Download e-book for iPad: The Cambridge Introduction to Chekhov (Cambridge by James N. Loehlin

By James N. Loehlin

Chekhov is generally said as essentially the most influential literary figures of recent occasions. Russia's preeminent playwright, he performed an important function in revolutionizing the trendy theatre. His influence on prose fiction writing is incalculable: he helped outline the trendy brief tale. starting with an attractive account of Chekhov's lifestyles and cultural context in nineteenth-century Russia, this e-book introduces the reader to this attention-grabbing and complicated character. in contrast to a lot feedback of Chekhov, it comprises certain discussions of either his fiction and his performs. The advent lines his concise, impressionistic prose type from early comedian sketches to mature works similar to 'Ward No. 6' and 'In the Ravine'. reading Chekhov's improvement as a dramatist, the booklet considers his one-act vaudevilles and early works, whereas delivering a close, act-by-act research of the masterpieces on which his attractiveness rests: The Seagull, Uncle Vanya, 3 Sisters and The Cherry Orchard.

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One recurrent theme is rank reverence or chinopochitanie, the extreme self-consciousness of civilservice officials, particularly those relatively low in the bureaucratic hierarchy. Perhaps his best-known early story, “The Death of a Clerk” (1883), concerns a Gogolian bureaucrat who inadvertently sneezes on a high official while attending the opera. He is so mortified that he makes repeated attempts to apologize, making the situation worse and worse until finally, after the official snaps at him in impatience, he goes home and dies.

One consequence of this fact is a distinctive feature of Russian culture that may be confusing for readers of Chekhov: the convention of Russian names. Along with their given name and surname, Russians used a patronymic, based on the father’s first name: thus Chekhov, the son of Pavel Chekhov, was Anton Pavlovich Chekhov. Women also used a patronymic, but it was marked by gender, with the feminine ending -a. Chekhov’s sister was thus Maria Pavlovna Chekhova. The most formal form of address was to call a person by his or her name and patronymic.

These educated, reformist thinkers were not in agreement as to the best direction for the country, however. Some continued to look to the West for liberal, rationalist solutions to Russia’s social problems, while others sought answers in uniquely Russian institutions such as the Orthodox Church and the village commune. These divisions between “Slavophiles” and “Westernizers” persisted into Chekhov’s day, though both sides agreed that Russia was in need of reform. Reform and reaction This reform came in the 1860s under Tsar Alexander II.

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