"... only he is an emancipated thinker who is not afraid to write foolish things." -- Anton Chekhov
"His vaudeville plays like The Bear and The Proposal proved commercially successful. Popular as they were, however, Chekhov's purpose for writing them was not simply providing light and lucrative entertainment. Though the works themselves were never intended to be taken seriously, Chekhov never lost sight of his goal of becoming a "serious writer." These plays represent studies in the craft of playwriting. Hard-hitting satires, the vaudevilles mock love but also revel in how fickle our hearts can be. He is laughing at us, but given his own amorous escapades, he is also laughing at himself.
The genre of these vaudevilles is important to note. Chekhov classifies The Bear, The Proposal and The Wedding, as well as Swan Song, A Tragedian In Spite of Himself and On the Dangers of Tobacco as belonging to the same genre as The Seagull, Uncle Vanya, Three Sisters and The Cherry Orchard: comedy. Chekhov gives us an important clue in his deliberate association of these light-hearted sketches with his master drawings. The suggestion is clear: In the farces, sex is taken seriously. In the serious plays, sex is revealed as farce." * * In their garrulous correspondence, running to some 1,300 pages, Chekhov and Knipper often address each other as "Dear Writer" and "Dear Actress." Many of Knipper's endearing comments refer to her husband's body parts - his eyes, his hair, his beard. By contrast, his letters read like conventional poetry addressed to an abstract ideal of a mistress: "Believe that I love you, love you profoundly, whatever might happen, even if you turned into an old hag, I'd still love you - for your soul, for your disposition." Speculation runs wild about the nature of Chekhov's marriage with the sensual Knipper, but no one denies he wrote his greatest plays - The Three Sisters and The Cherry Orchard - after having yielded to matrimony.
SummaryI place Russian texts; I need to change some English in the old translations. In Russian Chekhov is light, almost as Oscar Wilde...
QuestionsRussian & Soviet Theatre (Rudnitzki) *
NotesRussian texts?.. [ windows > view > encoding > cyrillic ] "Russian Sunset" Spingler
I think descriptions of nature should be very short and always be à propos. Commonplaces like "The setting sun, sinking into the waves of the darkening sea, cast its purple gold rays, etc," "Swallows, flitting over the surface of the water, twittered gaily" Ч eliminate such commonplaces. You have to choose small details in describing nature, grouping them in such a way that if you close your eyes after reading it you can picture the whole thing. For example, you'll get a picture of a moonlit night if you write that on the dam of the mill a piece of broken bottle flashed like a bright star and the black shadow of a dog or a wolf rolled by like a ball, etc. ... In the realm of psychology you also need details. God preserve you from commonplaces. Best of all, shun all descriptions of the characters' spiritual state. You must try to have that state emerge clearly from their actions. Don't try for too many characters. The center of gravity should reside in two: he and she. Ч To AP Chekhov, May 10, 1886
De Maegd-Soëp, Carolina. Chekhov And Women: Women In The Life And Work Of Chekhov. Columbus, OH: Slavica Publishers, Inc., 1987.
"Those I am afraid of," author Carolina De Maegd-Soëp quotes Anton Chekhov in a letter to a friend in 1888, "are the ones who look for tendencies between the lines and want to put me down definitely as a liberal or a conservative. I am not a liberal nor a conservative, nor an evolutionist, nor a monk, nor indifferent to the world. I would like to be a free artist" (63). *
"anton chekhov: the iconoclast" Williames, Lee J. Anton Chekhov: The Iconoclast. Scranton, PA: University of Scranton Press, 1989.
"chekhov and vaudeville" Gottlieb, Vera. Chekhov And Vaudeville. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982.
"Well-made play" -- script.vtheatre.net 2005 *
"Three Chekhovs": writer, playwright, Antosha (min.)
The writer Nikolai Garin-Mikhailovsky appreciated the "same incongruity" between Chekhov's imagination and his fate that is shown in the owners of the doomed cherry orchard. "Chekhov could hardly walk, noises came from his chest," Garin-Mikhailovsky remembered. "But he seemed not to notice. He was interested in anything but illness...why are such precious contents locked up in such a frail vessel?" (Rayfield, 581).
Chekhov's remains were locked up in a refrigerated train car marked, "For Oysters" and shipped back to Russia from Germany for burial. Gorky was at the funeral with Chekhov's sister Masha, and widow Olga. He wrote of that day,"I am so depressed by this funeral...as if I was smeared by sticky, foul-smelling filth...People climbed trees and laughed, broke crosses and swore as they fought for a place. They asked loudly, 'Which is the wife? And the sister? Look, they're crying...' [Russian opera singer] Chaliapin burst into tears and cursed: 'And he lived for these bastards, he worked, taught, argued for them" (Rayfield, 599).http://www.theater2k.com/ChekhovEssay2.html
You are right in demanding that an artist approach his work consciously, but you are confusing two concepts: the solution of a problem and the correct formulation of a problem. Only the second is required of the artist. Ч To Alexei Suvorin, October 27, 1888
"chekhov and women: women in the life of anton chekhov" by brook stowe http://www.theater2k.com/ChekhovAnnote2.html