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Book Title: The Image of Chekhov|
The author of the book: Anton Chekhov
City - Country: No data
Loaded: 1410 times
Reader ratings: 3.8
Date of issue: April 12th 1963
ISBN 13: 9780394430096
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 765 KB
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“Freddie experienced the sort of abysmal soul-sadness which afflicts one of Tolstoy's Russian peasants when, after putting in a heavy day's work strangling his father, beating his wife, and dropping the baby into the city's reservoir, he turns to the cupboards, only to find the vodka bottle empty.” - P.G. Wodehouse
I have always admired the Russians for their immense and an almost unreal understanding of the darkest recesses of human mind. Their painfully accurate ability to express and put down in words those deepest of human desires which few of us can even begin to pen down. Now I wasn't born an expert on Russian Literature and neither do I claim to be one, but I have read enough to know the real thing when I see it. Read the quote above for instance - this is Wodehouse cracking one of his countless jokes, and this one's on Russia. What't the one thing that strikes out here above everything else? What's the one thought that comes to mind reading this? That 'This is absurd!' The damned absurdity of it all! And in this very same most inexpressible of human conditions, is where the Russians find their highest form of expression. Pick up a Dostoyevsky some day and you would know what I am trying to talk about- you see I am not a Russian and I cannot express these things the way these people can.
Where Mr Chekhov takes this 'expression of the absurd' a notch higher is by bringing it forth through a medium that rests on the exact opposite end of the spectrum- comedy. By combining humor and the absurd, and a beyond human understanding of what goes on inside our heads, Chekhov creates an artistic medium that leaves the reader spellbound, starry-eyed and unable to fathom as to how this guy who lived and died so long ago can speak to us with such clarity even today. And that is the hallmark of all great literature, isn't it? That even the passage of time, that great destroyer of civilizations, cannot touch it. This collection of stories covers a fairly common set of themes - love, freedom, hope, faith, death among many others. It is the beauty of Chekhov's expression that makes this book a truly wonderful piece of art.
I would have liked to include some of the quotes from these stories, but there are far too many to be condensed into a coherent thread. Better then to simply pick up this book and read the whole of it. All said and done though, there is one quote I'd definitely like to include here. Its from a story where the narrator recites a tale of unrequited love. That, along with the way the author chooses to describe the setting, really captures the essence of everything that I loved about this story collection -
"He had the appearance of a man who wants to tell a story. Through a window we could see a gray sky and trees drenched in rain. It was the kind of weather which makes it impossible to go anywhere, when the only thing to do is to tell stories and to listen to them. And so, he began his story.."
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Read information about the authorAnton Pavlovich Chekhov [Russian: Анто́н Па́влович Че́хов] was born in the small seaport of Taganrog, southern Russia, the son of a grocer. Chekhov's grandfather was a serf, who had bought his own freedom and that of his three sons in 1841. He also taught himself to read and write. Yevgenia Morozova, Chekhov's mother, was the daughter of a cloth merchant.
"When I think back on my childhood," Chekhov recalled, "it all seems quite gloomy to me." His early years were shadowed by his father's tyranny, religious fanaticism, and long nights in the store, which was open from five in the morning till midnight. He attended a school for Greek boys in Taganrog (1867-68) and Taganrog grammar school (1868-79). The family was forced to move to Moscow following his father's bankruptcy. At the age of 16, Chekhov became independent and remained for some time alone in his native town, supporting himself through private tutoring.
In 1879 Chekhov entered the Moscow University Medical School. While in the school, he began to publish hundreds of comic short stories to support himself and his mother, sisters and brothers. His publisher at this period was Nicholas Leikin, owner of the St. Petersburg journal Oskolki (splinters). His subjects were silly social situations, marital problems, farcical encounters between husbands, wives, mistresses, and lovers, whims of young women, of whom Chekhov had not much knowledge – the author was was shy with women even after his marriage. His works appeared in St. Petersburg daily papers, Peterburskaia gazeta from 1885, and Novoe vremia from 1886.
Chekhov's first novel, Nenunzhaya pobeda (1882), set in Hungary, parodied the novels of the popular Hungarian writer Mór Jókai. As a politician Jókai was also mocked for his ideological optimism. By 1886 Chekhov had gained a wide fame as a writer. His second full-length novel, The Shooting Party, was translated into English in 1926. Agatha Christie used its characters and atmosphere in her mystery novel The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (1926).
Chekhov graduated in 1884, and practiced medicine until 1892. In 1886 Chekhov met H.S. Suvorin, who invited him to become a regular contributor for the St. Petersburg daily Novoe vremya. His friendship with Suvorin ended in 1898 because of his objections to the anti-Dreyfus campaingn conducted by paper. But during these years Chechov developed his concept of the dispassionate, non-judgemental author. He outlined his program in a letter to his brother Aleksandr: "1. Absence of lengthy verbiage of political-social-economic nature; 2. total objectivity; 3. truthful descriptions of persons and objects; 4. extreme brevity; 5. audacity and originality; flee the stereotype; 6. compassion."
Chekhov's fist book of stories (1886) was a success, and gradually he became a full-time writer. The author's refusal to join the ranks of social critics arose the wrath of liberal and radical intellitentsia and he was criticized for dealing with serious social and moral questions, but avoiding giving answers. However, he was defended by such leading writers as Leo Tolstoy and Nikolai Leskov. "I'm not a liberal, or a conservative, or a gradualist, or a monk, or an indifferentist. I should like to be a free artist and that's all..." Chekhov said in 1888.
The failure of his play The Wood Demon (1889) and problems with his novel made Chekhov to withdraw from literature for a period. In 1890 he travelled across Siberia to remote prison island, Sakhalin. There he conducted a detailed census of some 10,000 convicts and settlers condemned to live their lives on that harsh island. Chekhov hoped to use the results of his research for his doctoral dissertation. It is probable that hard conditions on the island also worsened his own physical condition. From this journey was born his famous travel book T
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