This collection of Chekhov's finest early writing reveals a young writer mastering the art of the short story. 'The Steppe', which established his reputation, is the unforgettable tale of a boy's journey to a new school in Kiev, travelling through majestic landscapes towards an unknown destiny. 'Gusev' depicts an ocean voyage, where the sea takes on a terrifying, primeval power; 'The Kiss' portrays a shy soldier's failed romantic encounter; and in 'The Duel' two men's enmity ends in farce. Haunting and highly atmospheric, all the stories in this volume show a writer emerging from the shadow of his masters - Tolstoy, Turgenev and Gogol - and discovering his own voice. They also illustrate Chekhov's genius for evoking the natural world and exploring inner lives.