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The Black Monk and Other Stories

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Chekhov can characterize with a single well-selected detail. He sums up relationships among a group of people, or the beliefs held by an entire country, by finding those key objects that crystallize his characters' strongest emotions. These four stories dramatize an array of obsessions that are at once purely Russian and deeply universal. Ralph Cosham's voice is so clear and unaccented as he reads these tales that he is a bit surprising; the complex Russian names stand out, jolting the listeners. But that's the only shock here, as Cosham fits his delivery to Chekhov's style, surging to pile description on description, then pausing, to give entire scenes a unified feel and pace.
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