Tag Archives: orchard-background

A Free Artist

As a doctor, Chekhov sometimes had the power not only to diagnose illness but also to cure it. As a creative writer and co-inventor of the 20th century he had to content himself with the diagnosis alone, perhaps not even that. In a letter to Aleksey Suvorin, Chekhov responds to his criticism of a recently […]

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LifeImitatesArt

Art Imitates Life

Even cut free from its roots, Chekhov’s Cherry Orchard carries with it, as freight, the tragedy overhanging its author’s life. Chekhov’s tuberculosis progressed with such exquisite slowness that it resembles a metaphor of itself, a dim, gloomy background that – first intermittently, then increasingly – intruded onto Chekhov’s determinedly cheerful foreground. By the time of […]

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Friday Fun: Chekhov’s Gun

In 2010, on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of Chekhov’s birth, The Guardian recalled his “brilliance in brief,” not only his own accomplishments but the advice he offered to other writers, the dictates he handed down: The most famous of these is commonly known as Chekhov’s Gun, which he defined in a letter to […]

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CSC-CherryOrchard

Quotable: Anton Chekhov

From a letter to Aleksey Suvorin, one of Chekhov’s most significant publishers and benefactors: What aristocratic writers take from nature gratis the less privileged must pay for with their youth. Try to write a story about a young man – the son of a serf, a former grocer, choirboy, schoolboy and university student, raised on […]

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Chekhov on Writing

From an 1891 letter to writer and persistent admirer Lydia Avilova: When you want to touch the reader’s heart, try to be colder. It gives their grief as it were, a background against which it stands out in greater relief. See more here and here.

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Meryl Street, The Cherry Orchard 1976

Adaptable: Chekhov

A so-called “problem” play bears little resemblance to a “problem child” – in the topsy-turvy realm of theater a problem becomes an invitation to limitless reinvention and amusement. No matter how many times the problem is “solved,” it begs a new solution to suit a new “now,” thus the enduring debate as to the proper […]

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Friday Fun: The Beauties

Over at The Guardian, Philip Pullman, author of the splendid trilogy His Dark Materials reads his favorite Chekhov short story, The Beauties (online text). A taste: . . . but then I gradually forgot myself and surrendered entirely to the sensation of beauty. I no longer remembered the dreary step in the dust, no longer […]

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Anton-Chekhov

Portraits of an Artist

There are few significant historical figures who cannot claim more than one biography, and the convenient fiction of a definitive biography enables readers to feel at once informed and pleasantly unburdened. The title of “definitive” biography appears to be still up for grabs when it comes to Chekhov and, on a whim, I chose to […]

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Friday Fun: Chekhov on Biography

Around 1892, journal editor V.A. Tikhonov wrote to request some biographical information from Anton Chekhov, and the author’s reply appears in Janet Malcolm’s 2001 book, Reading Chekhov: A Critical Journey: Do you need my biography? Here it is. In 1860 I was born in Taganrog. In 1879 I finished my studies in the Taganrog school. […]

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CherryOrchard

1904: The Cherry Orchard

Is there any production of The Cherry Orchard that has managed to satisfactorily resolve, in the author’s favor, the initial disagreement between Moscow Art Theatre director Constantin Stanislavski and Anton Chekhov? Stanislavski, on seeing the completed play script sometime in 1903, called the play a tragedy. Chekhov insisted that it was a comedy, even a […]

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