I'm not sure everybody in this section is reviewing the same book. Some other reviews make mention of there being twenty stories in the compilation. I read the Oxford World's Classics edition, ISBN 0-19-283733-8, which comprises seven stories:THE BUTTERFLYWARD NUMBER SIXARIADNEA DREARY STORYNEIGHBORSAN ANONYMOUS STORY andDOCTOR STARTSEVThese are not upbeat tales. I guess the common thread running through them is a very life-weary feel. Chekov does a good job depicting the hardships of 19th century Russia. The title story concerns itself with country doctor Ragin who would rather talk philosophy with mental patients in Ward Six than round on his other cases. Enter an upstart new doctor Khobotov fresh from the city, who covets Ragin's easy practice. Over time, townspeople start to wonder whether Ragin's prolonged association with the mental patients signifies that he himself may actually be mentally ill. The brilliance of the storytelling is in the uncertainties... could Ragin actually be mentally ill? is this a ploy by Khobotov to usurp Ragin's appointment? is Averanovich Ragin's friend or foe? Although this parable is quite short (47 pages), the complexities running through it are more like what I would expect from a much longer work."The Butterfly" and "Ariadne" and "An Anonymouys Story" are cautionary tales about romances built on poor foundations. "Doctor Startsev" is a variation on this theme- a romance which had potential, but which was never allowed to blossom.In "A Dreary Story", an accomplished academic looks back on his career with disillusionment, and contempt for most of his peers. In that respect, it reminds me of that old movie "The Browning Version". Unfortunately, "Dreary Story" is, in fact, dreary - and offers none of the uplifting redemption that "Browning Version" does.If you liked Tolstoy's [b:Death of Ivan Ilyich and Other Stories: the Raid Woodfelling Three Deaths Polikushka the Death of Ivan Ilyich after the Ball the Forged Coupon|824279|Death of Ivan Ilyich and Other Stories the Raid, Woodfelling, Three Deaths, Polikushka, the Death of Ivan Ilyich, after the Ball, the Forged Coupon, The (Penguin Classics)|Leo Tolstoy|http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/210fXo6yrKL._SL75_.jpg|810055], you should enjoy these selections.