By Kirin Narayan
Anton Chekhov is respected as a boldly leading edge playwright and brief tale writer—but he wrote greater than simply performs and tales. In Alive within the Writing—an fascinating hybrid of writing consultant, biography, and literary analysis—anthropologist and novelist Kirin Narayan introduces readers to a few different facets of Chekhov: his pithy, witty observations at the writing procedure, his existence as a author via money owed via his acquaintances, kinfolk, and fanatics, and his enterprise into nonfiction via his booklet Sakhalin Island. through heavily getting to the folk who lived below the appalling stipulations of the Russian penal colony on Sakhalin, Chekhov confirmed how empirical info mixed with a literary aptitude can deliver readers head to head with far-off, diversified lives, enlarging a feeling of human accountability.
Highlighting this stability of the empirical and the literary, Narayan calls on Chekhov to convey new strength to the writing of ethnography and inventive nonfiction alike. Weaving jointly choices from writing by way of and approximately him with examples from different proficient ethnographers and memoirists, she bargains useful workouts and suggestion on subject matters akin to tale, concept, position, individual, voice, and self. a brand new and vigorous exploration of ethnography, Alive within the Writing indicates how the genre’s attentive, sustained reference to the lives of others can develop into a strong software for any writer.
“[Kirin Narayan] has written a quick and wonderful booklet approximately what it potential to be an ethnographer, and the way to do it responsibly, and better.”
(James wooden the recent 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 counsel within the extra prosaic activity of crafting educational texts. however. . . . i made a decision to learn on besides. i'm completely happy I did. Chekhov, not less than in Kirin Narayan’s deft arms, proved to be a shockingly sturdy resource of recommendation for the ethnographic writer.”
(James Staples magazine of the Royal Anthropological Institute)
“Narayan’s brief ebook can simply be learn as a guide, and a few (especially people with much less adventure to guarantee them that the doldrums do finally go) will locate it worthy for accurately that objective. however it is far greater than that. Narayan’s pleasure at assembly Chekhov around the literature-ethnography divide and the wealthy array of gorgeous ethnographic writing jointly forcefully remind us that ethnographic writing is rarely easily a descriptive workout. As I learn in the course of the publication, i used to be many times struck by way of the experience of familiarity either with the dilemmas confronted by means 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 scholar will locate functional suggestions and encouragement right here, for a pro 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 strong presence in all fieldwork of the inchoate, the imponderable, and—what is typically the results of moral issues 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 full of life to learn, it truly is of use to either starting and pro ethnographers, in addition to to somebody who desires to increase his or her writing approximately social lifestyles. . . . encouraged via her personal paintings as an anthropologist and folklorist, Narayan attracts on Chekhov’s lifestyles and his ethnographic paintings, Sakhalin Island, in addition to the works of different ethnographers, to supply an resourceful, enticing, and hugely worthy sequence of workouts and suggestion to make ethnographic writing come alive.”
(Elizabeth advantageous magazine of Folklore Research)
“Chekhov’s distinctive skill to be a scientist and an artist, a physician and a author, to continually be found in his writings as an observer and narrator, unfailingly compassionate, yet by no means overbearing, makes Chekhov a job version to which we will all aspire. After examining Narayan’s ebook, it's your decision to expire and skim Chekhov sooner than you sit to do any of your personal writing. i don't imagine Narayan might locate this frightening in any respect. probably it truly is even what she intends. i've got continuously 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 sincerely discovered deeply from her muse. Her writing glints with all of the glittering features 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 people such eternally attention-grabbing creatures.”
(Ruth Behar present Anthropology)
“Balm for the loneliness and torment of the ethnographic author, this handbook through essentially the most amazing bargains the person a private writer's workshop, right away fascinating, healing, and functional. The author's mom, her so much astute reader, asks: ‘A lot of individuals don't have any challenge writing. the larger factor I'd prefer to be aware of is, do you will have any ideas on find out how to positioned the entire assorted little bits together?’ With the aid of 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 end result, deftly selected excerpts from modern ethnographic writing, and her personal event as anthropologist and instructor to create an insightful and in particular invaluable set of recommendations, assistance, and workouts for a person 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 rare for a booklet dedicated to craft, yet it's a really effective and stress-free through-line. the writer weaves jointly wealthy examples from anthropological texts, and those examples collaborate fantastically together with her inquiry into Chekhov's artistry and with the writing workouts she offers. based of their simplicity and sensibleness, the routines invite readers to scan, they usually support translate theoretical ideas into issues 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 reward for anthropologists. Narayan bargains types of and versions for ethnographic writing that might motivate us. i'm wanting to educate the booklet, yet simply as wanting to research 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 workouts to increase an ethnographic writer's skills and staggering in its tales of Chekhov as ethnographer. Narayan's outstanding handbook for writers (and readers) of ethnography in addition to artistic nonfiction may 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 train 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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Extra resources for Alive in the Writing: Crafting Ethnography in the Company of Chekhov
Red coleus leaves that once decorated the ritual “eye” (pamataan) of someone’s rice field still flourished in five-year regrowth amid trees as thick as one’s arm. Fruit pits once tossed out of someone’s window had grown into productive trees before the forest was ten years old. Notice how the colors, varieties, and ages of plants all reveal human action. Ken George, reading this chapter, also recalled how his friend Papa Ati took him out in the Sulawesi mountains for a lesson on how to listen to the sounds of spirit voices in the river.
Her prior intimate knowledge of the forest adds to the sense of devastation as she chronicles the loss of trees, species, and ways of life, and the new social formations that have arisen. Bearing witness to environmental destruction is increasingly a painful aspect of ethnographic work and simply of living in these rapacious times. Chekhov juxtaposes his observations of the banks of the River Duyka with a zoologist’s description of the same river in 1881, just nine years earlier. Where the zoologist had recorded an enormous and ancient forest enfolding the river, and a marshy swampland, Chekhov found a river with banks so denuded that he was reminded of Moscow’s city canal.
As I’ve composed this short portrait, I’ve been reminded of a letter he wrote to a friend from Nice in the spring of 1898, when he was already a famous writer and playwright, worthy of an oil portrait: Braz is painting my portrait. At the studio. I sit in an armchair which has a green velvet back. En face. White tie. People say that both the tie and I are a good likeness, but my expression, as last year, looks as if I’d taken a great whiff of horseradish . . Writing about Chekhov, I’ve often wondered if I’ve got both the likeness and the expression right.