By Kirin Narayan
Anton Chekhov is respected as a boldly cutting edge playwright and brief tale writer—but he wrote greater than simply performs and tales. In Alive within the Writing—an exciting hybrid of writing consultant, biography, and literary analysis—anthropologist and novelist Kirin Narayan introduces readers to a couple different facets of Chekhov: his pithy, witty observations at the writing technique, his lifestyles as a author via debts by way of his acquaintances, kin, and fanatics, and his enterprise into nonfiction via his e-book Sakhalin Island. by means of heavily getting to the folks who lived below the appalling stipulations of the Russian penal colony on Sakhalin, Chekhov confirmed how empirical information mixed with a literary aptitude can deliver readers head to head with far-off, varied lives, enlarging a feeling of human accountability.
Highlighting this stability of the empirical and the literary, Narayan calls on Chekhov to carry new strength to the writing of ethnography and artistic nonfiction alike. Weaving jointly choices from writing by means of and approximately him with examples from different gifted ethnographers and memoirists, she bargains functional routines and suggestion on issues comparable to tale, thought, position, individual, voice, and self. a brand new and full of life exploration of ethnography, Alive within the Writing exhibits how the genre’s attentive, sustained reference to the lives of others can develop into a robust device for any writer.
“[Kirin Narayan] has written a short and great ebook approximately what it capacity to be an ethnographer, and the way to do it responsibly, and better.”
(James wooden the hot Yorker)
“I used to be skeptical approximately no matter if the writings of a nineteenth-century Russian playwright and storyteller, inspiring as they may be, may perhaps supply a lot guidance within the extra prosaic job of crafting educational texts. however. . . . i made a decision to learn on besides. i'm blissful I did. Chekhov, a minimum of in Kirin Narayan’s deft palms, proved to be a shockingly good resource of recommendation for the ethnographic writer.”
(James Staples magazine of the Royal Anthropological Institute)
“Narayan’s brief e-book can simply be learn as a handbook, and a few (especially people with much less event to guarantee them that the doldrums do ultimately go) will locate it helpful for accurately that goal. however it is far greater than that. Narayan’s pleasure at assembly Chekhov around the literature-ethnography divide and the wealthy array of lovely ethnographic writing jointly forcefully remind us that ethnographic writing is rarely easily a descriptive workout. As I learn in the course of the ebook, i used to be again and again struck by way of the experience of familiarity either with the dilemmas confronted by way of Narayan’s selected authors and with the exuberant outbursts with which they leaped around the constraints of a scholarly self-discipline to recapture the insights of fieldwork. If a doctoral pupil will locate useful advice and encouragement the following, for a professional ethnographic author the comfort is available in the conclusion that there's corporation in these likely lonely moments whilst one struggles to render into understandable prose the robust presence in all fieldwork of the inchoate, the imponderable, and—what is usually the results of moral matters for the safety of one’s informants—the unsayable.”
(Michael Herzfeld American Anthropologist)
“Alive within the Writing is a gem of a booklet. Insightful and vigorous to learn, it really is of use to either starting and pro ethnographers, in addition to to somebody who desires to enhance his or her writing approximately social existence. . . . encouraged by means of her personal paintings as an anthropologist and folklorist, Narayan attracts on Chekhov’s existence and his ethnographic paintings, Sakhalin Island, in addition to the works of different ethnographers, to supply an inventive, enticing, and hugely valuable sequence of routines and recommendation to make ethnographic writing come alive.”
(Elizabeth high quality magazine of Folklore Research)
“Chekhov’s particular skill to be a scientist and an artist, a physician and a author, to regularly be found in his writings as an observer and narrator, unfailingly compassionate, yet by no means overbearing, makes Chekhov a task version to which we will be able to all aspire. After examining Narayan’s ebook, you might have considered trying to expire and browse Chekhov sooner than you take a seat to do any of your personal writing. i don't imagine Narayan may locate this provoking in any respect. probably it's even what she intends. i've got consistently heard it acknowledged that you simply write in addition to what you learn. Bravo to Narayan for reminding us of this important fact. She has in actual fact discovered deeply from her muse. Her writing glints with all of the glittering characteristics of Chekhov’s work—brevity, precision, audacity, and the need to inform issues as they're, and to take action with love, humor, and abiding interest for what makes humans such forever fascinating creatures.”
(Ruth Behar present Anthropology)
“Balm for the loneliness and torment of the ethnographic author, this handbook via the most amazing deals the consumer a private writer's workshop, without delay captivating, healing, and useful. The author's mom, her such a lot astute reader, asks: ‘A lot of individuals don't have any challenge writing. the larger factor I'd prefer to comprehend is, do you may have any strategies on how one can placed all of the various little bits together?’ With assistance from Anton Chekhov, her muse and obsession, Narayan does.”--George Marcus, writer of Ethnography via Thick and Thin
(George Marcus 2011-11-22)
“Narayan skillfully weaves the tale of Anton Chekhov’s stopover at to Sakhalin Island and its literary/ethnographic outcome, deftly selected excerpts from modern ethnographic writing, and her personal adventure as anthropologist and instructor to create an insightful and specifically worthy set of innovations, counsel, and routines for someone writing ethnography themselves. learn it and use it, you won’t locate whatever better.”
(Howard S. Becker, writer of Writing for Social Scientists)
"The sustained interplay with Chekhov's lifestyles, paintings, and writing practices is uncommon for a e-book dedicated to craft, yet it's a truly effective and stress-free through-line. the writer weaves jointly wealthy examples from anthropological texts, and those examples collaborate superbly along with her inquiry into Chekhov's artistry and with the writing routines she provides. dependent of their simplicity and sensibleness, the routines invite readers to test, and so they aid translate theoretical options into matters that writers of all degrees share."
(Michele Morano 2011-11-22)
“With a deft contact and an not going muse (Anton Chekhov), this consummate author and reader of ethnographies has became her deep appreciation of the craft and its promise right into a present for anthropologists. Narayan bargains types of and versions for ethnographic writing that might motivate us. i'm wanting to train the booklet, yet simply as wanting to study from it.”--Lila Abu-Lughod, writer of Writing Women’s Worlds
(Lila Abu-Lughod 2011-11-22)
“Alive within the Writing is just a pride to learn. It walks its speak. it really is wealthy in routines to increase an ethnographic writer's skills and striking in its tales of Chekhov as ethnographer. Narayan's tremendous guide for writers (and readers) of ethnography in addition to artistic nonfiction should be a cornerstone for much-needed classes in writing culture.”--Renato Rosaldo, coauthor of tradition & Truth
(Renato Rosaldo 2011-11-22)
“Wise, lucid, loving—this guidebook of savvy illuminations will show and encourage scholars, lecturers, and all these misplaced and located within the writing process.”--James Clifford, writer of at the Edges of Anthropology
(James Clifford 2011-11-22)
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Additional info for Alive in the Writing: Crafting Ethnography in the Company of Chekhov
Looking across the span of his life, Chekhov seems to have balanced his roles as “husband” and “lover,” maintaining identities both as doctor and as writer in many genres, and eventually marrying a woman with whom he’d long enjoyed a passionate affair. Chekhov also combined his literary and medical identities with social engagement. Even when he no longer primarily relied on medicine for a living, he continued to practice as a doctor, treating family and friends, as well as peasants, at no charge.
Writing what’s around you, you’ll immediately notice how much 28 two you leave out. Many details fall out in a quick sketch, as they should, since the representation is made from the perspective of a particular moment, and so conveys a particular preoccupation and mood. Too many painstakingly elaborated details can overwhelm a reader and end up accomplishing less than the bold strokes of an immediate sensory impression. A friend who teaches nonfiction writing once told me about an exercise she uses in her class: the students first describe a place from memory and then, later, go to the place and describe it, the first description invariably has more life and energy, she said, while the second is deadened by a piling on of conscientious detail.
Second, he shows by example how professional identities can Story and Theory 17 coexist, bringing energy to creative aspirations: his life as a doctor and a writer in many genres holds out hope for anyone who writes both as a scholar and in other voices, or who moves between ethnographic insight and social activism. Third, partly because of his shifting social perspectives and fluid movement between writing genres, Chekhov was pointedly, even hilariously, articulate on problems of representation.