If any one writer can be said to have invented the modem short story, it is Anton Chekhov. It is not just that Chekhov democratized this art form; more than that, he changed the thrust of short fiction from relating to revealing. And what marvelous and unbearable things are revealed in these Forty Stories. The abashed happiness of a woman in the presence of the husband who abandoned her years before. The obsequious terror of the official who accidentally sneezes on a general. The poignant astonishment of an aging Don Juan overtaken by love. Spanning the entirety of Chekhov's career and including such masterpieces as "Surgery," "The Huntsman," "Anyuta," "Sleepy-head," "The Lady With the Pet Dog," and "The Bishop," this collection manages to be amusing, dazzling, and supremely moving -- often within a single page.