Blackwell North Amer Though long recognized as one of the founding fathers of the short story, it is perhaps the combined longevity and scope of Anton Chekhov's influence that is most astounding. The list of authors, many of them contemporary, who routinely cite Chekhov as a major influence in their own writing could almost read as a who's who in 20th-century English and American literature. Indeed, the seemingly casual story of an ordinary life, told with articulate delicacy and heightened mood and detail, populates not only Chekhov's canon but also that of the modern short story. His ability to provide for the reader a truly intimate feel for what is most telling - a vista, the weather, a conversation - has become the cornerstone of the form. Prevalent in the works of Katherine Mansfield, Ernest Hemingway, Raymond Carver, and Nadine Gordimer, among others, this distinctive style of writing is a testament to Chekhov's international influence. As with all the "greats" of literature, though, it is more than just style and structure that lives on: the motif of individual freedom, so prevalent in Chekhov's writing, is especially poignant today. In Anton Chekhov: A Study of the Short Fiction, Ronald L. Johnson follows the Russian master as he matures from a newspaper and magazine writer to becoming the "father" of the modern short story. In a chronological study of an astoundingly prolific career, Johnson examines a number of Chekhov stories in great detail, echoing the thorough attention to detail for which his subject was well known. In this comprehensive study, Johnson follows the development of what was to become the benchmark form of the short story, while also tracing the vitality and importance of the content of those stories. Johnson's study shows that Chekhov was more than just the father of a style, but was profoundly concerned with human rights and the search for a meaningful life.