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Plays: "Ivanov", "The Seagull", "Uncle Vanya", "Three Sisters", "The Cherry Orchard" (Penguin Classics) Paperback – 25 Jul 2002


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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (25 July 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140447334
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140447330
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.9 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 78,786 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Anton Pavlovich Chekhov was born in 1860 in Taganrog, a
port in southern Russia. His father was a former serf. In 1879, after
receiving a classical education at the Taganrog Gymnasium, he
moved to Moscow to study medicine. During his university years he
helped support his family by writing stories and sketches for
humorous magazines. By 1888 he was contributing to Russia's most
prestigious literary journals and regarded as a major writer. He also
started writing plays: his first full-length play, Ivanov, was produced
in 1887. After undertaking a journey to visit the penal colony on the
Siberian island of Sakhalin in 1890, he settled on a country estate
outside Moscow, where he continued to write and practise medicine.
His failing health forced him to move to Yalta in 1898, where he
wrote his most famous short story, 'The Lady with the Little Dog'
(1899), and two of his best-known plays: Three Sisters (1901) and
The Cherry Orchard (1904), written with Stanislavsky's Moscow Art
Theatre in mind. In 1901 he married the company's leading actress,
Olga Knipper. He died from tuberculosis in Badenweiler, Germany,
in July 1904 at the age of 44.

Product Description

About the Author

Anton Chekhov (1860-1904) was a Russian physician and writer of short stories and plays.

Peter Carson learnt Russian during his National Service and works in London publishing.

Richard Gilman is Professor Emeritus of Playwriting and Dramaric Literature at Yale University's School of Drama. He has been drama critic for Newsweek and is the author of 'Chekhov's Plays' (Yale, 1996) and 'The Making of Modern Drama' (Yale, 2000).


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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By molondas on 29 Oct. 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For anyone who doesn't know Chekhov, I recommend you get acquainted with his work immediately. His short stories are superb, and his five plays are masterpieces of theatre. It is such a shame that he died when he was only 44 - like Mozart, you really wonder what on earth he would have produced by the time he was 60.

As always with Chekhov, I am amazed at the fact he is able to create tension and high drama from absolutely nothing - boredom, loss of zest for life, inability to move on, hopeless incompetence, arrogance, etc etc. Characters are absolutely pared down to the minimum necessary to dissect a psychological state, atmosphere, general state of affairs etc., and the language is an exercise in economy - it functions only as a vehicle for creating dramatic effect. If the penguin translation is faithful, then there is little, if any, superfluous imagery, and nothing that digresses from the function of each moment of dramatic intensity.

The tone and themes of each play - as with his short stories - are always ambiguous: bittersweet, tragicomic, sad and joyful, generosity and miserliness, adultery vs sterile faithfulness etc. In this lack of commitment to a stable reality Chekhov was well ahead of his time and it is easy to see how his plays have exerted such an influence on the development of the modern play.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By lowell duluth on 31 Mar. 2005
Format: Paperback
I re-read Chekhov - the stories as well as these plays - regularly. These recent translations are as good as, if not better, than any I`ve read, even the superb, natural-sounding ones by Frayn. This book benefits too from a masterly, uncompromising and authoritative introduction by Carson.
I find new things in The Seagull, Three Sisters, etc every time
I renew my acquaintance with them. The Seagull is a limpid, sad comedy with - as one could say of all Chekhov - a deceptively tough core. Uncle Vanya (his `easiest` play to approach at first?) is one to fall in love with; Three Sisters is a world masterpiece...oh, I could go on about this amazing man. He was a great influence on the precise, humane Raymond Carver, which I think is a testament to both writers.
I believe Chekhov to be perhaps the most important writer since Shakespeare. Like the latter, he invariably keeps himself, and his writer`s ego, out of his writing - unlike, say, Shaw.
Nothing can beat seeing a good, un-reverent performance of these aching-to-be-acted plays, but this is a fine collection to add to one`s library.
Incidentally, I am tired now of finding reviews on Amazon which are talking about books other than the one under review. My predecessor here is reviewing the Frayn versions. Why does this keep happening, usually with translated literature? Get with it!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By hellsbell on 16 Feb. 2011
Format: Paperback
I'll admit it is taking me a while to read but luckily you can do this over a period of time (not too long). I think it is a book that I will go back to and read again just to see if I can find another way of understanding some opinions of the characters.

Overall I'm glad I've read it and bought it.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mr. B. P. Van-asten on 2 Mar. 2014
Format: Paperback
The Russian story writer and playwright, Anton Chekhov (1860-1904) became very successful as a dramatist and his influence has had a lasting effect upon the English stage. His first successful play was ‘Ivanov’ (1887), but it is his later plays which secured his immortality: ‘The Seagull’ (1895), ‘Uncle Vanya’ (1900), ‘Three Sisters’ (1901) and ‘The Cherry Orchard’ (1904). Chekhov’s wonderful thought-provoking plays are heavy with symbolism and naturalism and they are rich in subtle sympathetic characterisation, which often portrays the ‘idle rich’ in comic, tragic and tender moments. Delightful!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By DAVID ROSS on 1 Sept. 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm not entirely sure the translation stands up as well as Stoppard's no nonsense versions which are slightly more contemporary but this Penguin classic has a charm which is fitting with Chekhov's writing and this is great to have as a collection as opposed to buying each play individually.
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