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, Esquire, and Vogue, and a reviewer and features writer for the New York Times Book Review.
Ward No. 6 and Other Stories
, by Anton Chekhov
, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics
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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 dont 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 favor...