Anton Chekhov

Anton Chekhov
Chekhov seated at a desk
Chekhov in 1889
BornAnton Pavlovich Chekhov
(1860-01-29)29 January 1860[1]
Taganrog, Yekaterinoslav Governorate, Russian Empire
Died15 July 1904(1904-07-15) (aged 44)[2]
Badenweiler, Grand Duchy of Baden, German Empire
Resting placeNovodevichy Cemetery, Moscow
OccupationWriter, physician, philanthropist
Alma materFirst Moscow State Medical University
Literary movementRealism
Years activefrom 1870s
Notable works
Notable awardsPushkin Prize
(m. 1901)
RelativesAlexander Chekhov (brother)
Maria Chekhova (sister)
Nikolai Chekhov (brother)
Michael Chekhov (nephew)
Lev Knipper (nephew)
Olga Chekhova (niece)
Ada Tschechowa (great-niece)
Marina Ried (great-niece)
Vera Tschechowa (great-great niece)
Portrait of Anton Chekhov by Isaac Levitan (1886)

Anton Pavlovich Chekhov[a] (Russian: Антон Павлович Чехов[b], IPA: [ɐnˈton ˈpavləvʲɪtɕ ˈtɕexəf]; 29 January 1860[c] – 15 July 1904[d]) was a Russian playwright and physician who is considered to be one of the greatest writers of all time. His career as a playwright produced four classics, and his best short stories are held in high esteem by writers and critics.[e][5][6] Along with Henrik Ibsen and August Strindberg, Chekhov is often referred to as one of the three seminal figures in the birth of early modernism in the theatre.[7] Chekhov was a physician by profession. "Medicine is my lawful wife", he once said, "and literature is my mistress."[8][9]

Chekhov renounced the theatre after the reception of The Seagull in 1896, but the play was revived to acclaim in 1898 by Konstantin Stanislavski's Moscow Art Theatre, which subsequently also produced Chekhov's Uncle Vanya and premiered his last two plays, Three Sisters and The Cherry Orchard. These four works present a challenge to the acting ensemble[f] as well as to audiences, because in place of conventional action Chekhov offers a "theatre of mood" and a "submerged life in the text".[g][12] The plays that Chekhov wrote were not complex, but easy to follow, and created a somewhat haunting atmosphere for the audience.[3]

Chekhov at first wrote stories to earn money, but as his artistic ambition grew, he made formal innovations that influenced the evolution of the modern short story.[13][h][15] He made no apologies for the difficulties this posed to readers, insisting that the role of an artist was to ask questions, not to answer them.[16]

  1. ^ Chekhov & Garnett 2004, TO G. I. ROSSOLIMO.YALTA, October 11, 1899.
  2. ^ Rayfield 1997, p. 595.
  3. ^ a b Hingley, Ronald Francis (25 January 2022). "Anton Chekhov – Biography, Plays, Short Stories, & Facts". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 26 April 2022.
  4. ^ Chekhov & Bartlett 2004, p. xx.
  5. ^ Boyd, William (3 July 2004). "A Chekhov lexicon". the Guardian. Retrieved 31 October 2023. Quite probably. the best short-story writer ever.
  6. ^ Steiner, George (13 May 2001). "Observer review: The Undiscovered Chekov by Anton Chekov". the Guardian. Retrieved 31 October 2023. Stories ... which are among the supreme achievements in prose narrative.
  7. ^ Bloom 2002, p. [page needed].
  8. ^ Chekhov & Garnett 2004, Letter to Alexei Suvorin, 11 September 1888.
  9. ^ Also on Wikiquote.
  10. ^ Miles 1993, p. 9.
  11. ^ Allen 2002, p. 13.
  12. ^ Styan 1981, p. 84; "A richer submerged life in the text is characteristic of a more profound drama of realism, one which depends less on the externals of presentation."
  13. ^ Malcolm 2004, p. 87; "Chekhov is said to be the father of the modern short story".
  14. ^ Power & Joyce 1974, p. 57.
  15. ^ "Tchehov's breach with the classical tradition is the most significant event in modern literature", John Middleton Murry, in Athenaeum, 8 April 1922, cited in Bartlett's introduction to About Love.
  16. ^ "You are right in demanding that an artist should take an intelligent attitude to his work, but you confuse two things: solving a problem and stating a problem correctly. It is only the second that is obligatory for the artist." Letter to Suvorin, 27 October 1888. Letters of Anton Chekhov.

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