this 1915 edition, translated by R. E. C. Long, courtesy of Google books.]
Anton Chekhov was a 19th century Russian author well known for his short stories. The Kiss and Other Stories contains fourteen of these, each like a vignette of a scene from Russian country and city life. "The Kiss" is about soldier whose life is changed - or so he thinks - by an accidental kiss with a complete stranger; "Verotchka" is a story of unrequited love; and "The Runaway" is about a boy's trip to the local hospital. "The Muzhiks" is the longest story, detailing poverty and life in a Russian peasant village.
There is a lot to be learned from these stories, even if you have already studied Russian history. Most of the stories were somber, either depressing and/or very thought-provoking. It made me think how it is easy to do the right thing when your needs are met, but if your life is a continuous desperate attempt at survival, your entire worldview and moral standards are easily affected. You can read about some of these characters and feel you'd never act the way they do, but the fact is, few of us could even imagine what it is to be born into those kinds of circumstances, let alone what we would be like if we were.
4 out of 5 stars.