Chekhov A Collection Of Critical Essays

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The sixty-four-year-old Dmitry Grigorovich, a celebrated Russian writer of the day, wrote to Chekhov after reading his short story "The Huntsman" that "You have real talent, a talent that places you in the front rank among writers in the new generation." He went on to advise Chekhov to slow down, write less, and concentrate on literary quality.

Chekhov replied that the letter had struck him "like a thunderbolt" and confessed, "I have written my stories the way reporters write up their notes about fires – mechanically, half-consciously, caring nothing about either the reader or myself." Grigorovich's advice nevertheless inspired a more serious, artistic ambition in the twenty-six-year-old.

If it's not going to be fired, it shouldn't be hanging there.

The death of Chekhov's brother Nikolay from tuberculosis in 1889 influenced A Dreary Story, finished that September, about a man who confronts the end of a life that he realises has been without purpose.

The family lived in poverty in Moscow; Chekhov's mother was physically and emotionally broken by the experience.

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Chekhov was left behind to sell the family's possessions and finish his education.

His career as a playwright produced four classics, and his best short stories are held in high esteem by writers and critics.

Chekhov renounced the theatre after the reception of The Seagull in 1896, but the play was revived to acclaim in 1898 by Konstantin Stanislavski's Moscow Art Theatre, which subsequently also produced Chekhov's Uncle Vanya and premiered his last two plays, Three Sisters and The Cherry Orchard.

When my brothers and I used to stand in the middle of the church and sing the trio "May my prayer be exalted", or "The Archangel's Voice", everyone looked at us with emotion and envied our parents, but we at that moment felt like little convicts.

To avoid debtor's prison he fled to Moscow, where his two eldest sons, Alexander and Nikolay, were attending university.


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