This Day in History, January 29, 1860: Author Anton Chekhov Is Born

Anton

Анто́н Па́влович Че́хов 

Anton_P_ChekhovOn this day in 1860, writer Anton Chekhov was born in Taganrog, Russia. Chekhov, considered to be one of the greatest authors in history, was also an accomplished
 playwright and physician.

[Today’s the day to browse Amazon’s collection of Chekhovian Delights]

From the Chekhov Wiki:

Anton Chekhov was born on the feast day of St. Anthony the Great (17 January Old Style) 29 January 1860, the third of six surviving children, in Taganrog, a port on the Sea of Azov in southern Russia. His father, Pavel Yegorovich Chekhov, the son of a former serf, was from a village Vilkhovatka near Kobeliaky (Poltava region) and ran a grocery store. A director of the parish choir, devout Orthodox Christian, and physically abusive father, Pavel Chekhov has been seen by some historians as the model for his son’s many portraits of hypocrisy. Chekhov’s mother, Yevgeniya, was an excellent storyteller who entertained the children with tales of her travels with her cloth-merchant father all over Russia.[13][14] “Our talents we got from our father,” Chekhov remembered, “but our soul from our mother…

Chekhov birth house

Chekhov birth house

A few months before he died, Chekhov told the writer Ivan Bunin he thought people might go on reading him for seven years. “Why seven?” asked Bunin. “Well, seven and a half,” Chekhov replied. “That’s not bad. I’ve got six years to live.”

Always modest, Chekhov could hardly have imagined the extent of his posthumous reputation. The ovations for the play, The Cherry Orchard, in the year of his death showed him how high he had risen in the affection of the Russian public—by then he was second in literary celebrity only to Tolstoy,[96] who outlived him by six years—but after his death, Chekhov’s fame soon spread further afield. Constance Garnett’s translations won him an English-language readership and the admiration of writers such as James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, and Katherine Mansfield. The issues surrounding the close similarities between Mansfield’s 1910 story “The Child Who Was Tired” and Chekhov’s “Sleepy” are summarised in William H. New’s Reading Mansfield and Metaphors of Reform The Russian critic D.S. Mirsky, who lived in England, explained Chekhov’s popularity in that country by his “unusually complete rejection of what we may call the heroic values.” In Russia itself, Chekhov’s drama fell out of fashion after the revolution but was later adapted to the Soviet agenda, with the character Lopakhin, for example, reinvented as a hero of the new order, taking an axe to the cherry orchard.[99][100]

One of the first non-Russians to praise Chekhov’s plays was George Bernard Shaw, who subtitled his Heartbreak House “A Fantasia in the Russian Manner on English Themes” and noted similarities between the predicament of the British landed class and that of their Russian counterparts as depicted by Chekhov: “the same nice people, the same utter futility.”

In America, Chekhov’s reputation began its rise slightly later, partly through the influence of Stanislavski’s system of acting, with its notion of subtext: “Chekhov often expressed his thought not in speeches,” wrote Stanislavski, “but in pauses or between the lines or in replies consisting of a single word … the characters often feel and think things not expressed in the lines they speak.”[102][103] The Group Theatre, in particular, developed the subtextual approach to drama, influencing generations ofAmerican playwrights, screenwriters, and actors, including Clifford Odets, Elia Kazan and, in particular, Lee Strasberg. In turn, Strasberg’s Actors Studio and the”Method” acting approach influenced many actors, including Marlon Brando and Robert De Niro, though by then the Chekhov tradition may have been distorted by a preoccupation with realism.[104] In 1981, the playwright Tennessee Williams adapted The Seagull as The Notebook of Trigorin. One of Anton’s nephews, Michael Chekhov would also contribute heavily to modern theatre, particularly through his unique acting methods which differed from Stanislavski’s.

In 2011, Australian actors Cate Blanchett and Richard Roxburgh brought the Anton Chekhov classic “Uncle Vanya” back to the stage.

pbsthisdayinhistory

 


2 Comments on “This Day in History, January 29, 1860: Author Anton Chekhov Is Born”

  1. Richard M Nixon (Deceased) says:

    Reblogged this on Dead Citizen's Rights Society.


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