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3.8 out of 5 stars
13
3.8 out of 5 stars
Uncle Vanya
Format: Paperback|Change


on 14 November 2012
I read this alongside Ronald Hingley's translation of Uncle Vanya. Surprisingly, Hingley's version did not flow as well. I have no idea if Hingley's it was truer to Chekhov's original wording, but this freebie kindle version was certainly the more pleasing read.

For anyone looking to start reading Chekhov, I would recommend reading this. It is one of his better known plays, and the translation reads well.
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on 24 March 2016
Plays by their nature are hard to review as you really need to see them performed. Saying that the copy is clear and easy to read. Don't be daunted because its Chekhov. As a play or a general read it trundles along and is easy to follow.
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on 1 November 2015
Worth reading
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on 1 February 2016
A nice and relaxing tale, with vivid imagery and of course great dialogue. It wasn't my favourite checkov piece but it entertained me for 90mins!
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on 17 February 2013
I had two hours to read the play because I was going to see the show and had not read it. It helped considerably to read it on the train.
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on 5 September 2015
great
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on 8 August 2016
THIS IS NIT THE BEST TRANSLATION out there, but Checkov is always a good read. Sad but naturalistic play but Checkov, but they're all sad.
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on 17 January 2013
One one thing about Chekhov is that he's a past master at spinning a good yarn about the neurotic 19th c Russian middle class
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on 24 June 2012
I love Chekhov: his attention to detail, sense of humour and the irony. Great book if you love Chekhov too.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 15 February 2017
Anthon Chekhov is widely regarded as one of the masters of Russian literature. His life was relatively short, dying from tuberculous at the age of 44. His life spanned a period of Russian history that can be described as post-serf, pre-automobile, from 1860 to 1904. I saw The Cherry Orchard (Modern Plays) produced a couple decades ago and recently read the play. I just finished Cédric Gras’ excellent L'hiver aux trousses : Voyage en Russie d'Extrême-Orient concerning his travels in the Russian Far East. Gras made a few references to Chekhov in his book, and I decided to add Sakhalin Island (Alma Classics) to the to-read list. Gras also referred to the “Uncle Vanya” like aspects of one person he met in his travels; I had no idea what he meant, and decided to remedy that forthwith.

“Uncle Vanya” was first published in 1897, and performed in 1899. Like “The Cherry Orchard,” the setting is a country estate in rural Russia. The emancipated serfs/peasants are in the deep background. There are six to eight principal characters: the estate owner with the various relationships and hangers-on. Professor Aleksandr Vladimirovich Serebryakov (ah, don’t you love those Russian names, in all their glory?), who is bordering on his dotage, is re-married, to 27-year old Helena. Ivan Voitski, who is “Uncle Vanya,” was the Professor’s brother-in-law via his first marriage. Sonia is the Professor’s daughter from that first marriage. And Michael Astroff is a country doctor, tending ailments physical as well as mental, including some of his own. A good mixture of “star-crossed” individuals, that Chekhov handles with Balzac-like precision.

As one might suspect, the young wife is “up for grabs,” the center of attention for most of the males. Sonia, who is “plain,” and knows it, would love to be the center of at least one man’s attention – alas. And there is considerable conflict between Uncle Vanya and the Professor, with the former describing the later as: “for twenty-five years he has been reading and writing things that clever men have long known and stupid ones are not interested in; for twenty-five years he has been making imaginary mountains our of molehills.”

Chekhov demonstrates a strong ecological streak, and love of the natural world, long before the first “Earth Day.” Consider the remarks of Doctor Astroff: “Oh, I don’t object, of course, to cutting wood from necessity, but why destroy the forests? The woods of Russia are trembling under the blows of the axe. Millions of trees have perished. The homes of wild animals and birds have been desolated; the rivers are shrinking and many beautiful landscapes are gone forever. And why? Because men are too lazy and stupid to stoop down and pick up their fuel from the ground.” And this is written at the end of the 19th century!

Dr. Astroff also chimes in on the eternal questions of male-female relationships: “A woman can only become a man’s friend after having first been his acquaintance and then his beloved – then she becomes his friend.” Overall, the play is morose and gloomy, with Uncle Vanya saying it might be a fine day for a suicide. The climactic scene, and one that it is important to recall if one is to be “au courant” in literature, is the failed homicide attempt made by Uncle Vanya. In fact, his gun is a reference point. The attempt is the closing of the third act. The fourth act is a “long good-bye” that I felt added very little to the play, and thus, overall, believe it rates 4-stars.
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