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 interesting hybrid of writing advisor, 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 through his pals, family members, and enthusiasts, and his enterprise into nonfiction via his booklet Sakhalin Island. via heavily getting to the folks who lived below the appalling stipulations of the Russian penal colony on Sakhalin, Chekhov confirmed how empirical info mixed with a literary aptitude can carry readers nose to nose with far-off, assorted 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 deals functional routines and suggestion on issues corresponding to tale, thought, position, individual, voice, and self. a brand new and full of life exploration of ethnography, Alive within the Writing indicates how the genre’s attentive, sustained reference to the lives of others can develop into a robust software for any writer.
“[Kirin Narayan] has written a short and fabulous ebook approximately what it skill to be an ethnographer, and the way to do it responsibly, and better.”
(James wooden the recent Yorker)
“I was once skeptical approximately even if the writings of a nineteenth-century Russian playwright and storyteller, inspiring as they may be, may possibly supply a lot information within the extra prosaic job of crafting educational texts. however. . . . i made a decision to learn on besides. i'm happy I did. Chekhov, not less than in Kirin Narayan’s deft palms, proved to be an incredibly strong resource of recommendation for the ethnographic writer.”
(James Staples magazine of the Royal Anthropological Institute)
“Narayan’s brief publication can simply be learn as a handbook, and a few (especially people with much less adventure to guarantee them that the doldrums do finally move) 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 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 many times struck by way of the feel 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 pupil will locate sensible assistance and encouragement the following, for a professional ethnographic author the comfort is available in the conclusion that there's corporation in these possible lonely moments whilst one struggles to render into understandable prose the strong 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 full of life to learn, it's of use to either starting and professional ethnographers, in addition to to a person who desires to enhance his or her writing approximately social lifestyles. . . . encouraged through 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 alternative ethnographers, to provide an resourceful, attractive, and hugely worthy sequence of workouts and suggestion to make ethnographic writing come alive.”
(Elizabeth high quality magazine of Folklore Research)
“Chekhov’s specified skill to be a scientist and an artist, a doctor 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 studying Narayan’s e-book, 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 could locate this provoking in any respect. possibly it's even what she intends. i've got regularly heard it stated that you simply write in addition to what you learn. Bravo to Narayan for reminding us of this significant fact. She has in actual fact realized deeply from her muse. Her writing flickers 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 people such perpetually attention-grabbing creatures.”
(Ruth Behar present Anthropology)
“Balm for the loneliness and torment of the ethnographic author, this guide by means of essentially the most exclusive deals the person a private writer's workshop, instantaneously fascinating, healing, and functional. 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've any strategies on easy methods to positioned the entire diversified 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 chiefly useful set of ideas, suggestions, and routines for somebody 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 existence, paintings, and writing practices is uncommon for a ebook dedicated to craft, yet it's a truly efficient and stress-free through-line. the writer weaves jointly wealthy examples from anthropological texts, and those examples collaborate fantastically along with her inquiry into Chekhov's artistry and with the writing workouts she offers. stylish of their simplicity and sensibleness, the workouts invite readers to test, they usually support translate theoretical thoughts 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 grew to become her deep appreciation of the craft and its promise right into a present for anthropologists. Narayan bargains types of and types for ethnographic writing that would motivate us. i'm desirous to train the publication, yet simply as desirous to examine 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 really is wealthy in workouts to strengthen an ethnographic writer's skills and dazzling in its tales of Chekhov as ethnographer. Narayan's great guide for writers (and readers) of ethnography in addition to inventive 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, 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 info for Alive in the Writing: Crafting Ethnography in the Company of Chekhov
The women who must go abroad carry great banana leaves as sunshades or wind wet cloths about their heads. Lowering a few blinds against the slanting sun, all who are left in the village wrap their heads in sheets and go to sleep. Only a few adventurous children may slip away for a swim in the shadow of a high rock, some industrious woman continue with her weaving, or a close little group of women bend anxiously over a woman in labour. The village is daz- Place 31 zling and dead; any sound seems oddly loud and out of place.
22 one * · * · * · * · * · * · * · * · * · * · * · * · * · * · * · * · * · * · * · * s to ry a n d t h eory Begin narrating an event that dramatizes the central idea or issue you want to write about. Drawing on all of your senses, use vivid details to describe the people and the place as you follow what happened. For now, don’t explicitly say what concept you’re trying to illuminate; only show life in process. 2 pages. t he o ry a n d s tory Now step back and identify the larger guiding ideas you have brought to this situation and that alerted you to the event as worth recording.
How can we settle down here? Do you see the heaps of ashes? Do you see the blood? Here, put your hand inside this heap and you will see the melted skulls. They would not even let us have the dead bodies. We begged them: you have killed our men. Let us have their bodies at least—let us mourn them properly. The whole night we hear the voices of our dead. I hear my husband asking for water. The killers wouldn’t even let us give water to the dying. My son cried, mother, mother—as he used to when he was little, but I could not go to him.