Understanding Chekhov: A Critical Study of Chekhov's Prose and Drama
This work is designed to enhance the understanding of those who read Chekhov's stories or watch his plays. It reveals the levels of meaning and ... Show synopsis This work is designed to enhance the understanding of those who read Chekhov's stories or watch his plays. It reveals the levels of meaning and intention, the interpretations that author, reader, theatre director or critic can make, and brings out Chekhov's many connections to European prose and drama. It is a systematic study, in chronological order, showing how Chekhov was formed by his own literary models and cultural background. It places stories and plays in context with each other as well as with Chekhov's reading and his public's and publishers' expectations. Early work receives special attention as the crucible in which later fiction is smelted; each of the major plays has a chapter devoted to it. Chekhov's own elusive intentions are elucidated, as well as the critical reactions of his contemporaries and of posterity. This study concentrates on Chekhov's innovations in both the story and in drama: the use of inconsequentiality, the avoidance of denouements, non-verbal effects (eg. smell and light), intertextuality. Much new archival material, private and family, is drawn on to show the origins of Chekhov's ideas and source of his motifs. Attention is paid to Chekhov's influence on the short story and on drama in Europe and America, as well as in Russia.