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 fascinating hybrid of writing advisor, biography, and literary analysis—anthropologist and novelist Kirin Narayan introduces readers to a few different aspects of Chekhov: his pithy, witty observations at the writing procedure, his lifestyles as a author via debts through his neighbors, kin, and fanatics, and his enterprise into nonfiction via his publication Sakhalin Island. via 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 away, various lives, enlarging a feeling of human accountability.
Highlighting this stability of the empirical and the literary, Narayan calls on Chekhov to carry new power to the writing of ethnography and inventive nonfiction alike. Weaving jointly choices from writing via and approximately him with examples from different gifted ethnographers and memoirists, she deals functional workouts and suggestion on issues reminiscent of tale, idea, position, individual, voice, and self. a brand new and energetic exploration of ethnography, Alive within the Writing exhibits how the genre’s attentive, sustained reference to the lives of others can turn into a robust device for any writer.
“[Kirin Narayan] has written a short and impressive ebook approximately what it capability 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 could be, might provide a lot counsel 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 fingers, proved to be an incredibly 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 handbook, and a few (especially people with much less event to guarantee them that the doldrums do finally cross) will locate it invaluable for accurately that goal. however it is way 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 isn't easily a descriptive workout. As I learn in the course of the publication, i used to be time and again struck by means of the experience of familiarity either with the dilemmas confronted via 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 tips and encouragement right here, for a pro ethnographic author the relaxation is available in the belief that there's corporation in these possible lonely moments while one struggles to render into understandable prose the robust presence in all fieldwork of the inchoate, the imponderable, and—what is typically 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 e-book. Insightful and vigorous to learn, it's of use to either starting and pro ethnographers, in addition to to a person who desires to enhance his or her writing approximately social existence. . . . encouraged by way of 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 valuable sequence of routines and suggestion to make ethnographic writing come alive.”
(Elizabeth superb magazine of Folklore Research)
“Chekhov’s certain skill to be a scientist and an artist, a doctor and a author, to continuously 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 be able to all aspire. After studying Narayan’s ebook, you might have considered trying to expire and browse Chekhov earlier than you take a seat to do any of your individual writing. i don't imagine Narayan might locate this scary in any respect. maybe it really is 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 truly realized deeply from her muse. Her writing glints with all of the glittering characteristics of Chekhov’s work—brevity, precision, audacity, and the will to inform issues as they're, and to take action with love, humor, and abiding interest for what makes people such ceaselessly fascinating creatures.”
(Ruth Behar present Anthropology)
“Balm for the loneliness and torment of the ethnographic author, this guide by way of essentially the most exotic bargains the person a private writer's workshop, right away fascinating, healing, and useful. 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 recognize is, do you've got any options on how you can positioned the entire various 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 especially worthwhile set of innovations, tips, and routines for a person writing ethnography themselves. learn it and use it, you won’t locate something 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 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 superbly together with her inquiry into Chekhov's artistry and with the writing routines she offers. based of their simplicity and sensibleness, the routines invite readers to scan, they usually aid translate theoretical options 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 versions of and types for ethnographic writing that would motivate us. i'm desirous to train the e-book, yet simply as desirous 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 satisfaction to learn. It walks its speak. it's wealthy in routines to advance an ethnographic writer's abilities and fabulous in its tales of Chekhov as ethnographer. Narayan's brilliant guide for writers (and readers) of ethnography in addition to artistic nonfiction could 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, academics, 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
He taught me to dif- Place 35 ferentiate the light green (kuning, also “yellow”) leaves of secondary forest regrowing from old swiddens from the dark green (hijau, “green/blue”) of the mature forest that begins slowly to show its presence after forty to fifty years of regrowth. He pointed to the remains of old cultivation and inhabitants that I might otherwise never have noticed. 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.
Notice how Chekhov has expanded on his earlier observations to precisely itemize the sources of bad smell: sheepskin, leather, tar, dirty underwear, old rags, sweaty foot wraps, unwashed flesh, cheap tobacco, farts, bread, meat, salt fish, shchi (cabbage soup), bugs. Listing these smells powerfully drives home the conditions under which 40 two prisoners were forced to live—laboring, unwashed, wearing rags, and with a poor and unvarying diet. ▹ Describe the quality of air in a place. Painful Places In a scolding letter to his older, alcoholic brother, written some years before his trip to Sakhalin Island, Chekhov noted that among the traits of decent people is that “they have compassion for other people besides beggars and cats.
Describe a place by enumerating a person’s (or people’s) descriptions of what they most look forward to through the seasons. Sometimes, people’s perceptions may include animate and even deified forces in the environment. India’s rivers, for example, are mostly seen by Hindus as goddesses to be propitiated, however polluted the waters may run. ” Her book Do Glaciers Listen? shows how Athapaskan and Tlingit stories about glaciers emphasize their humanlike characteristics: They respond to humans and especially to smells when meat is fried nearby.
Alive in the Writing: Crafting Ethnography in the Company of Chekhov by Kirin Narayan