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A practising doctor, Chekhov was an acute observer of Russian society's moral, as well as physical sickness. Joining The Russian Master, Ward Number Six, and A Woman's Kingdom in the World's Classics series, this collection, including `The Party', `After the Theatre', and `A Case History', again poses his recurrent literary quandary of whether to moralize, hoping to reform these ailments, or simply to entertain. The solution is to be found in the stories themselves, which, like his plays,offer no easy answers, but pinpoint the anguish, tedium, or downright evil of his characters with an irony that makes them both poignant and truthful.