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4.4 out of 5 stars18
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 15 March 2015
This is a tired old edition (albeit with a great cover) of a dramatist whose works are clumsily constructed - especially the first one here, Ivanov - and feature characters expounding cod philosophy unlike anything you'd hear in real life. Stock types reappear - the disillusioned landowner on the brink of suicide, the teacher, the doctor (the author's profession), the wealthy man's daughter, the frustrated idealist, etc. - and the action plots predictable courses. Having said all that I now hope someone wiser than me can explain why these ridiculous plays radiate the magical power Shakespeare achieved in his best work and how nonsense like The Seagull rivals the enchantment of The Tempest or The Winter's Tale. Chekhov's short stories are even better than the pieces collected here and there aren't enough stars in the Amazon universe to do him justice.
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on 23 December 2010
This is the third volume of Euripides I have recently enjoyed. About Easter I began to read and study classical literature, all bought from Amazon U.K. Some I had previously read, Dante's "vision" , "Paradise Lost", and Homer.
Feel priviledged to have access to this ancient world with it's eternal truths and wisdom. Now I have read the Iliad again, in Penguin DeLuxe edition; will gladly get to know more of these.
I enjoyed especially the Comedies of Terence...just as if one had a front stalls seat in the theatre!
The notes at the back of these books are of great help, particularly in the Oxford World's Classics series.
Euripides "Hecuba" should not be missed and I heard a most interesting interview with Frank McGuiness on his staging of this great work, by way of iTunes and my iPod!
I am a pensioner with an appetite for learning, trying to make up for my laziness as a schoolboy and, thanks to Amazon U.K.this I am doing!
Malcolm, from Northern England but long time resident of Norway.
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on 17 April 2016
In terms of sheer readability, I find Philip Vellacott's translations in the old Penguin Classics editions vastly superior to James Morwood's in this Oxford World's Classics edition. I've given this volume a three star rating because the plays are well worth reading in themselves, and the ones I've seen are enormously powerful on stage, but I'd certainly recommend getting hold of Vellacott's versions if at all possible, perhaps using this one as a supplement for the sake of the more up to date introduction and notes, and because it includes the interesting "Rhesus", which as far as I know Vellacott hasn't done.
I'm not in a position to compare the translations in terms of how closely they adhere to the original Greek, but comparing the openings of the two versions of Bacchae will show what I mean about readability:

Vellacott: "I am Dionysus, son of Zeus. My mother was Semele, daughter of Cadmus: I was delivered from her womb by the fire of a lightning-flash."

Morwood: "I am the son of Zeus, Dionysus. Semele, the daughter of Cadmus, bore me once in a birth precipitated by the lightning flame."

"The son of Zeus, Dionysus" is clumsy enough in itself, but the decision to give that run of three separate names together seems to me inexplicable.

Morwood doesn't translate the sung passages as verse, though confusingly he does set them out in lines ("This is a prose translation. However, lyrical and choric passages - intended for sung or chanted performance - have been laid out on shorter lines. These will inevitably have the appearance of free verse, but the translator's aim has been simply to denote the distinction between the spoken and sung or chanted areas of the play." Why, I wonder, couldn't italics have done the job?) Vellacott does use rhyming verse for such passages, and again this adds to the pleasure and vividness of the reading experience, though I don't know what it may have cost in terms of strict accuracy of translation.
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VINE VOICEon 8 October 2013
This is a lovely edition of Chekhov's Plays that I picked up a few years ago in a charity shop. Amazingly enough, this is the first time I have read a Chekhov play in English (read some in Russian when doing my degree). Three Sisters and The Cherry Orchard are definitely my favourites, whereas I thought little of Uncle Vanya and Ivanov. Overall, though, I prefer Chekhov's short stories to his plays. 3.5/5 overall and a few thoughts below on each individual play.

Three Sisters

This is an amusing play, with distinctive characters who quite quickly impress the reader with their individual personalities. There is very much a theme of longing in the play, whether to return to Moscow or to be in love or whatever.

Uncle Vanya

I was less impressed with this one, which didn't seem to get anywhere. And the title character isn't particularly the most important or interesting one.

The Cherry Orchard

Perhaps Chekhov's most famous play, this is a bittersweet piece, with the themes of love and loss between characters reflected in the sale and subsequent destruction of the Orchard. There are also some interesting reflections on the emancipation of the serfs, with the ancient valet Firs having been against it as he valued the certainty of the old life.


I found this one rather tedious and shapeless for the most part.

The Seagull

More complicated love relationships and literary competition, but didn't really resonate for me.
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on 16 June 2012
these plays are a wonderful examination, through art, of human nature, the complexity, agony, frustration and compromise of love, set againest the backdrop of social convention and the building impulse towards freedom, abandonment of heritage of pre revolution russia, early last century. whats remarkable, is that even though i am a 29 year old bristolian, the plays touched me deeply, particurlarly the themes of love. the three sisters perhaps the most tragic. the three sisters, olga, masha and irena (all in there 20s) are trapped. the oldest has not found love, is a school teacher, romantically dead, the most conventional, judgemental. the middle one, masha, is married unhappily to a man much older but sexually immature. she is very passionate. the youngest is an idealist, perhaps the most beautiful, men desire her. masha really loves vershinin, a battery commander in the army. he is married to a woman who torments him by hurting herself out of spite. they have an affair, he leaves, she is broken, he is broken. no hollywood style ending. irena dreams are crushed, she agrees to marry a lovely but weak man who is killed in a pointless duel over her honor. sounds depressing but checkov is really making us aware of two things 1. the power of love, its cowardice and dishonesty. 2 the nature of men and women, the kind of men women desire, lust after, chase, dream, and the kind who do the chasing, with no dignity, sacrifice, pain. Checkov, along with ibsen, the greatest playrights since shakespeare. for the price, a must have.
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on 8 October 2013
Anton Chekhov remains, for me at least, the greatest writer of the modern era. This collection contains his five greatest plays and three others, with an illuminating and scholarly introduction by Elisaveta Fen.

The translation (also by Fen) is exceptional.
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on 2 February 2014
It arrived in good condition and within the time given. I found some of the contents rather slow-moving , but with the showing of the play concerned as a production on tv,it became much clearer.
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on 1 October 2013
Provides a happy reminder of stage productions seen. You either like Chekhov or you don't. Like
other writers who highlight human relationships, Chekhov excels!
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on 17 November 2015
There's a reason why Euripedes is still published thousands of years after these plays were written. The Bacchae is one of the best stories I've ever read.
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on 20 January 2016
Came in the condition described and in perfect time. This is the edition of The Cherry Orchard every actor, pro, semi-pro or amateur should use. Period.
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