Chekhov's life was one long battle with his dependants and with the tuberculosis that was to kill him at the age of 44. This biography aims to show him in the heroism of his short life - at times made hell by a monstrous father, possessive sister and delinquent elder brothers. The drama of Chekhov's life took him all over Russia and the world. Using documents and letters, this work investigates the emotions, conflicts and experiences which Chekhov transmuted into his stories and plays.
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"The life Rayfield describes is no less impressive for having a flawed, at times unsympathetic, figure at its center. And his restraint in presenting his controversial new findings--along with the sheer quantity of fresh material he has amassed--is finally what makes his portrait so persuasive. His clear-eyed, critical sympathy for his less-than-perfect subject might have been borrowed from Chekhov's own writing." --"New York Times Book Review"From the Back Cover:
Anton Chekhov's life was short, intense and dominated by battles – either with his dependants or with the tuberculosis that was to kill him at forty-four. He was one of the greatest playwrights and short story writers ever born but he was torn between medicine and literature, as he was between family and friends, between a longing for solitude and a need for company. His family life was at times made a hell by a monstrous father, a possessive sister and delinquent elder brothers; his own was tortuously balanced between the affections of a series of mistresses and a marriage to an actress that was nothing like as idyllic as it has traditionally been painted.
Donald Rayfield's biography strips the whitewash from the image of Chekhov and shows us what lay behind his restrained, ironic facade. The result does not denigrate him, but shows him in the full heroism of his brief but prodigiously creative life. Rayfield has spent over five years combining the Chekhov archives all over Russia (Chekhov was a restless traveller for the whole of his life, from Siberia to the Cote d'Azur), uncovering thousands of documents and letters from lovers, friends and family, most of them never published before, which culmulatively tell of a life far more entangled and turbulent than we ever previously suspected. The many cuts made in Soviet and foreign editions of Chekhov's and his wife's letters have been restored from the originals; what once was hidden is now revealed.
Chekhov's biography has an extraordinarily rich cast of characters – amongst them Gorky, Tolstoy, Tchaikovsky, the press baron Suvorin, the great landscape painter Levitan and his wife Olga Knipper, widely acknowledged as the greatest female interpreter of his work. 'Anton Chekhov' is a vivid portrait of Russia and Russian society a hundred years ago, as well as an investigation of the emotions, ideas, conflicts and experiences which Chekhov built into his stories and plays. Above all it is the moving story of an artist's sometimes ruthless, often covert fight to save his creativity from strangulation by illness and family. It will establish itself as the definitive modern biography.
"Without question the definitive biography of Chekhov, and likely to remain so for a very long time to come. Donald Rayfield starts with the huge advantage of much new material that was prudishly suppressed under the Soviet regime, or tactfully ignored by scholars. But his mastery of all the evidence, both old and new – a massive archive – is magisterial, his background knowledge of the period is huge; his Russian is sensitive to every colloquial nuance of the day, and his tone is sure. He captures a likeness of the notoriously elusive Chekhov which at last begins to seem recognisably human – and even more extraordinary."
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Book Description HarperCollins, 1997. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0002555034