and produced some of the world’s greatest literature. He also points out that the stories in the collection span a period of almost a century, from the mid-nineteenth century to the early twentieth century, reflecting the changing social and political landscape of Russia during that time.
The first story in the collection is “The Queen of Spades” by Alexander Pushkin, a gripping tale of greed and gambling set in the high society of St. Petersburg. The story is a classic example of the psychological realism that characterizes much of Russian literature, and is considered one of Pushkin’s finest works.
Other notable stories in the collection include Leo Tolstoy’s “The Death of Ivan Ilyich,” a poignant meditation on mortality and the meaning of life, and Anton Chekhov’s “The Lady with the Dog,” a story of illicit love and personal transformation set against the backdrop of the Black Sea resort town of Yalta.
Many of the stories in the collection deal with the themes of love and tragedy, exploring the complexities of human relationships and the ways in which they can both enrich and torment our lives. For example, “The Overcoat” by Nikolai Gogol is a satirical tale of a lowly government clerk who becomes obsessed with acquiring a new coat, leading to tragic consequences.
Others stories in the collection focus on more lighthearted themes, such as humor and satire. For example, “The Nose” by Gogol is a comical story about a man who wakes up to find that his nose has disappeared, leading to a series of absurd and surreal events.
Throughout the book, Seltzer’s selections are superb, showcasing the breadth and depth of Russian literature. He has selected stories that are both accessible and thought-provoking, and which showcase the unique voice and sensibility of each writer.
In conclusion, “Best Russian Short Stories” is a fascinating collection of stories that provides a glimpse into the rich and varied world of Russian literature. Seltzer’s introductions and selections are excellent, giving readers a valuable overview of the major themes and styles of the writers included in the book. Whether you are a longtime fan of Russian literature or a newcomer to the genre, this collection is sure to captivate and inspire.